11 October, 2012

Lurking but not commenting

This post has been lurking in my drafts box since April, but I reckon it is worth dragging out into the daylight.

Karen and Sarah wrote the below comments on my post about awkward encounters with people who read your blog:
KarenI don't get many comments on my blog but many people have said to me they've read it (but not commented). So then I feel left in the same position as you...how much have they read? Did I inadvertently offend (this has happened before)? What did you actually think about what I said? (because often they don't say any more than that they've read it and enjoy it). But I'm never brave enough to ask those kind of questions out loud. 
Sarah: I've had the same experience as Karen in that I've had people approach me and tell me they've been reading my blog. When I say to them (smiling), "You should come out of lurking and leave me a comment," they just smirk and say, "Oh I don't leave comments."

To tell the truth, sometimes these interactions give me the creeps. It's a jerking reminder that what I write is on the internet and could be read by anybody.

But on the other hand, what does that say about people who lurk but don't comment. I'm wondering if it's the whole voyeurism thing. It can give someone a sense of power reading someone else's personal thoughts. They know you well (or feel they do) and that gives them a sense of power because you've done all the sharing and leaving a comment would mean they have to share a bit too. I don't know, I'd be interested in anyone else's thoughts on this... :) 
Anyone have thoughts to share on this?


Anonymous said...

Aren`t these blue skies wonderful! I just prefer to comment on your FB page if something in particular jumps out - otherwise I just enjoy your brilliant writing style! Teresa

Meredith said...

It was nice to see this post because I have been wondering the same thing lately and was musing with the idea of launching a "comment-a-thon" week to get some commenting action happening!

Judie said...

As you know, I occasionally comment.
Mostly, though, I just read to make sure you're well and coping (or having trouble), hope you're happy, sometimes to look for something to pray about.
I think a lot of people are interested in your welfare but don't necessary think they 'have the right' to comment. (Perhaps they don't know you all that well or are conscious that you don't know them.)
It may feel a bit creepy, but I think there is very rarely, if ever, anything sinister in it.

Judie said...

BTW, everyone in Qld SE is saying, "Isn't this rain wonderful!"
Except, presumably, people in Murphy's Creek & Grantham.

OliveTree said...

I'm guessing people sometimes read and just don't have time to comment or think about it...don't know.

It does sometimes give me a strange feeling when I see how many people have read my blog and then have no comments. You wonder, "Did they not like my post." or "Was it something I said."

But I really think they're just busy.

Sarah said...

Thanks for dragging that out :). It's always interesting to re-read something you wrote ages ago then forgot about.

I've pretty much given up trying to get people to comment, although I've found that sometimes competitions work (where there is the bribe of a prize). Otherwise I tend to just plod along, blogging in my own way and style.

Anonymous said...

I think if you're writing a blog on the internet you should expect people you know & people you don't know will read it. This shouldn't "creep you out" - if it does, stop blogging.
There is no contract (written or unwritten) that says in reading a blog the reader has to comment. As a blogger, you are choosing to put yourself out there for anyone (& everyone) to read.

Hope that doesn't sound callous.

I too really enjoy your writing style Wendy but I don't often comment (some blogs make leaving a comment really difficult as well).


Meredith said...

Having said what I said, yes, I agree with Cath. I was speaking with someone a couple of days ago who was asking if she could use something on my blog. I made the comment then that I have put the content onto the internet and so it basically goes out into the public domain. Unless we run closed blogs with an invited readership it is out there for anyone to find. (Although I have disabled the google search function on mine.)

That said, I read a clutch of blogs (what is the collective noun for blogs) all on google reader and it is quick. I try to be a regular commenter on a handful of blogs - mostly where there is a relationship of back and forth communication in any case - but I certainly don't comment on every post I read on every blog I read otherwise I would never get anything else done. My sense is that writers of blogs comment on other blogs more than straight readers of blogs. Maybe because writers like writing and readers just like reading.

I think as bloggers we have to be prepared that we are putting our thoughts out the universe and pray as we send them out that they will encourage and uplift - and leave it at that. (And discourage any troll like activity on our blogs as well.)

Be encouraged. Think of your blog as an open letter. I'd be sure you have lots of readers and you do a great job of educating us all in missiology and doing away with stereotypes. Good work.

Wendy said...

Teresa, Yes! The weather is glorious at the moment in Tokyo. I hope it stays that way for Cross country tomorrow. And if you comment on FB regards my blog, I count that as a comment, not lurking, so go ahead!

Meredith, I think you're quite right, in the bloggers have a different feeling about blogs than readers. Bloggers appreciate the interaction with readers and therefore tend to comment on other people's blogs because they know how much they appreciate it when people comment on their blogs.

Judie, I know that there are quite a number who use my blog in that way: to check up that I'm okay and maybe even seeking things to pray for. That's okay.

Olive, time is certainly an issue. And like Meredith said, many of us read more blogs than we comment on. If everyone who read my blog commented every time I think I may have to close this blog down, it would be too much!

Sarah, you're welcome. It's been interesting to see the strong reactions to your "it's creepy" comment!

Cath, it doesn't sound callous, perhaps a bit harsh, though. Please don't misunderstand me, I'm not looking for lots of pats on the back. I do quite a lot of writing that never gets any feedback and that's not stopping me write. The difference with a blog is that it is a unique place where writer and reader can interact fairly easily. That doesn't happen in very many other places for a writer and is one reason that writers are attracted to blogging.

We're used to being spectators in media: TV, movies, websites, newspapers, sports, even sermons; they're all geared to a few participants and many spectators. The thing that bloggers know, though, via blogs you can get interaction going over ideas that adds value. I learn more through interactive discussion than in just thinking my own thoughts and occasionally tossing them in the direction of someone else.

But now this comment has turned into it's own blogpost!

But, please, folk, I'm not feeling insecure, I don't need you to complement me on my writing or my blog. I'm far more interested in hearing your opinions, life experiences, and challenges.

Deb said...

Not lurking, commenting. ;)

Yeah, I too wonder who those anonymous readers are. I have a loyal following in Fiji that intrigues me. However, I know I don't comment on every blog I read so I'm okay with that.

I think for a lot of readers there's a feeling of not having the "right" to comment if you don't know the person well. I know with some blogs I read, I fear commenting will be seen as an intrusion or that they'll think, "Who the heck is that and why does she think her opinion matters?"

The other thing that holds me back is the fear of saying "the wrong thing". When someone is pouring their heart out about some kind of suffering, I might care deeply and pray for that person but not comment because it's hard to get "tone" right in an internet conversation and I don't want to add to their pain by a dumb comment.

But I love your blog - even if I don't always comment. I think with my own blog it sometimes helps not to know who's reading. I can pretend it's just my handful of bloggy friends and not get overwhelmed by the idea of all These People reading. Not that I have that many readers - LOL - but enough to make me self-conscious if I thought about it too much.

Oh, and the other reason I don't comment so often is because I ramble on TOO MUCH!!! Stopping now.

Sarah said...

Hi Wendy, yes very strong reaction. ;)

I did not mean to infer that if a reader approaches a blogger and lets them know they have been reading, then it is automatically creepy. I realise that some bloggers have had some encouraging and humbling experiences when approached by people who have told them how much they have benefited from what they write. That's not creepy; that's just nice. Unfortunately I haven't had that experience. In my specific context, the people who approached me were doing it in a way that made me feel quite uncomfortable and I suspect it was their intention (it was like, 'Haha I've been lurking around your blog and you didn't know' like they just wanted to stir). So, I agree with Meredith in that I 'want to discourage unnecessary trolling'. There is a world of difference between someone who is silently reading because they are encouraged, challenged by and enjoy reading the blog, and someone who only comments anonymously to flame and cause trouble.

Yes, what bloggers write is on the internet and available to anyone. That's always the risk we take.

I understand that some readers lurk for a while when reading a new blog because I find it takes a while to get up the courage to comment (in my experience anyway). And no, commenting is not mandatory. But if I'm reading a blog then I do ask myself why I'm not commenting. I don't have to, but if I'm enjoying the blog, then it's nice to tell the writer to encourage them to keep going.

Andrew said...

I am notorious as a blog lurker, but then again I must have 100s of blog lurkers as I hardly get any comments, but then again I don't go looking for conversation on my blog anyway. I found your site through some other christian blogs in sydney and I love it for a few reasons - I am a Christian and I love japan. I love reading your general missionary posts, but also your view of japan and japanese culture and society. Take care