Is Your Blog a Conversation Blog or Answer Blog?
I was recently asked why I don’t have more comments on Lorelle on WordPress. The answer is simple. That blog is an answer blog.
It is my “job” writing about WordPress and blogging to give the answers people are seeking. I may ask questions of my readers, but it’s part of the style of that blog to have you leave knowing all the answers, or having a pretty good idea of what the answer is.
That’s the job of a technical blog. Giving answers, not questions. For that blog, it’s not about the Q&A. It’s not about the conversation. It’s about the information and education. That’s what the readers want. Few even read the comments. They are just there for the answers.
A conversation blog is one that incites a dialog between the blogger and the reader. It doesn’t give you all the answers. It leaves room for you to answer. It challenges you to come up with answers. It is designed to get you thinking and invoke a response. Each blog post develops a relationship with its readers.
There is another lesser known style of blog that features little or no dialog, yet can inspire a different level of conversation: inner dialog. I have many names for these types of blogs, information blogs, thoughtful blogs, inspirational blogs, thinking blogs, but these descriptive names can apply to other types of blogs.
These “inner dialog” blogs need little or no response. Comments are often turned off. They are unnecessary to the success of the blog. The blogger is just providing information, be it their personal story or a way to communicate in a one way direction.
Tony Hung spoke about this type of blog in Why I Blog About Tech (Not About Medicine) And Why Comments Aren’t Always That Important, which I also covered in Blog Comments: On or Off and Why. The blog in discussion was from a cancer patient and his ordeals fighting to survive. He didn’t want, nor need, comments, and yet, it is a popular blog.
Not all blogs need comments to have a conversation with their readers. It’s an interesting notion, but it works because they are providing information that needs no response.
Is your blog a conversation blog, answer blog, or inner dialog blog? Or maybe a combination?
The author of Lorelle on WordPress and the fast-selling book, Blogging Tips: What Bloggers Won't Tell You About Blogging, as well as several other blogs, Lorelle VanFossen has been blogging for over 15 years, covering blogging, WordPress, travel, nature and travel photography, web design, web theory and development extensively as web technologies developed.
Though my blog is a combination, it is more of a Conversation blog. Maybe I could say 75% of conversation and 25% of answer blog.
Given the topic of my new blog (music), and the variety of post styles, it *could* fall into any of the three categories, but I see it as an information/thoughtful blog. I write for my own interest, and if other people read and enjoy it, that’s a bonus (a cliche I know!), but I’m not writing it primarily for others. Consequently I have the comments turned off, as I’m not really looking for feedback (although I might change my mind about this in the future). I know this is minority position in the blogging world, but it suits me, especially as I’m not trying to make a living from this blog.
It makes me laugh to see how heated some people become on the comments/conversation issue, claiming that a blog just isn’t a blog without comments – as if blogging is some ancient tradition with rules that are set in stone, and never to be questioned! My view is much less rigid, and I fully understand why many bloggers prefer not to enable comments. Building a sense of community around a blog is frequently a very good thing to do, but it’s not appropriate for all blogs, or indeed for all bloggers (some of us just don’t want a lot of interaction, for a whole variety of reasons!)
This is a good post – it’s nice to see that not everyone thinks that blogging *must* be this or that, but that different bloggers have different intentions. Perhaps it will open the minds of the more dogmatic ‘blogs must have comments/conversation’ brigade a little.
That was a great insight. Thank you. I don’t know if you meant to or not, but you said at the beginning of one of the paragraphs above, “These “inner dialog” blobs need little or no response.” When I read the word BLOBS, at first I thought you were being funny, but now I think maybe not. Anyway, I thought I’d say something about it just because I like you.
Thanks for the catch. It might have been Freudian, but it was still a slip. :D
I would say that my blog is both. I enjoy having conversations with my readers, but I will include the occasional “from the mailbag” article to impart wisdom to my readers.
My blog is meant to be informative and as such i would say 75% answer, 25% conversation. I think all blogs need a balance. I think it also depneds on what you blog about, a blog/ post music is subjective and therefore more conversational, a blog/ post about bank account option is likely to be more informative.
Good points. Each of these blog types caters to a different kind of reader, and a lot of bloggers would be well served to consider what kind of blog they are running (or writing for) and who their audience is.
Hi, i am in political science at sir sandford fleming college. I was wondering if i could get some input on what you think a Canadian is?
Lorelle — I love this post and the distinction you make between different types of blogs. Like your blog, ours — which covers an area of animal care — doesn’t get a lot of comments, but it does get a fair amount of traffic given the niche I write about. The proverbial lightbulb above the head clicked on the minute I read your phrases “answer blog,” and “it’s part of the style of that blog to have you leave knowing all the answers, or having a pretty good idea of what the answer is.”
When read those phrases, I smacked my forehead and said “By jove, that’s what we are.” We started out thinking we’d be a conversation blog, but we’ve organically developed into something that’s like 85% answer blog,15% inner dialog. We get comments online, we get comments in private e-mails — but the stats tell me that people are coming to us to learn something specific and that the titles of our posts are doing a bang-up job of helping them find precisely what they need.
Thank you for the moment of liberating clarity…
Perhaps it will open the minds of the more dogmatic ‘blogs must have comments/conversation’ brigade a little
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