Thursday, November 30, 2006

[Etiquette] Replying to Comments #2

ok - I admit I have a problem currently with comments replies. For over 2.5 years I diligently answered just about every single comment I received. Every one. Ok - not quite - I confess I had a "duh" moment for the same 2.5 years, where if someone commented on an old post, I couldn't always work out which post they'd commented on so I couldn't always reply. I didn't realise the link in the email notification took you to the post in question. Anyway, I digress...

Recently my readership has gone through the roof AND I have an intensive new job which has reduced the amount ot time I can spend on my blog by about ten fold.

Where I once had the time to answer every comment, I now keep getting behind with the task (which I really enjoy, by the way, so its not that I don't want to do it) and the more I get behind, the more terrible I feel about now not replying to everyone who so kindly made the effor to make a comment on my blog.

I don't know what to do - it's just not me not to reply - it's in my genetic make-up to respond and be polite, so the fact I am overwhelmed by it all is making me quite unhappy. I am consistently getting 10, over 20, sometimes 40 great comments a post these days which I love to get, how can I make all of those kindly commentors feel like their comments are really appreciated. I always thought a personal reply was the best way to go but I just can't quite cope with that any more and a global reply doesn't address all the individual comments presented.

Does anyone have any advice for me please?


This Post was written by Sam from Becks & Posh

23 comments:

Sarah said...

If you have 30 or 40 comments, I think it's unreasonable for anyone to expect you to reply to each one individually. How about responding individually to the ones that call for it--someone asking you a specific question, for example--and doing a more general, but thoughtful, response to the rest?

nika said...

ahh to have such travails! :-)

Do what other large vol. blogs do.. let comments pile up and then do a combo reply comment where you put a comentator's name in bold and then your reply.. then repeat on the next line with the next commmentator etc.

Sam said...

nika - i am afraid that is what I was already doing - i had a pattern where 24 hours after publishing I would reply to all the comments in one block, i never did one at a time. Even still - if I do this in one comment but with 40 x responses, including the need to keep scrolling up and down the page to see what each individual said and make a response, it is still too much work.

It's come to a point where i am thinking - do I write a new post, or do I spend my limited available time to answer the comments from yesterdays post.

drbiggles said...

Oh Sam,

See, your diet is making your head all silly. Anyone who frequents blogs and leaves comments understands that you simply cannot respond each time. Especially when your blog is as huge and popular as yours. We're just happy to see you around and doing well.

What you may consider is to write a happy little paragraph at the end thanking your readers for stopping by and you may or may not be able to respond due to your schedule. You're in this for the long haul. There's going to be months when you have time to spend at the helm and times when you have to abandon ship for a while.

Perk up spunky, we'll be patient.

xo,

Biggles

Kalyn said...

I already commented on the other post, but this new thread and Nika's suggestion reminded me of another dilemma. I often get comments weeks, even months after I've written the original post. Even though I get e-mail notification, if I go back and reply to those then it's an individual reply to each one. I just can't take the time to do that, and I always wonder if they notice I've replied to the other comments (left the first day) but didn't reply to theirs.

As I said on the other comment thread, I just hope the people who read my blog and leave me nice comments have some idea of how busy I am all the time and understand that it's never my intention to ignore or neglect anyone.

And Sam, even though I do understand how you feel, this is what my mother used to call "a good problem to have."

nika said...

Sam: sorry, didnt realize that you were already doing that. I always am amazed when I see people do that because I would get dizzy going back and forth. Lots of work.

My load is small enough to reply one by one so I have not had to find a good solution for it. My dilemma is wondering if it looks goofy for me to reply to each because every reply can not be a pulitzer prize winner so there ends up being lots of "thanks" etc.

If you have been replying to each up to now, thats what people have grown to expect.. other bloggers might not have done that so their readers dont expect it.

I guess that you have to decide if the communication is important.. if its not key then cool off a bit on the replies.. if its prime to you the multi-reply comment may just be the only way to do it..

I dont think its rude, either, to note somewhere that you would LIKE to reply to each but that things are getting hectic for you and you need to parse out a bit less time for comment replies. Just be upfront. You do not have an obligation to be up front but thats who you are so go for it.

Sam said...

nika - that is a good point - I have ben meaning to set this up as part of an 'about' section on my blog for a few months. I wrote a huge document about this and other things which got lost in a computer crash and I havent had the heart to retackle it again, but i should put it on my list of things to do. thanks for reminding me.

SusanV said...

I was considering asking this very question on the last comments post.

My problem isn't so much a lack of time (though that is a factor) but that I'm not a chatty/glib kind of person. When I first started my blog, I tried to go through and answer all the comments in one big reply, but there's just so many ways to say "Thanks," "Glad you liked the photo," or "Hope you enjoy the cake!" It was taking me forever to find something to say, and it sounded so forced that I decided that I'll answer only if I'm feeling it--something I really want to say. Of course, I always try to answer questions, even on the old posts, but I just have to hope that people are not offended if I don't answer every single comment anymore.

I think that most of the time, people don't even come back to the comments section of my blog, unless they've asked a question. If I've got something to say to a commenter and want to make sure she sees it, I'll sometimes leave a comment on her blog. I hadn't ever thought of just emailing them. (My duh moment!)

Carla said...

Sam,
I think it's important that readers know you are reading their comments even though you can't respond individually to their questions. I like the idea of popping in to a thread at least once after writing a post to say SOMEthing, whether it's thanks or to single out one person's comments. This shows that you are aware of the conversations being held in each post (or most posts) even though you aren't necessarily fully engaged in each of their responses. I haven't checked lately but I sort of remember that this is what Clotilde does. As a reader I'm ok with this because I know these high-profile bloggers can't possibly engage with everyone all of the time. It's just not reasonable given the traffic (as evident in the comment quantity).
~Carla

Erin S. said...

I will admit to being a slacker about responding to comments sometimes. If someone has a question or a request, I do get back to them--either in the comments or via email. However, if it's just a "nice photo" or "sounds good" comment, i won't often respond. I definitely appreciate the comments, but only respond if it's helpful to further the conversation. And I always try to reply to personal emails, but I only get a handful of these a week.

On the flip side, I don't expect responses when I leave comments on other blogs, and if I have a burning question, I usually shoot an email to the writer as opposed to leaving a comment.

In other words, I wouldn't worry too much if I were you Sam! As a reader, I'm much more interested in reading new posts from you than responses to any comments I might leave.

neil said...

In whatever you choose to do, just be consistent. Your readers aren't dumb, hell, I'm reading you aren't I? We can work it out. The one thing I do like in some blogs that don't answer every comment, is replying to the odd one now and again. It shows that someone is paying attention.

Shauna said...

Sam, I feel as you do, although I don't always have 40 comments a post. Now that I am in the final weeks of writing my manuscript, I feel proud of myself for putting up a post every day. Adding comments to comments feels like an impossible task right now.

I have to say, as much as we all feel like a community, I wouldn't say it's reasonable for every post and every comment to have a comment. One final summation from you, about the effect all these comments have, is plenty. If there is a specific question, you could answer that. But unless we have a specific, pithy comment to make that will add to the conversation, then commenting out of obligation feels a little silly to me.

Be yourself. I read your blog for your posts, not because I am waiting for your response to my comment!

Sam said...

neil - i think that was my problem - I always had been stauncly consistent, for 2.5 years, never mssing a beat - and then it suddenly all gets too much for me, I lose the consistency - and i feel I hadn't properly explained the change in my response style to my readers.

ParisBreakfasts said...

A blogging friend, who always answered all emails and comments had to leave the country for a month or so. She continued to blog but stopped all responses. And that was that. No one complained. Her readers still flock to her blog.
Can you leave the country for a bit?
Only kidding :)
Many readers don't leave comments and they're just fine. It's not about writing thank you notes..just the fact that you put something out there is what counts.

Anonymous said...

Only respond to questions. Does that make sense?

McAuliflower said...

yeah- answer questions and hire your Mum to do the other nice acknowledgment comments :)

Sam said...

i feel i just have to respond to the the comments (old habits die hard) and thank everybody for the encouraging words. I am feeling a bit better now.

Rose said...

Sam,

you know I posted a few times in the past few months that I remember you I remember you didn't comment back to....my feeling was that you were too busy, but I was NOT offended in anyway. Heck, my life got to be so busy (i left the country!) that I stopped posting for a while altogether. Life happens and people understand. You are still writing and we, your audience, are still enjoying your posts.

You could add a "disclaimer" to your about section or at the end of the post explaining your situation, but i think its more for you than for us :-)

I hope you're enjoying your new job!

Rose said...

"you know I posted a few times in the past few months that I remember you I remember you didn't comment back to...."

whoops! I meant to write that I commented a few times on your site in the last few months and I don't think you replied back...but I figured you're just busy and didn't take it personally at all. And you shouldn't feel obligated to reply back to everyone's comments.

If someone is asking a question, then it might be helpful to respond, but as I said in the earlier comment, life happens and you prioritize...your readers WILL understand.

Barbara said...

It's already been said by others. Regular readers of your blog have figured out - new job, way to many comments to answer all, we understand.

Sam said...

Rose - you see that is the part that actually really saddens me. People actually remebering that I didnt reply to a comment. It simply wouldn't have happened 3 months ago, and now I am looking back at some oold posts and feeling ashamed of myself. I realise that everyone is very understanding and I am thankful for that, but even so - my behaviour doesn't sit easy with me, it is not who I am.
You are right about the disclaimer - it is the only way forward. I am going to try and sort this all out for the new year and start afresh.

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