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The Art of the Comment

The other day I landed on a blog post and as I scrolled down to add a comment, I saw that there were already 41 comments. That set me back on my heels. What else could I possibly add to the conversation?

Funny how a number can spark self-doubt. It’s like joining a big group of people at a party that have already been talking for a while. But when I collect myself, I come back to the styles of comments that I’ve noticed and admired as I navigate the blogosphere.

Encouragement: It seems some bloggers are natural encouragers of others. They are very good at picking up a thread in a post and using it as a kernel of praise to help the author know what was impactful.

Related stories: When a commenter tells the author how a post affected them and/or relates a story from their own experience, it seems to extend the thread into something bigger. I think is one of my favorite styles because I can see how something landed for others.

Questions: There are several bloggers that are masters of asking questions in comments that push the envelope of the idea presented. Whether they agree, disagree, or just want to investigate a concept, they know how to use a question artfully.

Big picture comments: There seems to be a knack for taking a topic and seeing its place in the big picture. Many of these types of comments are philosophical and point back to some foundational thinkers or writers. I really enjoy these because of how they expand an idea.

Quips: Have you seen the commenters who clearly have the art of taking a topic and making a clever quip about it? It could be a pun, a movie allusion, or something familiar enough that the joke lands. Amazing talent.

I often pause before leaving a comment. It feels like it’s a gift to be able to weigh in on the ideas and writing that someone else has presented. Regardless of what vein my comment will be in, I find it helpful to pause briefly to listen before my fingers fly. It’s like taking a deep breath when standing at that big group of a party just to make sure I’ve listened enough before jumping in.

After all, comments are often how we find our people. Just like in-person relationships, different people bring out different types of comments. But an element of trust and vulnerability is built when we bring the same to the comments we leave, no matter how many there are.

I’ve posted a companion piece on my blog: The Ultimate Reader.  I also post on Mondays at the Heart of the Matter blog. You can find me on Instagram and Twitter @wynneleon

86 thoughts on “The Art of the Comment

  1. I can relate so much to this. Even just this morning I was reviewing some previous posts, including from yourself and thinking how can I possibly add to what’s already been said. I also feel that often everyone else is so much better at comments than me, so what could I possibly be add. Then you come with so much wisdom in this post … stop and think before posting. I think sometimes we’re in such a rush that we don’t take time to really consider what we’re reading or what we want to say. I’m glad to say I’m taking the time to chill over lunch 😁

    1. I love that I get to have lunch with you, Brenda! I can so relate to being in a rush that sometimes I forget to bring all of myself. Thank you so much for the great comment!

  2. I love reading other comments on people’s blogs. It’s good to see how others think of a post, if you have similar or different views 😊

  3. When there are a lot of comments and I come in later trying to add to the conversation I ask myself, is it going to matter what I say at this point in time?

    In the past, some of my posts invited a lot of comments and I always made an effort to acknowledge each one, even if it was a day or too late. On some rarer occasions, if someone comes across an older blog post of mine and takes time out of his or her day to comment on it, I find it refreshing: I have to reread my own post and some of the comments, and with time having passed, this new comment might now shed a perspective I hadn’t consider previously. I still acknowledge it but I don’t know if other people who commented will do the same.

    But I will admit that sometimes, if there’s 40 plus comments by the time I get to someone’s post, I might hesitate leaving a comment and simply click like.

    1. I love what you say about the older posts, Claudette. It is interesting to go back and re-read the post that isn’t fresh in our minds. And then our perception changes over time. Also considering whether we have something to say that adds to the discussion – that’s a level of discernment that also applies. Thanks for your comment here!

    2. I understand that POV- wondering if you can add anything that someone already hasn’t said and there are times that I will even comment and say that very thing. I tend to find though, somewhere in everyone else’s comments (like right now for example) where you can make a connection or tweek a comment and add a bit more to the conversation- although that is better enabled if everyone is reading everyone else’s comments so perhaps I simply comment widely at times because I like to read my own words 😉

      1. Ha, ha, Deb. I don’t think that’s why you comment because you add value every time you do. Great point that we make a connection and tweak a comment when we add to the conversation. Yes – it’s so much fun!

  4. I loved the way you captured these categories especially since I saw myself in each one at different times. It was helpful to reflect on the value of each of our (us commenters) styles. If nothing else, it provides validation to the writer that what is committed to the page is not lost in the ether never to be read.

    1. Ah, what a beautiful comment. Yes, I think we inhabit multiple styles. And I especially like what you say about acknowledging for the writer that what they have written is not lost in the either. Beautiful!

  5. Hi – I have experienced the same thing which also makes me hesitate to leave a comment on a blog that already has a lot of comments going. As a blogger I’m very appreciative of comments and almost all of them are positive and encouraging. You’re right that some people have an exceptional talent for comments. Great post.

    1. What an interesting comment as you look at it from both sides. I really appreciate the comments too – they are (mostly) friendly and useful. Thanks for taking the time to comment here!

  6. I love how you’ve broken down commenters into different categories, this really shows an appreciation of all the different types of comments, apart from the very brief, generic “Great post!” ones.

    I try to be mindful about not adding fluff, but to respond when I feel touched or moved to add my bit of perspective. When the comments get very high in numbers, I look to see if there’s something that someone has said that resonates with me. sometimes I’ll just respond to those, not feeling I have anything different to say to create a whole new comment by myself!

    1. I like the approach you’ve described – adding on to a comment thread instead of starting a new one. That’s lovely! And thanks for commenting, Tamara. Love your thoughtful comments!

  7. I love reading comments on other blogs but I will rarely comment. For the same reasons you have mentioned. What can I add to this conversation? Is it good enough? Etc. I relate on so many levels.

    Maybe it is time for a shift in my uncomfortable habit and start by commenting on yours.

    Thank you for the post

    1. Well, I’m so glad you shifted your habit to leave a comment here. I agree that it can be uncomfortable – but gives such a beautiful opportunity to see and be seen. Thank you for the comment!

    2. I would just add that I find WP to be a safe place to test the waters so to speak. Starting small by joining in allows you to get the feel of the blog and see a picture of the people who gravitate to it. I often consider myself a lurker when I find a new blog- sort of an evaluation period to try to determine the fit between the blogger, their style and subjects, and also the readers who comment regularly. Usually taking time to do that gives me the ability to know if I want to jump in or not 🙂

      1. That’s such a great observation, Deb. I don’t always comment at first either until I get a sense of the vibe. If it’s people that I know from other blogs, it makes it easier but it still sometimes feels like joining a group at a party!

  8. Wonderful blog post Wynne. As a Blogger who has been receiving comments lately in my previous blog and I must say the incoming views and traffic to my blog is escalating💯

    I like to think of myself as a natural encourager because I like to encourage Bloggers to be the best they can be because at the end of the day we are all a family of Writers and Bloggers, we need each other and the talent we all have as writers, editors and storytellers can be put to good use by embracing each others work and learn something from each blog post or written work👏

    1. Ah, yes! I think you are a natural encourager, Mthobisi. Your enthusiasm and spirit come across so beautifully in the comments you leave. Thanks for doing that here!

  9. Great topic, blogging is the only true social media platform because of the comments. Your categorization is wonderful. Encouragement is one of the best kinds of comments. I personally make every effort to comment on a newbie blog. I want everyone to suceed and comments make everyone happy.

    1. Danny – I love this comment. What a generous spirit to encourage new bloggers! Yes, may everyone succeed and be happy. Thanks for the comment!

  10. I love the commenter archetypes Wynne! I need to do some self-analysis but I see myself specifically in a few of those roles more often than others. I wonder if some who respond are more tuned into reading the author as well as the post? Bloggers I know really well or who I’ve followed for years always bring out my own underlying instincts about them- meaning that I can often read into and around what their words presented are “really” saying. Not that they aren’t authentic in their writing, but I know the deeper side of some and will perhaps see an opening to draw that out, to extend a conversation, to listen more deeper and learn more so that I can file those little nuances away for the future.

    I am also now thinking about IRL situations. I feel strongly that I need to be facing those folks who are in conversation with me- looking at their manner, their eyes, their body language for those deeper clues. But somehow I am/continue to learn how to do the very same thing simply by finding the right way to engage with someone online and in a meaningful and deliberate way.

    What a wonderful post today Wynne! This one is among many that have made me think on a deeper level this morning 🙂

    1. Deb, you definitely have a beautiful way of listening. IRL and online. I love what you say about the ability to see beneath the words for people you know. And I’d say that also goes in both real life and online. When we get to know other’s stories, we can connect threads — in a way that maybe even the speaker hasn’t. And isn’t that a beautiful gift? Thanks for the great comment and extending the conversation. You truly have a gift for it!

      1. And thank you again! Maybe we should just say my brain likes to wander off the main path and I take folks along for the new trailblazing adventure 😉

  11. I love how you’ve identified and summarized types of comments, Wynne. I can experience comment anxiety, fretting over what to add to an already lengthy collection of comments. Or comment envy, reading other comments and wishing I’d thought to write them. 😁

  12. Honestly, I always enjoy your feedback and insight – no matter what number you end up on the list. And, I also appreciate and learn from your blogs. This one included!

  13. I like your comment summary types too. It’s funny, but I’ll often not read the comments before I give mine. If I see the number or the deep analysis by others, I feel like I stump myself and have trouble figuring out what to say. I have no idea where I fit with mine. I know I try to focus on something that I’ve learned or one part of the piece. I do try to offer something because I know I’ve gotten so much from folks who’ve commented on my blog. One more thing, so much easier commenting via tablet or laptop then phone. When I’m commenting by the app, I feel like I’m going back and forth a lot from the blog to the commenting field. Always lose my train of thought. Ha, ha. Interesting topic Wynne.

    1. What a great point about commenting via a laptop. When I do it with my phone, I lose my train of thought as well. It’s too hard to remember the specific words I want to comment on when I have to go back and forth between screens. And yes, I often don’t read the whole thread before I comment lest I get psyched out or impatient… 🙂

  14. Lol, I who usually love commenting suddenly do not know what to write.
    I guess I became very conscious of the different types of comments and I wonder which type of commentator I am.
    I guess we change divisions from post to post and how the post we read resonates with us, or what do you think?
    This was a great analytical read which I enjoyed.

    Thank you!
    Ps! I also love reading the comments on the post, it widens my horizon and gives me a feeling of How others perceive the world and engage. ( I did write more than I thought in the first place🙃)

    1. I’m laughing about how the categories made you self-conscious – and then you wrote your way out. I totally agree that we change styles from post to post and the way it hits us. And yes, the comments on this one in particular are so fun about how people think of this practice that we do all the time! 🙂

  15. I love this…how you’ve captured something that’s been a needling thought in the back of my head, that I was largely unaware of! Today because I’m juggling, I’m late to the comment trail and it was fun to read all the input from those who’ve shared ahead of me. You know – almost a real-life example of the point you’re making about what sort of comment to offer when so much has already been said. This is new for me…and I must say, it’s quite fun! But I don’t think I have a lot to add other than sharing the observation that your post hit a note of recognition for many, Wynne, about ‘comment culture’. Reading posts and comments is how we learn about each other and there’s a richness and depth that I so enjoy. xo! 🥰

    1. Oh, “comment culture.” That’s a great one, dear Vicki! It is funny to come into a post late and then try to figure out how to add. I must say, you’ve done a brilliant job, as always! 🙂

  16. One of my favourite things about blogging are the conversations and nuggets of wisdom I glean through comments. You’re right when you say comments are how we find our community, Wynne. And what a wonderful community it is!

  17. Oh I love this post Wynne. I never thought about commenting styles before but you’re spot on. You’ve differentiated them so well. I wonder which category I fall into? I love perusing the comments. For me that’s where the thoughts of the people are. I often value them more than original post. (But rarely in your case Wynne.)

    1. Oh, AP2, we might have to start a “charming” category of comments just for you! 🙂 You’re right that the comments hold so many different thoughts and angles – they always push a topic further, don’t they?

    1. I’m glad you left a comment here, Maria! It’s hard to chime in when a post feels like its all “talked” out but the chorus of voices really does add something!

  18. What an interesting read! I never thought to characterize comment styles but your categories seem right on. I appreciate commenters here on WP- ever read comments on YouTube or some of the other social medias? 🤦🏼‍♂️🤦🏼‍♂️

    1. I’ve read Facebook comments but not YouTube. Do they have a different feel? But I’m with you Todd, I really appreciate WP for the quality and tenor of the comments!

      1. I guess it depends on what you’re looking at on YouTube but it seems, in many cases, to be troll- infested 🤷🏼‍♂️

  19. I’m with you on that. Normally, I don’t comment. I just hit the like. It feels so wrong just to throw something meaningless into conversations. It also feels weird to “join the unfamiliar crowd,” but it feels even more weird just to read comments, like a silent stalker. It is an art, I guess. It is so much easier just to write a post and wait for reactions than actually say something about someone’s work. Back at school, I would do everything to avoid teachers checking my tests or reading my texts when I was next to them. Just couldn’t stand it… maybe that’s why now I hardly comment unless the subject is really close to me.

    1. What an interesting angle you’ve presented with the school scenario. It reminds me of a podcast I heard about Imposter Syndrome and the researcher was saying that it is so prevalent in students because they are always being told what they are doing wrong and how they can improve. It’s a tough scenario to survive intact – especially for many years. Thank you so much for the comment!

      1. It’s actually interesting because normally I’m open to criticism. I love following suggestions of more experienced people. But, when it’s about writing… I’m still very defensive. Maybe because it is something deeply personal. I don’t know. Never thought about it, actually. Thanks for opening up this subject!

  20. What a great post about putting comments into categories ! I don’t know which one I fall into. I am the type that even though my comment won’t add anything new, I will say it nevertheless. My writing style is for sure different as English is not my mother tongue!

    1. I wouldn’t have guessed that English is not your first language from the comment. I’m glad that you left one here – I think every comment adds something even if its just another friendly voice!

  21. There’s also the “great post” comment type that is left in expectation that it will be reciprocated. Basically a nothing comment trying to drive the writer to read the commentary blog and return the favour, increasing views and seeming popularity. I only comment when I have something to say. Loved this post though xx

    1. I think only commenting when one has something to say is a great approach. It’s more authentic that way, right SS&GP? Thanks for the comment!

  22. Hi Wynne
    There are many different types of blogs and bloggers. In each group, something different probably has a stimulating effect. Like you, we are more interested in an intellectual exchange and often use the stylistic device of asking questions directly or indirectly – because we are interested in the answers. If there are already too many comments on a post, we have to be very interested in the topic in order to communicate. If a post only has pseudo-comments like ‘nice’, ‘great’ and the like, this does not encourage us to comment.
    The comment has two functions: firstly, to exchange opinions and secondly, to draw attention to our blog and encourage people to comment on it.
    It’s an interesting topic that you raise. Thank you for the suggestion
    The Fab Four of Cley
    🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

    1. What a thought-provoking comment. You make a good point that comments work on a couple of levels and are best in the case when the author is interested in an intellectual exchange. Thanks for adding these thoughts to the thread!

  23. Totally understand what you’re saying about the number making a difference. I know if I read a post, especially if its been out for a few days and there are very few comments, I’m more likely to make it a point to leave a comment. Likewise, unless I have something quite relevant to say or a piece really touched me, I may just leave a like and move on from a post with a good number of comments already. I wonder why that is? Does having that many other’s reactions there mean mine is worth any less? Thanks for the thought provoking post, Wynne! 💞💞💞

  24. Insightful post and many good points including “It feels like it’s a gift to be able to weigh in on the ideas and writing that someone else has presented. Regardless of what vein my comment will be in, I find it helpful to pause briefly to listen before my fingers fly.”

  25. I just found this post about comments and decided to comment, even if it is considered *late*. As long as the comment section of a blog post is open and as long as the commenter wants to say something then I figure it’s okay to comment.

    I’m fascinated by the idea that some people won’t comment because there are so many comments already that the person doesn’t think their comment matters– or that they worry about being repetitive. I must be wired differently [as usual] but I want people to comment about whatever interests them about about what I’ve written, telling me whatever they want to tell me, regardless of how many people have commented. Meaning that the comments on my blog are sometimes a new thought, sometimes repeating what someone else said, sometimes not even about the topic of the post.

    Anyhow, this post is food for thought for me. I’ve been blogging forever and this is a new insight.

  26. As I was reading your post, I found myself thinking about which of those types of commenter I fall into being at times. I appreciate that you’ve identified the way we engage with each other in ways which encourage, question, and even critique in beneficial ways.

    Often when there are more comments on a particular post I often find I’m a bit down the other end of the spectrum, that I am hopeful to provide something, but happy to be lost in the crowd of other well thought out and crafted responses.

    Peace to you and your family. 🙂

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