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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Have a chatty day!