Day 19: Respond to a Commenter on Your Own Blog

This activity is supposed to be about responding to people who comment on your posts. The person who created the activity writes “if readers have made time to comment on your posts, you should always make sure to respond back (ideally to each reader) in the comments on that post. This is very important for building your blog’s community as it demonstrates that you value your readers and their input.” I’ve responded to a several comments on my blog this week, so technically, I completed this activity.

However, this is a place where I’d definitely like to improve. While I do respond to comments on the blog, I probably don’t respond to as much as I should. I usually respond to individual comments that I feel compelled to comment on or I summarize or respond to a group of comments. Sometimes I just get overwhelmed by the number of comments. I agree that offering some response is important to creating a strong blog community, but sometimes responding to every comment is unnecessary and excessive. I don’t think that not responding to every individual comment discourages people from posting (but please correct me if I’m wrong — I’m just speaking from my own experience) and writing comments like “thanks for commenting” and the like don’t really add to the conversation. I’m very much from the Walt Crawford school of “first have something to say.” Blog posts and comments are never going to be an exact back-and-forth conversation and I don’t think we need to recreate exactly the sorts of conversations we have in the physical world where there usually is some response to what you say.

But, yes, I’d like to do better with this.

Day 20: Three Links Out

This was a challenging activity:

This task is based an idea by Dave Ferguson that he calls “Three Links Out” or “Three Clicks Out.” It’s a way to find and explore blogs that aren’t as familiar to you.

1. Go to one of the blogs you regularly read and follow a link to another blog. This link could be in the blogroll or in a post.
2. From that blog, follow a second link to a new blog.
3. From that location, follow a third link to somewhere new.

Once you follow your third link, find a post and comment on it. If you aren’t happy with where you ended up, repeat the process until you find something that inspires a comment.

Oh boy, this was one I had to repeat and repeat and repeat until I found a blog with a post that I felt comfortable commenting on. Half of the links went to non-blogs or to blog posts that were extremely old. Finally, I found a good path:

I started at the blog post from ACRLog about the creepy treehouse concept, since I was curious about where the concept originally came from. I next ended up at a blog called Flexknowlogy, which also talked about the creepy treehouse. I clicked on a link and ended up at Technagogy and another creepy treehouse post. From there, I clicked on an edublog from their blogroll called Injenuity and found an interesting post about how the author doesn’t read books much anymore because when she reads something now, she wants to engage with that person and take part in the conversation. I found the post really interesting, so it wasn’t difficult for me to leave a comment.

Through this activity, I found some interesting educational tech blogs that I ended up putting into my “trial feeds” folder (where all new feeds go for the first month I follow them) in Google Reader.

Day 21: Make a Recommendation

On this day, I’m supposed to “make a recommendation for a resource in a blog comment. This can be a link to another blog or post or a link to a book, video, etc. Be sure to indicate why you’re making the recommendation.”

This is certainly something I’ve done before. I’ve recommended books, blog posts, websites, etc. in comments on other people’s blogs when I’ve had something useful to add. However, I’m not going to do it right now, because I don’t see any posts where I could comment with a useful recommendation. I take commenting pretty seriously, so I’m not going to write a useless comment on someone else’s blog.

Day 22: Highlight a Favorite Comment

I’m not going to highlight a favorite comment as much as I’m going to highlight a few brief comments from my last post about self-disclosure and connections in the online world that seemed really interesting to me:

Paige Fujisue brought up an interesting parallel between blogging and small town life:

On a more philosophical note, I find it interesting how our self-disclosure and blending between professional and personal lives actually draws society closer to the sense of a small-town. While I’ve never personally lived in a small town, my impression is that in a small town everyone knows everyone else’s business for better and for worse. And while it can be risky to be so open about ourselves in an online environement, readers certainly can benefit from the honesty shared by bloggers. Thank you Meredith and others who share their lives with us.

I enjoyed this comment from Jennifer about the birth of her newfound desire to blog and connect to people online:

This was a timely post. A few months ago, blogging wasn’t something I ever saw myself doing. I was perfectly content to keep my own journal and let that be the end of it. Recently, I’ve wanted to find a way to let people in my life (who I no longer see due to distance) know what’s going on with me and a blog is a simple way to let those old friends in to your present life. And as you make that attempt to connect, more you who you are shows up in your writing. It’s a progressive revealing of yourself to friends old and new and a wonderful way to connect with others. I guess if we’re asking ourselves the question “am I disclosing too much”, there is some internal censor at work which can keep us within limitations which are both comfortable and able to reach out to others.

Finally, here is an excerpt from E. McGrew’s comment that should be encouraging to all of us who blog:

As far as the sense of community, I would like to say that all of the bloggers out in Libraryland help me to love my job even more. When all you see are your local coworkers and hear the same complaints and problems all the time, it is easy to get discouraged and unhappy in your job. But when I read everyone’s blogs and see that everyone else is going through the same things, and that people out there really have a passion for libraries (the way I do), it really makes me happy to be a librarian. I can take the things I’ve read and share them with my coworkers, and it makes all of us want to do better in our place of work.

Day 23: What Makes a Great Comment?

Gosh, I’d say that that the criteria for a great comment are pretty similar to the criteria for a great blog post:

  • It’s relevant to the original post
  • It is thoughtful and insightful
  • Your unique voice comes through in the comment
  • It is civil in tone — no jabs at other people (some snark is fine as long as it’s not directed in such a way that it would hurt someone)
  • It is short enough to be readable, but long enough to be meaningful

And just like the criteria for a blog post, these criteria are equally irrelevant. There are many, many, many flavors of good comments and most good comments will not meet all of this criteria. Some may be encouraging while others may challenge everything you wrote in your post. Some may be personally revealing while others may be very academic. Some may be a sentence long, others may be a blog post in themselves. Some may be insightful, some may be supportive, and others may just be funny. I do feel pretty strongly that comments that attack someone are bad comments, even if what they wrote is technically correct. Tone makes such a difference in whether people will see your comment as useful or just plain mean. Also, what I consider a good blog comment may totally differ from what you consider a good blog comment. Each person will respond differently to someone’s writing.

Day 24: Comment on a Blog Written in a Foreign Language

I must admit that I didn’t follow this one exactly as written. I was supposed to have read a blog post in a foreign language and commented in that same foreign language. We were encouraged to compose our comment in English and use an online translation program to translate it into that language. I complied with half of that. Since I have enough knowledge of the Danish language to read a bit, I keep up with a few Danish blogs in the hopes that I will hear something interesting about how social software is being implemented in Scandinavia. Sometimes I can understand most of what I read, sometimes I’m lost.

Just recently, I saw a post about an awesome local knowledge wiki created in Helsingør (aka Elsinor, where Hamlet’s castle is) created as a partnership between the local public library and the local history museum. I was really excited to find local knowledge wikis springing up in Denmark (here’s another) and to see how they customized MediaWiki. I decided to comment on that post, because I’m really curious about the general attitudes of Danish librarians towards wikis in libraries and what other Danish libraries might be using wikis.

However, I did not comment på dansk. First of all, I know that most Danes are quite fluent in English and that this particular blogger has commented on blog posts and articles in English in the past. If I’d tried to write in Danish, it would have come out really muddled, and it would have been even worse had I used one of those translation programs (do they even have one that does English to Danish?). Since I feel like the comment itself is more important than the exercise, I commented in English. I’d be embarrassed to write a virtually unreadable comment on someone else’s blog.

Day 25: Take a Break!

Can do! I’ll probably be particularly bad next week about keeping up with this challenge since I’m going to Puerto Rico for an all-day workshop for academic librarians on the island followed by (hopefully) a trip to El Yunque, the rainforest near San Juan. I’ve never been to Puerto Rico before so I’m pretty excited!