A Piece Of Your Mind

I love it when readers comment.  It is absolutely exhilarating to have empirical evidence that someone out there is actually reading.  Also, I learn a lot from the various points of view expressed in the comments and emails I receive.  It is one of the best feelings ever.

I remember the first comment I saw.  It was from someone I knew in my work life who I valued a great deal, but didn’t really expect to hear from after I stopped working.  In retrospect, I should have known she would respond when I sent my initial email to the chosen few I invited to read my blog.  I chose the “chosen few” based on how much I trusted their courtesy and graciousness.  I couldn’t bear to start my blogging career to the sounds of silence.

Then there was the first real comment I had from someone I did not already know.  That was pretty amazing.  The idea that folks who I could not manipulate with guilt honed from years of prior relationship would read my blog and be moved to engage with me pretty much rocked my world.

Since then, I have enjoyed the camaraderie developed through the blogging repartee.  It expands my mind and heart to get the perspectives of others.  We often agree and build a richer recipe of thought when we collaborate on ideas.  When we don’t agree, I always appreciate hearing the music of someone else’s mind…. especially when that someone has obviously thought and felt enough about the subject to actually respond to a blog post.  I have been so touched and strengthened by the wave of caring and support that readers have pushed my way since my mother’s stroke.  One of the many unexpected blessings I’ve found in writing the blog has been this infusion of fortitude that comes from you all.

Of course, not all comments are created equal. When I first started, I received these enticingly flattering comments that seemed just a bit, well, off.  They seemed to come from all over the world. The diction and syntax were bizarre, to say the least. Still, it seemed kind of snobbish to dismiss the comments just because the English was poor.   I had read about spam commenters, but I wasn’t sure these were spammers.  There was nothing in the comments themselves mentioning products or services.  When I clicked on the URLs they provided, I still wasn’t clear about any nefarious motive for the commenting.  I tried emailing some of these commenters and it turned out that the email addresses were invalid.  I did some internet surfing to try to figure out what it all meant.  It turned out that they were, indeed, spam comments.  The key factors were the bad email addresses and the fact that the comments were exceptionally generic.  The likely culprits were sketchy Search Engine Optimization (SEO) companies that have ways of mass commenting to get their clients’ website links out into the blogosphere, thus increasing clicks to the client websites.  Even after learning that these blog responses were bogus, it was still traumatic to actually delete such glowingly complimentary words.  It felt so ungracious and I kept wondering if they were really spam.  To soothe my wounded politeness gene, I installed a plug-in program to identify the spam for me.

I went along, quite merrily, for some time with these generic, benign kinds of spam comments promoting SEO clients.  They were kind of a learning tool for me.  In trying to figure out what was going on, I learned a lot about how the SEO process works.  I couldn’t explain it in technical terms, but I think I did gain a general understanding of the concept.  Occasionally, something a little uglier came in, but I didn’t obsess over it because the spam program identified it as impersonal and meaningless.

Then the porn spam started. It took about a year for it to kick in and I’m not sure why.  I think it must have had something to do with my innocent use of the word “sod” in my piece called A Sod, Sod, Story.  Apparently, the word triggers connotations beyond “lawn” in some circles.  Almost all the porn comments I received were on that piece and appeared long, long, long after I posted it.  Luckily, the spam program ensnared them before publication and sent them to me to review.  After a few weeks of being treated to snippets of salaciousness in my blog’s spam box, I solved the problem by closing comments on postings after a specific period of time.  That made the problem a self-limiting condition.  I don’t think I’ll be including the word “sod” in any future blog titles.

A few overly enthusiastic SEO agents and purveyors of pornography aside, comments are wonderful.  Every week, I look forward to hearing your thoughts.  It is interesting to see which topics inspire the most reader response and activity.  Please continue to share your perspectives.  Please keep giving me your two cents worth.  To me, your two cents are worth a million dollars!

I hope it doesn’t seem greedy to ask for comments about… well… comments.  What motivates you to comment on a blog post?  Are there any reader comments that have struck a particular chord for you?  Please share your perspective by leaving a comment.  In the alternative, you can email me at terriretirement@gmail.com.

Have a chatty day!

Terri 🙂

8 thoughts on “A Piece Of Your Mind”

  1. I comment because I see blogs as a conversation and not a business. Sometimes my comments are misinterpreted, and have been labeled trolls. That has been very disturbing. Have been enjoying your blog and will continue to do so. Thank you for writing!

  2. I only learned about spam comments this week! It’s amazing how 3 different bloggers are writing about the same topic… I’ve been blogging for 2 years without knowing about spam. WordPress (the site I blog on) manages Spam and I never even knew it was there.

    As to comments, I find that the comments I get on my own blog validate me. The also inspire me and support me. I comment on another blog when something connects to my heart or when something spurs my own thinking. I don’t just comment “nice post” – if I just like it, I hit “like” if that is available to do. I read 5-6 bloggers regularly, and another 3-5 irregularly. I do read others comments as well as I try to “add to the conversation”. Most of the bloggers I read are dealing with the new stage of retirement (minus one year to 6 years in). So I have a lot on common and feel I can add to the conversation or provide additional insight. I don’t know how some folks follow 10-20 regularly!

    I don’t get many comments myself – a few of the same folks will comment often – those who I now consider “virtual friends”. They know me quite well as I share a lot of myself in my blog. I know I have quite a few readers who don’t comment (based on stats), and even a few IRL friends & family reading (and not commenting) who have mentioned to me things I’ve said in my blog. I guess I was surprised how few of my IRL friends are regular readers.

    One blogger I read irregularly gets 75-80 comments per blog and responds to every one. Again, I have no idea how she manages it. A few bloggers I read, I’m often the only commenter. I’m not sure if comments are a sign of a blog success, but sometimes I feel like they are…maybe incorrectly.

    So there’s my 2 cents worth. 🙂 Have a million dollar day!

    1. I think a lot of people are uncomfortable with “going public” by commenting on the Internet. I think it can feel a little exposed at first, even if you don’t publish real personal information. That’s why I include an email address. I get some comments that way, which is nice for me even if they never make it to the public blogosphere! I’ll take whatever people feel comfortable doing.

      I’m not sure what the deal is with the spam. I have WordPress, which allows me to monitor comments from new posters before they appear. I also installed askimet, which did a great job identifying the spam comments. I regularly had 5-10 spam comments a day in the askimet net and sometimes more. In the past few months, though, I have been getting way fewer. I think that means the askimet has “trained” the spammers to exclude me. My visits and unique visitors have gone down about 10% in that time, but the hits, pages, and visit duration continue to increase. I dont know for sure, but I’m correlating those statistical changes with the decrease in spam. I’m calling it a victory, anywho!

  3. Love your blog but miss your emails! I do so enjoy hearing what you’ve been up to. I always read them, even when I don’t leave a comment. Xo

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