Wednesday, December 7, 2005

A self-fulfilling survey?

I'm not sure how to phrase this so I'll just say it: Why don't people leave comments on this blog?

As soon as you read that, you may think I'm whining over ingratitude. Or simpering for support. Or "canvassing for clicks". But I'm not. I'm genuinely curious.

As I make my way through the blogosphere, I encounter some blogs with hundreds and hundreds of comments (like Mark Shea's or the Pontificator's). But then I encounter others with virtually none (like my own). I find blogs, which, in my eyes, are poorly written and erratically updated -- but have heaps of comments. Then I see other blogs, which, while carefully managed and explicitly solicitous of dialogue, enjoy perhaps a few comments every few days. Finally, I look at my own blog counter stats: people keep coming (who are you all??); people keep reading (for an average of up to almost three minutes at times); and yet the vast majority of page views are totally silent on the part of FCA's readers. This baffles me; better, it intrigues me.

I try to imagine things from my own perspective as a commenter on other blogs. Sometimes a post connects with you and you simply must say something in reply. Other times a post connects just as much, but you see no need to add anything to "the moment." Other times you strongly disagree and are fit to be tied if you can't protest. Yet, other times, the same irritation is allowed to simmer inside without a word.

Why is this? What is the psychology of commenting? I'm inclined to think commenting is a high-tech form of "tagging", or of civilized vandalism. (How many comments don't just amount to "Benito wuz here!", really?) As George Leigh Mallory said, when asked why he wanted to climb Mt. Everest: "Because it's there." Why comment? Because it -- the bottomless combox -- is there! (I hope I am not the only one who finds the asymmetry of ambition in these cases a little depressing.)

More specifically, for the purposes of this blog, I would like to hear from you why you do or do not comment at FCA. Is it my perceived attitude towards comments? Is it my diligence or indiligence in the comboxes? Is my writing too formal? Too voluminous? Too devotional? Too intellectual? Too erratic? Too bullish? Too redundant? Too stifling? Too incomprehensible? Etc?

As I said, I am not clanging pots and pans to drum up more action (how tempting it is for us, as wired people, to view our identity and worth in terms of our blog-activity); I simply want to raise a question I've had for some time.

Have at ye!

No comments: