How to be old—we're all learning

4. It’s not mandatory to join the blogging conversation

That’s right: it’s OK to blog without reading or commenting on other people’s blogs! There’s no law against it. It’s fine.

My last post was about the frequency and time spent by older bloggers on writing a blog vs. reading and commenting on blogs. As you saw, respondents had very different habits, and some never read other blogs or commented on them.

I hope this post will help if you struggle to read all the blogs you follow, if you feel anxious or overwhelmed or even guilty for not reading and sharing enough. You’re not alone: many people in our survey indicated that they feel this way.

I’m here to tell you that you can stop right now—stop feeling worried, I mean, not stop blogging. Do it your way.

If you are (like me) pretty committed to reading what others write in their blogs and comments —and it’s obvious that I find your comments fascinating—then it can be hard to understand why anybody would say firmly, “I don’t read blogs” or “I don’t comment.” After all, you understand the blessings of a dynamic online community, and the delight of discovering a kindred spirit or a “friend” out there in the blogosphere. For you, at least half the point of blogging is the social side. You feel puzzled and maybe even a bit indignant at the idea of just doing your own thing online.

Yet not commenting is extremely common. That is pure speculation on my part, but I state it boldly based on information from ManageWP.com:

Here’s an incredible fact: together, you published more than 660 million posts on WordPress.com in 2015, and made more than 655 million comments.

Surprise surprise: the ratio of posts to comments was virtually 50:50 in 2015, and I doubt this has changed very much. Now, it’s unusual for a blog post to have only one comment—it’s far more likely to have zero comments or several, don’t you think? This implies that the vast majority of blog posts have no comments at all; which in turn implies that the majority of bloggers don’t comment. I deduce that:

Since I began researching this topic of older bloggers, I have become less and less and less judgemental. Sure, we have common guidelines such as don’t be mean, don’t tell lies, don’t promote your own blog on somebody else’s, and so forth. But apart from these basics, everyone finds their own niche, their own style, their own goals—and yours are rarely mine.

But why would any blogger deliberately avoid reading and commenting on blogs?

There are many reasons for deliberately deciding not to read or comment on other blogs. It’s not caused by a character flaw.  Let me gently suggest nine reasons, all of which are true of certain people I follow. They’re related to time available, other pressures, and the purpose of the blog. You can doubtless think of many others.

  1. A blog may consist of highly academic long articles by someone who has a full-time job and blogs in his own time.
  2. A blogger may be very ill or recovering from a serious illness.
  3. A blogger may have a disability that makes blogging extremely demanding.
  4. A blogger may spend 40 hours per week researching high quality information, gathered not from other blogs but from primary sources such as reputable medical or legal government reports. She is performing a public service already, without chatting online.
  5. A blogger may have thousands of followers and get hundreds of comments each week; if she began to answer those comments, the high quality of her blog would drop—and high quality content is exactly why she has thousands of followers.
  6. A blogger may be so chronically introverted that just to publish anything is a triumph; to engage with readers would be just too painful.
  7. A blogger may use her blog exclusively for creative self-expression: readers are genuinely irrelevant to the writer.
  8. Some bloggers have lives apart from blogging, so they tell me!
  9. Although you and I may relish online social interaction, no personal blogger needs to justify a choice like this.

Many thanks to the readers who raised this topic—you got me thinking!

WordPress posts and comments are in the millions: article by ManageWP