Are You Stopping Comments Before They Ever Get Started?

Filed as Features on December 21, 2007 10:50 am

I was reading a book recently on the art of conversation and found a whole section on body language. How the position of your body influences your openness to a conversation.

For example, if someone has their hand up to their mouth or by their brow, they look like they are intent upon their thoughts. The last thing you’d want to do is interrupt their thinking, right? They don’t look approachable.

Crossed arms and legs or turning the body away from you, or the dreaded eyes wandering around the room not looking at you, are signs that the person isn’t just unwelcome towards your conversation, they want out and away from you.

Blogging isn’t about body language. It’s about language. Have you thought about what you do to stop the blog conversation on your blog before it even begins? If you aren’t using body language, what signs do you use? What are the clues?

Stopping Comments Before They Get Started

Here are a few ideas I have on how comments are stopped before they can get started on your blog.

  • You’ve Said It All: When you’ve said everything there is to say on your blog post, you leave no room open for anyone else to add anything. You’ve shut down the conversation.
  • It’s Not Open for Discussion: Strong use of language that indicates there is no room for argument nor discussion closes things down right away. If you have ever been in an argument with a friend or family member, and it gets to the point where there is nothing more to be said because there is no movement in the conversation, even if the debate continues, it’s no longer open for discussion. There’s nothing more that can be said. And continuing the conversation is a waste of time.
  • You Begged For Comments: Conversation is natural. I start with an idea or opinion and you reply naturally. It flows forward. If I start with an idea or opinion and after every sentence say, “What do you think?” – it’s tiresome, isn’t it? The stronger you insist upon comments, the more needy you appear, and the less comfortable people are with responding, especially to a stranger.
  • Not Everyone Will Always Respond: Not everyone who reads blogs deigns to replay. It’s about the reading, not the participation. You can’t win everyone over to the conversation. There will always be listeners. If you have more listeners than talkers, it could be that your blog subject attracts more listeners than talkers.
  • You Haven’t Said Anything Worth Responding To: If you haven’t said anything worth commenting on, don’t expect comments. Not every blog post requires comments. Nor should you expect comments on every post. If there’s nothing to say, people won’t say anything.
  • You Didn’t Use Your Own Words: Unless you set a precedence on your blog to inspire conversation based upon the words of others, if your post contains 80% the words of someone else, and 10% you, the odds are unlikely you will inspire comments to your 10%. More likely, they’ll go to the blogger you quoted and comment there. As they should. Change the odds and people will add to the conversation on your blog.
  • It’s Been Said Before: The tendency is to repeat what is hot in the blogosphere, but there comes a point when it’s been said. We’re tired of it. Thus, if you say it again, the readers tired of the subject won’t comment. They are commented out on the subject.

So what do you think?

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  1. By GoingLikeSixty posted on December 21, 2007 at 12:36 pm
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    Anyone mentioned the mystery spam phenomenon? Seems if logged into WordPress, everything’s OK. If logged out, comment goes to spam.

    Support just said keep commenting and asking the blog to de-spam me.

    That’s nice.

    Reply

  2. By Aaron Stroud posted on December 21, 2007 at 1:18 pm
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    Lorelle, I think you might just have “Said It All”.

    Reply

  3. By Lorelle VanFossen posted on December 21, 2007 at 2:02 pm
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    @GoingLikeSixty:

    Yes. If your comments are being picked up by Akismet, which is actually not a mystery but something that does happen, keep commenting and marking it as not spam. Akismet learns. It may take a day or so, or maybe a week, but it does learn.

    And do take care with the words and links you put in the comments. If they are spammy, Akismet will mark it. But I’ve been picked up in Akismet and this is how I trained it to remove me from its list.

    Reply

  4. By Karlo.PinoyBlogero posted on December 22, 2007 at 12:02 am
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    I have a technique that I use on my blog which is very effective, what I do is I leave a question at the end of every post to give them a guide on what comments to leave.

    After reading this post, I have learned that there are other ways to convince readers to comment.

    Thanks for the post. Happy blogging!

    Reply

  5. By katy posted on December 23, 2007 at 12:12 pm
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    “Not Everyone Will Always Respond” – it’s true. Most of us are inert and not only when answering blogs.

    Reply

  6. By Marco posted on December 23, 2007 at 1:25 pm
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    It’s funny how you violate a lot of your own rules with this very posting. Was this irony intended?

    Reply

  7. By Lorelle VanFossen posted on December 23, 2007 at 7:34 pm
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    @Marco:

    Do you mean the irony that I write for a blog that breaks some of the things I and others find annoying? They pay me to write, not to design. :D See, lessons can be learned by everyone.

    Reply

  8. By Axel posted on December 23, 2007 at 9:22 pm
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    Points 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7 are good. Point 1 seems to mean: “Don’t try to be thorough.” Now I can’t imagine a text being so thorough that no-one will find something to say. What writer is so omniscient?

    Reply

  9. By Lorelle VanFossen posted on December 23, 2007 at 9:40 pm
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    @Axel:

    Many. Many still write blog posts like they are writing a high school paper. They cover everything. Even if they don’t, it feels like it, and you feel like there is no room to add anything more.

    Reply

  10. By Axel posted on December 24, 2007 at 1:12 pm
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    Since when do high school papers cover everything? What kind of intellectual universe are you in? There is *always* a different angle.

    Reply

  11. By Lorelle VanFossen posted on December 24, 2007 at 4:57 pm
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    @Axel:

    And you are missing the point. Sure, there is always a different angle, but not every blog writer writes in a way that just makes you want to sit up, break all your rules about not commenting on blogs, and comment. One of these is appearing to cover a subject so well, the work to find something to comment on is tiresome.

    If you aren’t getting comments on your blog, and you want them, write in such a way as to let your audience have room to comment easily and enjoyably.

    Reply

  12. By pelf posted on December 25, 2007 at 7:16 am
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    Lorelle, I’m going to have to echo Aaron because you really DO seem to “Say It All” in your posts. They’re so informative that all I ever do (while reading them) is nod, and nod and nod.

    At the end of your posts, all I ever wanted to say is “Thank you!”.

    Reply

  13. By Lorelle VanFossen posted on December 25, 2007 at 11:23 am
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    @pelf:

    Which is why I don’t have a lot of comments on my blog posts. :D

    If your blog’s format is the provide technical articles and guides, the last thing you want to do is leave something out that has your audience scratching their heads. If you want a conversation on your blog, leave room for others to participate.

    When you are clear about the purpose and intent of your blog, you write accordingly and attract an appropriate audience. When you want comments, yet close the door on them by your writing style – it’s a little self-defeating.

    Reply

  14. Weekly Digest: End of Year Rush, Lorraine is Bad, Awards, and Kicking Blogging But - As Usual « Lorelle on WordPressJanuary 6, 2008 at 1:15 am
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