Home > Ludicrous Language, Science Follies, What They're Saying > Should You Comment On This Blog Post?

Should You Comment On This Blog Post?

1. First, a question. What is a blog?

Generally speaking (although there are exceptions), blogs tend to have a few things in common:

  • A main content area with articles listed chronologically, newest on top. Often, the articles are organized into categories.

  • An archive of older articles.
  • A way for people to leave comments about the articles.
  • A list of links to other related sites, sometimes called a “blogroll”.
  • One or more “feeds” like RSS, Atom or RDF files.

…Want an interactive website? Wouldn’t it be nice if the readers of a website could leave comments, tips or impressions about the site or a specific article? With blogs, they can! Posting comments is one of the most exciting features of blogs.

2. Second, a quote. As seen on this blog post. Context: quoted comment came just after a detailed, friendly comment explaining how increase to ease and frequency of commenting.

Thursday, 28 Jan uary 2010 – 22:49 UTC
Richard Grant said:
The logic seems to be
more comments = good
Not sure that’s true.

3. Third, an observation.
WTF are you blogging/commenting for, then??? Why not just stay home and jot down notes in one’s own leather-bound journal with a quill pen? Shouldn’t you be feeling rather sheepish about being the trigger of that 50k huzzah-fest?
Hypothesis: If you, like Richard Grant, agree that the “logic” of “more comments = good” is “not true” you MUST restrain yourself from commenting on this post.
You may, however, feel absolutely free to sit down in your comfy chair with a cup of tea and jot down any number of witty ripostes in your leather-bound journal. Those taking particular umbrage with the contents of this post may wish to fire off a letter by snail mail.
p.s. I did not link directly to RG’s comment. Cumbersome as it may be, it is actually possible to link to comments on that particular blog. However, those following the link are required to log in to the blog network to view the linked comment and this seems onerous. Just go to the blog post and scroll down to the date/timestamp to find the comment if you so desire.

  1. February 1, 2010 at 3:51 pm

    It’s clear that quality does not equal quantity, and comments vary in quality: you only have to look at my most commented post (on Nature Network) to see the truth of that. There’s a trade-off between the two, and I guess Richard’s optimum is closer to the quality end that yours.
    And let’s not get into what we mean by “quality”: it’s obviously subjective.

  2. Jdhuey
    February 1, 2010 at 3:53 pm

    If I had anything relevant to say I would leave a comment but since I don’t….

  3. February 1, 2010 at 4:05 pm

    Bob, are you taking the stance that measures that restrict the number of comments will naturally result in a higher quality of comments?
    In other words, for every post that has only X or fewer comments, the percentage of high quality comments (however quality is defined) will be greater than on all posts with more than X comments?

  4. February 1, 2010 at 4:06 pm

    Also, how do you know that Richard’s optimum is closer to the quality end than mine is? What if I opt for both quantity and quality?

  5. February 1, 2010 at 4:15 pm

    Zuskateers may want some data to help them evaluate my pursuit of bloggy comment quantity over quality. Since arriving at Scienceblogs in August of 2006, I have averaged about 11 comments per entry.
    Regular commenters, I leave it up to you to decide whether or not you have been insulted as to the quality of the comments you leave here.

  6. February 1, 2010 at 4:24 pm

    So blogs that inspire comments are not necessarily good?
    Does that mean that manuscripts that are downloaded and cited are not necessarily good? Or that high impact factor is bogus since it reflects quantity not quality?
    Guess that makes Nature journals little more than white papers…

  7. Alex
    February 1, 2010 at 4:41 pm

    Blah blah blah Hitler.

  8. February 1, 2010 at 5:04 pm

    Bob, are you taking the stance that measures that restrict the number of comments will naturally result in a higher quality of comments?

    No.

    Also, how do you know that Richard’s optimum is closer to the quality end than mine is?

    As far as I can see, your argument only makes sense to me if you’re not consciously considering quality.

    What if I opt for both quantity and quality

    In practice, I think, for most of us there has to be a trade-off at some point: one can often get more traffic and comments by being controversial, and tweaking the right (or wrong!) people. But that can mean moving away from blogging about what you’re interested in. In particular, as we’re all science bloggers, it means moving away from blogging about science.
    This doesn’t mean that every attempt to increase quantity of comments decreases quality, of course. I’m sure I could do more to bring in more readers and commenters, if I had sufficient inclination. But at some point I’d hit that trade-off, and I’d feel that writing about celebrities and playing Cheddar Gorge every other day would decrease the quality of my blog.

    Regular commenters, I leave it up to you to decide whether or not you have been insulted as to the quality of the comments you leave here.

    I can only guess this was aimed at me, as the only other commenter didn’t have anything to say. But I wasn’t commenting on anyone else’s comments, just on the argument you presented. I don’t read this blog often, so I can’t judge. And, of course, there are lots of things that affect quantity and quality, so I certainly wouldn’t argue that a blog with lots of comments automatically has worse comments than one with few.
    Anyway, if you still want to follow your argument, NN lists the number of comments in our blog archives: Richard’s archives are here.

  9. February 1, 2010 at 5:18 pm

    Richard’s argument seems to be that “fewer comments is better”. Logically extrapolated, of course, that results in “no comments is best”, which is…ah…silly.
    I’m not sure I made an argument. I made an observation and postulated a hypothesis.

  10. majolo
    February 1, 2010 at 5:32 pm

    Person A: I just ate my 50,000th hot dog!
    Person B: The logic seems to be “more hot dogs=good.” Not sure that’s true…
    Person C: Hypothesis: If you, like B, agree that the “logic” of “more hot dogs = good” is “not true” you MUST never eat a hot dog again!

  11. February 1, 2010 at 6:04 pm

    Ahh Zuska. I don’t drink tea, but enjoy your blog posts right alongside my Keg of Coffee.
    So what makes someone comment? whether they have something they feel they can add, or a desire to express agreement or disagreement. i.e., if Isis posts a funny video, even if it makes me laugh, I may not comment because I have nothing to add. Even well written and interesting posts can garner no comment. Ed Yong often posts things that I find fascinating. But I have nothing to add to that consversation so am not a commenter there. It should theoretically intercept some area of my expertise somewhere (or my self-centered ASSUMED areas of expertise). Obviously controversy can be a cheap trick to increasing comments. Stupid writing can also garner comments even if there is no interesting content.
    I’m sure there is a style of writing that in effect “reaches out” the anonymous internet posters and inspires them to speak their opinion. I think this is a particular blog-skill that many great bloggers have. Not true in every popular blog’s case, but definitely in cases where there is no extraneous reason the blog becomes popular, but is based on the writer’s style and skills alone.
    At any rate, keep posting (coffee just isn’t the same without you in my unread blogroll).

  12. D. C. Sessions
    February 1, 2010 at 6:09 pm

    It is possible to falsify a universal assertion without establishing a universal negation.

  13. February 1, 2010 at 6:15 pm

    I am insulted by my own comments here.

  14. Katherine
    February 1, 2010 at 6:15 pm

    I find some sort of system of rating posts and comments cuts down on the number of contentless comments. If one can click a button to say they liked a post or comment, then those “likes” can be aggregated and one does not feel the need to post just to say “I agree” or whatever.

  15. D. C. Sessions
    February 1, 2010 at 6:18 pm

    If your objective is LOTS of comments, here’s a tutorial:
    http://faultline.org/index.php/site/item/incendiary/

  16. February 1, 2010 at 6:22 pm

    In particular, as we’re all science bloggers, it means moving away from blogging about science.
    Hmm. When I blog about drug abuse science (one of my two most-central themes) I get all kinds of interesting new traffic, placed on the NYT widget, tracked back at a wider variety of places and draw some of my longer comment threads.
    when I blog about the business of science (the other) I get my regulars which, frankly, tend to be the core of the DM blog effort.
    when I venture out of these domains, results are much spottier. probably none of those off hand posts draws as much interest as the most popular stuff within the two regular domains.
    These two main themes, btw, were established in my privateer days at WP.
    In short, I didn’t “move away” from anything and yet I now enjoy bigger / better of what my original blog was, merely through being on Sb, through adopting my version of the Sb-like model of what it means to blog, etc.

  17. Don
    February 1, 2010 at 6:27 pm

    I have nothing to say….except that I still love Zuska.

  18. February 1, 2010 at 6:40 pm

    I actually generally make it my policy to blog only on science topics, including drug abuse, neuroscience in general, and of course weird science (but only on Fridays). I often have the most comments on my science posts, and they are often extremely on topic. See http://scienceblogs.com/neurotopia/2010/01/the_music_of_the_species.php#comments. So large numbers of comments are not necessarily indicative of blogging that is either incendiary or non-science related, it may merely mean that the science (or the writing of the science) is interesting.

  19. February 1, 2010 at 7:39 pm

    Yes.

  20. Isis the Scientist
    February 1, 2010 at 10:15 pm

    Comment.
    Ergo, this post sucks.

  21. Meg
    February 2, 2010 at 1:05 am

    Richard’s argument seems to be that “fewer comments is better”. Logically extrapolated, of course, that results in “no comments is best”, which is…ah…silly.

    Well if you have zero comments, then none of the comments you have are less than perfect, right? If you have more than zero comments, then all the comments you have are less than perfect (assuming the comments are written by humans or human-created scripts). So having 0 comments guarantees that your comments are as high-quality as possible!
    Perfection is kind of boring, though.

  22. El Picador
    February 2, 2010 at 4:26 am

    In his defense only 10,000 of those NN comments were made by Richard Grant.

  23. February 2, 2010 at 8:06 am

    Richard’s argument seems to be that “fewer comments is better”. Logically extrapolated, of course, that results in “no comments is best”, which is…ah…silly.

    I think you’re reading much more into what he wrote than, well, what he wrote. There are many ways that “more comments = good” can be wrong. One is that there is a negative correlation between number of comments and quality. Another is that there is no correlation. A third in that it’s much more complicated than that. I think Richard’s point was the the third might be true.

  24. February 2, 2010 at 9:28 am

    … or maybe 4) “I’m happy with the number of blog comments I get. I don’t feel like I need any more”
    (for context, Richard consistently writes the most commented posts on NN. He always responds to commenters and the conversations are fun, regardless of who is commenting. If he and his commenters are happy with the status quo, where’s the harm?)

  25. February 2, 2010 at 11:05 am

    I think that the flip way that Grant presented his viewpoint obscured the point that I believe he was trying to make: The more comments isn’t, in and of itself, good. As far as that goes I’m willing to concur. I can get 500 spam comments on a post easily. Without adequately defining comments, setting parameters for what qualifies as ‘quality’ in a comment, and having a generally agreed upon idea of the goal of the blog in general a simplistic assertion is meaningless.
    And ComradePhysioProf, I’m always offended/amused by your comments.

  26. February 2, 2010 at 11:58 am

    If he and his commenters are happy with the status quo, where’s the harm?
    Once again, all together- Nature Network, and NPG generally, are the ones engaging in public navel gazing about online commentary. They are inviting, explicitly in this recent Twitt case and implicitly in other cases, input about what they are doing wrong and right. That opened the conversation. (After that, it was all the UltraFAIL that triggered so much blogsplaining.)

  27. Eva
    February 2, 2010 at 2:27 pm

    If comments are integral to a blog, then you can’t be a worthwhile blog *without* them.
    However, one of the most popular blogs on the web, BoingBoing, went for four years (2003-2007) without any commenting facilities. Still, during that time they were read by thousands, linked all over the web, and quoted in mainstream media. They were called a “blog” since 2000, but were still referred to as blog between 2003-2007, despite the absence of comments.
    They closed the comments in 2003 because they were very hard to moderate with the system they had going at the time. For them, in that period of four years “no comments” was the most valuable option for their blog. Four years is quite long in internet years, and 2003-2007 coincides with the heyday of the blogosphere – ScienceBlogs was launched in that period, for example. Maintaining your status as a famous blog all that time without comments suggests that comments are *not* necessarily required for great blogging.
    (The BoingBoing Wikipedia page has relevant links on the events)

  28. February 2, 2010 at 3:35 pm

    “Once again, all together – Nature Network, and NPG generally, are the ones engaging in public navel gazing about online commentary. They are inviting, explicitly in this recent Twitt case and implicitly in other cases, input about what they are doing wrong and right.
    Richard Grant ≠ Nature Network. (RPG ≠ NPG). He’s just one individual blogger, like the rest of us.
    In response to NN management’s request for input, the individual bloggers on NN shared a spectrum of opinions. Some people would like lower barriers to participation. Others may prefer the status quo (Richard actually said he was “not sure”).
    Is it really so surprising that different people on a given platform have different opinions? That they blog for different reasons? That some of them are happier than others with the status quo?
    Personally, I’d prefer to see more of the people who comment on my other blog come on over to NN. I know that many of them don’t exactly because of the registration and real name requirements (a few people have told me this in private, with an apology). I’d prefer to get the number of comments that Richard gets, to be completely honest, but I don’t put the time into my posts that he does.
    Hopefully once the dust has settled, NN management will start pulling the constructive parts of this conversation (and there have been many) together and decide how best to move the platform forward.

  29. Katherine
    February 2, 2010 at 7:07 pm

    @ Don: obviously we need a “like” button for blog authors too.
    @CPP #13: I’m not surprised.

  30. Windol
    February 4, 2010 at 6:44 pm

    Dear Zuska,
    Why do you block tor? I’ve tried to post with tor several times and the comment doesn’t appear. Last time I checked it worked on other scienceblogs blogs. There are lots of good reasons people have for using tor. Have a look at the tor site for a few FAQs on the matter.
    But of course you’ll probably never even see this because the post is too old and there’s too many comments to read for someone who is so busy being kickass….

  31. February 5, 2010 at 9:18 pm

    Windol, I don’t know what you are talking about. I am not aware of doing anything with settings on my blog to actively block tor. Is there something I need to do to actively allow it?

  32. Size
    February 6, 2010 at 12:48 pm

    I don’t know much about blog software, but as far as I know, with some of it, you can turn off comments. I suppose if you just want a megaphone to shout your insights to the world and assume they have no need to respond, you can do that too.
    I also don’t know Richard Grant, so I don’t know if he is saying that no comments is good, or simply that pandering for comments does not result in better blogs.
    What I do know is that if you wrote a perfect post, you would get no comments at all, because there would be absolutely nothing to add. Not even a “right on!” would be necessary because it would be so universally obvious that everyone agrees with you!
    (I don’t comment here that often, so I should clarify that that last paragraph was a joke.)

  33. melapompi@yahoo.com
    March 4, 2010 at 10:19 am

    moderate the comment
    melapompi@yahoo.com

  34. March 17, 2010 at 12:12 am

    I don’t apperceive abundant about blog software, but as far as I know, with some of it, you can about-face off comments. I accept if you just wish a megaphone to bark your insights to the apple and accept they accept no charge to respond, you can do that too.
    I aswell don’t apperceive Richard Grant, so I don’t apperceive if he is adage that no comments is good, or artlessly that pandering for comments does not aftereffect in bigger blogs.
    What I do apperceive is that if you wrote a absolute post, you would get no comments at all, because there would be actually annihilation to add. Not even a “right on!” would be all-important because it would be so universally accessible that anybody agrees with you!

  35. April 15, 2010 at 12:12 am

    Your blog is very nice that manuscripts that are downloaded and cited are not necessarily good? Or that high impact factor is bogus since it reflects quantity not quality. thanks for shearing.

  36. July 16, 2010 at 4:30 am

    I really like the title of the blog as it forces people to comment on it. The blogger has done smart thing by putting this as title. I don’t find any reason for not commenting on this blog.

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