Commenting on other blogs: high risk sport


Before Blogging 101, I used to comment on blogs without any worries, just as the spirit moved me. I never thought much about what to say or how to say it.

But in Blogging 101 we were given guidelines on how to make valuable comments, and I’m still thinking about those. One tip:

“Mind your manners. If you wouldn’t say it to someone’s face, don’t say it in their comment thread.”

But you know, the opposite can be true. When you say something to a person’s face, you provide many extra clues for interpretation. Your tone of voice and facial expression can soften an otherwise abrupt remark. That’s why emojis are so popular. Maybe we should be a bit more cautious when commenting online for this reason.

Even so, at what point does my involvement seem like interference to you? Can I ever be sure that you won’t take my friendly disagreement as an insult or attack?

Who have I offended today?

Today I completed the assigned task by commenting at some length on four blog posts or pages. I did five. And I’m almost sure I have been too bossy or presumptuous or even rude at times.

Do you agree? I’ve provided links to the pages where I commented.

  1. BasantS writes about her experience as a socially anxious extravert. My comment was purely supportive, I hope.
  2.  Phantasmagoria wrote that her ideal audience was just like herself. The post amused me, and therefore I disagreed with her — because I am not just like her, not by a very long chalk! I think I disagreed politely?
  3. Jen Todd in “My Paint Splattered Life” gives excellent advice on How Not to Quit when Blogging 101 is a struggle. But she attributes her own tussles with Blogging 101 to her age (56), and this I strongly disagreed with. Was I rude? Now I’m wondering.
  4. Mashedjam introduced herself and her reasons for blogging. My main feeling about this page is one of admiration. But I think my comment is rather patronising. Why did I presume to give advice out of nowhere to someone I have never met? Beats me.
  5. Kiwinana gave her perfectly reasonable opinion about swearing on WordPress blogs. Not satisfied with dishing out unsolicited advice to one person, I proceeded to do it again — even though I am a Kiwi Nana myself! Even as I commented, I wondered whether I was phrasing my thoughts safely.

Update: Courteously, the lovely Kiwinana thanks me for the comment and link: just what I hoped for. But look, now another person joins in the debate rather more robustly.

Now what?

The photo was taken at the Taylor family reunion last week.

7 thoughts on “Commenting on other blogs: high risk sport

  1. fandancer2013 says:

    Loving your blog. A kindred spirit. I was on the verge of giving up, but all the supportive comments from fellow bloggers make me feel I have a duty to carry on. I love writing and really want a blog but find this blogging101 course difficult – they assume we have underlying knowledge! What is a widget, a RSS feed, a URL. I don’t really know how to make links back to other pages. But I have learnt from others to just take things slowly and not compare myself or my blog to others, so I’ll carry on in a haphazard manner until I get things right!

    1. That is great. I find I can only learn one thing at a time, and that is perfect. And it’s the difficult learnings that are most satisfying, so the pain is worth it. People are enjoying your blog already, never mind widgets!

  2. amblackadder says:

    You know what Rachel, I am going to attempt to follow your free-spirited-commenting example and tell you that I think you are a cheeky sod. I’d definitely tell you to your face though, as then you’d see that I am grinning as I say it. I am so glad I read this post as it has given me a great amount of context about the kind of person you are, and I think your comment on my post is exactly right. I love this post, and the blog. Carry on commenting!

    1. Whew, what a relief! Squillion thanks and you had better keep it up also.

  3. Blue says:

    I’m the procrastinator that’s doing Blogging 101 assignments late – and I’m totally okay with that, because then I get to come across some juicy blog posts like yours!

    I think commenting is a high risk sport, but also an art form. When I was younger, my words were far more terse than now – and that’s because kind (and not-so-kind) people sandpapered some of my edges smooth. BLOGGING too, can be a high risk sport, if you think about it! Like, just how far are you willing to dig deep and voice your opinions about certain things – how much are you willing to stick your neck out, and how open are you to criticism?

    When I first comment on a blog, I tend to be “light,” even though, as a teacher mentor, I must get downright bloody with student term papers. However, I know personally, that when someone says, “This is good work.” although it’s a pat on the back, and it encourages you to write more, this doesn’t necessarily help you write better! So I find that it’s a mix when I comment – sometimes I’ll gently push back, or (like in this case) add some of my own thoughts to whatever people are thinking – in the spirit of the fact that their great blog got me thinking! Those are, I’d call them, thinking comments – where the results tend to be additive. Although once in a while, you get a person who JUST wants people to think THEIR way, and will find any other thinking offensive. In those cases (and they are very rare, and unfortunate for the blogger more than for me, in my opinion), I graciously excuse myself from their presence – and hope I will never have to cross paths with them again!

    However, there’s a very small number of people, in the blogosphere, as well as in my professional life (my Illuminati, as I would call them) who will will take and dish out constructive criticism with masochistic gusto! Usually though, this is done in the private confines of email, Googledoc, etc – away from the public – but those comments, as bloody as they can be at times, push me the hardest to write better. Their purpose is to make you better – it is why they take the time to criticize and push in the first place. I think all of us need our personal group of people who are willing to do this for us (and that we are willing to do this for them). However, I’d say that many people whom I have encountered have not yet perfect the art of doing it, or taking it well.

    Anyways, apologies for the long ramblings. I really enjoyed your post, and, as you can see, it got me thinking quite a bit!

  4. I appreciate your “thinking comments”: they’re so generous. You’re right, blogging is risk taking — but it is addressed to a self-selecting audience, unlike comments. You’ve got me thinking about the difference between various types of feedback on our writing. As a teacher (one on one, authority to student) I had one protocol. As students, whatever the teachers’ comments, we just had to suck it up, As a writer, we get feedback from readers and other writers. But these comments are usually personal, private, and solicited. But blogging? Wow! What do we expect, if we throw our thoughts blindly into the blogosphere? Blog comments are unsolicited, from strangers, and public. Therefore I’m starting to see I should comment rather gently and never take others’ negative comments personally. Then I read a thoughtful perceptive discussion like yours and am just delighted. Thanks again. Gosh, maybe I’ll blog about this … Or you will!

  5. Robyn Haynes says:

    Rachel, I too, have agonised sometimes after posting a comment – was I impolite/rude/misconstrued? Well you seem to get the idea according to this post. (But then, am I being presumptuous?). I finally decided it was more important to be authentic. Intent is paramount and I just trust that mine shines through. : )

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