Commenter’s Burnout

by MomGrind

screaming“After 26 hours of deep reflection, I have decided what will change.  Expect to see my blog die as a result, as I visit ONLY the 6 blogs that I enjoy – and not one more.  I’ve never been happier about a decision in my life!”

Rita, who graciously allowed me to quote her email here, continues: “I am long out of High School.  But since I started blogging, I feel like I have gone through a ‘time warp.’  ‘I commented on YOUR blog, so now it’s time for you to comment on MY blog.’  If I wanted to play ‘tag,’ I’d find some people who really know how to enjoy the game.  Anybody who wishes to read my words is welcome to.  Anybody who does not is not forced to.  But I am an adult, and have lost sight of that fact. I’ve never cared about the numbers, I’ve never taken an ad, and the only thing that blogging has shown me is that this is NOT a ‘community.’  It is a competition.”

Commenting is important

Everywhere we turn, we are told that commenting on other blogs is one of the best ways to grow our own blog. Chris Brogan, for example, said recently in a post titled 25 Ways To Build Your Community, “Read at least 100 blogs regularly. Not every post, but a variety.” He also said “Comment the HELL out of other people’s blogs.”

Barbara Swafford is another big proponent of commenting. She said, in a post titled Commenting Vs. Social Media, “commenting helped to make my blog and its community grow, but more than that, blogging became more enjoyable for me when I got involved in commenting on other blogs. It was in that interaction with other bloggers that I found my ‘joy of blogging’.”

But the above email tells a different story. A story of a blogger who feels that the “commenting game” is childish. That it makes her read and comment on blogs that she doesn’t even enjoy reading. 

Another friend recently wrote, in an email that they allowed me to publish here, “I stopped commenting on a lot of blogs and only dropped by friends’ blogs when I felt like it.  Instead I used social media to promote their posts. But I felt guilty after reading posts that said how bad social media traffic is and how good it is to comment on other people’s blogs. Silly really – I was happy doing my own thing.  And now I’m burned out.”

A striking example of the pressure to comment is the following comment that was recently left here by Linda Abbit of Tender Loving Eldercare. Linda, who gave me permission to include her comment in this post, writes: “I can barely keep up reading my favorite blogs, even without adding comments. Even if you don’t see me in the comment section, know I am reading! I’m trying to comment at least once a week, so you know I’m still here. I hate to let my blogger friends down, but life just gets in the way sometimes.”

Reading these words made me wonder: Is there such a thing as too much commenting? If you find yourself spending hours (even “just” a couple of hours) each day reading other blogs and commenting on them, aren’t you wasting your time? And more importantly, aren’t you risking getting burnt out?

Some bloggers believe that intense commenting is indeed a waste of time

When Naomi Dunford of IttyBiz closed comments on her blog (she has since reopened them for select posts), she said, “Getting involved in the drama of who commented where and who owes what comments and OHMYGOD! DidIrespond? ShouldIrespond? WhatifIhatethatperson? doesn’t make you money. It wastes your time.”

Hunter Nuttall recently said, in his post on becoming a problogger, “one trap I’m going to be sure to avoid is spending too much time blogging, meaning both reading and writing. I used to often have huge chunks of free time at work that I could spend reading blogs, sometimes the full eight hours. But now, I have to always be asking myself, “Is this the most important thing I could be doing?”

My own attempt at a solution

I like comments. I think I said it before: the discussion that follows many of my posts is often far better than the original post. I love interacting with my readers. I really truly enjoy the discussion. In addition, I have met amazing people through blogging – not going to name names, but there are around ten of you that I consider as friends, and at least ten more whose writing inspires me and challenges me. Why would I give that up?

However. As my blog grows, and as I get more readers and more comments, I do feel PRESSURE. One way of dealing with that pressure is to stop responding to comments individually, but I don’t want to go that route.  I was highly amused when Monika Mundell, who blogs about freelance writing, said in a recent post “Most celebrity bloggers don’t give a rats arse about their readers anyway judging by their lack of comment interaction.”

Whether this is true or not, I do know that it’s very important to me to respond to comments individually, especially when the discussion becomes highly thoughtful and involved. When time permits, I also try to visit the blogs of my commenters. I can’t possibly have all of you in my feed reader – I limit my reader to 100 blogs – but when you comment here, I do try to visit you on your own blog once in a while.

My solution to this dilemma: close comments to SOME of my posts, but not to all of them. I plan to continue closing comments to many of my “lighter” posts while keeping comments to deeper discussions open.

Another aspect of my lowering-the-comment-pressure-plan is to visit the blogs in my Google Reader a little less often – maybe twice a week instead of every weekday (I stopped reading blogs on the weekend a long time ago). Better yet: maybe I’ll only comment when I actually have something meaningful to say. What a revolutionary idea. 🙂

Would this new arrangement result in fewer comments here on MomGrind? I’m sure it would. Would I take fewer comments on my site and save myself from burnout? Absolutely.

Do you think there’s such a thing as commenter’s burnout? Do you like my solution, or will it annoy you to click through to a post only to find out that you can’t leave a comment?

Photo credit: BrittneyBush

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