You’re probably familiar with the philosophical question – “If a tree falls in a forest and there’s no-one around to hear it, does it still make a sound?”
Well I’ve been wonder about the blogger’s equivalent…
“If a blog post has no comments, has anyone even read it?”
Generally I’m not one to obsess over stats and check them daily (or many times daily).
But a periodic check of numbers like post views and comments does give some relative indication of how much interest each post is receiving – and the blog overall.
The last four posts on 35hunter have received a total of eight comments. Assuming that half of the comments are mine replying to others, that’s four. Two of the posts have no comments. Which is very unusual.
And over halfway through November, the total comments for the month stand at 75, or 37, again assuming 50% are my responses.
Back in May I had 439 comments, and June and July topped 300.
So inevitably I’m questioning why, and where you’ve all gone!
As a blogger, what do you feel about comments left on your own blog? Do you measure or track them? How important are they overall to your blog?
As a blog reader, what encourages you to comment? What stops you from commenting more often, or more expansively?
To answer my own questions –
As a blogger, comments are hugely important. Whilst they don’t really influence what I write about, I do see part of my role as a blogger as providing a safe and stimulating place where like minded people can converse about topics we love.
My words are really just the jump off point for your thoughts and words, and together we build a stimulating and worthwhile community, which in turn is part of a wider online blogging community.
As a blog reader, I comment if a post interests me or encourages me to think. Also to encourage the bloggers that I like most, and try to add a little extra value to their original post, and encourage them to write and share more.
How about you? I’d be very interested to hear your, um, comments! Please share them below.
Thanks for looking. Please share this post with others you feel will enjoy it too. If you’re interested, this is what my photography and cycling life looks like right now.
42 thoughts on “If A Blog Post Has No Comments, Has Anyone Even Read It?”
Hey look, no comments. Sorry, couldn’t resist.
Been reading the blog for quite a while, and somehow never got around to commenting on it. This certainly seems as good a time as any.
As a old time photographer, and a once avid cyclist, I’ve been enjoying the posts. Like you, I’ve gone through many old film cameras, and ended up with just a few. I have a few decent digitals as well, but I really like the look of black and white film.
Just keep writing. A lot of us out here are enjoying it.
Hi Wes, thanks for your thoughts and encouragement.
I guess because I comment quite often on other blogs, I equate the amount of comment activity with how many people read the post and like it enough to make a comment. Whereas some people are more like silent readers who don’t feel the need to comment.
What cameras do you use most these days? And do you still cycle?
On my blog I’ve learned that some kinds of posts generate more comments than others. When I write a story about my family, especially when there’s some lesson to have been learned, I get a ton of comments. When I write about a photo walk I get relatively few comments. My camera reviews also get relatively few comments, though Google search eventually makes up for it by driving traffic my way. But the bottom line is that posts that are all about me get fewer comments on the whole than posts where I try to make it about the reader somehow.
Interesting observations Jim.
I’m not sure I quite follow your reasoning with the last part, because you say when you write about your family (which is obviously very personal) you get plenty of comments but then later that blogs about you get fewer comments? Isn’t a post about your family about you?
I agree that the review type posts or how to posts are useful for people and enhance the long tail of a blog. My most read post virtually every month is one about shooting film without a light meter I wrote about two years ago!
Let me try to clarify. When I write personal work the way I make it be about the reader is through letting them see themselves in it, through the common human condition. I often do that through imparting a lesson learned.
Ok that makes sense. This is how we connect best with anyone else’s work, be it writing, music, photography, film, painting – there’s something of ourselves we see in it, some personal connection.
Well, not that I keep track, but it always seems to me that you get quite a few comments. There certainly seems to be plenty of food for thought here. I have been scarcely had time to check my email lately, but I always make time to read your and Jim’s posts. I only comment if I feel like I have something to add.
Thanks Jon for your comments here and previously. I do try to give people something to think about, as it’s something I do plenty of myself, ha ha!
I always read your posts but rarely comment. My posts do not generate comments but they are not intended to. Sometimes someone will comment if the subject is of particular interest to them.
Thanks for reading Steven.
What is the main intention of your blog – you said they are not intended to generate comments?
It depends what I am reading on as my iPad tends to over heat and the keyboard starts to malfunction. Sometimes the no comments are nothing to do with the post, but life getting in the way.
Oh, not heard of an iPad overheating, though my old MacBook can get pretty hot if it’s on my lap not a table!
Yeh I appreciate everyone has a life going on. I don’t spend all that much time online or follow that many blogs but the ones I do I try to comment on and support. I just get overwhelmed if I try to follow too much and end up not properly reading any of it, so about 20 is my limit, with some of those posting very infrequently anyway.
It was the case I had on, I swapped it and it is better now. So I assumed that was the issue anyway. I post stuff for myself, to remind me of the cameras I have tried. The stats are nice, the comments are great, but ultimately I post for myself and that way I don’t worry too much by a lack of comments. I think most of the stats are me checking if I have tried that camera before or what it was like.
Yeh I wonder a similar thing about my stats sometimes, what proportion of the hits and comments are me checking in on posts already written and adding further comments! 🙂
I tend to comment when the post is the most relevant to me. Never cycled in my life 🙂
It’s really strange still hearing that, as a kid who lived on bikes, and all my friends had bikes. You just assume every kid has a bike when they’re growing up, that it’s just a part of childhood.
I’m certain that are plenty of things we didn’t do as children that others did…
Sorry if it sounds harsh, this is meant as constructive feedback.
You’ve started blogging about bikes, something I have no interest in. Also even your photography posts are so samey, there’s nothing I want to discuss as its always the same few topics – eg your minimalism or how photo walks are calming etc.
Thanks for the feedback! I guess your time as a reader is coming to an end. I regularly review the relatively few blogs I follow, and if something doesn’t interest me any longer, I unsubscribe. Thanks for reading up to this point.
Sometimes it’s tough to come up with a comment that does a post justice or that has anything to add beyond the fact that I enjoyed it. The vast majority of my readers are lurkers- no likes/comments. So I base a post’s readership on the views in my stats.
Thanks Julie. Well I’d say of the blogs I follow, yours has more comments than any, at least per post. If I comment and get the follow up comment notifications, they seem to continue for weeks afterwards.
So if only a small proportion of your readers comment at all, wow you must have a huge following. 😀
I read most of the blogs using an RSS reader, so the ‘barrier to comment’ is definitely larger than had I simply been browsing directly. I do still comment on occasion, but the impetus needs to be stronger than average. Doesn’t help that I’m a furtive commenter in general I guess, as it often happens that I fill out the box, have a hard look at it, scratch my chin, and delete it.
I understand that it’s quite common to only publish excerpts in the RSS feed to increase interaction and ad banner views, but to be completely honest? The small inconvenience in clicking through to the full article does make me reconsider my subscription in many cases. I guess it’s similar to the time-to-first-byte metric in that readers will drop off if the page takes over X seconds to load.
That being said, do blog platforms have a way of tracking readers using RSS with any sort of granularity (article views, for example)?
Thanks L’ubomir. I guess I forget sometimes about the different ways people can follow and consume blogs. Personally I mostly rely on email notifications for new posts, sometimes I’ll flick through my WordPress Reader. If I’m reading old posts I’ll definitely go to the blog itself and read there.
Regarding the excerpts, I know one or two blogs I used to follow only posted an excerpt in the email notification. I didn’t like this at all, I’d rather have it all, then I can read the whole lot, and click through to comment as/when I want. And I can’t recall any now that do this, so like you I have unsubscribed from blogs that do excerpts only.
I believe I have 35hunter set up so you get the full post in the email notification and in WordPress Reader. I don’t know if this applies to RSS readers too? Do you get the full post for 35hunter or just the first 100 words or something?
I don’t really know enough about the stats mechanics to know if RSS hits are counted. I assume the WordPress stats show any time a post is read whatever format it is in. But maybe it’s not that sophisticated and the only views I’m seeing in the stats are purely visits to the blog itself, not via an intermediary reader of some kind. Does anyone else know about this?
Just commenting to confirm that yes, 35hunter shows full articles (including images) in my RSS reader.
Thanks, I appreciate you confirming, I’d hoped when I set it up for full posts it would cover all sources.
Most of my posts have zero comments.
I’m not really worried, just part of why I have a blog is to provide a place for people to talk about topics they find interesting. So if no comments are forthcoming, I wonder why, and whether I’m not providing any kind of stimulating content.
Dan, your posts do indeed stimulate.
Over the past summer, your content (en passant) about old, low-horsepower tech inspired me to bring down the hand-cranked five mp Coolpix 5400 of 2003 and to relive the then-new joys of liberation from film and processing.
Follow-on posts about the pleasures of monochrome, about seeing in black-and-white; about “exercising the eye” and deliberation in approach inspired me to leave it parked in a roughly-optimized B&W mode, and to carry it about that way with the Sony in a very small bag.
One must really work at getting the most out of an antique platform. The whole process of seeing, thinking, shooting, reflecting, shooting again slowed way down. I had forgotten that this model produced not only JPEGs in three sizes, and full NEF RAW images, but also TIFFs, an advantage I appreciated in saving detail and avoiding the compression of so few pixels, though it does take better than 24 seconds to write to the CF card.
In another instance of resonance , your piece on the “10,000 photographs/miles” notiont caused a little storm of compare-and-contrast with the Zen concept of “beginner’s mind” of which I’d been reading just before that time – still unsettled, and I got quite lost in trying to muddle it through, but I do owe you the debt of wakefulness and rich debate.
Thanks. The impulse to reflect and to share is generous and creates fellowship. When moved, I will not forget again.
William, thank you as always for your in depth and thoughtful comments.
The older digital cameras are indeed very charming, and offer many benefits. Slowing us down is one of them, as you mention. Your Coolpix sounds pretty high end for its day, with all those file type options!
I love the Beginner’s Mind idea. One way that’s been helpful for me to try to return to that is writing “how to” type posts, for someone who has never tried something before, where I have done it 100/1000/10000 times and have quite probably gone into auto pilot mode. It’s good to deconstruct our processes and question why we do things the way we do, and if there’s a different way that might reap a different reward. I would like to do more of these posts, like the “how to see in black and white” one.
I’m reading Pema Chodron again currently, very simple yet very challenging at the same time! Which for me relates to the whole simplicity/zen/Buddhist approach, with cameras and photography, or anything else in life…
One of the great wonders of the internet is the ability to connect with people who share our interests, regardless of geographical location. I’ve never been part of a local camera club or community, but certainly enjoy being part of the international one that the readers and bloggers here make up. I wouldn’t want a blog just in the original sense – an online diary purely for myself, as some people seem happy with. I love the ability to provide a place for conversation and sharing of ideas and resources, it’s like owning a small café or restaurant where people come to hang out and chat. But without the food and drink I guess, you have to provide your own! Hence why a run of a posts with hardly any (or no) comments was disappointing.
Thanks again William, very glad to have you here.
I just started blogging now. Decided to make it inspirational. And i feel that me not having comments and just views makes me nervous lol. However, I’m going to continue no matter what.
Good for your for starting a blogging adventure. Don’t expect to immediately have a flurry of followers and comments, it takes time to build a readership, and at the core of it I believe is to regularly write posts that are interesting, helpful and inspiring to people. Keep doing this and the readers will come!
I wish you well. : )
Thank you for your advice! I’m already working on my next release.
My blog started as a project in grad school and it has evolved/morphed over the 6+ years of its existence. I use it as an online journal of my existing and current interests. If I get a view or comment I admit it makes me feel good but my blog has been most useful as a tool to discover other writers with similar interests.
Well congratulations on maintaining a blog for six years, that’s very impressive when so many come and go.
I think we all do need to evolve too, yes, and because of these our readership will evolve too.
Maybe I have weird friends, but every person I know cycles regularly, and in a hostile climate no less. It never occurred to me that some people have no interest in cycling.
Ha ha, I just think you have a lot of cycling friends!
It does seem odd to me when I hear of someone who has never cycled. I just assume all kids have bikes!
In the UK my perception (I have no cold hard facts) is that cycling is more popular than ever. I think there are many contributing factors – there is generally far more promotion of health issues and the need for regular exercise, and biking is a great option. As a nation we’re pretty successful in international competitions like the Tour de France and Olympics which has raised public awareness of all kinds of cycling. People like Victoria Pendleton and Chris Boardman and Bradley Wiggens are pretty much household names when years ago very few people could name a successful British cyclist. Oh and they all have their own bike brands now too. And I suspect (but again I don’t know) there is more investment in cycling (as in training and facilities for athletes) than ever before, because of this success.
On any trip for any distance on the roads at a weekend especially you’ll come across plenty on bikes so this overall popularity and consciousness must feed itself too.
I think what’s probably discouraged people in the past has been that for adults there were essentially road racing bikes or mountain bikes. Both imply speed and intensity, of the kind that perhaps most people with a passing interest in cycling would not be at all up for.
Now there’s a much wider range of bikes available like road bikes, mountain bikes, hybrids, electric, cargo etc – even in your local bike shop or sports store or Halfords or Argos – so a wider range of people are finding a bike that better suits them and their needs.
Dan, I always comment back if I have something to say about your post. I can’t say much about cycling as stopped that many years ago. My photography work is very limited so often what you post about doesn’t link in with what I am doing and I don’t want to post a reply that says….”no response”!! I do read all your posts though and consider you a great friend lots of love from susanJOY
Thanks Susan, your presence is appreciated. We must have known each other about 11 or 12 years now!
From a totally personal point of view I have very little interest in cycling unless its professional cycling which has a tendency to peak at the time of the TDF/Vuelta… it just doesn’t float my boat reading about someone and their ebike and their trip to work… sorry….. I do think that its a hard sell from your point of view to “combine” two hobbies and be as successful as you were when talking about just one subject…as on reflection your looking for a very “niche” reader, also time for many is something that is lacking and is it right to expect someone to spend their time reading through your postings trying to get to the part relating to “their” interests, be it photography or cycling….again it may sound a little harsh, but surely you didn’t expect your previous followers to be as interested as you in “your” new found additional hobby…. sometimes things just don’t mesh into good reading,
You may possibly find that if run 2 blogs side by side but on 2 different subjects the comments count would be sustained on the original blog and you would of added more comments on the additional blog…
You asked for honesty…. I dont think the 2 subjects combine well…Hope your not offended by my comments …
Dan, I tend to agree with Lynd. I think you would do better with interest and comments if you had a separate blog for your biking as things seem to have changed since you started blogging about cycling as well as photography. I am not so interested in your cycling but I am interested in your life in general so I am OK with continuing either way xoxo susanJOY
Thanks Susan, see my reply to Lynd. You’ve nailed it in your end line there – it’s about my life and finding beauty and balance, and sharing that with others, and them sharing their experiences back. It’s not really about the tools we use along the way like cameras and bikes and anything else.
Hi Lynd, thanks for your thoughts. And no I like honesty, and I’m not offended at all.
I have been thinking a lot about what you’ve said. And it’s inspired me to write a new post which I’ll probably publish over the weekend.
In short, I think you’re missing the point. 35hunter isn’t a photography or a cycling blog. They’re just tools and channels I currently use to enable me to pursue the “hunting for beauty and balance” that’s been in the tag line from the outset.
It’ll make more sense in the full post, hopefully!
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