To Reply, or Not to Reply? Blogging Buzz

I guess the first thing to get out of the way is to ask one of the big questions:

Question1

No, that’s not it.

The big question is: why do you blog?

And if you are like most of the blogs I see in Blogland, the answer falls into these categories:

  • making a living at quilting
  • want to make a living at quilting
  • will never make a living, but still have hope
  • pleasure of sharing my quilts
  • love to write and would write about making tires, if necessary

And then the next question:

Another question

Wrong.

Here it is: What do you expect of the people who visit your blog?

Should they leave a comment? Visit only? Not steal your content (it happens)? Not copy your ideas without attribution (it happens)?  Which leads us to the really big question:

JosephCampbellBigQuestion(from *here*)

When I first started my blogging adventure, in September 2006, I didn’t even enable comments, coming as I was from the “pure” experience of a Creative Writing degree where it was always expected that you would write from within yourself.  Soon after that, the digital world exploded and during grad school a few years later, even though we were still yearning for that isolated writing experience, the reality of the market now loomed large, and we had classes on marketing, selling your novel, pitching stories, being aware of What’s Out There.

And that now is the world in which we quilt bloggers find ourselves, I think, which means that the pure excitement of sharing our quilts, our ideas and just chatting up the room seems to be slowly sinking into the swamp of Making Connections, Pitching My Stuff, Pick Me! Pick Me!, and so on.  I think I participate in all of everything, as do most of us.  But I was quite struck by the thoughts on Carrie Nelson’s blog, LaVieEnRosie, about how so much of blogging has become about advertising.  Carrie is one of my heroes in the way she blogs truthfully about her life, so I really perked up when she next said:

With blogs, I’m also betwixt and between about responding to comments.  I feel horribly – terribly! – guilty when I don’t answer each and every comment with an e-mail but since I can’t bring myself to send just a quick “thank you for commenting” – I think we all know I’m a bit chattier than that – do I answer just some?  And if I don’t get to it right away, is it awful to respond a week or ten days later?  That might be worse than not answering it at all.  So I stick my head in the sand and hope the e-mails answer themselves.

Sometimes I think that comments are just comments–not requiring a reply.  When I leave a comment like “Great quilt!” I don’t really expect a reply at all.  But other times I’ve been pleasantly surprised when a reply has come, and over time it has deepened to a correspondence of some sort.  However (and she peers over the top of glasses), I know several bloggers who feel so swamped by their own success, of the imperative to thank everyone who comes by, that they withdraw from blogland, retreating back to their studios to Make Stuff, which is — if you think about it — the main reason to have a blog.  And I also cringe a little when I happen on a blog where they cheerfully say “I want to grow my blog!” as we are expected to carry away a task from that honest goal, and as I slink away I feel guilty, because certainly one of the true pleasures of blogging is building a community of like-minded folks.

So, does this strange cultural custom of expected replies to comments enhance your appreciation for a blog?  Do you leave comments regardless of whether the blogger will answer you back? And if you blog yourself, do you feel compelled (and I chose that word purposefully) to answer back all your commenters?

Do Tell.

22 thoughts on “To Reply, or Not to Reply? Blogging Buzz

  1. I usually reply, particularly if there’s a thoughtful comment, simply as an acknowledgement that I noticed and appreciated. However, if it’s a “great quilt”, I usually respond in kind with a “thanks!” as opposed to a full reciprocal comment. I don’t typically get more than a dozen or two comments, if I’m that lucky. However, I also don’t expect replies from places I’ve left comments. And certainly not from the heavy-hitters in the blog world. I don’t generally read people to get feedback on my comments (that’s an exercise in narcissism I have no desire to undertake….) but I do like to let them know I’m there on occasion. Sometimes, it’s comfortable to remain a lurker. The sociology of the blog world could make for an interesting post-graduate thesis…! (for someone not me.)

    You don’t have to reply to this comment. 🙂

  2. Oops. I somehow missed the etiquette lesson that said I am supposed to reply to comments! I usually do if the comment asks a question or is conversational, but I don’t reply if someone just says nice quilt! or something like that. I guess that is why my corner of blogland is so quiet.

  3. I gave up commenting on blogs which are primarily a ‘front’ for a business. To me, those bloggers/businesses are after customers not conversation. I reply to every comment, and never post a new blogpost before I have. My blog is small, I don’t have sponsors and I’m happy with that. So I appreciate everyone one of the comments (encouragement) I get. It gives me a sense of connection. An interesting topic.

  4. As usual, so many things to think about. I now have two more blogs in my reader from following links!
    I feel the need to reply out of some (unspoken?) etiquette that I should. I didn’t always, but I do try now. That being said, if I get two comments on a post, that is really saying something! So I don’t feel like replying gets too hard or out of hand.
    I almost feel more guilty for not commenting on many of the blogs that I read. I lurk way more and comment rarely.
    Replying and emailing is what has given me a few ‘bloggy friends’.
    I’ve actually been giving more thoughts to the ‘why do we blog?’ question. Especially after reading the other links about guilty quilting secrets. Perhaps it deserves its own post.

  5. i reply to every comment. I feel I should. They took the time to read what I wrote and even more time to write a comment. Don’t fret I don’t expect a comment back and maybe most of my commenters do not expect one either, it’s just what I do. You did ask.

  6. 1) I was encouraged to blog to share my quilting and crafting experiences. My daughter is an avid blog reader, of many subjects, and she thought that I should share what I had learned along the way with my adventures. I have been most thankful to all the bloggers who share their projects and give such detailed instruction. It has given me the confidence to try something new. My projects don’t always turn out “EXACTLY” like I intended (see yesterdays post on THAT subject…. 😦 that is life tho).
    2) Another thing that keeps me looking at blogs is the ‘connection’ to like minded individuals. I have shared with a couple of people who follow my page “outside” the blog, by email etc. I live in a small town where everyone is busy rushing to work, and it gives me an opportunity to meet new people from around the world too.
    3) I usually reply to a comment , and often that starts another conversation.
    4) When I look at a blog, I often comment, but not always. I do however, always give it a LIKE !

  7. I too, usually reply to comments, if someone has taken the time to comment then I will take time to thank them, BUT I don’t have a big blog and don’t get too many comments so it only takes a little time out of my day to reply.

    I think Facebook has changed a lot of things – it is so easy just to hit “like” and move on. When I comment now I don’t expect a reply, especially if the blogger is one who gets a lot of comments, most times I try to make a thoughtful comment rather than a quick “great quilt or beautiful quilt comment”

    My reason for starting blogging was as a means to keep my family (who live in another country) in the loop with what I was doing and making, but they very rarely comment, my brother told me that they feel like “voyeurs” looking in on my life. I do enjoy blogging but lately the desire hasn’t been there, I think that is because I am quite focussed on finishing off a couple of projects and can’t spare as much time to write a blog post.

  8. I try to reply to every comment, sometimes I miss some if I am too busy as I seldom can just reply when the comment is made due to my schedule at work, etc. Many of the commenters on my blog are people I have met in person so it is a greater connection and they are my friends and others have become friends from their and my willingness to comment and reply to comments on blog posts. I am sad with I see that bloggers have replied to my comments in their blog post as that seems unreasonable to me that they would expect me to come back and check that out. I don’t mind if people don’t reply to my comments and I read a lot of blogs that I seldom if ever comment on, there is just not enough time in my day.

    I blog for fun and for the encouragement I get for my quilting. It is a craft diary of sorts, not even close to a record of my whole or real life, but I find it really nice to have friends who focus on quilting and sewing.

  9. This is something that I have thought a lot about so I will try to keep my answer from turning into a novel. I started to blog because I appreciated the ability to read more about projects and creative processes than the little blurbs on flickr allowed. I wanted to contribute to that conversation and have a way to document my own process. Along the way, I have had a couple of opportunities to receive free fabric (through Moda Bake Shop and a magazine that I will have a quilt in later this year) which are added bonuses, but I would still continue to blog without that possibility. There are a number of blogs out there in blog land that I initially enjoyed and admired, but that I no longer read because too many of their posts are advertisements or feel like filler.

    When I started my blog I didn’t respond to any comments and I rarely commented on other people’s blogs. I never expect a reply when I make a comment, but at this point I try to respond to all comments on my blog (it doesn’t always happen, but I do try). The main reason for this is that people are generally very kind and I would like to return that favor. Also, I have found that many of these comment replies have resulted in friendships. That isn’t something that I initially sought out when I started blogging, but it is something that I do enjoy.

    I will say that I enjoy blogging almost as much as I enjoy quilting. But replying to comments is probably my least favorite part. Some comments are fun and easy to reply to, but some feel like a bit of a chore. I always appreciate your comments!

  10. Thoughty questions here. And I have pondered some already. Let me add another: to respond by “reply” so it is on the blog or privately by email?
    Why do I blog. I like to write. I like to quilt.I like to take photos. I like to be in conversation mostly about quilting., sometimes about travel or reading or life. I’d like to sell a quilt or a pattern someday, but have no thoughts of trying to make a living that way.
    Reading blogs. I am most fascinated by design decisions and other process comments. I skim some personal life stuff. As soon as I see a blog is only about marketing, I read the title and usually skip opening it.

    I figure opening a blog gives a “view” stat, and that is enough. If I resonate with something but have nothing to add, I probably hit “like.” Of course it isn’t always an option. If I have something to add, I comment. I rarely say only that I like something. I try to give a reason, trying to make it meaningful feedback. If the blogger asks a question and I feel I have something to contribute, I do.

    Expecting responses. Not really. But it is nice to get them. I especially appreciate content responses beyond “thanks for visiting my blog.”

    A question as commenter who gets a reply: to reply or not? I do only if I feel I have more to add, or if the reply has opened up a new idea. Otherwise not. I mean this is where conversation begins, in my thinking. Everything up to this is ritual.

    And my answer for the first question I posed is that if a commenter asks something that I think other readers would also want to know, I reply to the blog; otherwise privately (if email is available, and it usually is).

    And my comments are rarely this long. 🙂

  11. Like several commenters, when I began my blog 3 years ago I never imagined the friendships that would come my way! In fact, if I ever quit blogging, it’s the the friends I’d miss the most. I made those friends, primarily, through repeated comments left by quilters and the relationships that were formed. With that in mind, I try to always reply to every commenter just as I say “hello” to someone who greets me in person. It just seems good manners. And, I admit, that I am one who does expect at least a “thank you” when I take the time to leave a comment. I loose interest if I never hear back after repeated tries at pleasant “conversation”. There are a few times that I have had many comments and I have not tried to answer them all, such as when I’ve had a drawing or such. I haven’t felt guilty about that and realize that the more popular bloggers can’t either if they have many, many comments on a post. However, I have to say that there are some well known blogs that I have stopped leaving comments on or asking questions of because I have never received any acknowledgement, even on posts where there were only a hand full of comments. I still love reading their blogs, but remain a lurker only. That’s okay because everyone has the right to handle their blog as they want to. And not everyone says “hello” when I greet them.

  12. What resonates with me is Ericatj’s comment about trying to respond to all comments because “people are generally very kind and I would like to return that favor”. We all blog for different reasons – what has made me particularly happy is being able to connect with other people who are feeling their way creatively and people who have been very helpful and encouraging. Also if someone has overcome life’s obstacles to create something I really admire then I want to show some appreciation/encouragement too.

    I know that if a blogger has 100s of readers then replying to comments must be hard work, but I always appreciate hearing back. Commenting is an odd thing (if you compare it to going up to a stranger in the street and complimenting them on their homemade skirt!) but it’s inherently generous and possibly deserves some sort of acknowledgement. It’s absolutely fair enough though that there are some who don’t want to engage so that they can get on with Making Stuff and I admire bloggers who have chosen to disable comments – I feel this is more honest as inviting validation and then not responding seems a bit one-way.

    This said, I most agree with Carla that everyone has the right to handle their own blog as they want – that’s what makes them interesting – and the most important thing is to respect and accept other people’s way of doing things.

  13. Why did I start blogging? For me it is about connections. I was a blog surfer. It brought me many moments of wonder and inspiration. It occured to me that communities were established around particular interests, quilting, photography, art, worship. I started blogging not only to document some of my own experiences and accomplishments, but with the prayer that something I left in e-space might touch someone in similar ways.
    When others make the effort to comment on my musings/postings, I know they have at least read a portion of what I have written, beyond looking at the pictures. If those who leave comments surf through half the blogs I read on an almost daily basis, I understand their comments to be a gift of their time. I greatly appreciate that, and am grateful for their interest. I do feel compelled to respond to their compliments/criticisms, although I must confess I have been guilty of thanking people for visiting or have been brief in my responses.
    Thank you for your probing questions. It has given me the opportunity to analyse my own motivations and compulsions. Blessings!

  14. I started blogging about a month ago, with the encouragement of some of my dear friends. They are great bloggers themselves, and I so enjoyed reading their blogs. I always had so much to say about quilting, and they inspired me to write about it. I had no idea what a blog even was only 3 short months ago. I started by clicking and hoping that the screen wouldn’t go blank. Somehow, I created my blog. I’m still not sure exactly how I did it. I wanted to share my story and why I do what I do, which is making quilt tops for charity with all donated fabrics. Little did I know, I would make so many wonderful friends. It is so enlightening and inspirational to view other blogs. I love to comment on other peoples musings. I know how much I like to hear what people have to say about what I have written. The comments really encourage me to continue writing. It lets me know that people are actually reading what I have posted! I have found that I have had to get a new mind set as far as picture taking goes. I didn’t start with pictures in my blog and quickly learned that people wanted to actually SEE what I was talking about. I didn’t even know how to download pictures from my camera to the computer! They are an important part of every story. Thank you so much for the chance to share my story. I hope that everyone has a chance to stop by to see for themselves…I know I will certainly stop by others! A Quilter’s Mission

  15. I believe that a blogger must attend or respond to any comments or question asked to them by a visitor. It also helps in building up their own credibility as well.

  16. Not bringing a blogger (just a visitor in this land), I have occasionally found it technically hard to leave a comment. So I’ve pretty much stopped. I enjoy being along for the ride and admiring the scenery.

  17. Very interesting topic and conversation. I can’t say why I started my quilty blog… If I remember correctly it was to separate my quilty blog posts from my mommy blog. I do appreciate that I have gained friendships through blogging and mostly from the conversations initiated via comments and back and forth replies.

    I do try to reply to all commenters, though, I don’t get that many comments so it’s not hard. Sometimes I do get over busy.

  18. Hello Elizabeth!!! I’ve been meaning to respond to this post for awhile now so here goes. I started blogging after being a lurker for a year or so. It seemed like a great way to jump into the fun. And getting to “meet” and play with you and the other MCM bee members has been fun. That said, I still am not sure what my blog should be. I’ve discovered that writing regular posts isn’t something I manage very well. In the meantime after starting the blog, I published my first pattern and after that have always feared that my blog was coming across as just a promotional tool when that’s not really what I want. Of course it helps but that is not the main reason I started it. So for me it’s a struggle I haven’t solved yet. As for replying, I do try to respond to anyone who leaves a comment. I don’t get that many so it’s not that hard to keep up. I don’t expect the big bloggers to respond all the time, but it’s nice when they do. The whole blog reading, posting, replying is certainly more than I expected in terms of staying up with it all. Love seeing what others are creating and love feeling as though I’m making a few friends. Just need to find the balance. I’m mainly a quilter who also has a blog rather than a blogger who quilts. PS Loved Portland . . . got to Cool Cottons but not Bolt. Cool Cottons is a great little shop and thanks to you I knew about it. : )

  19. Such a good post topic, and I came back today to read the comments. 1. I read a lot of blogs and try to comment as much as time allows. 2. I never expect a reply, though they are always appreciated. 3. I try to reply to all of my comments, and when I can’t I feel guilty. 4. I appreciate all I have learned from blog posts and comment sections.

    That about sums it up for me.

  20. Fascinating post and comments to read. I struggle with the “why do you blog” question–I do it because I enjoy it, and the desire to post regularly both motivates me to squeeze in time to sew and also stresses me out. Do I secretly hope to be “discovered” and become a quliting/blogging celebrity? Sure. 🙂
    On my blog, I try to respond to all comments unless it’s something for a giveaway where people are simply commenting to be entered in the giveaway. Both for commenting and replying, I try to write something a little more than “great quilt” or “thanks.” As a previous commenter wrote, it is definitely more time-consuming that I expected, but I still try to keep up.
    I, too, desire the connections and friendships you see in blogland. I started blogging a little more than a year ago, and that was the first thing that struck me–how everyone knows everyone and has virtual friendships. I’ve made some friends of my own and hope that thoughtful comments and replies will nurture more relationships like that.
    Thanks for the thought-provoking post.

  21. I reply to every comment, but I have a tiny blog. When I am leaving comments and it is a small(er) blog I expect a reply back. If I have left 3-4 comments and you never respond, I stop checking your blog. However, if it is a larger blog with a ‘larger’ purpose and/or has 25+ comments on a post then my reaction is different, I don’t expect a reply in this case.

  22. Being a new quilter and housebound, I’ve found blog-land helpful, encouraging, and motivating. I’m grateful to all who write tutorials, post about their process, show examples of their work, or write about their lives. All help me to feel connected to this craft I’ve taken up. I’ve found creative and like-minded folks in blog-land which is a great pleasure. I’ll never be a blogger and am somewhat leary about signing up for all the on-line apps that make for the ability to comment everywhere. I rarely comment and never expect a response. Not getting a response does not deter me from visiting a blog again. I’m grateful you all are there creating and sharing. Please keep doing both.

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