The Psychology of Internet Comments: Do More Comments Mean A Healthier Blog?

blogging comments

 

Here's a healthy dose of honesty for our readers…

Not too long ago, IFB noticed a dip in the amount of comments we are getting on our posts.

Yeah, we panicked a little. I mean it was like, why didn't anyone talk about what we were writing about anymore?

But after taking a hard look at our traffic and stats, we realized our numbers were still doing well,  in some ways even better than it was before the decline in comments. Our social media engagement was still growing across all platforms, so theoretically, our audience was still paying attention and participating with our content.

That's when we began to start questioning the worth of commenters. Obviously, it's great to see feedback on a post within one space, but does having a lot of commenters mean you have a healthy blog? Or has commenting evolved into social media usage? As our population becomes more digitally savvy, are readers now commenting in their tweets and Facebook posts, rather than on the actual post?

This theory makes sense if you think about the psychology of the average commenter.

Recently, an article on Salon discussed the habits of internet commenters, and noted that commenters (most of the time) break into the following categories: the hater, the moral crusader, the debunker, and the defender.

The comment box is where the reader has their soapbox. And as a result, commenters can range from the helpful, to the oversharing, to the unintelligible, to the “virtual hit-and-runs” as the article points out.

There's something about the internet that causes a feeling of emotional dislocation, the act of being physically alone on the computer yet within a community online, which for some people can lead to more vicious or outlandish speech and opinions than “in real life.” As social media has grown into regular household usage (not just those who are social media savvy), there's been less of a need to have an article to comment on — now pretty much everyone is engaged enough to rant on about how they had to wait in line at Starbucks on Twitter, or complain about how the weather sucks on Facebook.

On the other hand, there seems to be a separation in the intentions behind the commenter and the social media sharer. Perhaps the commenter is there to shout out their opinions exclusively to the writer, while the social media sharer wants the world to know.

So, the question remains: are commenters still a reasonable gauge to measuring the health of a blog?

Have you seen any changes in your comments section? Do you feel it has to do with social media? Or are the two completely different?

 

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25 Responses

  1. molly @ still being molly

    I think it totally depends on the situation, the blog, the post, etc. There are some days when my commenting is way down, and I feel a tinge of discouragement, but then I look at my blog stats and they’re up for that day. Ironically, or perhaps coincidentally, some of my most viewed posts are some of my least commented. Who knows why that is, really?

    It seems as though when you’re starting out, you’ll find a ton of comments that are a mere, “Fab blog, follow me?!” or “Lovely post, follow me?!” And so you’ll see a post that has 50 comments, where 35 of them are “Follow me?!” comments.

    But then as blogs get larger and more established, I tend to see less of those comments and more hearty, engaging, thoughtful comments…

    I’m not sure if that totally makes sense, but I do think that because we are able to engage with blog content in so many ways, that there can definitely be a direct correlation. But often, once I feel like I have it all “figured out” – I find that I am somehow proven wrong the next day.

    Reply
    • Barbara

      I totally agree with you on this. I absolutely hate the “follow me” comments *arg*. I am usually just polite and reply thank you for visiting.

      It is ironic really but even though I have just recently started getting a lot of comments on my blog, I will still say that comments should not be used to measure the health of a blog.
      Barbara
      http://barbsiesmusings.blogspot.com/
      Lagos, Nigeria

      Reply
    • snowblackblog

      I know what you mean. I think people should measure the success of their blog based on the number of comments. I go on amazing blogs which sometimes barely have 15 comments and I think “How can this be?!” But you have to realise that what;s more important are people who want to engage with you and not the “follow me back” commenters. Those I tend to ignore. Even worse when I am reading a rather personal post, I still see some people who just say “nice post, follow me back” and I’m like does this person realise this blog post was about some serious s**t ?!

      We live in a world where people want information quickly and literally spoon fed to them – zombies for a lack of better words. This is why I am temporarily stopping my blog and focusing on rebuilding myself as a person and what I want to share with the world. I don’t care anymore if I get 10 comments. If people have had a look at my page and read something.. even a sentence, then fair enough.

      IT’S ABOUT QUALITY NOT QUANTITY !

      Reply
    • Ruta R

      I agree with you as well. I used to have so many comments on my blog but I’ve realized that my stats are actually up. Also, some of the most popular bloggers don’t even have comments on their blogs which just proves that comments don’t really make that much difference on how popular your blog is.

      Reply
  2. Maja

    Lately I am more focused on number of visits . Reason is next , there is trend ” Follow for follow ” . It is become highlight of comments. Which is sad . That leads to next does number of followers means popularity . Guess not in both of cases .

    Reply
  3. Valentine

    I am always surprise to see that a lot of people are following my blog and respond to me in person as I don’t really have that many comments, sometimes not at all, but then a lot of people compliment me face to face, so I guess that is what counts.

    Also if you look at the blog of Bryanboy, he has hardly any comment and yet he’s one of the most famous fashion blogger around so I don’t know what really counts…

    Also it depends if the article posted provokes a need for the reader to comment… Sometimes people just want to read or look at pictures and go to their next activity.

    Blogs like Garance Doré constantly ask the reader to interact, not only because she literally ask what we think but also because her contents is so personnal that everybody can relate and everyone wants to share their side of the story.

    So I guess it depends of the readers intention and the post content personal impact.

    Reply
  4. sabrina guzzo

    I think the section of c blog is comments on my blog is completely different comparing at my activity on cocial network. I got more feedback with facebook, when i share a post!

    Reply
  5. Kate

    My blog has generated a lot of positive feedback from people, thanking me for my honesty, and articulating feelings which they can identify with. Some have said that my blog inspires or moves them. Others have said that it’s a “difficult read, because it swings from hilarity, to being reduced to tears, to speechlessness”.

    And then there are my angry blog stalkers (ignorant relatives in denial, with their heads in the sand), as well as a psychotic former friend (with an alleged “grudge”) whose alcohol and drug addiction fuels their need to try to harm me. Both serve to validate my honest words, points I’ve made, and … make themselves look awfully stupid, with spelling & grammatical mistakes.

    It’s pointless to enter into a battle of wits with those who are clearly unarmed, but I must admit, I DO derive pleasure in calling such trolls on their stupidity!

    When Kevin Smith publicly thanks you for your words, you know your content is a-okay …

    Reply
  6. Vanisha @ Vanisha's Life In...Australia

    I have a relatively small blog but I absolutely pride myself on the discussion that my readers generate with their comments. I find that ending the post with a question really helps. I have a number of friends who are fashion/style bloggers who have three times the following that I do but who get only a third of the comments that I typically get. We talk about this often and I think it’s because there really is only so much you can say (especially if you’re not a fashion/style blogger) ‘cute outfit’, ‘great shoes’, ‘you look gorgeous’ – I’ve told them I find it difficult to leave a thoughtful comment each time because they don’t give me a lot of work with.

    I recently helped one of my sponsors increase her comments. She did a quote of the week series that usually yielded zero comments. It was just a quote. I suggested she include a picture, and write an anecdote about why she chose that quote etc and the comments increased straight away!

    Like I said, I have a small blog but I always get compliments (and endless questions) about the community I’ve got on it/through it. And that community is what’s important to me xoxox

    Reply
  7. Donna

    I have recently started getting a few comments. For a long time I didn’t get any, even when I’d end my post with a question. I think Vanisha has a good point – it probably depends in part on the content. How many different ways can you say “I love your outfit”? I think it also depends on your traffic, too. I’ve posted more psychological posts that I thought would be thought-provoking enough to generate some comments, but they never got many views.
    Ultimately, though, it all depends on the type of people reading your posts. If they’re just not the type to comment, nothing will work, if they’re busy at the moment they won’t, if they’ve already commented on a dozen blogs before they read your post, etc. I don’t think that there is any way to know for certain without asking the readers, who may or may not answer you. 🙂
    Donna
    http://www.prettysparklythings.blogspot.com

    Reply
  8. Rachel

    I’ve actually noticed that some of the more prominent bloggers get less comments. I don’t know thought, the less comments I get the more down on myself I get. I think it just depends on what the piece is about

    Glitzy Blues

    Reply
  9. Virginie

    Dear IFB team, I’ve been waiting a while for a post about this topic!. I have never so much traffic than now but I also never have only less comment than now… People are definitely more participating on social medias, and I find it great.
    Comments are to me really tricky, I often noticed that a lot of comments on blogs do not always mean a better content, on the contrary. Of course I think everyone is glad to get feedback from the others, but I have the impression that a lot of people who let comments are most of all looking for TRAFFIC. Implementing links and commenting x50 a day drive obviously more traffic than if you never let comments! It is okay to let your website links but I do not like notes like “follow me and i’ll follow you too”. It means nothing for me.
    I personally like to comment on blogs that I find great and always enjoy to discover a nice blog from someone that stopped on mine too, but it should not take the advantage of sharing on social medias…
    Thanks a lot for this post!

    Reply
  10. Chaucee from Streets and Stripes

    Yeah, I would agree that comments have kind of morphed into interaction on social media. I’ve thought about just turning off the comments section on my blog to just take that element out of play completely, but I really DO like getting comments. It makes me feel like people are actually reading what I’m writing, listening, and responding back.

    Reply
  11. Sabina

    This is a very helpful post, IFB. I definitely feel that it’s the quality of comments, not the quantity, that count. Who doesn’t get annoyed by all the “great blog, follow each other?” comments, because you know that person will never be back unless it’s to promote a giveaway.

    Which is precisely why I’ve stopped worrying about it. If I get comments, great. If not, it’s a letdown but not the end of the world since these things can happen for any reason really.

    That said, I do think part of being a good blogger is being a good blog reader and that also means leaving meaningful (not just obvious self promotion) comments for others. Especially if you expect the same.

    Reply
  12. Queen Michelle

    Yes!!! The bigger we grew, the fewer comments we got. I could never really work it out as it just didn’t add up.
    I think people read so many blogs now they simpy don’t have time to interact anymore, or are interacting on multiple platforms. I find I can post something on my Instagram from the blog and get tons of feedback.
    I do sometimes get a little annoyed when I’ve put in vast amounts of effort into making a post interesting or visually impactful but there is no interaction or feedback. It feels a bit like “what’s the point?”. I’ve even considered disabling comments entirely. Glad it’s not just me though!

    Reply
  13. Style Maniac

    I absolutely value comments and the community who contributes them. My readers are a loyal bunch and we support each other, not as a follow-me-follow-you but because we enjoy each other’s content, root for each other when things go well and support each other when challenges arise.

    By the way, if you want to build community and commenters, here’s a great tip from ProBlogger: get off your own blog. Visit other blogs and comment on posts that strike a chord with you. Every once in awhile email commenters to thank them personally for visiting. That last part especially has turned online commenters into “real-life” friends.

    Reply
  14. Mina Brinkey

    I am so excited to have found your site! It’s filled with so much valuable info! I was especially thrilled to see this particular post because I now realize I’m not crazy for wondering the very same thing! The more popular a blog gets, the less comments. I’ve been noticing that now for a couple of years and can only attribute it to the increasing use of FB and Twitter for our readers to express themselves. And like most of you have said, most readers just stop in quickly to see what’s new and move on to the next blog on their blog list. It doesn’t mean they’re not stopping by though. And at the end of the day, they’re caring enough to stop by!

    Hugs!
    Mina

    Reply
  15. Bree

    I think it really depends on the posts, sometimes I get lots of wonderful comments and my stats are ok – other posts I get very few comments but my stats are very high – it’s an odd phenomenon for sure.

    Reply
  16. Rena A Thompson

    Oh, dear God I hope “more comments [doesn’t] mean a healthier blog”. I never get ANY comments (though I just started two little months ago). Actually, I have received a few comments via my blog’s facebook page but I don’t think “Friends” count…
    🙁 Rena

    Reply
  17. Karen Ussene

    For me I notice sometimes a difference between the comment and the number of views, depending what I talk about.
    But overall I like getting comments, it lets me know that I’m not Blogging in vain and my Followers like what I Blog about.
    K.

    Reply
  18. Kathleen Lisson

    I think the first question is – do you want comments on your blog posts? If you do, are you visiting and commenting on other blogs that are similar to yours? Are you answering your comments? Are you featuring commenters in some of your blog posts? Maybe fans are turning to social media because they crave interaction. How can we give them the sense of interaction on our blog?

    Reply
  19. A Girl, A Style

    Given the subject matter, I felt it was only appropriate to comment 😉

    In truth, most of the time I read a blog/post, I don’t comment. Mostly this is because I just enjoy being there and reading the post in question and don’t feel I need to add anything, but is also a combination of less time to read all the blogs/posts I want and greater engagement across the other social media platforms. Oftentimes I prefer to tweet at a blogger (be they friend or just someone I admire) because I enjoy that more direct conversation/level of engagement (the same applies for Instagram), but it certainly doesn’t mean I am any less involved in the blog I’m reading than I was previously (ie. when I would comment more).

    Briony xx

    Reply
  20. A Girl, A Style

    P.S. I have noticed a slight decrease in the number of comments on my own blog and found myself thinking the same thing as you (worrying slightly, but then realising my traffic, engagement and time on site was still increasing each month).

    But thank you for the reminder that comments and feedback are important to blogs, and that I should therefore remember to comment more often when I read something I enjoy!

    Briony xx

    Reply
  21. Kristian

    It might also depend on ease of being able to comment too. How many boxes do you need to fill out and how often? Do you need to use CAPTICHA or need to log in via a different account (your facebook or google account etc.)

    Reply
  22. Vivian

    I think it’s litterally the Zeitgeist of this period, cause my traffic and shares are going up, and comments are going down.
    I guess I should study what posts get more comments and analyze why does it happen.
    By the way I sure appreciate a nice comment, but “I loved your post!” doesn’t really add anything to the conversation: a Twitter share would be more appreciated by any blogger I think! That shows you really loved the post, and you can add a small comment as well. We are turning into the 160 characters commenters anyway.

    Reply