Wow! It’s hard to believe the Comment Challenge is almost half-over! The past week has been insanely busy with our move downtown and three sets of friends arriving in Bangkok back-to-back. It’s been an absolute pleasure to host our guests (including the wonderful Susan Sedro and Chrissy Hellyer) in our lovely new apartment, but having so much going on means that I haven’t been as active in the Comment Challenge as I wanted to be. Thankfully, things are finally starting to return back to normal, so I’ll play a little “catch-up” here and then get back into the swing of things!
I’m taking Sue’s advice and posting my consolidated reflections from the first ten days here:
Day 1: Do a Commenting Self-Audit
My Committing to Conversations post fits nicely under this task, though I did like Michele’s question/idea about commenting on at least one new blog each week. When I comment, I tend to do so almost exclusively on the blogs in my reader, which means I’m more likely to comment on the same blogs each week, but I love the idea of making a concentrated effort to comment on one new blog each week. This will help me open up to more diverse conversations and certainly give me incentive to comment more frequently. I will definitely be adding that tidbit to my commenting habits in the future.
Generally speaking, when I do take the time to comment, I think I do a pretty good job, according to Gina Trapani’s Guide to Blog Comments. Honestly, I think it’s the pressure to make sure my comments are worthwhile that leads to my lack of commenting in the first place. Maybe I need to be more cavalier about the whole thing to begin with!
Day 2: Comment on a Blog You’ve Never Commented on Before
I’ve been enjoying leaving comments on new blogs for the duration of the challenge. I’ve been going up and down the list of participants and leaving comments on as many blogs as I can and it’s been amazing to see the learning that’s already taking place and to find new bloggers to add to my RSS reader. I am also thrilled to see all the video tours of this learning journey that other’s have taken the time to share – what a great way to document this adventure!
Day 3: Sign up for a Comment Tracking Service
I like these easy ones! I’m signed up on coComment and co.mments.
Day 4: Ask a Question in a Blog Comment
I have to admit, I don’t have a problem asking a question in a blog comment, my problem is remembering to go back and see if there’s an answer. My favorite bloggers usually write an e-mail back with the answer from their perspective, but the real point of this challenge is to start open conversations with all commenters on a single post. Which means I need to make better use of my coComment account.
Day 5: Comment on a Blog Post You Don’t Agree With
Generally speaking, I would say I’m a gentle disagreer. Even though my comment may challenge the ideas in the post, I usually try to be as delicate as possible, often asking questions rather than stating an out-and-out “I disagree.” Maybe the purpose of this activity was to be a little more forthright, but I still used my slightly less aggressive way and ended up starting some good dialog. I think the more angry or opinionated you are, the more chance you have of closing off the conversation entirely – and that seems to be the exact opposite of what we’re trying to encourage here.
I must admit that I tend to read the blogs of like-minded people, which means I am much more likely to agree with a post than disagree. Usually if I find myself disagreeing, I’ll pose some questions as comments and see what develops. Of course, I’m just as likely to forget I posted those questions in the end anyway, so unless the blogger e-mails me back, the whole “conversation” bit is a lost cause with me. Clearly, I need to work on my comment tracking habits. Just because I use the coComment extension doesn’t mean I have a habit of going back to those comments I tracked.
Day 6: Engage another Commenter in Discussion
Thanks to Twitter for the @name evolution of replying to comments. I love being able to look down a long list of comments and trace the conversations back and forth. It’s especially interesting to see how readers can develop their own conversation on a blog post – even without the author’s facilitation, thanks to the clear @name response practice. For me, this means I need to be better at following up on comments to see if there are responses to something I said. Hmm… can you see a trend here?
Day 7: Reflect on What You’ve Learned so Far
So, I’m about three days late on this one… better late than never, right? Either way, I think it’s pretty obvious that I need to actually utilize my coComment account for it’s intended purpose – tracking conversations. Clearly I’m all to likely to forget I’ve started a conversation, which pretty much invalidates the whole point of commenting in the first place.
I’ve started a new folder in my Google Reader for items I’m “tracking.” In there I have my coComment and co.mment RSS. Now I just need to develop a routine of checking every morning and responding to any responses that might have been posted. It’s all about routine for me.
Day 8: Comment on a blog outside of your niche
There are a few tech related blogs that I read on a regular basis, and although I very rarely comment, I am often amazed at the sometimes rude or angry tone that commenters take. I think there’s definitely a more welcoming, thoughtful, and supportive environment prevailing among edubloggers. Of course, that’s not to say that all edubloggers are supportive, there are certainly a few I can think of off the top of my head that seem to enjoy enraging the authors of the posts they read, but for the most part, we seem to be very careful to model good commenting practice, even in our personal blogging experience. It definitely makes me more likely to comment on educational blogs than some of the others I read.
Day 9: Should We Be Commenting on Blogs?
I think this is a personal decision. Blogging helps me think, work through ideas, formalize my thoughts, and connect my learning. For me, commenting enhances all of those things, so there is no blogging without commenting for me. When I take the time to comment on other people’s blogs I deepen my learning, question my thinking, and open my mind to new ideas. When other people take the time to comment on my blog I learn something new, have a chance to refine my ideas and connect with other learners. Taking any of those pieces away in favor of only hearing the author’s voice in isolation just seems like a virtual soapbox to me.
There are lots of other places online to start conversations from Twitter to Ning, but there is something special about blogging. It feels more personal, like the author’s “home” on the web – this is the place where we can go to learn more about the many thoughts of the author – not just one specific thread on a forum. I enjoy “getting to know” a new blogger through their previous posts and responses to comments.
Day 10: Do a Comment Audit on Your Own Blog
After reading Michele’s post entitled: 6 Reasons People Aren’t Commenting on Your Blog, I think I’m doing reasonably OK in welcoming comments on this blog. I think I have a tendency to write more posts with “finished” thoughts than “unfinished,” which most likely lessens the number of comments I could get, but I think that’s more an indicator of my personality than a conscious decision. I usually take a long time to process information and am hesitant to write anything down until I’m done, which in essence can appear to be more “finished” than I might actually be. It would be nice to write more open-ended/”unfinished” posts to encourage more dialog here, and that would be a real challenge for me!
What do you think? Am I a “welcoming” blogger? Or do I sound like I’m not interested in your ideas? I certainly hope my posts don’t sound like press releases! I’d love to hear your feedback about what I can do to make my blog a more welcoming place!
Tags: comment08, Sue Waters, Silvia Tolisano, The Comment Challenge, Michele Martin, commenting, comment, challenge, blog citizen,