Thursday, May 1, 2008

It's Day 1 Baby!

So here we are with Day 1 of the 31 Day Comment Challenge and today's task is to do a commenting self-audit. We've been asked to answer the following questions:

  1. How often do you comment on other blogs during a typical week?

  2. Do you track your blog comments? How? What do you do with your tracking?

  3. Do you tend to comment at the same blogs or do you try to comment on at least one new blog per week?


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My Typical Week
I probably leave about 5 comments per week on average. I have about 38 blogs in my feed reader (see the blogs I read in the left sidebar), plus I subscribe to Stephen Downes' OLDaily where he gives brief summaries and commentary on blog posts that have caught his eye in the field of educational technology. Then, of course, there are all the posts I find out about from my Twitter network :-). I think the reason that I don't leave more comments in a week is three-fold:

  1. I often just don't have the time. Writing does not come easily to me, so even a four or five sentence comment is pretty time consuming. Hopefully as I blog and comment more, the writing will start to flow a little easier.

  2. Many of the blogs I subscribe to are pretty popular and by the time I read the post there are already 20 plus comments--by then I either don't have time to read all the comments (and as Gina Trapani says in her guide to blog comments, if you can't read the whole thread, then don't comment!) or I have nothing new to add.

  3. Some of the blogs I subscribe to don't necessarily invite comments. By that I mean that they are primarily a place to disseminate information. An example would be David Warlick's 2¢ Worth. He does a lot of conferences and live blogs many of the keynotes that he attends. I love reading his stuff, but he generally does not write posts that provoke comments.


Tracking My Comments
About a month or so ago I signed up with co.mments after reading a post about it by Sue Waters. It is easy to use, I just click on my 'Track co.mments' bookmark when I want to follow a comment thread. New comments are automatically sent to my Google Reader account via RSS. I use co.mments when I comment on a post and want to hear new comments. I also find it useful if I get to a post when it is brand spanking new and has not comments yet. I may not have anything to say yet, but I want to find out what others think about the post.

To participate in this challenge, I signed up for coComment. Today is my first day using it and I'm intrigued by the groups feature. I'm interested to see what else coComment has in store for me.

What do I do with my tracking? Not much. I mean I read the new comments, but that's about it. I'm curious as to what others do with their tracking. With coComment you can post your most recent comments on your blog. For the purposes of this challenge I think I'll try adding that feature. Hopefully it will help draw other people into conversations they might not have otherwise found.

Do I Get Around?!
I definitely do not comment on a new blog every week. This is not out of any sort of exclusiveness; I just am not a prolific commenter to begin with. There are a few blogs that I comment on regularly; here they are and the reasons I have for commenting on them.
- Sue Waters (Mobile Technology in TAFE and The Edublogger ): Sue's TAFE blog was one of the first blogs that I came across that I found to be really useful as I was starting out in blogging. Sue writes a lot of 'how to' kind of posts and the way she writes invites comments. She is also so generous in responding to comments and to questions. She subscribes to my blog and I know that there's a 50/50 chance that she will comment on each of my new posts. She is a wonderful mentor and is always encouraging other edubloggers to welcome new bloggers on the scene. It is not surprising that she is one of the co-conspirators in the 31 Day Comment Challenge!

- Michele Martin (The Bamboo Project Blog): I think the first post I read of Michele's was Six Reasons People Aren't Commenting On Your Blog. This was early in my blogging career (4.5 months ago, ha!) and I was worried about the lack of comments on my blog. Michele hands out great advice and poses thought provoking questions. She is also extremely generous in responding to comments, both in the comment section of her blog and in e-mails. Again, it is not surprising that she is another of the co-conspirators in the 31 Day Comment Challenge!

- Sarah Stewart (Sarah's Musings ): I don't know how I found Sarah's blog--I suspect that I read a comment of hers on Sue Waters' blog and decided to check her out. Sarah is a mid-wife doing her PhD in New Zealand. Her PhD involves researching the use of e-mentoring (mentoring provided by email) as experienced by aged care nurses and allied health professionals. Though I am not a mid-wife, I am an avid reader of Sarah's blog. She is constantly trying out and reporting on her experiences with web 2.0 tools. I'll often read one of her posts and decide that it's high time that I tried out tool X, Y, or Z too. It was after I wrote this post that Sarah and I both took the Twitter plunge (after being kindly mocked by Sue Waters).

- Clay Burell (Beyond School): Clay is an eloquent writer, he writes a lot of posts, he's passionate about what he writes, and his posts can be very provocative. He writes about what matters in education and sometimes I read and I am just compelled to comment. Clay is also is very active in the comment section; replying and adding to others' comments.

Because I know what a rush it is to get comments on my blog, I always check out brand new blogs that I hear about and leave a comment. Unfortunately a lot of folks who start up a blog get discouraged and the first post I comment on ends up being the only post (gosh I hope I'm not cursed ;-) )

So, if I look my commenting behaviour I think the following things become evident:

  • - I comment when I am thankful for a great tip.

  • - I comment when I know that I have something new to offer to the conversation.

  • - I comment when I know that my comment will be responded to--that I will be part of a conversation.

  • - I comment when my thinking is challenged.

  • - I comment when I want to encourage new bloggers.


If you are new to blogging, get out there--read some blogs and start commenting. You do have something to add to the conversation. If people are intrigued by your comments they'll check out your blog, and maybe leave a comment of their own :)

11 comments:

  1. I love how you've gone through and reflected on your commenting practices. Great summary and also good advice for reasons why to comment.

    I'm putting my hand up -- I lead the others astray by hatching the Comment Challenge (although they didn't take any convincing because they all loved the idea). And collectively we have each contributed to make it happen.

    Thanks with your nice comments about me. Sarah is just amazing -- she has this incredible humour that comes out in her posts. What can I say about Michele -- she keeps me on the straight and narrow. Clay's excellent & such a great writer.

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  2. Claire, I'm echoing Sue's comments--thanks for this great analysis of your commenting behavior. Thanks, also for the nice comments about The Bamboo Project. :-)

    I personally have found you to be a great, thoughtful commenter, one of the things that I appreciate about you as a blogger. Even if you only leave a few comments a week, they're quality!

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  3. Hi Sue and Claire, Thank you both for your kind comments about my blog.

    I love the way you have answered the first challenge, Claire. It is really reflective and informative. Its funny that you and I have much the same opinions and experiences of commenting and blogging. Anyway, enjoy the rest of the challenge. Sarah

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  4. Hello Sue, Michele and Sarah! Feels like a bit of a love in, eh?! Thanks for your comments and I look forward to the rest of the challenge.

    Sarah, it is interesting that in certain respects we seem to be on the same trajectory when it comes to using web 2.0 tools.

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  5. Thanks for joining the Challenge Claire!

    One of your points really resonates with me:

    "I comment when I know that my comment will be responded to–that I will be part of a conversation."

    I am so guilty of not replying to comments on my blog. I know it's terrible, but sometimes I would so much rather comment on other people's blogs than my own, which tends to mean that I put the "conversation" aspect of my own blog on the back burner in favor of being part of the conversation on other people's blogs. Which I'm also completely terrible at, so it's really more like a loose-loose scenario for me ;)

    Thanks for the reminder to keep the conversation going in my "house" as well!

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  6. Kim, thanks for coming by my blog. I've realized through this challenge that though I have been replying to comments on my blog I often don't check out the blog of the person who left the comment. I aim to change that behaviour, because I know I'm missing out on some good stuff!

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  7. I like the list of "commenting behavior types" and your reflective stance. Providing some examples was a good idea.
    I am still on the fence about co-comment, and your write-up was helpful for me.

    Thanks
    Kevin Hodgson

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  8. Kevin, thanks for your feedback. I'm definitely still getting used to coComment. I've found co.mment easier to use, but of course it doesn't have the social networking aspects.

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  9. Hi Claire - the feed from technorati isn't finding your posts. Can you please log into technorati and ping your blog (it last indexed your blog 51 days ago).

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  10. Claire ThompsonMay 4, 2008 at 7:42 AM

    Thanks Sue, I've done as you suggested, hopefully my posts will show up now.

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