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A Little Discussion Spices Up a Blog Post

After nearly 10 years of writing blog posts, reading blog posts, and commenting on blog posts, I have a pretty good idea of what I like in a blog post: an interesting (to me) topic, well-written, and relatively short. Good comments by other bloggers are a definite bonus. They can elevate a post from statement to conversation.

What are good comments? Ones that add something to what the blogger said, even by arguing disagreeing a bit. Remember what we’re always being told about our fiction writing — conflict adds interest. No one likes vitriolic troll-spew, but when every single comment is blandly positive (Great post! Thanks for this! Got to bookmark!), or there are no comments at all, the reading experience falls flat.

For example, a while ago, I read a reblogged post advising writers to use “sensitivity readers.” I knew from elsewhere that this topic is controversial; some writers see it as bordering on self-censorship. Several bloggers “liked” the post, but no one had anything to say about it. I’ve seen this happen often enough to wonder. Did all these readers just think, “Oh, okay,” and move on to the next thing? (And did I put in my 2 cents’ worth? No, actually. Being in the Far West of the world, I’m often among the last bloggers to read a post, and there’s not much point in formulating a comment only the original poster will see.)

Some posts lend themselves better than others to discussion-type comments. If someone is announcing a new book or sharing a milestone of some sort, no discussion is needed. On the other hand, posts offering advice to writers, or strongly worded screeds taking a particular position on an issue, are vastly improved by comments.

I’m not advocating flat condemnations or being argumentative for the sake of it, but sometimes I wish people wouldn’t appear to swallow all advice with a bland affirmation. If you have reservations or questions about advice given or opinions expressed in a post, articulate them! If you’re a published writer with any measure of success, you have a ground from which to comment and question.

Perhaps bloggers are reluctant to differ with or question opinions in a post because they fear being labelled as negative. In the culture of “positivity,” an apparently negative attitude is perceived as a major flaw. I agree that whiny, bitter screeds full of self-pity, or personal attacks are never acceptable, but a bit of civilized discussion can add dimension and interest to a post.

We’ve all heard this piece of advice: “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything.” I suggest modifying it to: “If you don’t agree with something, turn your disagreement into an opportunity to discuss.”

So, fellow bloggers, what do you think? How do you feel about a bit of civilized quibbling? Feel free to disagree!

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99 comments

  1. I do prefer some discussion and am happy that I get that for many of my blog posts. I do refrain from political or religious discussions though when I am commenting. And some days I just run out of time to comment, even though I would like to. I am happy with short comments as well as it shows folks are reading my blog. Congrats on 10 years of blogging!!

    Liked by 4 people

    1. My experience is much the same as yours, Darlene. I tend to stay away from political or religious discussions, and sometimes I run out time and energy to leave comments. (I may be subscribed to too many blogs.) I, too, am happy with short comments that show someone is reading my blog.

      Liked by 2 people

    2. Thanks, Darlene! You’re right — religion and politics are best left alone, except by those with thick skins and combative attitudes. I stick to writing and gardening, with the occasional departure into some peripheral topic. And I’ve found it’s best to avoid commenting late at night when the brain is tired.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. I think any interaction is a good thing, but all too often people just ‘like’ and move on.
    and although the ‘great, loved it’ comments are wonderful in their way, we love it when people stop to talk. About anything really, communication is a two way street…

    Liked by 4 people

  3. Thanks for your post Audrey. I am reminded of a time when I read a post by a black lady who was arguing that white people should not teach black students about slavery. Every single comment was wholly in support of the blogger’s perspective. I ventured the opinion that, of course the issue of slavery is a sensative subject, however anyone (irrespective of their skin coulour) could teach about the subject (provided they possessed relevant qualifications and retained academic objectivity). I also said that I, as someone who is disabled (I am registered blind), had no objection to non-disabled people writing or talking about disability issues. But, when they do so its important that they research their opinion/article properly preferably by talking to a variety of people with disabilities or, if this is not possible by reading up thoroughly on the subject. My comment never appeared which, to be frank irked me considerably. Several months later I received an email from the blogger concerned saying that my view could have caused offence to her readership, consequently she haden’t published my perspective. My own view of the matter is the blogger couldn’t stomach the fact that someone held an opinion contrary to her own so, rather than engaging in civilised debate chose not to allow me a platform. By so doing she created an echo chamber in which only those who agreed with her would be allowed to speak which does, in my opinion lead to a sterile environment. Of course it was the blogger’s right to act as they did, but it is not how I would have acted. Best, Kevin

    Liked by 4 people

      1. I didn’t think of that. What worries me greatly is the view that only those with direct experience of something have a right to write or speak about that subject. Empath is irrelevant (so the argument goes), you must be disabled to speak about disability, or black to have any right to speak about the racism experienced by black people. I have come across several discussions in which sex workers (who defend the right of men to pay for sex and who, have on the whole had a positive experience of the industry), are shouted down by peopl (sometimes former sex workers, but often not), who argue that those who have had relatively positive experiences of sex work are unrepresented and are “privileged”. The word “privileged” is, in my experience frequently employed to silence anyone who has the cheek to hold an opinion contrary to your own! Kevin

        Liked by 3 people

        1. I’ve heard similar discussions on various radio programs. Even when I listen hard, inevitably I lose the thread of the argument, which somehow comes down to lived experience being the only worthwhile credential. I still don’t quite get it. As you say, someone who approaches any topic with respect and takes the trouble to inform themselves should feel free to voice an opinion. But many don’t agree.

          Liked by 2 people

    1. Eli Pariser’s filter bubbles in action! I would not have acted as the blogger did either, Kevin. If they’re respectful, well-reasoned, and supported by valid evidence, then I consider opposing viewpoints to be multiple perspectives that need to be analyzed and synthesized to result in new knowledge and understanding.

      Liked by 2 people

    2. I think some people either don’t like conflict or don’t know how to deal with it, i.e., moderate a discussion. Echo chambers are more pleasant to be in, but don’t generate new insights. Sterile, as you say.
      Thanks for your thoughts on this, Kevin.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Yes, comments are better than silence, though if there are already 100 comments I think it’s okay to just press Like because I did like the post but there’s nothing more to add! Sometimes when I get interupted ( usually by Cyberspouse ) I say – hang on, I’m just trying to make an intelligent comment. Even if there is little to provoke discussion we can sometimes add an interesting or funny experience from our own country or age!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. That’s my approach too, Janet. If there are already a lot of comments, some of which say what I’m thinking, I just like and leave. Being on the west coast of Canada, and commenting at the end of my day, I’m often among the last to read a post. (I sometimes read posts in the morning on a tablet, but prefer to comment using a real keyboard.)

      Liked by 2 people

  5. Even if I like a post, I like to comment on what I particularly liked about–often a fresh turn of phrase or description. I’ll have to admit I had to look up sensitivity reader–it’s taking political correctness to a whole new level. A few years ago, someone wrote a children’s book about George Washington’s famous and award-winning enslaved chef, Hercules. The fact that an author celebrated an enslaved individual in a positive light created enough backlash for the author to pull the book.http://gwpapers.virginia.edu/an-enslaved-chef-in-a-free-city/ Hercules did escape from Mount Vernon and was believed to have ended up in Philadelphia. The city had a law that said that any slave that lived in Philadelphia more than 6 months would be free and George Washington sent Hercules to Philadelphia to be his cook when he became “President because the government was in Philadelphia at that time.

    Liked by 4 people

  6. Civilized disagreement or alternate perspectives in comments can certainly add interest to blog posts! I also enjoy the more common “enjoyed this” (especially if the reader says WHAT they enjoyed most about it), “congrats,” etc., which seems to indicate the post has actually been read and not just “liked.”

    Liked by 4 people

    1. There are many posts to which that sort of short answer is the best. And saying what the reader liked is helpful for the blogger. I just sometimes wonder why no contrary opinions are offered to posts that (to me, anyway) seem to cry out for them. Thanks for your comment here, Becky.

      Liked by 2 people

  7. I used to blog mainly about politics. The result was I got in a fair number of interesting disagreements, which could be fun, although I don’t think anyone’s mind ever got changed as a result.

    I agree that a constructive debate can be a good thing, but the problem in the world of the internet is that it can be hard to distinguish helpful disagreement from an attack. Some people will interpret every disagreement as hostile, even if it wasn’t intended to be. As a result, I usually refrain from voicing disagreements. I’m probably too cautious in this regard, but I prefer to err on the side of not upsetting people. (This is in contrast to my “RL” self, who has been frequently reprimanded for liking to argue too much. :))

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Politics seems to stir up the vitriol, all right, especially these days. And I have to admit, blogs and social media aren’t the best places to have extensive arguments. No body language nuances, no distractions that both parties can experience at once, etc. People end up defending their positions from their little internet foxholes. Best not to stir up that stuff, especially if it can get personal.

      Liked by 2 people

  8. I agree with you, but the problem is that without the tone of voice, body language or facial expression of the spoken word, things in writing can be misinterpreted. So, it takes a fair amount of thought and effort to write a comment that is sure not to offend or threaten.

    Liked by 4 people

      1. Maybe no one wants to be the person who introduces the dissenting opinion. And writers may fear being labelled “troublesome” by editors and other perceived authority figures. But really, a temperately voiced objection, without typos and with good grammar, should be welcomed.

        Liked by 2 people

    1. That could be why people prefer not to express contrary opinions, especially if they feel they have to make a case on something complex. I am pleased with the number and quality of comments this post has inspired, including yours. Thanks!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Fun post. I wonder what triggered it?

    I’ve been known to have a big opinion and a tiny mind and this combination has gotten me into numerous tiffs with bloggers (and other written communication channels). I don’t recall that the relationships, if there were any, ever recovered. I love to debate. Not everyone does. The risk is that you tangle with someone who feels the latter.

    In the few “discussions” that ended amicably I often thanked my opponent for a civil discussion. I’d like to think that helped heal any lingering wounds.

    And then there are those few fellow strong willed souls who rise to the occasion, again and again, with cogent, polite discourse. When I find one of those, they immediately become treasured personalities. “Alright! A challenger.”

    RE: the drive-by comments, it’s nice to know someone stopped by, like a smile and hello while strolling down a sidewalk in a big city.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. The post was triggered (or maybe inspired) by many occasions when, after reading advice of some sort, usually to do with writing or publishing, I was keen to join a discussion about the topic, only to find there wasn’t one. It sounds like you’ve had quite a bit of experience with online debates, some that ended badly. Because of the limitations (like each of us on our own asteroid having to wait minutes or hours for a response from the other person), not everyone does this stuff well, or at all. As you say, someone like that is a treasure. And I agree that “drive-by comments” (great term, btw) are much better than nothing.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. I immediately am attracted to a piece if I notice there are a lot of comments. I jump to the conclusion (perhaps wrongly at times) that the author must have written something thought-provoking or controversial. At times there are so many comments simply because the writer has so many followers.

    Liked by 3 people

  11. Since starting my website thanks to my adopted brother by my choice, whose mother knew mine so we verbally adopted each other, who owns a business in town, he suggested I build a site, I have applied what’s learned from college to paper setting to computer. Still have a great deal to learn. I have several mature writers I lean on to be accountable to. If anyone sees my webpage and recognize an improvement needed, my address is public.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I suppose it depends on the style of the blog and the stories that are posted. As a travel blogger the comments on my blog have always been good and relevant however I have noticed recently there is now a “new” style of blogger entering the blogging world which sometimes I find disappointing. Interesting post Audrey.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thanks, Lyn. I’ve commented on some of your posts when they’ve been about places I’ve been to myself; it’s always a nice surprise to get another point of view on one’s special places. I’m curious about the new style of blogger you mention. What is it about them you find disappointing?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. The new style of blog is more like social media. I am only aware of them as I always take a look at all likes and of course answer all comments. Some sign up to follow me but I don’t usually hear from them there after. Some will “like” 20, 30 or many more of my posts in one session which makes me wonder, Why?? Not a problem, just something I have noticed.

        Liked by 2 people

        1. Yes, I’ve noticed those too. Some follow without having ever liked or commented on my posts. Maybe they expect an automatic follow back from me. And those who like multiple posts in a few minutes, I suspect without reading them — maybe they think I’ll be so flattered I’ll follow them. As you say, it’s just part of the scene right now.

          Liked by 2 people

      1. The new style of blog is more like social media I am only aware of them as I always take a look at all likes and of course answer all comments. Some sign up to follow me but I don’t usually hear from them there after. Some will “like” 20, 30 or many more of my posts in one session which makes me wonder, Why?? Not a problem, just something I have noticed. Recently a new blogger “liked” 80 of my posts in a few minutes, it felt like I was being stalked. That meant I received 80 emails advising me. And currently there is a blogger emailing me every day inviting me to follow them. I delete it but to no avail. It is OK, but things have changed. I will continue to enjoy blogging and meeting fellow bloggers that suits me.

        Liked by 2 people

        1. I’ve considered turning off email “like” notices for just this reason, but haven’t done it yet. Liking 80 posts in a few minutes is ridiculous. It is rather like stalking. I think some people want to “monetize” their blogs by hosting extra ads, so they need to get as many eyes on their blogs as they can. I also had a flood of follow invites from a blogger recently, maybe the same one. I deleted them. I think we just have to work around these annoyances.

          Like

  13. “If you don’t agree with something, turn your disagreement into an opportunity to discuss.” Excellent idea!
    I have a prayer that I say every day as I offer my mind to God, so He can “renew” it. (Romans 12:2) “Lord, please cleanse my mind of anything untrue, unholy, unimportant, and unnecessarily negative.” There are times when something “negative” MUST be said, but we can say it in such a way as to have a productive discussion – and possibly even learn something in the process.

    Liked by 2 people

  14. Sometimes people simply do not have the time to write comments. I find this to be the case quite often. I’ll have read several posts and come across one that I would normally comment on but then get distracted or realise the time and have to power down to go somewhere or do something.

    There are infinite reasons for not commenting on some posts. Some folks are shy, some don’t believe their thoughts are worth sharing, others could talk for hours about the granite in a pencil. It’s not even necessarily anything to do with the subject of the post or how it’s presented. For this reason, I don’t worry about whether people comment or not.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. All true, Kevin. Quite often I start to write a comment but run out of energy to find the right words and delete it. Usually late in the evening when my brain is powering down. I don’t really worry when I see few or no comments on some topic in my blog or others’ that seems comment-worth. I just wonder sometimes. I am pleased with the number of comments on this post, including yours!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Sounds like me. Lol. I often start a comment and then the word/s I want to use don’t surface for some reason or other and I end up thinking, I’ll come back to it later, or tomorrow, but You know how that goes. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  15. I’m okay with receiving just two or three comments, although I welcome more. As someone who’s been blogging and basically on the net for about 15 years now, I understand social media fatigue, and don’t expect comments, if I’m too darn tired to do the same. Since joining WordPress a couple years back, I find myself more engaged with people here than I’ve ever been on other other sites.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. There are so many congenial writer-bloggers on WordPress. It’s a good community for those engaged in a rather solitary activity. I’m happy to be getting so many comments for this and other posts. Thanks for adding yours, Debra!

      Liked by 2 people

  16. I wrote a post about something similar that came across my desk, or perhaps I posted about something like this in a comment. I cannot remember now, but I noted that I love blogs because I come from the letter writing era, and I don’t appreciate the negativity on the social media that a lot of times is not really warranted. And I also don’t appreciate reading whole posts of LOL’s, etc. I don’t even know or want to know what those things are. I appreciate reading whole words, whole sentences, and yes, if someone can give good response to a post, even a critique without abusing the other person or their writing, I like that too. I, like Debra, am burned out by the social media. I lived through the advent of the super size computers that filled huge rooms with concrete floors, and they only understood programming language, and at that, we had to use punch cards to communicate. But I envisioned somehow that the advent of people using computers to talk to each other might get rid of some of the negative emotions because people would not be able to (at that time) see each other face to face. As I noted in my other post, WHAT was I thinking? Anyone who has ever dealt with someone committing road rage (as I have, when I didn’t even do anything to incur it), you will understand how that person believes he or she is invisible behind that windshield.

    I love the depth of the writing most of the times, the humor, and the educational aspects of it. I love that writers on blogs actually and sincerely try to help each other by such things as reblogging, etc. So I thank each and every person here who is an avid blogger. I don’t always have time to blog as I am my significant other, Richard’s caregiver and advocate for his severe and partial paralysis from two cervical surgeries that both have failed and made him partly paralyzed.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I prefer blogs to social media as well (although, strictly speaking, I think blogs are a form of social media). In any event, I like being able to read the blog post, enjoy the accompanying photos, and engage in the ensuing conversation. I also like being able to bookmark posts I want to return to later.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Ha! I remember those days of huge computers and punch cards. I think I still have some of those cards somewhere (they’re good for making lists on). My blog and Goodreads are about as close as I’ve come to social media. Like you, I prefer to comment in sentences rather than emojis and abbreviations (although those have their places). Thank you for reading my recent posts and following my blog.

      Like

  17. I only wish there were 48 hours in a day….Trouble is, some bloggers put on two and three posts a day, and while, often, of excellent quality, it is difficult to keep up with the sheer volume!! I Chair one writing group, write a weekly column for a local newspaper, write a monthly blog and am trying to finish another book before i fall off my perch… Help! That said, I love interesting posts but try and avoid politics and religion. Thanks Audrey. Hugs xx

    Liked by 2 people

      1. If you follow blogs through the Reader you can scroll through and read selectively. Well, I suppose you can do that with posts you’re notified of by email too. I prefer the Reader only method; I already get a deluge of email notices. I hesitate to “unfollow” the prolific bloggers because I do read at least some of their posts.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. I’ve been following blogs through email notifications. I took a look at the Reader, and I think using the Conversations feature instead of subscribing the comments will help me a great deal. Thank you for responding to my plea for help!

          Liked by 1 person

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