There’s something special about finding friends who will listen to you ramble about the side ponytails on Prada’s runway, or hear for the umpteenth time exactly how excited you are that flares are finally making a comeback.
Luckily, through fashion blogging, there’s an entire community of people who are happy to discuss such things.
Communities thrive on conversation, and commenting has long been the primary tool for facilitating discussions between bloggers and readers. Leaving a comment is one of the easiest ways to introduce yourself to other bloggers, contribute to their discussion, and eventually carve your own space within the blogging community. In fact, it’s through commenting that bloggers find their tribe.
Personally, I met most of my blogging friends through commenting. If it weren’t for one of us by chance leaving a message on each others’ blog, I might have never known they existed!
However, as integral as discussion is to blogging's DNA, there has recently been a shift in how these conversations take place. Now more than ever, popular bloggers rarely respond to comments left on their blogs. Some are even taking it a step further and deleting their comments section altogether.
Does commenting still carry the same relevance as it did in the early years of blogging, or are the important conversations happening elsewhere?
I’ve heard several theories as to why comments may be on the decline.
The Discussion Has Moved
It’s undeniable that social media’s influence has had a massive impact on the blogging community. It has not only granted bloggers exposure to larger audiences, but has also made discussions more convenient.
Simply clicking a “like” button or leaving a comment directly on a social post is much easier for readers than going through the process of leaving their information through a comment form. Consequently,
bloggers are going where their readers are—and that happens to be social media channels.
For instance, many bloggers receive far more interaction on Instagram than their actual sites— some even consider the platform to be their own microblog. Recently I’ve even noticed that a few bloggers are using snapchat as a means of keeping in touch with their followers as well.
More Comments ≠ More Readership
The notion of comments as currency indicating the value of a blog is long gone. It used to be implied that the more comments a blog had, the more successful it was. But, is that really still the case?
Take, for instance, popular magazine sites. Although some articles don’t receive any comments, that doesn’t mean they aren’t being read.
Instead of commenting on the article, readers share the post to their social media accounts and facilitate a more intimate discussion within their own circles.
Other metrics besides comments can also determine a blog’s “value.” For instance, my friend has a beauty blog that receives 50K unique visits a month, but only averages 5 comments per post. She still has an active, loyal audience and is approached by brands for partnerships regularly. Just because there aren’t numerous comments on her articles, doesn’t mean that readers aren’t enjoying her content.
Quantity Does Not Make Up For A Lack Of Quality
We’ve all received (rather begrudgingly) the dreaded two word comment: “Great look!” or “Nice Outfit!” followed by a slew of links directing you to their blog/Facebook/Bloglovin’/Contest/Cat’s Instagram, etc.
As kind as it is that someone took the time to leave a comment, these types of messages really only serve the author’s self promotion. And they can be detrimental and frustrating to bloggers trying to build an open community that encourages discussion.
Unfortunately, these types of comments are becoming pervasive on style blogs. Sure, you can have 70 comments on one post, but if 90% of them are the exact same message, is it really a gratifying reward for all of the hard work you’ve put in?
The Exhaustive Cycle of Commenting
No one outwardly says it, but there seems to be an unspoken “comment for comment” rule within blogging. Yes, as bloggers we should be gracious towards our readers, but is it really necessary to respond to every single comment? Also, what happens when replying to comments becomes time consuming to the point where it’s a job in itself?
More importantly, would our time commenting be better spent if we used it instead to create new content instead?
Where Do We Go From Here?
Although blogging has changed a lot in the past few years, human connection is still the core of what differentiates a publication from a community. No doubt that conversations matter, but is the comments section the best place to have them? Or is it time we move the discussion to a different platform?
[Photo via Shutterstock]