The Power of Comments

I initially began this post not to write a full entry, but simply to thank readers for so generously commenting on my last write-up. The personal stories and advice that you shared got right to the heart of the matter. Your words were deeply motivating. So much so, Richard and I went straight out to our local tree farm, selected our treasure, and our holiday spirit began to pick up from there. Some of you suggested Christmas music/wine/appetizers by the fire. I must admit, that did work wonders! Many of you wisely advised not to get caught up in the stress of the season but to remain focused on what matters most and to let go of the rest. These words helped me to refocus. They also significantly brightened my perspective.

As I began to write this thank you, I realized something about blogging that I hadn’t really understood before. The main point isn’t actually the writing, or the posts, or the photos or the research. It’s the exchange–the dynamic interaction. It’s the debate and new ideas. Most significantly, it’s the connection and the deepening of relationships–both old and new.

It’s a bit of a conundrum to be a relatively private person with a public blog. (Duh to me, I know…but I believe that there are many others like this). Writing is cathartic for me. Pressing ‘publish’ is a leap of faith. As I sit and review the comments received in this past year, I am humbled. For each risk that I have taken in sending out my words, I have gained a hundredfold. Each post has been written for a different reason. On the lighthearted ones, we’ve shared a laugh. On the new discovery ones, you’ve shared your own adventures. On the difficult, most heartfelt ones, your outpouring of support not only comforted me but equally provided strength to Richard and my family.

I know that it is a leap of faith also to write comments. When I first began to read blogs, I never commented. EVER. I was new to the blogosphere, and I wanted to read anonymously. I preferred just to lurk. And lurking is okay. But as I ventured into both commenting, and receiving comments, a whole new world opened up to me. There is definite contentment in being a ‘regular,’ whether it be at your local coffee shop (where the barista begins to prepare your drink the moment that you walk in) or be it at a blog. As Julie Neidlinger of CoSchedule Blog so astutely wrote, “regulars can turn a blog from being a sequential posting of articles into something organic that references itself.” Regulars, and all commenters, help to create an extra layer that make a blog what it is. I am aware that there are numerous blogs that do not allow comments. There has been a heap of controversy regarding whether bloggers should disable their comment sections or not. For me, to remove comments from my blog would be like removing N-O-R-M from Cheers, or at least Uncle Leo from Seinfeld (not that any of you are Norm or Uncle Leo…but you get the idea)!

Energized by my new realizations on blogging and commenting, I tried to jazz up my comment section a bit by installing WPdiscuz. This plug-in allows commenters to edit what they have written, even after they have pressed ‘publish.’ It also offers an option for readers to give a ‘thumbs up’ to comments that they particularly like–sending the love to where it truly belongs! That and the promise of reduced spam sounded like a great step forward. Right? Wrong! I did have reduced spam. I actually had no spam…and no comments at all. According to people who have contacted me by alternative means, the ‘captcha’ feature completely blocked their comments out. If you use WPdiscuz (or are simply a whiz at this kind of stuff) and have a solution for my over-active captcha, please let me know. In the meantime, I have gone back to my regular comment layout (boring, I know)!

Thank you for reading, connecting, commenting and staying in touch. Your words and warm vibes have been greatly appreciated. And for readers who have never commented before, go ahead and give it a try. I would love to hear from you!

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33 Replies to “The Power of Comments”

  1. Comment from Kate at https://coffeekatblog.com.
    I tried to put a comment on your blog post but it didn’t accept the Capcha even though I double checked it. I submitted 3 times then was blocked. Maybe it’s me but it may be worth checking to make sure comments are getting through.

    Kate from coffeekatblog

    1. Thanks, Kate – It’s quit ironic that the post that I wrote about commenting, did not allow comments! There is definite humour in that! Thanks for emailing me to let me know. I am now back to my more boring comment layout!

  2. Comment from Fran:
    Just wanted you to know that I enjoyed reading the last two blog entries. Retirement seems to be giving you a chance to do a lot of things you didn’t have time for before.
    I did try to comment on your blog but the little captcha numbers keep blocking me out. Just wanted to let you know. Maybe it is my location.

    1. Thanks, Fran – It definitely was not your location, but my ‘captcha gone wild’! Before receiving this comment I did not know that you were reading my posts. Thanks so much for following, I appreciate it greatly!

  3. Comment from Joe at http://www.easingalong.com.
    I loved your post (and the snowflakes). I read it while sitting here listening to Christmas music streaming on XM and trying to “get with it”. Still no tree. Trying to decide whether to go artificial after 45 years of live trees. Tonight is our annual Christmas concert at our church and that usually gets me going. Wonderful choir music accompanied by musicians from our university is a treat. If that doesn’t work then I’ll spike the egg nog. Have a wonderful Christmas, and best wishes for a great second year of blogging…you’re a natural.

    I tried to leave a comment on your site, but my code entries kept getting rejected. Probably another senior moment…

    1. Hi, Joe – Thank you for your kind words. It definitely was not a senior’s moment on your part, but an overly-cautious captcha on this side. I’m interested to know if you decide to go with an artificial or live tree. We love the smell of our natural tree…but James, our vacuum-cleaner robot, is totally unamused!

  4. Now this is a heartfelt post about a positive event in your life! You are still branching out, Donna. 🙂 You are so right about the topic. I never used to leave comments on blogs either, until I started my Roaming About blog and people left comments on it. While it initially seemed like a chore to me (especially during the A-Z Challenge in April), some wonderful virtual friendships have emerged, and this is so nice and worth it! It is, indeed, one of the best and most satisfying things about blogging. To then meet some of these people in real life is the cherry on the cake!

    1. Hi, Liesbet – I agree with you about virtual friendships. They have been an unexpected delight! I met Janis, from retirementallychallenged.com this past October. I have a ‘date ‘ to meet Jude, from gideonsockpuppet.blogspot.ca, this afternoon. It is exciting when virtual relationships transition into face-to-face friendships. Thanks for commenting.

  5. Now for my real comment! 🙂 I was like you and didn’t comment at first. Commenting allows me to share somethings that I wouldn’t put on my own blog for fear of offending someone. The funniest stories have that effect. It has also helped me with my “impromptu” writing. Lurking is one of the first steps of becoming a blogaholic!

    1. Hi, Kate – I am sure that you mentioned somewhere that you do not consider ‘patience’ to be one of your virtues. But four attempts to comment on this post? Now, that’s true diligence! I had never thought of commenting as a way of saying something that I was hesitant to say on my own blog (for fear of offending someone that follows me). Thanks for the brand new angle on this!

      1. Yeah, blogs are my happy spot to say what I want (within reason of course). I never want to offend someone and I don’t say negative things but some things are too funny not to share.

        1. One of the things that I love most about your blog, Kate, is your witty sense of humour! I will now try to look up some of the blogs that you follow so that I can experience “Kate unplugged!! (:

  6. I’m so “tunnel vision” that I wasn’t even aware there was any current controversy surrounding the leaving of comments on a blog post. How funny. To me they’re always like happy surprises (i.e. “Huh, someone actually read it?!”). Nice pictures, Donna. 🙂

  7. Well, you know how I feel about comments! They are like gifts from your readers and, like other gifts you might get, ALWAYS deserve a reply. I read a few blogs that seldom get comments, but I notice that, when they do, they never reply (even to say “thank you”). I also notice that they don’t comment on the blogs of others. It’s the give and take on blogs that make them such an enjoyable medium. Like you, I’m a private person who loves to interact in the blogosphere. Have fun at your meet-up with Jude!

    1. Thanks, Janis. I actually learned many valuable lessons on commenting from you. I fully agree that the ‘give and take’ is what makes a blog….well, a blog!

  8. I can’t imagine blogging without comments. Sometimes the comments are my favourite part of the post when commenters just take the topic and run with it … usually in hilarious fashion.

    I’ve actually stopped following certain blogs when it became apparent that the author rarely or never responded to comments. It’s actually the conversation we have together that I value the most. If a blogger isn’t interested in doing that, I chose to invest my time elsewhere.

    1. Hi, Joanne – I totally agree with your sentiments. There is a retirement blogger whose writing I really like, but he doesn’t allow comments. I followed for a short time, and then lost interest. For me, comments are what really make a blog. Now if I could only get my jazzed up comment plug-in to work properly!

  9. Hi Donna,
    I always feel compelled to leave a comment because your posts prompt a reflection and thus a reply. And I too am grateful that you respond to your readers and make your blog a place for honest interaction.
    Thank you for your wonderful posts. A Happy Holiday Season to you and yours! I look forward to your continuing posts in the new year.

    1. Hi, Marilyn – Thank you for your kind words. Your comments also make me reflect (I even quoted you in a post once)! Wishing you a warm holiday season as well. Thanks for following!

  10. As what has been written here before, I am like most of you just lurking. After a while, I decided, why not give comments? Comments will definitely improve upon a blog and yes, the sharing is what keeps it going.

    On a Christmas note, I would love to experience getting a live tree again. We had it once when I was a child and somehow the wonderful smell that emanated from that kept the memory alive. However, being from a tropical country, getting a live one seems like a million miles away (just like Adele’s song perhaps?). Then again, whether it is a live tree or an artificial one, what matters most is the love that goes with sharing the moment once the tree’s been lighted, the “wow” that gush forth from everyone and the smiles that further brighten the place!

    Happy Christmas, Donna and have my warm regards to you and yours.

    1. Thanks, Sharon. I am so pleased that you are following along…and commenting! I look forward to what you have to say.
      Wishing you a very happy and peaceful holiday season!

    1. Hi, Terry – Thanks so much for sharing this article. It is very helpful. I have been checking the links and devouring it all morning!

  11. Donna, On FB I was a stalker for years – that’s what my millennial friends called me for not posting and commenting, just reading. I eventually learned there how to do it – still not a regular, but when something moves me I do comment, and I’ve learned to post too. I take horrible selfies however!

    On blogs, I comment when something has clicked in my brain. Otherwise I just “like”. You, so very very often, write things that click in my brain! Above, your reference to Norm so resonated with me. I realized in the last few months of working, that one of my “bucket list heart desires” was to be “be Norm”! And it was at that moment of my career, when I announced my early retirement that I realized, I was Norm at work. I knew 95% of the people in my area….and they knew me. No-one else came close, which became apparent as they looked for my replacement for a number of my duties! At that moment, I almost felt like stopping the retirement process (obviously didn’t). Where was I (am I) ever going to find that “be Norm” again? It is one of the elements I miss most. And this is an introvert talking!

    Ah well, like others have pointed out, I love the comments section, and often read others comments on blogs that I enjoyed reading. I too don’t like blogs where you can’t comment! I always read comments on my blog and try hard to respond thoughtfully as well. As Janis said, comments are a gift. Right now, I usually don’t have many commenters but I know a number of folks are readers and not commenters (friends IRL who’ve commented to me directly!). One of the bloggers I read gets 50-75 comments per blog and responds to all…. I honestly do not know how she accomplishes that!

    Love seeing your Christmas decorations up!! We are doing our’s very late this year as we are not at our primary home till mid December. Not complaining as Florida has been having highs in the 70s most days we’ve been here! We’re heading home to highs in the 30s and snow….oh dear. These snowflakes on your screen will be my reality in a few days! LOL.

    Thanks for allowing me to be part of your community!

    1. Hi, Pat – You definitely have achieved ‘N-O-R-M!’ status on this blog (you are one of my most frequent commenters, second only to Janis). I always look forward to what you have to say, and know that it will be specific and insightful.
      Thank you for all of your contributions. You have made a positive difference! Donna

  12. I find the idea of turning comments off strange too. How would you get to know anyone that way? And I do feel I have got to know a lot of people really well, even though we’ll probably never meet in real life. The only kind of blogger I can think of who might do without comments is some big name with 1000s of followers she could never hope to reply to. That’s never going to be me so I shall carry on interacting very happily!

    1. Hi, Anabel – Being the ‘research-nerd’ that I am, I have spent the last few days reading numerous ‘rationales’ for disabling blog comments. Frankly, I strongly disagree with most reasons given (e.g Matt Gemmel argues: they’re from the minority, they don’t contribute much, they encourage unconsidered responses, they allow anonymity and they create a burden of moderation). Okay, so maybe comments are technically from the ‘minority’ of readers, and perhaps in the scenario that you give, moderation could become burdensome. But other than that, Matt’s reasons (and the reasons of many others on his side of this debate) do not resonate with me at all. Thanks for being a regular commenter! Donna

  13. Donna, it was so much fun meeting you in person yesterday! With respect to comments, I clicked on the Allyssa Barnes link that you provided above, and then checked out many of her links. I had no idea there was such a big debate about comments!

    Jude

    1. Hi, Jude – I greatly enjoyed meeting you in person as well.
      Yes, in terms of ‘the great comment debate’…who knew?
      As for me, and my blog, comments are here to stay!
      I look forward to seeing you again soon.
      Donna

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