comment_challenge_logo_2.png The first activity in the comment challenge is to do a comment self-audit. Here’s mine:

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

    It is so variable. Probably on average I comment on three blogs a week. Sometimes I don’t comment at all, sometimes I comment a lot. Sometimes my comments are a sentence or two long, sometimes they’re more like a manifesto. It all depends on how busy I am and how compelled I feel to comment on the posts I’ve been reading that week. Three isn’t much. I feel like I should be contributing more.

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

    I don’t, and this is something I’ve been thinking about for a while. I rarely see what happens in the comments after I’ve commented unless my comment was particularly impassioned and I’m eager to see the response. So I’m happy that subscribing to coComment is part of this project. I’d like to keep up with these conversations better, because it’s so easy to forget where you commented when you’re keeping up with hundreds of blogs.

  • Do you tend to comment at the same blogs or do you try to comment on at least one new blog per week?
    I don’t think I comment at the same blogs, but since I don’t keep a close watch on my comments, I may just not be noticing a pattern. I usually comment when something catches my attention in a positive or negative way. When Ryan wrote about how he’s been using social software to grow his local network, I commented because I thought it was awesome. When I read a post on Penelope Trunk’s blog that really bothers me (which is frequent… that’s why I’ve decided to unsubscribe… I don’t need to read blogs that raise my blood pressure), I comment and express my disagreement. If someone is asking a question that I feel like I have an answer to or an opinion on, I’ll comment. Sometimes I’ll just comment to say “congratulations!” or “great post!” I haven’t seen any pattern to where I comment and I frequently do so in places where I’ve never commented before.

Next I’m supposed to look at how my commenting measures up to what is suggested in the Lifehacker guide. Here are their suggestions and my thoughts on how I’ve done:

Contribute new information to the discussion.
Don’t comment for the sake of commenting.
Know when to comment and when to e-mail.
Remember that nobody likes a know-it-all.
Don’t post when you’re angry, upset, drunk or emotional.
Do not feed or tease the trolls.
Make the tone of your message clear.
Own your comment.
Be succinct.
Cite your sources with links or inline quoting.
Be courteous.

I feel very strongly about only writing comments that contribute something to the conversation. I usually avoid commenting if someone has already said what I wanted to say (which inevitably leads to less commenting), but I don’t like to write something on someone else’s blog if it’s not going to add to the discussion in some way. The only exception to that is when I’m adding my congratulations in response to someone’s good news. In that case, I think redundancy is a very good thing. :)

I’ve learned my lesson about when to write a comment and when to either hold back or email the person. With emails, I usually wait 24 hours before sending something if I feel there is any chance I might regret that. With blog comments, an entire conversation can take place in the space of a few hours, so waiting 24 can make your comment as good as useless. So it adds to that sense of urgency. Still, it’s better to wait than to react. I have made some big mistakes in this area in the past, and it’s probably led to my reticence in commenting in the first place. I’ve learned from people like Walt Crawford and Karen Schneider that when in doubt, it’s much better to send someone an email than to comment publicly if it might hurt them or might be too personal for the blogosphere. Being “right” publicly may be great, but it doesn’t feel good to know that you made someone else feel like crap. I don’t comment anymore when I feel bad or angry. And I’ve learned not to comment on sites like the Annoyed Librarian because it’s futile and just feeds the bad behavior of her “usuals”. Letting go has been a hard lesson for me to learn, but I feel a lot better when I do .

As far as being succinct, well… if you read this blog, then you know that’s pretty much impossible. But I’ll try to do better next time. ;)