Where have all the comments gone?

by Sally on March 30, 2011

This is a guest post from Jen, who blogs at The Mad House, and helps run the MAD Blog Awards and Tots100:

There has been lots of discussion among bloggers about a reduced number of comments on blogs lately, which has got me thinking.

Are we getting less comments than we used to?

I am getting fewer comments on my blog than I did a year ago, and a lot of fellow bloggers tell me they are having the same experience. I don’t regularly check my stats, but for the purposes of this post, I did and noticed that although I am getting more readers than ever before, I am getting fewer and fewer comments.  Why is that?  Am I writing boring posts? Are my posts not engaging?

I don’t think so (obviously – my posts are brilliant).

When I look at my own behaviour as a blog reader, I don’t think I’m commenting any less than before, but what I am doing is spreading those comments out across more blogs.  The number of blogs I read is growing month on month – we now have more than 1,500 bloggers registered on the Tots 100, for example.  So I am reading a more diverse range of blogs and only commenting on those posts that really appeal to me. I don’t have time to comment on every blog.

The second trend I observe is that my posts get many comments now on Twitter and Facebook – people will often Tweet to let me know they thought something was a great post, but there just isn’t the volume of  comments on the blog anymore.

A third explanation is the number of people reading blog posts on their mobiles, iPads and phones – which may not allow them to use commenting systems like Disqus, so they are more likely to leave without commenting.

So how can bloggers recover their comments?

I do think many of the people who are commenting are commenting on memes and Linky posts – often these posts seem to generate enormous numbers of very short comments, which are frequently reciprocated – with everyone taking part doing the rounds and leaving one or two words on each post. I don’t tend to write those sorts of posts as they don’t suit my blog, though.

Then there are comment circles, but I confess they’re not a perfect solution in my eyes. I don’t want people to feel obliged to comment or to return a comment because I have commented on their blog. For me, it’s a short step from telling you who to comment on to telling you who to read, what to write and what shoes to wear in the morning.

I would love to know your thoughts on why you think comments on blogs are in decline – do you think comments are on the decline? Does it bother you, as a blogger?

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{ 38 comments… read them below or add one }

Nickie@Typecast March 30, 2011 at 11:29 PM

I wouldn’t say I’d experienced a decline in comments but I have noticed that some of my “regulars” don’t comment as much any more. I do agree with your observation that there are more blogs and only the same amount of time as there was a year ago. It’s like we’ve come full circle… we no longer feel the necessity to comment just for the sake of commenting. I think some people rely on the fact that lots of comments makes it look like their blog has lots of readers. Once you’ve got over that hurdle you can settle into “blogging for enjoyment”.

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TheMadHouse March 31, 2011 at 9:38 AM

I do not think I had ever commented just for the sake of commenting, but do agree that there is a feeling that a lot of commentators equals a lot of readers.

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Rosie Scribble March 31, 2011 at 8:17 AM

I think this post is spot on, Jen. I get a lot more readers but substantially fewer comments than ever before (and I have to admit I love getting comments). I agree completely with the reasons you have given. I also leave fewer comments because I read more blogs and there just isn’t time to comment on everyone’s. I expect many bloggers are in the same position. I’ll be interested in what others say. Fabulous post by the way (and notice I commented at 08.17 when I should be doing the school run!)

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TheMadHouse March 31, 2011 at 9:39 AM

I love comments too Rosie. I love engauging with people and comments are one of the ways that I feel I do that. I do think that people are also time poor too and pah to school runs!

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Donna@MummyCentral March 31, 2011 at 8:23 AM

We’re pretty new to the blogging scene – just a few months old – and notice that we only get a max of about 5 comments per blog. But that doesn’t mean we haven’t had lots of readers. Strangely, the ‘about us’ section of our blog get as many reads as our most popular blogs (probably people just wondering who these newbies are). Likewise, we don’t feel memes suit our blog – but it’s tempting to get involved just to generate more comments, which are always nice to receive.
Just hoping as people get to know us, we might get more comments. We’re also making the effort to comment on others too.

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TheMadHouse March 31, 2011 at 9:54 AM

I love “about us” sections of peoples blogs and it is often the first place I visit. I think I am a bit of a net curtain twitcher, I love knowing about other people and their lives, so I guess this is why I visit that page first. When I started blogging I made an effort to comment on posts and I think I gained a lot of readers that way, it is an organic way to grow your readership.

Guess where I am off to next!

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Alex March 31, 2011 at 8:27 AM

Engagement has changed, a lot more since more people are on twitter now too. If you have a “follow me on twitter” link on your blog, I think you tend to get more comments via twitter than the comments box. Especially if you have a catchpa to stop all those nasty spammers.

Bothered? Nope, average visit time and pages per visit show me that people are reading the whole piece and probably reading another post too. Not that even that should bother me but you know ……. ;)

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TheMadHouse March 31, 2011 at 10:00 AM

an not a fan of catchpa as a dyslexic it takes me an age to get it right! I think you are right engagement has changed, I do wonder if there is a way to import comments from twitter, as it is nice to have them all in one place

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Wendy Constantinoff March 31, 2011 at 8:57 AM

from a personal point of view I have so many blogs in my rss feed now that I tend to quickly skim read then decide whether to leave a comment. Often this depends on how much I am pushed for time. I don’t get many comments on mine but that doesn’t bother me.

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The Mad House March 31, 2011 at 10:01 AM

I think that the fact that you can not coment in a reader also reduces comments. O often forget to go back and comment

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Caroline March 31, 2011 at 9:14 AM

Two words: word verification. Drives me potty. And blogger is a nightmare for leaving comments, particularly if the writer chooses not to have a name/url option – it is SO difficult to make the openID one work (sometimes have to press enter and reload the page half a dozen times) that it puts people off. Who has the time?

One of the keys, IMHO, is to make leaving a comment as easy as it possibly can be.

Great post, though, and totally agree with what you say, particularly about Twitter.

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Vic March 31, 2011 at 9:18 AM

I’m sure some of my regulars have disappeared from my comments box because we text, email and chat on the phone all day long. By the time something hits my blog there’s a good chance that we’ve already talked the topic to death.

If it’s any consolation, I once made the effort to comment on every blog post I read. For a month. Didn’t see much of a rise in comments then though.

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The Mad House March 31, 2011 at 10:02 AM

Oh yes sometimes the real world and the blog world become one in the same and this does reduce comments. It is interesting that you didnt get more comments, the more you left.

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Sally March 31, 2011 at 9:21 AM

For me, actually, I probably get the same number of comments as I used to, but I do find they’re from a larger pool of readers, if you see what I mean. Many people who would regularly comment on my posts a year ago now tend to Tweet me, or might comment on Facebook. I find many of my commenters now are people I don’t ‘know’ – ie not other bloggers – which is actually pretty nice sometimes.

I do consciously make an effort these days to comment on more blogs and read more blogs because of running the Tots100 but as you say, there are so many great blogs out there that I cannot possibly comment on all the ones I find interesting, there just aren’t the hours in the day.

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The Coffee Lady March 31, 2011 at 9:29 AM

Exactly. I posted about this on the Blogger.Ed forum a while ago. My gut feeling is that some ‘older’ bloggers I know are becoming less active, and are posting less on their own blogs, whereas new readers feel less need to leave comments. I did a ‘Blog delurking’ thing a while ago and got about 60 comments, mainly from people I never even knew were reading my blog.

In a way I am heartened by it, because I know they are reading my blog because they like my writing and not in order to leave a link to their own. I don’t really like the ‘you read my blog and I will read your blog’ thing – I think you should read blogs you admire. I’d rather have someone reading my blog in silence for months than someone just leaving a comment once solely because they think it will drive traffic over to them.

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@simply_Hayley March 31, 2011 at 9:33 AM

As Jen has said its strange because numbers are up yet comments are down. I think part of it sometimes can be peoples complicated commenting systems! Maybe its also a lack of time to go from a reader to the post to then find the link, sign in or word vericate etc!

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PippaD @ A Mothers Ramblings March 31, 2011 at 9:52 AM

I have never had lots of comments compared to the number of readers that I have, but I do find that some of the things that I am “known” for in blogging circles get more comments as people know that it will be funny/stupid/talked about in the future.

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Mark Pack March 31, 2011 at 9:57 AM

Your experience of Twitter and Facebook mirrors mine across several sites in different sectors – online discussion has partly migrated from comment threads to Facebook and Twitter. It’s particularly notable on sites which integrate, say, tweets with comments how high a proportion of the total is often from tweets.

I’m about to try out Facebook’s commenting features on a blog, and it’ll be interesting to see the impact of that as it may pull things together in a way that encourages more commenting overall.

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Barenakedmummy March 31, 2011 at 10:02 AM

I know that I am guilty of this. I think that as I find more blogs to read the time I have to comment on each and every blog lessens. Also, I know we all love comment love but I feel if I did comment on everything it would just be commenting for the sake of it!

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Manda March 31, 2011 at 12:09 PM

Well… I haven’t personally blogged for ages now – erm, in fact my blog has been sat there doing nothing for about a year *slap hands* plus it’s broken! (I will pick it up again soon!) so I can’t comment. BUT what I can comment on is that I agree with the diquss thing about mobiles, and about mobiles in general – it takes too long to load and is fidgety with keys… so yes I do think that it puts people off commenting as I don’t even try and comment now when on my mobile.
Anyways… that’s all from me folks.
From Manda
(at her desk on her computer!)

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Aly March 31, 2011 at 1:16 PM

The only time I get a huge amountof comments is when I do Silent Sunday/Writing workshop etc.But I feel it’s only because they feel have to which is why I haven’t taken part for a while.I am like most people who have commented, reading a lot more blogs now and due to my stupid technical errors got bit behind.I also get more comments on Twitter because not everyone blogs so don’t want to sign up for Google etc just to comment now and then.I don’t like Disqus, Intense Debate etc really but it doesn’t stop me from commenting.I think if I pimped my posts a lot more regularly I might get more comments.But having around 100 subscribers I would of thought I’d get more.But hey ho! *sneaks off to comment on 100+ blogs*

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Cheril March 31, 2011 at 1:19 PM

Great post, I personally only really turn on my laptop in an evening (apart from now i have switched it on especially to leave this comment) I use my phone in the day and find that I can’t comment on blogs, if i have read one that i want to comment on, i favourite it on Twitter then go back to it later on.
I don’t get many comments on my posts, there are quite a few on my blog that haven’t got any comments, this is ok though as my blog is for me primarily.
In my opinion the Captcha is off putting, I am more likely to leave a comment if it is easy to do so!
( hope this makes sense)

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Michelle Twin Mum March 31, 2011 at 1:27 PM

For me my comments are up but then I would expect that as I have far more readers than I did a year ago. It is only probably in the last 6-8 months that my blog had any real effort put into it.

I know that I comment less. I found I had to make a decision between spending all my timing readina dn commenting and not writing on my own blog. I now write more and read and comment less. Having said that I do still comment a lot but like you say over a much wider range of blogs.

Mich x

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Nicki Cawood March 31, 2011 at 1:56 PM

It’s all your own fault, too many blooming good blogs to get through, no time for comments lol!
I completely agree re word verification and some systems being a pain to post on. I must get into the habit of copying my comments before I “submit” so I don’t have to rewrite them when they magically disappear.
On the upside, if people are leaving less comments, it stands to reason the ones they are writing mean more (to them) if they have made the extra effort. It’s a strange one, readership up and comments down sees to be the story pretty much across the board.

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becky March 31, 2011 at 4:52 PM

captcha is a nightmare for me to jen sometimes i cant see where to comment either and am frequently in ahurry so cant persisit. i love getting commnets but get v few compare dto my readership. still it makes those that do more precious ;-) good post jen x

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Amber March 31, 2011 at 6:46 PM

I have definitley noticed this (more readers, not as many comments), and find it hard not to get disheartened by it sometimes: I hate the feeling of publishing a post and feeling like it didn’t interest anyone enough to comment, but I do think the increased use of social media is partly to blame, if “blame” is even the right word. I’ve noticed that a lot of my regular readers now comment on Twitter or Facebook (I rarely use either of them, so I miss a lot of these comments – sometimes I won’t check Twitter for a few days and then think, “Ah, so people DID read that post!”) rather on the blogs, which can give the blogs a bit of a “tumbleweedy” feel to it. Now that I think about it, though, I’m just as much to blame, because I comment less myself these days: I follow so many blogs that I just don’t have time to comment on them all, and a lot of my favourites are on Blogger, which I find an absolute pain to comment on – in fact, sometimes it doesn’t let me comment at all.

I really miss the days where long conversations used to develop in the comment sections of blogs. It used to feel like a real community, but that community now seems to have moved to Twitter/Facebook and left me behind!

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Bumbling March 31, 2011 at 9:04 PM

I comment a lot. I comment more than I blog!

I agree with all of your points. But I also think that there are fewer bloggy people commenting. As I potter along, commenting on the 330 blogs in my google reader (OK, I don’t comment on them all…), I frequently see the same bloggy names commenting. What’s nicer is when you see non-bloggy people – readers, you know – commenting. I was a reader for many years before I blogged myself, and rarely had the guts to comment. So when I see non-bloggers commenting on a post, I know that blogger is doing a great outreach job.

[and yes, I'm excluding linky/bloggy meme type things.]

[and I have overused the non-word bloggy. Sorry.]

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northernmum March 31, 2011 at 10:07 PM

I love comments, it makes me feel all warm inside. Sometimes if I dont get any I pop into my spam file as I can always find some in there!

I do try and comment on blogs I enjoy but the majority of time I am on my blackberry which tends to spasm if you have to do word verification and it also doesnt like blogger.

I do try and RT if I cant leave a comment!

I really love it when a ‘real life’ friends comments it is like two worlds colliding!

Fab post Jen
x

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Mwa (Lost in Translation) April 1, 2011 at 12:26 PM

I think you’re right about just reading so many blogs. Also, I think some bloggers start blogging when they have a “quieter” time in their lives, and then later on they get so busy that they just don’t get the chance to comment so much any more. (Like me, starting when my second baby got a bit bigger and flailing a little now my third baby is little.)

Maybe only new bloggers comment a lot as a rule, so if you want lots and lots of comments you have to get new readers constantly. Also, as you yourself stop commenting so much, obviously other people will comment less. I do find myself commenting consistently on blogs by writers who comment on mine all the time because they feel like friends more than random writers.

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cartside April 1, 2011 at 3:00 PM

Interesting, I had wondered why, though having more readers per post, I have less comments.
My comment behaviour has changed since last year – I comment less because I simply don’t have the time. My google reader is full of fab blogs and I just about manage to read 1/10 of it, nevermind comment. So I only comment very occasionally though I’d like to comment more often. I also don’t do Twitter because if I did that, I’d have no time for anything but online stuff. (and I wonder how people manage to do all this – maybe it’s easier with handheld devices, which I don’t use myself).

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Louisa April 3, 2011 at 10:31 AM

I wonder if it’s because most of the ppl reading blogs are other bloggers and as you said -there are now more blogs but same amt of time. For me, I think one of the goals is to get more non-blogger readers although then they aren’t necessarily savvy onthe wholecommening front.ARGH myspacebarwon’tworksostoppingtalkingnow.

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Merry April 3, 2011 at 1:17 PM

I wonder if we are just going through into a new phase; lots of people blog as part of a fad and it could be that phase one (five, seventy, 325…?!) of ‘mummy blogging’ has been and gone and people are a little tired of it in some way and engaging less, or feeling less likely to try and woo comments. And it will come back, possibly with the darker nights :D

When I started blogging my friends and I (people I met online but who became real life friends) and I always commented on each other posts because that was our best communication tool. These days we rarely do because we communicate privately on a private forum. We hardly need to read each other as we speak more ‘hourly’. Perhaps people all over the internet go through similar ‘out loud’ and ‘in private’ phases as they make groups of closer friends?

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Natalie April 20, 2011 at 7:08 PM

Interesting post. I’m not a huge commenter but am a huge reader, so I guess I am in the lurker category. When I first started blogging almost seven years ago (jaysus), the way to interact was via comments. Now there is Twitter, Facebook, liking and sharing on GReader etc. It’s great but kinda…exhausting. You could in effect leave a comment, retweet and reply on Twitter, like on Facebook – that’s a lot going on.

I don’t believe in leaving comments for comments sake. I don’t feel that people who don’t comment are any less valid but I did find that I was reluctant to comment on some blogs because it was like interrupting a private conversation between a gang and it’s also offputting when people are ‘collecting’ comments.

On my other blog Baggage Reclaim, comments have grown dramatically over the past year (and I moderate comments) and when I think about sites I do comment on, it’s about whether the type of content sparks that type of response. There are a lot of distractions – thought provoking and valuable content will always grab me. Like this post.

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Michelloui | The American Resident May 10, 2011 at 11:31 AM

I have found the same–a lot more readers but a lot fewer comments. I thought it was possibly a result of my behaviour in the blogosphere because I read more blogs which means I leave fewer comments (I now only comment if I am really compelled to add something, as today!) so I figure fewer people are reciprocating. While it’s awesome to get comments, I am just pleased the numbers of readers are still rising!

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Liska May 15, 2011 at 10:18 AM

At least the post about comments got a lot of comments :-)
It is true though, the point you are making
x

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Tania @ Larger Family Life June 15, 2011 at 11:45 AM

I’ve found that the higher the number of visits and subscribers the lower the comments I have received. Having said that, one or two posts every now and then seem to go into overdrive with comments which is nice to see. Doesn’t seem to be any rhyme nor reason to me.

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Becky June 22, 2011 at 5:54 PM

I have noticed that commentors are very hard to come by and assumed it was because my blog is fairly new. Discussion through social media platforms instead is a very valid reason for such a trend though – I recently linked to one of my posts on Facebook and received a lot of visitors from it, however not a single one left a comment on my blog.

I always try to comment on an post when I feel I have something useful to say. Like others have already mentioned though, captcha can be downright frustrating and I particularly dislike commenting on blogspot blogs.

I appreciate it when a blog allows me to sign-up for notification of new comments as I like to return and follow the discussion. I also like the use of commentluv as it’s a nice way to give a little plug to someone commenting without looking spammy.

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Beth June 24, 2011 at 9:50 PM

I got a few comments on my first few posts. Now they’ve dwindled down to one or two per post, and I think they’re sympathy comments as they’re always from my sister

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