The honest truth about blog comments

honest truth about blog commentsCan we be real with each other for a few moments?

One of my biggest frustrations with regards to this blog is the lack of comments and meaningful discussion on most of the posts here.

It’s frustrating for two reasons.

First, I really, really, really want this blog to be a place where we are all helping each other to understand how to most effectively use Internet technology in ministry.  I am not by any stretch of the imagination the smartest guy on this topic or the best writer nor do I have all the answers.  This blog is not reaching its full potential because it lacks your insight and observations, your experience and perspective.

Second, commenting on this blog is a fantastic and very easy opportunity for you to help your ministry grow.  Comments can give you credibility, links, and new visitors.  I can’t for the life of me understand why more people don’t comment more often.

So, here’s the deal.  I am going to lay out as clearly as I possibly can the benefits of commenting.  Then I’d like you to give me the honest truth as to why you haven’t commented more often and tell me how to make this blog more engaging.

If it’s because I suck as a writer or have been writing on boring topics, that’s fine.  I just want to know so I can try to make the blog better.  You can be anonymous.

As I sat back and thought about why more people don’t comment on this blog, one possible reason I thought of is that perhaps some people just don’t understand all the benefits.  So, let me list them.

6 reasons to comment on blogs

  1. It gives you a link to your site.  Links help your site’s search rankings.
  2. It gives you new visitors.  People click on your link, and visit your site.
  3. It gives you credibility.  If you post insightful comments, people will take note and take your blog/site more seriously.
  4. It gives you insight.  If you post your perspective in a comment, it gives others the opportunity to respond to it helping to grow your understanding.
  5. It builds relationships.  If you comment regularly, you’ll get to now other commenter, they will get to know you, and it could lead to other opportunities in the future.
  6. It’s fast.  You don’t have to post a 6 paragraph response.  Sometimes a sentence or two is perfect.

Of course these benefits don’t apply only to this blog but all blogs.  If you have a blog or website commenting on blogs is one of the fastest, easiest ways to build your audience.  I know you’re busy, but I believe it’s really worth your time.

But do you?

Humbly seeking honest feedback

Like I said before, I am just not satisfied with this blog.  And honestly, I don’t know what I need to do to make it better.  I need your help to better understand my own personal limitations as well as any technical issues that may be limiting the value and conversation of this blog.

So, could you take a few seconds and give me your honest, anonymous feedback and tell why you don’t comment more often?  Here are some possible reasons I came up with.

  • The posts are not usually on topics that really interest you.
  • The writing is not engaging and interesting.
  • The writing just doesn’t provoke me to post my thoughts.
  • The blog takes too long to load.
  • There are other technical issues.
  • You still don’t think it’s worth your time to comment despite the benefits listed above.
  • You’re afraid to post comments because of what other readers might think.
  • Something else?

What could we do to encourage you to contribute to the conversation more often with comments?

Thanks!

[image by Tojosan]


Paul Steinbrueck is co-founder and CEO of OurChurch.Com, elder of CypressMeadows.org, husband, father of 3, blogger. You can follow him on Twitter at @PaulSteinbrueck and add him to your circles at Google+ as +Paul Steinbrueck.

25 Responses to “The honest truth about blog comments”

  1. I’ve tried to comment when I feel that I have something to add. And I’ve tried to avoid commenting just to comment.

    When I don’t have anything meaningful to contribute, I usually don’t write, although I do know that bloggers need some encouragement now and again.

    Grace and peace,
    Tim Archer

  2. Hey Tim, I appreciate the feedback. And I understand what you’re saying, though I bet you have more to insight to add than you give yourself credit for. :)

  3. paul, i could speak on this for ages… and the difficulty of building the community.

    i think you could do a lot in terms of a redesign… i think it could use an update.

  4. I am in the same boat as Tim Archer. “I’ve tried to comment when I feel that I have something to add. And I’ve tried to avoid commenting just to comment. When I don’t have anything meaningful to contribute, I usually don’t write, although I do know that bloggers need some encouragement now and again.”

    Plus, I don’t exactly have time to read blogs and respond to them very often. I am a single mom of an 8-yr-old boy and twin infant daughters. I have a family and a home to take care of and two businesses to run, plus getting my son to his extracurriculars. I also run a ministry Web site and take an online Biblical studies course. What time I have left is usually for personal hygeine, sleeping or finding a few minutes to talk to Mom, etc.

    I would love to be able to reach more people with the word of God, but I am finding it hard to find the means.

    Yours in Christ,

    Stacie Sandall

  5. This is the first time I’ve ever contributed to a blog, and I’m thinking it might also be the last time. It’s not that I’m against blogging, but rather it has to do with the fact that I already have enough people in my life. I find it hard enough to maintain my relationships with family, friends and church. I avoid getting involved in something that might generate “new” relationships, especially if it’s with somebody that I’ll probably never meet (I do look to develop new relationships in the community I live in). I know there are “virtual” communities, but to me that’s one step removed from real communities. Not that there is no value in virtual communities, but for me the value isn’t great enough to give up time with my wife and our five kids, my extended family, my neighbors, or the people in our church. As a matter of fact, it’s time to go help my wife with supper, and then coach soccer. God bless you all!

  6. I have been following you series on social networking and I believe I have commented. I only comment on things that are interesting to myself. Keep up the good work. My blog is http://www.sanityinsight.blogspot.com and I too would welcome comments.

  7. Mark Steinbrueck Jun 18, 2009 at 9:24 pm

    As I am reading the initial blog and the posted responses, I was trying to find a underlying common ground, but was having trouble doing that. Then I really started to analyze the responses and found that even though they appear to be varied, they did have something in common: They all responded because of things they were passionate about (family, social networking, community involvement). I think that there are many different reasons that people do not comment on blogs or other social networking. But what I have noticed is that typically it is the more emotion provoking posts that get the replies. This may mean that they comment because they strongly agree with what the author writes or feel called out to defend a position they believe in, but it they don’t have a strong opinion on a topic, most readers will not comment.

  8. Anashta Celovich Jun 18, 2009 at 9:44 pm

    I think you’re trying to be too scientific in your analytics.

    You seem very boxed in to the idea that there is something YOU can do to provoke more comments, or that there’s something wrong with what YOU’RE doing, or that you need to do (A) to stimulate us into doing (B). That’s a little narcisistic (you you you) and way too mathematical. Sorry.

    It’s not YOU or YOUR blog or the way YOU write or what YOU write. It’s US. We have lives and family and GOD that come before bloggers and Internet. We’re trying to survive out here — trying to balance our love for our family while battling the harsh reality of the economy and it’s effect on us.

    It’s really very simple… We’re busy with life – no time for things that aren’t necessary to function in our busy daily lives. And those who might have time don’t comment because they value their time and might actually want to soak in a tub for a few minutes before life reins them back in.

    There are people out there who do have the time and WANT to do it. There are those out there that NEED to in order to fulfill their goals, jobs, etc. Value them instead of trying to cattle prod the rest of us.

    I only stopped to comment because I thought you were way off base… and I’m waiting for something to load on my computer. Ah… It’s done.

  9. @John – I agree the blog is due for a redesign, but do you think people would comment more just because the site looks better? Would you?
    @Stacie – I appreciate you taking the time out of your busy schedule to give some feedback today. I’m curious through, you said you run a ministry website. Is commenting on blogs related to your ministry part of your strategy? If not, how are you getting new people to your site?
    @Brian – Appreciate your honest feedback. Do you read any blogs in order to continue to improve your understanding of how to run a church website? If so, do you ever get to the end of the article and have a quick question or idea? I think it’d be in your best interest to post it for the 6 reasons listed in the article.
    @Allison – Thanks for your comment here & the social networking round table. Good stuff.
    @Edward – “I can tell you from looking at site metrics, just because a blog isn’t being commented on, doesn’t mean it’s not being read.”

    That’s absolutely true. I am just not a big fan of monologues. I think people learn best when there are multiple perspectives and ideas are challenged.

    Mostly though, I think a lot of people don’t how quick and easy it is to comment and how huge the benefits are. I don’t want anyone to comment as a favor to me or OCC (except in this one instance to help me understand where we need to improve). I’m suggesting if you have a website, it’s in your self-interest to comment on related sites.

    Thanks everyone! Really appreciate the feedback! Keep it coming!

  10. @Mark – Good observation. I think you’re on to something.
    @Anashta – ok, I guess I struck a nerve there. I agree it’s about you, the reader. It’s for that very reason I also think there is something I can do to provoke more comments. The better the blog, the more inclined readers will be to comment. Right?

  11. Paul, good writing makes good reading. The corollary to that is that good writing comes from the heart. Without that personal element, your writing would not draw ANY serious attention. In blogging, the personal touch is especially important. As has been noted above, readers comment on that which touches a nerve – but the fact that you have touched a nerve is proof that you have had the courage to speak from your heart in the first place. Well done!
    Incidentally, one of the major benefits of on-line sharing is that it is available 24/7/365 around the world. Trust our incredible Father to grant us that most excellent grace to use in His service even from our homes! :-))) Through the internet we have the capacity to minister to needs around the world. Many, many thanks to OurChurch.com for enabling so many to venture into this harvest field. God bless you all, from the bottom of my heart.
    Richest blessings..

    Doris H.

  12. I started a website with ourchurch.com about three months ago. There is a learning curve getting started but I am very happy with the website. What I can accomplish through Jesus with this website for the money that is spent just flips me out! Thanks! Now haveing said that, I would like to say, I think you are right. All six reasons to comment on blogs are good ones and has made me think this whole blog thing through a little better. I am commenting on this blog subject because you have asked me to. You have questions and seeking honest answers. Here goes…I read blogs and learn from them. My time is limited so I only check blogs that help me or I feel I can be of help. Because I am a part of the OCC community I have been reading the blogs posted in your newsletter. They have been helpful. When I feel I can be helpful I will comment. I will ask you to meditate and pray about how diverse people are who recieve your news letter. Church is out of the box…man. The more diverse the subjects are the more people will comment.I have trusted you with our website and you have earned my trust so I’m going to trust you on this blog thing. I’ll stay pluged in. God bless you guys.

  13. @Dorris – Thanks! I try to write from the heart as much as possible.
    @Steve – Thanks for the comment. I hope you’ll read and comment more often. I’ve considered writing more “outside the box” on diverse subjects, and maybe I’ll do that more often, but OCC is a Christian Internet company, so for the most part we’re going to write about how to use the Internet effectively in Christian ministry.

  14. I appreciate your efforts in this roundtable discussion. I did not realize any of he benefits you listed. I am completely uninformed about blogs and how they work. I am interested in more information and I will read your posts more often. I am a teacher who is off for the summer and I intend to use my time wisely making my website more effective. Maybe blogging will be my next step.
    Thanks

  15. Hi OurChurch,

    Firstly, I would like to publicly say thank you for permitting and actioning the God-given vision in your heart to come to pass by providing a user-friendly website hosting/servicing site to seeing God’s purpose of the Internet (ie world wide positive communication) come to pass. KEEP UP THE FANTASTIC WORK/MINISTRY!!!

    Having said that, I’m a “newbee” to all this and like Steve, my learning curve is on a sharp incline at the moment, but it is time for me to be honest here too…

    1. This is the first time I’ve commented on a blog ever and I’ve have been in and around the internet since it first started. Read a few blogs when I’ve needed info, but never commented!

    2. I’ve hated blogging because like many above, I have valid reasons for not having time. Actually, I have always seen it as a waste of time… BUT HAVING SAID THAT – your reasons for at least participating in some blogs has truly educated me!!! THANK YOU! I’m not saying that I will now become a profoundly addicted blogger, but I can honestly say, I will at least have a more open mind about blogging. I think the internet is like anything in this world – if we control it in Christ, it can be beneficial, BUT if it controls us, Satan will use it to destroy us and destroy the purpose, calling and destiny on each of our lives. To me from now on, blogging will have a place in my life BUT it will should be still something lead by the spirit. On that note – God’s been speaking to me a bit, about what’s started in the spirit don’t finish in the flesh. Guys at OurChurch, please be encouraged in that… sorry for being a little spiritual about this…Anyways, moving right along, on a practical note…

    3. It was pure fluke that I clicked on this particular link, because I’ve watched all the newsletters about Social Networking and to be honest, I’ve ignored reading any of them because I’ve read the heading and I did not think it related to me, because of my (former) beliefs of it being a waste of time – I will go back and read some, but not right now, cos I’m in the middle of having had to wipe off my entire system after discovering after we purchased this pc that it was a cracked version of windows on it and even though we’ve had it for years, its only proved itself as a cracked version since endeavouring to service our website – ie errors in internet explorer kept shutting me down from NE1!!!

    SO – point being, accessibility to the blog – maybe like someone earlier said, human nature is that we respond to emotion – maybe make the titles of the blogs more interesting and more real – ie instead of an informative heading, create a question or a statement out of it – because it is the heading that will catch the eye and if the headings good enough, those of us that are busy will click on it, will read, and if what we read does create such a need for us to respond, we will! – do you know what I mean? For instance, this blog, the reason I clicked on it was because of the heading, – the honest truth about blog comments – but it still could have had more emotion expressed (ie simply an exclamation mark!).

    That’s my simple thoughts/feedback to your “cry for help” with this blog.

    Yours in Christ
    Liz
    for The Watenes
    http://www.twiceuponalifetime.com

  16. Just a thought, different pastors, ministry leaders, etc have a web site for different reasons. Some for new members, some for outreach, some for members, some for evangelism, some christian music. So when I say diverse I’m talking about diverse in Christ. I understand the reasons for commenting on this and other OCC blogs . I’m just thinking that if everyone would comment about what their vision is, purpose of, direction of their website. If we know more about the vision behind the website then we will be able to help one another, make comments, pray for each other. I pray that this is some help. Let me know if I’m way off base.

    Steve

  17. @Linda – Thanks for your comment. Starting a blog sounds great. I suggest reading and commenting regularly on several successful blogs for a while first to get an idea of how they operate. You might check out http://www.problogger.net/ and some other blogs about blogging. :)
    @Liz – Great first comment! You have a lot of insight!
    @Steve – That’s the idea. If we each share insights on a topic from our own perspective and experience we will all learn a lot more.

  18. BTW, I love the conversation we’ve got going here! This is what it’s all about!

  19. Hello!
    The posts I have read in the past, and continue to read, have been in my opinion; interesting, engaging, as well as thought provoking. Personally, It may not be a matter of ‘replying’ to conversations. In many instances it may have more to do with time management, and spreading one self too thin.

    Although many topics relate to life, and personal experiences, and can be quickly addressed, proper research which takes time, may be required on other topics in order to make a more intelligent, thoughtful, comment, or contribution to the subject presented.

    For example, there have been many posts in which I have found interesting, and would like to comment, but due to other commitments as someone mentioned; blogs, writing, family, schedule, etc.,’ time’ definitely, has been the biggest factor.

    On the other hand, the internet, (virtual world) has made it possible to interact on a much larger scale which has been unimaginable in the past.
    It is perhaps a matter of placing emphasis on; importance, and relevance, as well as priority when blogging in order to be more effective, especially where it concerns ministry.

    An important key therefore is to remain focused , and to be cognizant of non-essentials (whatever may be non- productive or effective) which can take away from relevant, posting. I speak from past experience.
    Still working on that!

    Posting comments however, can also be all in one’s perspective, as it relates to topic, preference, and personal interest as some one also mentioned.
    There can be a plethora of reasons one does not choose to comment.

    What we must keep in mind is that because of our ‘virtual’ world, for every some one, some where, at any given point, or time who may receive, and appreciate; insight, wisdom, and / or revelation through the medium of blogging, there may be just as many who; disagree, won’t receive, or respond.

    What bloggers may want to consider, and avoid in the world of ‘Christiandom’ and blogging is ‘cut throat,’ ‘fierce,’ competition, which looses it’s effectiveness and takes attention away from it’s original purpose, which should concern ‘Kingdom’ business.

    I can agree with, and relate to much of the response presented concerning blogging. Looking forward to reading more of your presented topics.
    Keep going forward.

    Agape Love, Joy, Gods Blessings, And Peace

    Jaa’ Kanojia

  20. I checked out most of the web sites linked to this blog. It gave me a abetter perspective of everyone on this blog. took some time but was worth the effort.

    Steve

  21. I recently started to use blog as an avenue to share the word of God since i am not active in sharing the bible face to face. I have the same thoughts as you have but i live in third world country and there are some words which restricted to certain religion.

    But i pray you will succeed what the Lord guides you.

    Nelson

  22. I haven’t read the other comments, but I can relate to your feelings about lack of blog comments. I have a blog on our site and have really tried to blog on things that could get people discussing things, but noone seems to want to. I even have recently tried an “open forum” type entry asking for questions, with little response. I like to think that people are reading it and just not commenting. It does make it hard to keep blogging regularly, which is probably part of the reason I don’t get as much response.

    Thanks for your blogs. The ones I get to read are helpful.

  23. Hi Paul … well you know I comment on blogs and that includes yours.

    I know I’m late to the fray on this one, but that’s because I’ve been thinking about the usefulness of networking – be it face to face or via the internet.

    I’ve come to the conclusion that it doesn’t really matter what you write but it’s much more a matter of who you are.

    And by that I mean it’s a mater of “your standing” in the perceived ranks of bloggerdom.

    For my part I didn’t get into blogging for the stats and figures but it would be nice (like you) to see more comments and I know the site is getting visitors. I also get the occasional boost from folks via twitter or similar who say “cool site, adding to my must read list” and then you never hear from them again. I thrive on the interaction, not the stats.

    I think, that like you, I perceive social networking to be something more than most people use it for. I’m looking to make real, long lasting and hopefully meaningful conenctions (even if we never meet f2f) … but it would appear that the modern world is – and possibly due to social media to a degree – ever more superficial.

  24. Hey Stuart, thanks for your comment. I think there’s something to a blogger’s reputation in the blogging community. The better a bloggers reputation, the more people who subscribe to their RSS feed and follow them on twitter. That means more people will see a post, and it’s more likely to get more comments.

    But there’s usually a great variation in the number of comments on a blog’s posts, so the content of each post matters. Plus the content of a blogger’s posts contribute to their reputation.

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