Rev. Dr. Monte Canfield

Rev. Dr. Monte Canfield
Newcomerstown, Ohio, USA
December 28
Rev. Dr. Monte Canfield
Retired Protestant Pastor and Theologian, jointly credentialed in the United Church of Christ and the Moravian Church. Education: BA, MA, M.Div, Thd. Public Service: NY State Office of Executive Development, Management Intern; Federal Exec. Branch: Executive Office of the President, Budget Examiner, Bureau of the Budget; Interior, Director of Energy and Minerals, Bureau of Land Management; Non Profit: Ford Foundation, Deputy Director, Energy Policy Project; Congressional: Director, Office of Special Projects; Director, Division of Energy and Materials, General Accounting Office; Private industry: Vice President, Grow Group, Inc.; Chief Executive Officer, US Paint; Owner, the Energy Center, St. Louis. Christian service: Pastor, First Congregational UCC, Ottawa, Illinois; Pastor, St. Paul's UCC, Port Washington, Ohio; Pastor, Moravian Church, Gnadenhutten, Ohio.

Rev. Dr. Monte Canfield's Links

APRIL 5, 2010 9:22PM

Why Ignore Comments on Your Posts? -- OS Meta Issue

Rate: 60 Flag


I wrote on this subject back in January, 2009 and it drew quite a large number of comments, and has had over 2000 page reads, so it is a subject that others here on Open Salon think about.

I have been trying to read OS posts more lately, at least most of the posts that people notify me they have posted, and I find, once again, a large number of people are neglecting comments, raising for me the same question I raised over 14 months ago.

I would like some feedback. I don't expect agreement. But I would really like to know WHY, if we choose to keep comments open, we would take the time to write and then have people take the time to read and comment, but then the writer chooses to not reply to those comments, or choose to reply to a select few and ignore the others, or never bother to come back to the comments on their posts that come after the day it was posted.

 This is not an issue if the post really isn't seeking comments but is just seeking approval, where you can comment "I agree. Good post." or something like that.

But when a commenter spends time actually reading and pondering what seems to be a serious post that deserves comment, and writes a sincere comment then for the poster to never reply, or to reply to some comments and totally ignore others seems both strange and impolite to me. Yes, I have done that and so has everyone.  But I have never intentionally done it and if someone calls me on it I immediately apologize. I'm not concerned with a mistake. I am concerned with what seems to be a pattern.

At any one time I may have ten bookmarked posts that I go back to see if the poster replied to my comment or any others. I leave those bookmarks up for 3 days. If the poster doesn't comment in that time I delete the bookmark and move on. In recent weeks, about half of the bookmarked posts have had no reply at all from the poster to any comments by anyone, not even a generic "thank you" reply. Others have chosen to respond to a few comments, ignoring other equally serious and thoughtful comments.

What I just don't understand is that if the subject of the post was important enough to take the time to write it wouldn't you think that you wanted to get some comments on it?; and if you didn't want comments or were going to ignore them then why not just close comments immediately when you post?

I am well aware that comments are left open by professional writers on Salon, HuffPo, Newsweek, etc. and those authors seldom reply. But OS is really not filled with paid authors, and, interestingly, those I know here, and there are a few professional writers who write here as a member of this community, and they DO respond to comments. So it is NOT that the professionals don't reply. The vast majority who have blogs here do. They understand that there is a community aspect to OS that implies courtesy and civility when interacting with their readers.

Let's discuss this again now that some time has passed and many new members are posting. Maybe it doesn't happen to you, or you don't care. Whatever your take on this, your serious and considered comment is welcomed.

My hope is that community, courtesy, and civility on OS can remain the standard, and not become the exception.




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I agree, though I sometimes get lazy and neglectful.
There are certain people I may still leave a comment but I know not to click back as they will not respond. Then there are some where I comment and then can't find my way back and it bothers me that I forget. I do agree I like to know I may have made someone feel better or made them think or just that they knew I was there.
Responses aren't necessarily ignored, perhaps the person just doesn't have a reasonable response. Most the time I leave a comment on someones blog, move on to the next and leave a comment there, and by the time I am done I don't even remember the first comment. If someone leaves a specific comment that requires a response then it shouldn't be ignored but otherwise it just isn't that big of a deal.
I think that is possible, Seer. But it is very easy to close comments at the time of posting, or any time thereafter. That would make it clear to the commenter that the writer will not be visiting the comments.

Then the commenter could decide whether or not to comment anyway, on the assumption that other commenters might want to hear what he or she had to say. That would show a conscious courtesy on the part of the writer.

And, unfortunately, some writers are oblivious rather than inconsiderate. But perhaps they could learn to be at least considerate. Maybe not?

Good comment.

When my daughter gypsyboots, in her effort to amuse me by blogging "Survivor" , began to get comments, I e-mailed her to let her know that she needed to respond - I thought it was the modus operandi here.
I'm not nearly as popular - GYPSYBOOTS - CHECK OUT HER RECAPS ON THURSDAYS! - but consider it a simple courtesy to let my few commentators know I've read them. Whoops - just realized I haven't updated in a bit - off to do so now.
When my daughter gypsyboots, in her effort to amuse me by blogging "Survivor" , began to get comments, I e-mailed her to let her know that she needed to respond - I thought it was the modus operandi here.
I'm not nearly as popular - GYPSYBOOTS - CHECK OUT HER RECAPS ON THURSDAYS! - but consider it a simple courtesy to let my few commentators know I've read them. Whoops - just realized I haven't updated in a bit - off to do so now.
As a newspaper man, I look at comments (negative or positive) as much the same way I look at comments posted on a newspaper's Web site. As the editor, I don't comment on those. Here I have more freedom and do often comment on the comments. I try to read them all and reply to as many as possible. For some, the comment they left may simply be: "good writing. rated." That's difficult to respond to without sounding arrogant. "Thanks mr. commenter. I appreciate you acknowledging my fabulousness" .... ;)
Hey, gang, the Title Game NCAA is on so I am going to watch that and get back to you all later. Thanks for the comments coming in. Like Ahnold, "I'll be baaaaaack!"

I don't have the time or the inclination to respond to every comment, especially when there are lots of them. Professional writers certainly don't respond to every comment - it may be humanly impossible. Sometimes it seems enough to simply give my readers an opportunity to see a contradictory perspective attached to my essay in the comments section. I see my blog as a place to stimulate thinking on a subject, which includes allowing varying viewpoints. I do not feel compelled to convince anyone of my POV or to argue its veracity; only to share it.
Yes, Monte -- and you are great as a standard of community and kindness, to be sure, on many levels! Thank you for this kind advice!!
I personally think a lot of those people are attention seekers who don't really care what people think, and have no real desire for any kind of discussion. They just want to garner ratings and/or controversy.

@smalltownwriter: A simple "thank you" is probably enough when someone thinks you are a good writer. You are not responsible for their opinion of you.
The majority of people do reply to comments in my experience, and I definitely make it a point to do so myself. For me, much of what I value in the OS experience comes from the give and take on a comment thread; it's one of the main reasons for posting here as far as I'm concerned. There are certain types of bloggers here though who don't reply to comments. Some of them don't reply to comments at all, as a policy as near as I can see, which is OK I guess. The ones who bother me are the people who reply to selected commenters, usually someone who fawns on them and/or is in the same little clique as themselves, but who ignore the more plebeian folk. There can be an element of snobbery to it which is fairly obnoxious.
I agree with you Monte, which is why I stopped reading and responding. For the most part, even people I "know" don't respond to my comments. There are a select few that are polite and who I can always count on to reply (Lea) but then there are others that only respond to a select few friends or not at all. The truth is, I'm not sure they are even aware that they're doing it.
I'm guilty of that on a regular basis, Monte. All I can say is there are only so many minutes in a day that I can afford to be on OS anymore, it's far fewer than I used to have, and in those minutes I'd rather be reading and commenting on others' things (which I still try to do as much as I possibly can--say, for example, here) than staying parked on my own blog typing individual answers back to everybody who left a comment. It's a prioritization issue for me, and actually I feel worse when I spend my OS time in my own blog when I could have been reading/commenting on somebody else's blog. I don't tend to blog much of any import nowadays, so I figure nobody's going be all that upset if I don't come back and "close the loop," as it were. I think of my posts as ephemera--toss 'em out there, if they get read great, if not that's fine too, and if somebody asks a direct question that begs to be answered I WILL try to answer (and hope it gets read)--but often that'll be in a PM, not on the comment thread, because I'd never be so bold to assume anybody's going to come BACK to my blog once they've read and commented. There's so much content here and so many others' stuff to read. I don't know, I guess I sometimes feel that answering nearly every comment personally would be...uhm...maybe somewhere between solipsistic and egomanical. FOR ME. Not for everybody. Like SmallTownWriter, I think of the comments here the way I think of the comments and letters on Big Salon (where I hung out for ten years+ before starting the blog here).

The one thing I do know: Almost nothing is considered by the majority of OS readers as a cardinal sin as much as closing comments. You may as well just take your gloves and whack people on both cheeks. Closing comments isn't the same as letting comments arrive as they do without being present as they pile up (or even more dauntingly, looking at 10 hours' worth and thinking, "I could spend 4o minutes saying, "Thanks Jane, I agree Dave, You made me laugh Owl, etc.," or I could go read Jane and Dave and Owl and a few others and leave THEM comments).

Does that make any sense at all?

It comes down, in essence, to "To each his/her own." Some people don't delete the Spam comments. Some do. Some people engage in lively, hours-long dialogue on their own blog after they post. Others don't.

I don't think you can fairly read "lack of manners/courtesy" into others' choices without admitting you're making some fairly large--and uncharitable--assumptions about their motivations.

Oh, and rated.
I've wondered about that, too. I always try to respond to comments on my posts, altho I may miss one or two if the post has been up awhile. I hadn't thought of bookmarking posts so I could check back to see if my comments have been recognized. Thanx for pointing this out. I'm bookmarking yours right now and will do so with all posts I comment on henceforth. (r)
Hi, Monte. I confess: I answer some comments but not all, and after a lapse of day or two, I don't usually answer. It's not meant to be rude. I actually do read all the comments on my posts, of course. I think of most of my blog posts as starting a conversation in a group. As in real life, conversations can go on without my participation--I can stand there and listen. I suppose it may not be obvious that I'm there, but I've assumed that commenters know that. People have good things to say, and if things are going well, I don't think a comment thread always needs me to be in the middle of it. This may be due to the kind of posts I write, some frivolous and some serious, but mostly about abstract ideas rather than myself. (There there are exceptions.)

Your post reminds me that there are different ways we interpret blogging in terms of our real world experience. Is it a conversation between the poster and each individual commenter? Sometimes. Is it a group conversation, as I've described above? Also sometimes. Is it a sort of ideas seminar, which is my favorite kind of blog experience? Sure, sometimes. I think that our views of what's polite depends on which interpretation we take. For example, take your suggestion that bloggers who don't plan to respond simply close comments, presumably as the more polite thing to do. I've read some statements here on OS that this is exceedingly rude, a close equivalent of censorship. I disagree, but my point is that politeness and rudeness online are often in the eye of the beholder.
Hmm. It appears I'm channeling Denise. Well, I couldn't hope for a better source...
Good point, Monte. I agree with you and nantehay who said much of the OS experience is found in the comment threads. There's been some good parties here too. I try to answer everyone's comments. there has been twice I know I have not. One when I posted my mother's poem and wanted to send her the whole comment thread...but I did thank each and every commenter via PM. The other one was where I wrote of the 11 yr old who lost his battle with brain cancer. I just didn't feel that the piece had anything to do with me and did not want to try and take anay credit. But then, I never thought about closing the comments. That's something to definitly think about. thanks.
As several other Posters are saying: I was under the impression from the beginning that it is totally up to the Blogger if/how they want to respond to comments. There is no rule that you have to. It is up to the individual. On one of my blogs early on I was chastized for not responding to comments but then was equally assured by others that there is no need to, if you don't want to.

It is up to the individual. There are no "rules" about having to respond. That is one of the benefits of Open Salon. Individual responsibility of your own blog and doing what you want to, within limits.
I object to people closing comments when they post something inflammatory that they've clearly take a side on, say a flame war, but are too cowardly to defend. Or perhaps it is indefensible. Otherwise, people have the right to close comments even if other people don't always like it.
Hi, Monte. Let me say up front that this is one of those cases where I'd say you could almost ignore the premise and instead just suggest that it's foolish in most cases to ignore the comments, since most people want readers, and readers like being noticed. So the writers who don't comment may do themselves more harm than others, and are already well-motivated to slip. But here are some other reasons to answer your question:

There are people who post who are very busy, and if you're saying they should close comments merely because they don't have time to respond, I think that's short-sighted. When I comment, I often speak to others or to the community, and I could not do that if the author had disallowed comments. So it does me a service to leave comments open even when the person writing doesn't choose to respond. Also, in some cases, the commenters may have a better handle on things than the author, and the author may even know this and be happy with it. There are some people here who have a knack for starting good conversations and seem pleased to host a good party.

I have email notifications turned on and I personally try to respond to each and every person who comments on most of my threads, even old ones. However, for certain threads I intentionally don't. Those are ones that present my point of view not for argument but to air a thought and where I'm inviting the thoughts of others. Sometimes I respond, but I find in some cases that I end up getting 50% of the discussion and it may not feel any longer representative. In those cases where the discussion takes on a fire of its own, I sometimes just let it run so that it doesn't appear I am approving some comments and not others. I think that can yield a legitimately different discussion, and sometimes a better one.

So I'm not so sure it's as cut and dried as you say. But that doesn't mean I think your points are without merit. I just think the world is complicated. :)
Monte, excellent points. I go back and forth on the issue. I usually won't respond to comments made on my posts if a.)they're one liners or humorous comments or b.) if there are too many comments to keep up with, I will make a general comment or thank you to everyone for leaving a comment.
I just don't have time to comment on every comment left. It's a hit and miss thing for me. I never thought about it being a courteous thing to do. I wasn't sure if commenters came back to see if I commented on their comment. Thank you for bringing attention to this.
I know what you mean. You'd think if you took the time to read somone's post (especially those really long ones) and left a thoughtful comment that the blogger would have the courtesy to respond which is usually the case, but lately I see that a lot bloggers are choosing to ignore some or all comments. I wish I had an answer.

I wrote about a similar situation last May, but it was directed at people who read and rate but don't comment (see link below).

I've just learned to blog and let blog.

Ghost Rater
Deborah; agreed. There are no rules regarding comments in OS, and each of us is free to do just as she or he likes. There is such a thing as courtesy though. I'm not saying that each comment must get a reply or you're rude, not at all. I do think though that if people are taking the time to read your post and then to put some thought into a comment on it, at the very least a blanket "thanks for the reads folks" is in order.
Sometimes I'm happy that my post inspired others to give their viewpoints, and consider my job done. I don't expect comments to my comments on other people's posts. Sometimes I do message or comment people, but not always. I hope I wasn't offending anybody. I read all the comments and am honored by reader attention.
Hey, Cap'n, me too, but I try not to forget.

LL2: Thanks, I think that most, certainly not all, writers like to get comments. If I know that the writer is not going to reply to comments at all, not even a generic "thank you," unless I want to start a discussion with other commenters or contribute to an ongoing set of comments I never leave my comment on that post.

ocularnervosa, I think you have a way of dealing with this issue that is looser than mine, and I am glad it causes you no headaches. I have a lot invested in the OS community, and I know that I don't have to, and therefore think that some things tend to build community more than others. Its just my opinion. Thanks for commenting.

Hi, Cominghome: Thanks, there are times when I think just a generic "thank you for commenting" to all commenters is quite enough. We all have lives beyond OS and that time is important.

smalltownwriter: I think a newspaper web site is different. Again, my opinion is that OS is a community. Many either don't agree or don't care, and so I think comments deserve replies. As to replies to compliments, just say "thank you." I have read your posts and it seems to me that you almost always reply to comments.

M. Chariot: I am glad you commented. We need to get a clear statement of a way of thinking about this that is almost diametrically the opposite of mine. And I do not see replying to comments as requiring that we try to convince others to accept our point of view. Your POV on this is quite different than mine, but I am still going to thank you for commenting.

Thank you, Julie. As you see, not all see the world the way you and I do.

Well, the second half is starting, so its back to the game. I am interested in seeing how the Butler David does against the Duke Goliath. So far it is very close.

See you all after the game!

Good comments, all; very good comments.

I agree with emma peel. People have taken the time to read your take on an issue. The least you can do is acknowledge their interest. I have only once responded in a "block" thank you on a post and that was because I did not want people to feel that I was defending the open letter. I wanted to respect all their opinions.
Whether one is a professional writer or an amateur, common courtesy dictates that you take the time.

OS is not just an online magazine, it's a community.
I like discussion is that the nature of a Salon?? I sometimes don't know how to go back to what I comment on however bookmarking is a good idea or I can see them on the left of my own blog. It's great fun to discuss especially if you both happen to be on at the same time. I do know this it takes an awful lot of investment in time but I always try to respond back to people comment on mine.
I write fluff usually, and few people visit my blogs anymore, and of course I read the comments, and sometimes respond, but I'm not here to have discussions because I don't have time. Of course, there's not much to discuss about my frivolous subject matter anyway. I've come to the conclusion that this isn't the best forum for me anyway, since I'm not in any sort of crowd or group and I have no discernible level of visibility anymore. Honestly, I'm doing a lot of writing outside of OS, and I've never commented much on comments because I've never known if people are coming back or not. And when I comment on someone else's post, I'm not expecting them to comment back, and then there's this: I write because I want to, and when it gets to a point where I have very few readers (which may be the case now), I'll have to figure out where to go to get more readers. I write, first and foremost, to be read. This may not be a good fit because everyone comes here to be read, and they want me to reciprocate. I just can't anymore -- not enough time in a day to do my job, especially during tax season, work on my book, and live my life.

The only time it appears odd to me is when a writer doesn't comment to anyone. There is no reason to leave a comment for them. Good subject Monte.
I think you could choose to see it another way. Sometimes you have something to add, sometimes you don't. Not always responding is not the same as not reading or appreciating a comment. I take it on a comment-by-comment basis. And when I leave comments, which is common, I really don't expect a response, although I sometimes check back. On my most current post, one of the subjects of the post left a press release as a comment & then elaborated on that at length. I don't feel obligated to respond, when that individual's comment, standing alone, says so much more about its subject and my greater topic. So for me, it depends.
Monte, it's interesting that you think a newspaper Web site is different. As a newspaper publisher, that's not my experience. Some people just want to let the writer know that they've stopped by and read the post, but most people want to register their opinion not only with the writer but with all his/her readers, which is congruent with "letters to the editor" and online comments on newspaper sites. If commenters didn't want to engage with the public, they'd just send a not-for-pub comment to the editor or make a phone call, or here, send a PM.

The difference may be not with the commenters but with the "editor." I can't speak for smalltownwriter, but I am accustomed to stating my ideas once and then letting them take on a life of their own, without my constant monitoring and shepherding. I won't let the conversation get out of hand, but I'm a pretty hands-off editor. While I really try to respond to commenters here, I still see my role as much the same.

I do, however, respond to all comments left on my church site. I feel a different responsibility there.
Thanks for sharing this....You certainly had an effect on me. R
You know, I'm growing to like this Amanda G, with the broken keyboard. I like her reply.

I'm okay with whatever works for the writer. I enjoy the (rare) conversations that happen in comments, but I understand if a writer lets the comments go up drive-by style, with no ensuing conversation or response, too. Sometimes the content is too raw to comment on, sometimes they get busy with life and work and families that need tending. It happens.

I figure life has enough rules and enough things to get offended at, no point looking for more. But that's just me, and I tend to be on the laid back side. :)

P.S. You bookmark posts? That's awesome!
How do you bookmark a column so you can check back?
I agree, and I really try. Sometimes, it slips away from me. I have other things to do...and I come back and there are all these comments...I still try to answer, but I feel it's not timely...xox
I agree that the dialogue in the comments is sometimes almost as valuable, if not as valuable, as the post itself. If people comment on my stuff, I try to respond. It's easy to see how people would run out of time to do individual comments too, though. I only get maybe 20 or so comments on most posts; I've seen people with well over 50 or 60. (Monte, I know that describes you, often!) So, I don't take offense if my comment is not answered.

One thing does drive me nuts though: if you come on my blog and leave an inflammatory or mysterious comment, it sure looks to me like you're trying to get a reaction. To then disappear and not dialogue when I and other commenters answer back is rather rude, I think. Same thing when it's on someone else's blog. Don't start something and then vanish - it leaves the rest of us having 1/2 a conversation....

One more general comment about comments: I'd love to see more on the actual writing - how could I say something better, title something more snappily or come up with a more interesting slant on my topic - but I can't complain overall about comments to me.

Interesting discussion Monte. Thanks!
This is a sensitive subject. Comments don't come naturally to me, I've been surprised to find that they are the most difficult part of having a blog. I have a hard time coming up with brief, sincere remarks over & over without sounding trite. (I rarely respond to e-mails in real life too, drives my friends, co-workers nuts) I don't know, maybe I use a different part of my brain for writing than conversing & its hard for me to meld the two...talking is spontaneous & goes back and forth so naturally but writing is so mulled over, analyzed...
Anyway, I LOVE getting comments on my posts, love, love, love it, especially the well-thought out ones. But then I quickly get overwhelmed with the thought of responding, especially when I see more than one insightful comment, there's so much to say, not enough time. So I usually just say thank you, when I really want to talk to the person, ask them questions, continue the conversation.
But I just say thank you and then feel bad about it & think now, they're never going to want to come back and leave such a thoughtful response again.
It's either a brief thank you or a long ramble that nobody will probably read anyway. Much like this comment I'm writing now.
I'm getting better at commenting on other people's posts though. I think. I don't really know because they never say anything back.
I too would like to avoid sounding trite when I comment. Also, I am not able to log in every day and I would venture to guess that a lot of people have schedules that are much more demanding than mine. Must not responding within three days automatically equal disinterest?

There is so much material to read (no complaint from me!) that when I am here, I can not seem to keep up. Very interesting Open Calls are put forth for which I seem to be too late in the game to participate it would seem.

I do my best, so to speak, to "be here now" (Ram Dass) when I can. My interest is certainly high. R
I totally agree with you on this. Why wouldn't someone want to receive comments, and reply to the commenter. I have slacked a little here recently, because I am hardly ever on, but to jump on and off. But I read the comments, reply either individually or a huge comment, even go by and check some of my old posts, because I have people hit my older posts. I love the feedback on what I write, feedback it a writers best tool. I want to thank the ones who do comment, for taking the time to read, rate and comment.
I do have to agree there are many who don't response back to the comments. And I have also noticed the replying to some but not all. If they do it to me, I hardly go back to read them anymore. Because I can take that time,spent on their posts, and read someone else who isn't so rude..
Great and insightful post.. I was shaking my head in disbelief that you had to do another post on this subject. But you are right we all have been slacking..
Thank you for this.
Allow me to twist the (already twisted by way of Voltaire and sense) phrase "common courtesy is not so common": even notions of community and courtesy differ. I may feel it's more courteous to eventually read a post of one of my commenters than it is to spend time commenting on their comments. Maybe my idea of community allows for variance in protocol, and assumes a commonality of general goodwill. Perhaps I take for granted that my commenters know I appreciate their visit and support. Perhaps my community gesture/courtesy is sharing myself via a post and the commenter or rater's courtesy is choosing to acknowledge that I've done so. Perhaps we nod in passing, rather than pausing to inquire as to the health of family members, etc. Sometimes I comment on comments, sometimes I don't. I sometimes make a general "Thank you all for visiting comment" - but, really, doesn't everyone know I feel grateful for their visit? Don't we all feel happy to have visitors we've invited into our homes? Don't we set out the cookies and tea (poetry, prose, photos or music)? I've never felt anyone was being rude who didn't respond to a comment of mine on their post. I'd prefer a community sense of a mutuality of gratitude to a minuet of thank yous.
I'm with Denese and Rob and Amanda. But if someone takes the time to make a lengthy comment, or seems to expect interaction, I respond if I can.

This is a good post, it helps me a lot as I struggled a long time before I ever made a comment. The words that touch me the most often leave me unable to speak. Sometimes the only two words I could write were thank you.

I don't think I expect a reply to some things but I know what you mean, sometimes words given are precious things. I have had to let most of my expectations in life go and with that, what people will think of what I say or do.

I have written a few posts and often wonder if I say the right things back when people comment. As with most things, it seems I blunder around and hope no one loses an eye when I'm near.

Thank you for always being so gentle, as with this.
Another way to see "responding to comments" - Sometimes it seems like the writer "needs to get the last word." Hogging the spotlight. I'm not one of those people. And just because it's my party doesn't mean I have to be the one doing all the talking. Let the commenters talk with each other in the comments section. And sometimes commenters are just trying to draw you into an argument - why not just let them hoist themselves on their own petard, and let everyone see.

Anyway, those are some of my reasons.
Monte, I am very new here. Of all the people who have responded to my fledgling posts, you have been most kind and welcoming, and I appreciate this deeply.

When I joined Open Salon, I was looking for an online version of - I don't know, Bloomsbury - in which people had opinions and shared them and were mostly civil about it. I don't generally get a lot of responses to my posts, so I try to reply individually. But sometimes manners fail me. I apologize for that.

I can't speak for others here, but it seems as if people have any number of reasons for not giving individual responses. It isn't all Bloomsbury, I guess, although that would be nice.
Hi, Emma: some are; and some simply do not see the need or even understand why I think that replies are important. There are no "rules" of social intercourse on OS, and I am just my opinion, as are we all. Thanks for your thoughts on the subject. I agree that a simple "thank you" is all that is needed.

Hey, Jeff. Yes. I do think the majority of people to reply to comments, although I think not as many as when OS was smaller. I too love the give and take in comments, especially on posts like this one. I too am really more bothered by those who comment only to their friends or to those they feel are attacking them. They often miss replying to well thought out reasoned comments by those who are merely trying to advance the discussion.

Well, denese, I have done that with several, but do not make it a general rule. I try to support those, like Lea, a good example, who write not only wonderful posts but are gracious and generous in replying to comments. And I also agree that a lot of people are simply oblivious, or sometimes so into themselves that they have no idea that they are disappointing others.

I understand the limited time issue, Denise M. And it is real one. One thing I have suggested to others is that if you know that you will not have time to reply to comments, just say so in the first comment after you post. The vast majority of people will understand that and they will not think that you simply do not care whether or not your readers comment -- unless you don't care -- which is not what I hear you saying. I think you might be surprised at the number of people who do care that you do not reply at all when you don't. But that is just a guess on my part based on what others have told me in the past about writers who do not recognize their comments at all.

I can't really imagine anyone would think of you as an egomaniac if you made a reply to your readers, if not always at least now and then. I certainly would not. I was not aware that closing comments was such anathema. Apparently there is an unwritten rule here since several have mentioned it. If so, then I should back off of that idea; which brings me back to the desirability, from my point of view, of at least leaving an explanation that you will not be responding to comments or a generic thank you.

I do not make large assumptions or small assumptions about people's motives, only about their actions. I have no clue as to their motives, and as the comments here clearly indicate there is no limit to the various motivations. I am only concerned about the effect of not replying on the commenters and on the OS community, and that is simply my own opinion. Nobody has to agree with it. There are no OS rules. (Will you be coming back here to check out my reply? If so, perhaps that says something about where I am coming from.) In any case, since your way clearly works for you, stick with it.

Hi, Clark, I bookmark only those posts in which I have made a substantive comment that I would like to either know what the writer thinks about it, or would like to know what other commenters may think about it or the post itself. I do not bookmark those where I have simply left a congratulative or supportive word. If you sign up for OS notification by email they will send you a note telling you if your older posts have a new comment on them. Most of the time. OS sometimes drops the ball on that.

I think, Rob, the riskiest form of replying to comments would be to reply to some substantive comments and not others. Those others are left to think in the immortal phrase of the bard: "What am I, chopped liver?" I agree that is what is polite to one is not to another, or is the object of indifference. Yet I fail to see how replying to comments, either individually or generically could possibly offend anyone, unless the writer castigates the commenter or puts him/her down as stupid, etc., in which case keeping ones mouth shut and ones fingers off the keys is the epitome of discretion. I will have to revise my thinking about cutting off comments given that there seems to be the thought that doing so is rude. I have a hard time wrapping my head around that one, but it does not largely affect what I am trying to say so concession there seems the thing to do. As usual, I complement you on your well tuned argument, and agree with most of what you have to say. Thanks for the perceptive comment.

BTW: Duke one in the final seconds. David will have to live to fight another day. So it goes in the real world out there.

Thanks everyone. I will get to the next batch of comments shortly.

I hope the Reverend will allow a sinner to confess here. I'm certainly guilty of this sometimes.

Although I read all comments, I don't always do it on a timely basis. I tend to write quickly (sometimes carelessly) and post as soon as I'm done - without thinking about whether there will be time later to respond to comments. If there are comments.

I've also noticed an odd fact. It's sometimes easier and more comfortable to acknowledge a negative comment than a positive one.
I'm with you, Monte. I think it's kindof rude to not respond to comments, even in a general way. It sends a message about how important your time and input is to that blogger, or not.

It was Monsieur Chariot who started the practice of responding to each commenter on his blog, in a list, by name. It worked like a charm to keep people coming back to his blog, and to continue the conversation. Like any good host, he made each visitor to his blog felt welcome, and heard.

Many of us followed his example, and the habit of responding to each commenter became an integral part of the early Open Salon culture. Over time, that changed. For the worse, I think. Open Diatribe, here we come...;)
I am so glad you tackled this subject. I am new to blogging and have been wondering whether I am supposed to respond to comments. These comments make my day and I am truly grateful for the encouragement and enlightenment they provide. I sometimes get a little tongue tied when I comment on other blogs, but I love the rush. Thanks!
Oh Monte, look how many comments there are! Due to the very nature of this post you will be very busy. Did you realize that when you published this post, you would be obligated to answer all of the resulting comments?

I agree with your sentiments, but I'd like to add another aspect to this issue. On OS we can only follow the last five comments we have made, unless one is as organized as you are Monte, and bookmarks the sites I find it can be hard to keep track. I wish there was a comment history function.

I am sure there have been times when I have left comment conversations dangling simply because I lost track. Phantom comments.
I think that there is an inherent masochistic streak in me when I do one of these meta posts. I am hoist on my own petard and end up getting lots of GOOD comments which I need to reply to in order to maintain any credibility at all. Ah, but it is worth it. Aren't these just delightful comments, even the ones I completely disagree with. As they used to say in the old motorcycle ads: "Different strokes for different folks." Therefore, into the valley of death rode the .....uh.... one." So, "once more into the breach." This latest batch of comments stretches Eight pages! on my word processor, single spaced in arial 11. You all surely can write when you find a topic that interests you!

Ah, trilogy, good to have you aboard this one. I too have closed a couple of posts to comments. One was when I wrote, after much pushing, about my medical condition. And I can't remember what the other one was about but it was equally both just informational, but highly personal. As I recall I took that one down after a short time.

Hi, Deborah Y: you are right. It is up to the individual. There are no social intercourse rules on OS, beyond the obvious, and this issue is not all that obvious to a large minority of people on OS. I am making suggestions, not trying to impose my rules on OS. I hope I have not given that impression. Those who know me know that I do not try to do that on any subject, including on religion, which is closest to my heart.

Thank you, Emma, for giving us an example of where it is rude to close comments. That clarifies the issue a lot for me. I guess I never noticed it because I refuse to read that kind of crap and do my best to stay out of flame wars, although I do defend my friends if they get sucked into one not of their making.

I agree, Kent, that not replying to comments may, as a practical matter, do themselves harm with their readers, at least here on OS. Maybe not so much if they are writing publically as paid commentators, or opinion writers, etc.

I concede the point about leaving comments open so that commenters can discuss the issues raised in the post among themselves. I was short sighted on that one, although I thought I had mentioned that in the post. Maybe I only intended to and did not. I wrote it fairly quickly. And I have started discussions here, several, where I have put up an issue and said at the beginning that I have had my say on the subject and intended to not involve myself in the comments. Those were cases where I really had not come to my own opinion about the issues.

So I think we see these things pretty much the same. I hope I did not say that the issue was cut and dried. But there is no question that I skew very much to the side of replying, at least in some form, or acknowledging why you will not. And I probably agree that the world is complicated, but let me think about that one for a while. ;-0 !! Seriously, excellent observations, Kent.

patricia, it is an issue that is full of nuance and no one size fits all. It sounds to me that you do just fine, and I have read many of your posts and have always thought that. I do thank that courtesy does play a factor, but, as you will see from a couple of the comments here there are people who define courtesy far differently than I do.

Hey, Trudge: good to see you here. I agree and have no real answers. I would like to see people at least think about this seriously, and I think those reading this largely are.

Hey, again, Jeff: hear! hear!
Hi, Maureen: thanks for commenting. Only one question: If you are honored by reader attention, do your readers know that you are? And do you think that your reader base would be affected positively if they did know that you are?

More coming soon. Need to rest my fingers and get a soda. Back in a jiff.

I would do a lot more commenting around here, if I weren't cruelly CAGED all the time!
Seeing Snippy makes me smile...

I posted earlier. Others have done a better job. Very interesting conversation here. Thanks, Monte.
I do TRY to respond. I will never claim perfection. Some days, life gangs up on me. But this is an excellent primer on basic good etiquette, online and off.
Looking for a response....
It's generally a time issue with me, but I usually try to respond because I do appreciate comments. But I also don't mind if people don't respond to MY comments, recognizing again that there are so many time limits & a lot of people barely have time to post.

Sometimes instead of responding to a comment, I try to click from the comment directly into their blog & see if it's a new one & I'll read & comment on that instead. I find that it gives me an easy way to keep up & connect without having to run through my "favorites" list. The feed changes so quickly that I miss a lot (as I can't be on every day) & connecting through the comment is a good way to catch up.
Hello, Vanessa: thank you for your comments. We are totally on the same wave length. One of many around here it seems.

Me too, Anne. And you do a very good job of engaging your readers. It shows. And it pays off as I have watched your readership grow.

Monique: I know that tough schedule of yours is and sometimes wonder how you do it. Sue is working 60 hour weeks these days and I am sure you are too, or more. Only 9 more days of Tax Season. And I hope you get to take a breath after that.

If OS doesn't work for you I do hope you find a place that does. Blogspot is fine as a mirror site for me but I have found it hard to pick up much of a readership there. I think it is just too big. Where ever you end up, keep me informed, and I will follow your posts.

Amanda: I saw your second comment. Loved it !! I needed a good belly laugh about now since my fingers are getting bloody from replying to all the comments. I hope you had a good cry, and something good to eat. Eating really helps when some blogger like me has jilted you.

And, knowing my luck, by the time I get this up you will be already in bed, get up and have to go to work and you won't even know that I am sorry for watching the ball game, and not moving your comments to the head of the line. TWELVE times you checked back! No wonder you are morose.

And I hope you don't think that I am trying to make people feel bad. I am not. This post is not directed at any person. I am, I admit, trying to get them to THINK, which is not easy in this madding world we live it. Sleep well.

Thanks, Bart, it surely has generated a lot of varied opinion, hasn't it?

Hi, Steve. If that works for you, that's fine. I think that every now and then people who take the time to comment would like to know that the writer cares that they did. But, hey, that's just me.

HL: I think that a newspaper editor in anything larger than the ones my family owned and published, small weekly county seat papers, cannot answer every comment that comes in. That is all I meant by that. The editor certainly has a few million other things to do. I was not talking about what people want when they write to the editor, only about the editor's obligations to respond to every letter or email. I hope that clarifies what I was trying to say to STW.

I actually think we are in agreement about a newspaper editor's responsibility. I do not, however, see my role here are the same as that. I do not see publication on OS as like publication in a paper. Here we have readers who get to know us, get to feel close to us, and who see us as less remote than they would see even their own weekly newspaper editor in many cases. Whether their perception is valid or not is not at issue. But whether they would appreciate at least a general recognition of their comments is at issue. I think the vast majority would. I think we hurt our readership when we are aloof from their considered comments. Just my opinion.

Thank you, Algis. Much appreciated.

I like her act too, Boomer. Pretty clever, isn't she? Whatever works for you. Laid back ain't all bad. Do you think you get a greater readership here by not acknowledging comments than if you did acknowledge them? I have never seen it work that way. That is one thing I am trying to get across: that OS is not like publishing say, your own blog page, or publishing when you are already well known. Just a thought.

More still to come. Patience, they tell me, is a virtue! Anybody got some NuSkin they can loan me for my finger tips?

I don't see a response to me and I'm only a trifle bit crushed. Then again, maybe I missed it. And herein lies the rub -- shall I revisit blogs over and over again to see if what I said was acknowledged? I would, but I'd rather be writing fluff.
I like her act too, Boomer. Pretty clever, isn't she? Whatever works for you. Laid back ain't all bad. Do you think you get a greater readership here by not acknowledging comments than if you did acknowledge them? I have never seen it work that way. That is one thing I am trying to get across: that OS is not like publishing say, your own blog page, or publishing when you are already well known. Just a thought.

Oh, I *do* acknowledge comments... every one of them. Sometimes weeks later. I just don't get offended if I comment on someone else's blog and they don't reply. I figure they have their reasons.

If your fingers are bleeding and your eyes are bloodshot, no need to reply. lol. I won't get bent out of shape. ;)

(see? like that)
I am late to this entry and I have not read the other comments but I must tell you that I have worried and wondered about this same thing in my own blog. As a rule I try to answer EVERYONE.

The exceptions to this rule is when I post my stupid jokes. These don't really require a comment or an answer because they are just posted to make people laugh. The other exception was a couple of entries I did on the death of my son. Those were so deeply personal and painful, I just couldn't bring myself to answer all the wonderful expressions of support I got and that was my failing.

I, too, go back many times and see if an author answers my comment and if I am ignored while others are replied to, I rarely go back. Thank you for opening this up for discussion, I do believe it is important.
I distinctly recall that post from last year and I'm fairly certain that I took issue with you, citing that any authors fine post was, in itself, a gift to their audience and they owed nothing beyond this.

However, since then, my perspective has shifted significantly. And it's so appropriate that Donna Sandstrom's comment preceded this one because I want to cite a marvelous piece of hers as an example.

A few months ago Donna sent out a post entitled ' Remembering Lynn'. Well, I was absolutely blown away. It was simply masterful - so exceedingly well done.

And, of course, I immediately shared these sentiments with her in a comment and, in turn received an appreciative response.
So, it's all good, I suppose...except...

Except, what I really wanted to do was to ask questions regarding her method in crafting it. I rationalized that if this really was a writers site, then I was well within my rights to make such inquiries. Else how could I ever hope to learn?
Sadly, I was too much a coward to pursue this.

Still, wouldn't this site be so much more rewarding and helpful to us all, if the practice of seeking answers and advice from such talents were more widespread?
I wish I had the time to respond to all comments. I love spirited debate.

However, my computer time is limited and I'm forced to post late at night, between getting home from work and sleep.

I make sure to thank all those that took the time to comment. But this may not be until late the next evening.

Anyway, that's my story and I'm sticking to it.
It's both for me.

On my blog, I do my best to reply to everyone. After a post has been up for two days, I tend not to reply as I just don't want to 'hog the feed' over a singular post. I see a lot of people do this too. As of late, I haven't been able to reply as timely or as well as I used to - but, I think people understand if you let them know.

As far as other people - I have no expectations. Keeps me feeling pretty chipper. I tend to know the people who will reply and do my best to make it back.

I do also think sometimes its the tone of the post. A post that is a controversial subject, I am prepared to be there to manage the post and act as a facilitator at times. Something that is "my day is great" I don't always reply to every comment.

Anyway, thought provoking. I tend to like to let people be who they want to be here and understand there are no 'rules.' However, I'll usually invest more in a blogger/writer who takes the time to come back to comments more often than not.
I think it boils down to expectations and interpretation. You call not coming back to comments rude, which implies a deliberate slight. or cluelessness, but there are other interpretations - in my case, I work about 12 hours a day and OS is not a place I can afford to tarry long...but I still want to write, and I still want to read friends' posts, and I get so few minutes to do either, I don't prioritize going back to my blog to comment on comments. Of course, I rarely write anything that spurs discussion per se. I feel badly if anyone has ever left a comment on my post and felt bummed out with me for not acknowledging that comment, and it pains me to be thought rude, but it's probably not going to cause me respond to comments any more frequently - now I"ll just feel guiltier about it ;-) I would counsel people who feel slighted in such situations to simply reach out and say "Hey, I was hoping to get a response from you, everything OK?"
Bernadine: In Firefox I just go to "Bookmarks">"Bookmark this page" and when the box comes up click yes. Internet Explorer works essentially the same way although there "bookmarks" are called "Favorites" > "Add to Favorites."

Hey, Robin, yes, it can get away from us. When there is no time often a general thank you is all you can do. I think people understand that.

BlueTX: Trying to individually reply to all these comments is a bit of a chore, but I think it is worth it. If I were not trying to make the point here I might just have set this up as a "What do you think?" post and tell the readers I would stick my head in now and then but that I was listening mostly. But I have a strong opinion on this so I am, by my way of thinking, obliged to comment individually. That is my standard. Not anyone else's. I think it is wrong to comment in a strong or hostile way and then not have the courage to come back and defend your position. I could not agree more. Most people will not comment publicly on style, etc. They do not want to offend or upset you. But you could encourage them to send you PMs on that and I think you would get some responses. Better yet, pick out a few good writers who comment on one of your posts and send them a PM asking them to comment on your writing itself. Chances are good that they will in that situation.

Caroline: nice of you to comment and to be so refreshingly forthcoming. I think until you master that shyness, or even if you do not, try some general thank you replies. Then when you are only getting a handful of comments on some post, try replying individually so you are not so overwhelmed. Copy the comments into your word processor and work up your replies there. Its much easier than trying to work within that little comment box on your post. You can also continue the conversation with the ones you want through PMs. Most people are happy to do that. I do it all the time. I am sorry that the writers you comment on don't say anything back. I think that just adds to my argument that we affect others when we do not reply to our commenters.

Hi, Natalie M: There is no magic in three days. It is just what I do. If I wait any longer the list gets too long. Most people who are going to get back to their commenters do so in three days, but I am sure that there are some who cannot. In that case I would suggest a general thank you comment indicating that you will not be able to get back to them because of other obligations, but that you very much appreciate their commenting.

Hi, Fireeyes, I am not surprised that you agree. I think that interacting with your readers is in your blood, and I have seen the large readership you have developed by caring for and about them. And I could not agree more that feedback is an important writer's tool. Glad to see you back here although I know you have an enormous amount on your plate right now. Keep the faith. Let me know if I can help in any way.

C&V: That is one way to look at it. Perhaps everyone does know you feel grateful for their visit. But how? Perhaps you can take that for granted. But why would you? Have you tested that theory? Is your readership growing or do you care if it does? Some people don't. Perhaps that is your position.

I too would prefer "prefer a community sense of a mutuality of gratitude" but never have seen that, until now, considered an alternative to saying thank you. Saying thank you may well be one of the foundation stones of such a community. That is just my opinion and if your ideas are working well for you here on OS, if you are happy with the amount of readership you have and with the interaction you have with others on OS then that is community enough for you and I am happy for you.

Hey, sweetfeet: whatever works for you. My theory, which I have seen work here over and over, is that you get out of relationships about what you put into them, so the issue is less what you do than what you want out of OS. If you are satisfied that is what counts in the end. If you are not, then reaching out more may prove to be an amazingly positive experience.

l'Heure Bleue: I think you are worth a whole lot more to us on OS than you think. We have all blundered, we have all been disillusioned when our expectations were ignored by others, and we have all had to steel ourselves to the slings and arrows of others who either don't care or never have felt anything at all. Blundering is part of the human condition. Just be honest, open and caring and don't worry about the words. Most people here are caring and have themselves been where you are. Let me know when you post and I will come by. Happy to do it.

Cindy: I KNOW that you do a good job with this, and considering what is on your plate it is a wonder that you do. You can be pretty blunt in your comments, but you always recognize that and it works out. I do not for a minute doubt that you are doing your best. I have come to expect nothing less than that from you.

Catnmus: There is a whole lot more to replying to comments than getting the last word. That is a terrible reason. So is doing all the talking. I am not talking about that at all. I am talking about being considerate of your readers who take the time to comment. If you are worried about hogging the spotlight just tell them all, generally, that you appreciate that they have taken the time to read and comment. That can't be misconstrued, unless you don't mean it. I can't see that you would not mean that. If they are trying to draw you into an argument that you do not want to engage in, just say, Thank you for your comments. You don't have to argue with them.

Hi, ladyslipper, there are many differing opinions on how to interact on OS. I have one that you are already familiar with. I think most people try to recognize the contribution of those who comment on their posts. Certainly the ones I visit most do, because if people ignore my comments after I have spent time on them, and do that consistently, I don't continue reading them. OS is a big lake of writers and there are none here that are aloof from their readers that are so good that I cannot find equally good or better writers here who do care. We all tend to gravitate toward people who share values, so it should not be surprising that I gravitate toward those who want community as well as good writing and who try to nurture both.

Thanks, I will check the last few for tonight and be back in a minute. Then further replies will come tomorrow afternoon.

Sorry, folks. I tried to post this last set of comments an hour ago but OS was shut down for maintenance. Meanwhile I had a flare start in my feet so I will be up several more hours anyway so it isn't keeping me from going to bed, my feet are. So, here are the replies to the last of the comments so far:

Ah, MTN: of course. We are all sinners. If only sometimes I wouldn't worry about it. But if it ever became more......... Maybe a simple kind word to your readers now and then and you will find that their comments get more interesting. Worth a shot. Doesn't cost anything. May gain you a larger, more friendly readership. Who knows?

Hi, Donna: well, M. Chariot no longer feels that way, based on his comment here. I wonder what happened? In any case, I think the change is for the worse too. But the majority still recognize the contributions of their readers. I hope that majority increases again.

Hello, Zul: I think you are on the right track. Tongue tied is pretty natural. Just be honest and open and acknowledge if you are thankful for their comments and it will fall in place.

Blondie, I am by now too punch drunk to notice, but my fingers do. By the time I am typing this it is already 3:30 am. Good thing I am a night own and seldom get to bed before 5 am. Hopefully, you will read this in the morning having had the good sense to go to bed like normal folks. Bookmarking is very, very easy. It requires almost no organizational skills. Try it. Three clicks of the mouse and it is done.

OH, Snippy! How cruel indeed! Who is your master? If s/he is on OS we will boycott!! We will picket! And we will bring you chew bones. I hope that helps! ;-(

Snippy made my morning too, Natalie. All comments are good comments. Your included. And, you are right, it is an EXCELLENT conversation, isn't it?

Hey, Stella. Up late again? Me three. Ah, the energy. Some days I have not a clue what that is. I agree that political post are tricky. I usually post (rant?) and then only comment when I am clarifying, telling the readers I am going to do it that way. It is, of course, up to the poster. But ignore readers too long and too often and you may find that many of them will vote with their feet.

Shiral: All we, any of us, can do is to try to do what we would like others to do to us. Thanks for the kind words.

Hi, suzie: so good to hear from you! I like the idea of checking out a commenter's blog. I do it when I can, but it is not always feasible. I have known you from the beginning of my being here and except for the times when your hands hurt so bad you could barely type you have always been kind to your readers, and grateful for them. That has always shown through.

Monique: there was a nice response to you. And I meant every word of it. You are worn out, lady, and I know exactly why. Blessings, dear, and get some rest whenever you can. And you never have to revisit blogs if you do not want to. It is something I do. But it is not integral to being kind to your readers.

Boomer: how could you get bent out of shape? You are laid back. Weeks later is a unique way to respond. I have to admit that is very original. But, hey, at least you do it. My fingers bled for quite a while but now I have developed scabs so I will suck it up and type through the pain! Ever onward through the snow and hail and sleet and mud, especially the mud since it is pouring cats and dogs outside right now. Take care, friend.

Torman: YOU publish stupid jokes? Tell me it ain't so! I have taken all your jokes very seriously. Which may explain why I never laugh at them. But that is off topic. Back to basics. Good on you.
I too do not comment regarding serious personal things. In fact, in a couple of cases I closed comments from the beginning. Some things you do not want, and can't take, having comments on. They are too raw. I do not see it as a failing, but as grief. Thanks for your comments. I share the sentiment of all of them.

Hi, angus, you may well have commented then. There were a host of them. I think that if the subject matter is sensitive and involves emotional ownership of the writer then it is awkward to ask questions of craft, style, form, etc., ie: writing questions in the public comment forum. But, depending on how raw the writer's wound is, it would be appropriate, and likely appreciated, if, after a respectful time, you were to send a PM to the writer asking the writing craft questions. In fact, I have sent many such PMs to my writer friends asking craft questions. Even at 71 I am still honing and hopefully getting better. At least that is my goal.

When there is no emotional investment by the writer in the post I see nothing wrong with asking those kinds of questions in the comments on the post. Most writers would be flattered. I know I have been when I have been asked such questions. When I am I always leave a brief reply in the comments section telling the commenter that I will be responding to them by PM.

Hey, Jay: you do what you can do. You might consider, if you know you will not be able to respond until the next day to just say that in the first comment box after you post. People would clearly understand that. Good story. So do stick to it.

Sparking: up late, or West Coast? Either way, thanks for commenting. Me too. But I don't think that replying to late comments hogs the feed much. It moves too fast and is so full that one comment or two isn't a fraction of a percent of what will move through there in any given hour. And a lot of times late commenters are just as interested in getting recognition as early ones. I OFTEN comment late because I have such a full agenda I don't get to some posts until two or three days after they were posted. But my comments are just as sincere. However, the truth is that I seldom get any feedback on those comments and sometimes wonder if I should bother. But I do. I too invest in a writer who cares enough to come back to the reader.

Hi, Sandra. Glad you commented. Did I say "rude"? That sounds rude to me, so if I did I apologize. I said in the post "seems both strange and impolite to me" to ignore comments, but don't remember using rude. In any case, I do not want to impugn motives. I don't know motives.

I do have a hard time, however, understanding why it seems so hard for some to simply write a general thank you if they know that they will not have the time to thank people individually. It just doesn't take that long to do that.

I think we just come from two very different places on this issue, Sandra. And I certainly respect your right to come down where you do. However, were I you I would not feel guilty about it if that is where you think you need to be.

Take care, friend.
That's it for tonight, folks. Its 4:25 and I need to go over to Facebook and check out the comments there that have been written on this post!! No rest for the wicked!

Thanks for a Wonderful !!! bunch of comments. It matters not whether you agree with me. We all have our positions and we are still friends and all members in good standing of this outstanding writer's community. That makes for a great conversation. You guys and gals are an amazing bunch of people and I am proud to be associated with you all.

Yes, to those who say that this is all a matter of choice. But.

I feel that it is only common courtesy to at the very least acknowledge comments, even if just to say 'thank you." (I also feel it is only common courtesy to comment when you've read something: to let the blogger know you were there.) I try (try) to make my comments meaningful, addressing the substance or the writing style or both, and so I return to the post to see if the blogger responded to that. Frankly, I'm bothered when someone doesn't.

And for those posts that about ideas, rather than experiences, I think it much behooves the original blogger to respond to comments--to engage in the dialogue that he or she started. There have been a couple of times that Bill S. has put out thoughtful posts and then said (effectively) "I'm not going to respond to comments because I've already said my piece, so go to it." Those are the acceptable exceptions, for me: maybe it's the fair warning aspect of it.
"You all surely can write when you find a topic that interests you!"
:D This post and comment thread has been very educational Monte. Thank you for it.
Monte - this is an excellent point and one that I've often wondered about, as well. I try to respond to every commenter, simply out of courtesy and because I appreciate the fact the someone has taken the time to not only read, but comment on, my blog. I'll admit that often the comments that come in after a blog has been up for a while may slip past me, but I always read them, even if I fail to comment.

From a commenter's point of view, there are times when I simply post a comment to let the blogger know I was there and read their words (we all live for those readers, don't we?) but there are just as many times when I pour heart and soul into a comment. When I check back and find the blogger hasn't even bothered to respond to my comment, I feel slighted. Mainly because OS is a community, no matter what the editors claim it to be, I feel it is imperative to respond to comments. I understand that many others do not share my viewpoint and I'm fine with that. But, I will also say that I have winnowed my favorites list by deleting those who don't bother to respond to comments. Just my opinion, but it has slowly become a pet peeve.

Thanks for bringing this discussion up, Monte. Excellent choice.

Some of the posts seem like the end of a short conversation. And as much as I like to get the last word in, I don't want to do that incase it just comes across as rude.

Other times I just take the post as food for thought and think it over, so by the time I'm ready to reply, the person is long gone and I'm posting to myself.

But usually I do reply quickly, I actually enjoy it.
This is a good conversation to have, Monte. My MO has been to answer every comment because I'm just so damn tickled anyone bothered to read and say something about it. I'm grateful to anyone who stops by and I try to let them know that. But that's not to say those who do not return comments on their posts don't feel the same way; to each his own. There are some writers here that get a phenomenal number of comments and, as Denise said, there are only so many hours (or minutes) in a day to answer. I don't feel personally slighted if a comment I leave on a post is not answered and it's always my choice as to if I want to return to read a future post.
Hey, Monte. As always, you raise an interesting question. For me,there is no simple answer. As a rule, I try to respond to every single comment I get ... usually in group form. I suspect that occasionally I miss someone. I have no idea if any of them come back to see my reply ... unless they offer a second comment, to which I might also reply. If I comment on someone's post, I usually go back to see if they responded ... and in the event their repsonse MIGHT trigger an added comment from me, I offer it. But that's just how I play, subject to change at any moment.

On the bigger stage, OS is comprised a many types of writers who have many styles and and write on many topics. Some ... like femme forte ... offer fiction (or fiction based on fact) and as is her case, write with a certain flair for the erotic. After reading her, my comments will be slanted toward her work, style and subject. Another ... like John Blumenthal ... might tend to write humor,maybe even tongue in cheek. In cases like that, I respond accordingly. Others ... like yourself or Dave Beck ... mostly write on a serious note suggestig a serious reply; some write about their own lives ... maybe troubles ... and still others speak to us with poetry or flowing prose, each one prompting most of us to respond accordingly ... or maybe not at all.

How I comment is totally dictated by what the writer offered me ... maybe a simple one liner for one, and a long winded response on another (like this comment).

If OS is a place for any and all to gather, then it seems to me it's a place for any and all responses (or lack thereof). I am not prone to a "Kilroy was here" type comment. If I have nothing to say, why say anything? That is most always true for me when I accidentally peek in on a pissing contest. I have absolutely nothing to say about those ... other than maybe, "GO to your room and stay there until you know how to play better with others." I find that type of public display totally distasteful. Yet it so often occurs as a result of someone's insensative or inappropriate comment, then the author retaliating with similar misbehavior. Best case with those, I might rate ... probably not ... then just move on to another post. What else might one say to those posts.

Moreover, I read a lot more than OS ... books, articles, news ... and I sure as hell don't comment on every one of those. In fact, I rarely do.

Anyway, my point is, if there needs to be rules ... of any sort ... let someone at Salon make them, let me choose if I wish to play by them, and if I do, then contribute within those perameters. Otherwse let it be what it will be. To me, it's *fielder's* choice.

Oh yeah, and {{{R}}} ;-)
Monte. You amaze my amazement. You are "punch drunk" and I hope Yu do not take Blonde for a ride in the night on your Harley Hog. I love the woman that ... You know... (?)
When you ride and passover a bride?
Woman (Blonde no like to be lady?
I tease. I remember, respectfully?
of course Blonde took Ya to task?
She's a thinker. see @ 5:39 above?
Monte wrote` he's "a night own.."
Rev at a spelling bee gulps a Ale?
Sip Blonde's Abbey Belgium Ale?
Ya are an Episcopal priest. Leffe!
Leffe Blone Ale make Pa Pa burp!
You ever misspell Deuteronomy?
Ya ever ride a mule to the dance?
I always spiel bad. Ya a layer too?
You spell lawyer incorrect. Oho!
Blonde may take you to Knicks!
I read Ya love basketball games?
Ya dance. Strive for simple sexy!
huh? Pope say I's peculiar. Oho!
I need to see a farmer ref:`Moo!
Ya ought to have herd the bird.
The bird singsong like my mule.
I'll take a mule to my outhouse.
Rev? If You get saved a woman?
Will you save one Lady for hick?
I prefer one same-same`Blonde!
She No swings a sharp Machete!
If I cut bamboo I need Leffe Ale!
Save two women. Share one too!
Monte. You amaze my amazement. You are "punch drunk" and I hope Yu do not take Blonde for a ride in the night on your Harley Hog. I love the woman that ... You know... (?)
When you ride and passover a bride?
Woman (Blonde no like to be lady?
I tease. I remember, respectfully?
of course Blonde took Ya to task?
She's a thinker. see @ 5:39 above?
Monte wrote` he's "a night own.."
Rev at a spelling bee gulps a Ale?
Sip Blonde's Abbey Belgium Ale?
Ya are an Episcopal priest. Leffe!
Leffe Blone Ale make Pa Pa burp!
You ever misspell Deuteronomy?
Ya ever ride a mule to the dance?
I always spiel bad. Ya a layer too?
You spell lawyer incorrect. Oho!
Blonde may take you to Knicks!
I read Ya love basketball games?
Ya dance. Strive for simple sexy!
huh? Pope say I's peculiar. Oho!
I need to see a farmer ref:`Moo!
Ya ought to have herd the bird.
The bird singsong like my mule.
I'll take a mule to my outhouse.
Rev? If You get saved a woman?
Will you save one Lady for hick?
I prefer one same-same`Blonde!
She No swings a sharp Machete!
If I cut bamboo I need Leffe Ale!
Save two women. Share one too!
Well, I've read all of the comments here, and now I'm going to respond to each and every...wait just a darned minute - this is Monte's post, not mine! Whew!

I went back and looked at the very first posts I put up when I came here in late December, and I was mortified to see that I had not responded to people's comments. Absolutely mortified, because somewhere along the line - fairly quickly, I hope, I learned to respond to each and every one. I wish to take this opportunity to apologize to those gracious folks who welcomed a newcomer to OS and received nottink, not even the chair.

I still try to answer each and every comment, altho once or twice I was feeling overwhelmed and offered a blanket thanx, and still worried a little about that.

But as others have noted here, I've removed folks from my favorites list who seem to have a habit of responding to only a few comments and ignoring the rest - mine, of course - as that can't be interpreted, at least by me, as anything other than rude. I may read something one of these people posts if I really like the way he or she writes, and I may even comment, knowing I will be ignored, but that's the exception.

As I see it, unless you're an arrogant and/or insensitive SOB, you should either acknowledge everyone who comments - excepting obvious trolls - or you give a blanket response. Hell, I'd even thank the adbots if I thought some sentient being was on the other end.
Monte, another thing that really bothers me is that OS does NOT notify me when someone has left a comment or made me a "favorite." Yes, I do have that "turned on," but I never get notified. What else can I do?
As a more frequent commenter than writer, I echo many of the sentiments here and in the original post. I'm also one of Trudge's ghost-raters. I make it a habit to read all the posts that pop up in my updates feed from my favorites, but if I have nothing to offer except "good job," I only rate, without a comment. When I take the time to comment, it's because I feel moved to do so; therefore, I appreciate acknowledgement and gratitude from the original writer, though I am not too badly hurt by being ignored (unless I pose a direct question to the writer). It's still a touch bothersome. I will not continue to visit and read follow-up though if I am uninvited to do so because the writer did not like my comment(s), as happened recently. I'm not in the habit of fighting.

When someone comments on a very old post of mine, I tend not to respond on the blog, not really wanting it to get back into the feed when it seems such old news to me, but I will often PM the commenter and thank them or offer additional thoughts as needed.

It would be nice if more posts were held as sort of a group seminar on a topic, rather than a rant-and-run as seems sometimes the case. Thank you, Rev. Dr. Canfield for bringing this issue to light.
Mainly, it's a time issue for me. I try to thank everyone for their comments and if they have a specific question or argument to answer it, but I work two jobs and there's just not enough hours in the day to respond to everyone individually.

I do promise that I read each and every comment, though.
I'd bet that you could walk into any room and get a civil, spirited discussion started.
Good job doing that, and interesting viewpoints from your readers.
I think commenting is like love: You do it without any expectation of return. You do it because you want to do it. Period.

I often respond asking commenters to accept a "group hug," and relaying my sincere gratitude for their time and attention. I do so because I find individual thank-you's awkward. If I see someone new, I try to get to their blog and check out their stuff. As a writer, I know I'd rather get that than a response in the comment thread.

There are times I love hanging around a comment thread. It's like being in a room packed with friends. I've spent many an afternoon there. Mostly it's a matter of what time allows.

Can't let this subject go without mentioning the "rate" button at the top of every post. Ratings are good. Click the thumb.
Well, dear peeps, it is pushing 10:30 am and I still have not gone to bed because of these flaring feet of mine, so I might as well jump in here and reply to a few comments. I doubt I will go to bed at all today. Just get an hour or so nap later on, in the Lazy Boy. I won't say how much sense I will make because I'm hurting and tired, but, hey, lots of folk think I don't make much sense anyway, so what the hell.

Pilgrim: I share your views but have learned, as you already know, that many people define common courtesy differently than we do, and some don't even think it exists, or prefer to think that it is irrelevant in a place like OS. I do agree with live and let live, particularly on a site that is "Open," but like you, I too don't have much time to give to people who do not care to interact with their readers here. Maybe elsewhere. But not in this community. My opinion, nothing more. And, apparently yours as well.

Hey, Julie: yep. this one has hit a nerve. Twice in 14 months, though presented in different words, same subject. But the conversation has been civil and constructive and it is not necessary that we all agree. OS is plenty big enough for us to find writers and readers who will like what any of us write. Well, most of us at least. Glad you commented.

Thank you, Unbreakable. "... because OS is a community, no matter what the editors claim it to be, I feel it is imperative to respond to comments." Me too. I share your position even though I too am fine with those who feel otherwise. Were the majority position to become one where no one replied to comments I would have to consider whether I was a good fit for OS, or vice versa. But we are hopefully a long way from that choice.

Thanks for commenting, TT. I enjoy replying to comments myself, although replying to this many in a short period is a bit of a stretch for me! ;-)

I think, Smithery, that under ordinary circumstances, like when I have not taken a particular stand on some issue, when I get a large number of comments, or when I do music posts, etc. I make do with a blanket reply, or maybe three or four over the course of the comment period. It does not take much time at all to write a sentence or two saying that I appreciate the comments. It really doesn't. So I can better understand the time constraint argument regarding individual replies, but have a hard time understanding it regarding a general acknowledgment of the readers who do comment.

Rod: I don't think the answers are simple either. But the questions are hard; questions that lead us to the answers we will ultimately have to them. How we frame the questions helps determine how we will answer them. It is in the questions that we find the answers, depending on how we view OS, our roles as readers, our roles as writers, our roles as community (or not) and our roles as friends of one another.

You conclude, in part, "Anyway, my point is, if there needs to be rules ... of any sort ... let someone at Salon make them, let me choose if I wish to play by them, and if I do, then contribute within those parameters. Otherwise let it be what it will be." I agree with that, and want to be clear that I am not proposing rules, other than for myself. OS does have some rules but they are few and far between and do not in any way touch on the issues in this conversation. And I do not think that they should.

Art: you are in rare form today and I don't know what you were drinking or smoking but I can't quite understand your point(s) this time. And if you analyze my purple prose carefully you will see that those are not "spelling errors;" they are typing errors that I was both too busy and too lazy to take the time to correct, seeing how it has taken me since early last evening to get all these replies done. Hoist, as it were, on my own petard. Besides, I have never owned a Harley in my life, good Sir. And I never will. I am a Brit bike man to the bone. A Triumph rider. Always. Forever. Harleys are harley my cup of tea, old boy. ;-) Thanks for commenting, Art.

Hi, Clark. If I had known that you were willing to reply to all these comments I would have gladly given you the job. Why didn't you call??!!!! Stop worrying about your few blanket replies. We all have to do that now and then. It happens. We get busy. We get another part of life, often a more important part, intruding on our OS time. I never thought about thanking the adbots. Lainy has me signed up for her crusade to rid them from our posts. And I can't go back on my volunteering to join the movement. Bummer.

Thanks, everyone. Still good comments from you all.

I really try to respond to comments - all comments - if only an acknowledgement to each. Sometimes it takes me a bit to get around to it, but I try. I post infrequently enough, I figure it's the least I can do to thank folks for coming to read!
Hey, Patricia: Not much if you have complained over and over to Admin and they do nothing. The TLC offered to members is pretty nearly nothing. I just don't think they have enough staff to field the problems we present. But I would send them the same email several times a day forever or until they fix it, which ever comes first. And forever may well come first.

RavingBits: your system sounds good to me. I think it is explained well here and expresses the honest feelings of many of us. I never go back to someplace where someone has taken me to task unfairly, even if it is because that person is all heated up because they are doing a rant. This isn't high school and we should be able to distinguish between disagreeing with ideas and dissing the person who has those ideas. We should be mature enough to deal with issues and avoid personal insult. Too often here on OS some people have no clue that there is any difference.

Leeandra: you are thanking them the way you can given your responsibilities. Nothing in my book wrong with that.

Thank you, AKA, for the kind words. There have been some rooms I have walked into where
that was a pretty tough order. But at least I expected it to be since I did conflict resolution within the church for a number of years. Talk about interesting! It was easier to teach that it was to do, I remember that very well.

Hi, Jim. I know how you treat your readers. Very well. With sensitivity and compassion. Group hug or individual replies. Both work and I have seen you do both. I think that more people would rate more if they put a rate button down at the bottom near the comment box. I all too often intend to rate and then forget to do it because it is back up at the top. And if pages are loading slowly -- a common problem only on OS -- I particularly forget to rate because I am always jumping out of OS to another site to try later when pages are loading normally.

Thanks, Owl. I appreciate the way you do it. Thanks for commenting.

Thanks, everyone. I'm going to take a break now and will do further replies sometime this afternoon.

I don't always respond to comments, although I do indeed read them all. I try to do a big general 'hi' if I'm very busy and respond fully when I can. The problem is that I'm incredibly busy with child and work and responding to comments, all comments individually, takes a huge amount of time when anyone actually reads what I've written. I'm okay if someone doesn't respond to me. I know it's probably the same issue of time management.
Monte, you have me laughing. (Mental note - don't try for brevity) I didn't mean I respond weeks later, I meant even if someone finds a post weeks later, I try to catch those comments and say thanks, too. I'm sure I miss a few, but I try. My eyes are bleeding trying to keep up with this post. Glad mine don't get that kind of traffic. ;)
i'm chiming in just so you know i was here and read this. that's one of the purposes of a comment, right? ;

so as not to rehash the whole thing, i would echo verbatim what unbreakable said above with one proviso: i haven't deleted people who don't reply to my comments (even a general reply to all commenters is fine with me) because i still want to read their work if they're good writers.

but the imp in me might click away from their post without commenting. seriously, i wouldn't want to spend the psychic juice writing a good comment for an author who probably doesn't even read it.

i'm glad you posted this, in large part so i could read what my fellow writers think on the topic. it's enlightening.
I have also been to others' posts and left a comment, only to never be acknowledged - either as part of the whole group, which is annoying, or I am completely overlooked and the person behind me is replied to directly, which I find particularly insulting.
I feel that if someone takes the time to think about what I've written, it would be utterly disrespectful to just shrug my shoulders at it and go about my day. I try to post when I know I can be available to answer comments and the times when I post before I drive my girls to school, I feel badly that I can't get back to the comments for an hour or so. I was late to respond to comments on a post recently and said something like, "I doubt anyone's coming back now, but..." The only time I don't return comments right away is if I'm on my iPhone, which makes it nearly impossible to respond effectively. And of course, sometimes I don't see new comments.
Oh-my-lanta! I am embarrassed beyond belief! I just saw that I have missed several comments on some of my posts! And here I am - part of the problem I detest. Thank you for bringing this up - for several reasons!
Gotta go play catch-up! Hugs, Monte. You have a lovely heart!
No, you don't ignore comments. You just delete the ones you don't like and/or don't agree with your post and don't tell you what a wonderful post it was and what a wondeful human being you are. Hypocrite!
Like most here, I love the comments and take them very seriously. I try to reply to all or most, depending on the comment or commenter's questions or added perspective to the post subject matter. The comments are such valuable tools and informaton and often starts riveting discussion and points of view. I welcome that.
Hi, gang. My feet finally quit flaring and I closed my eyes in the Lazy Boy about noon thinking I would sleep an hour or so and woke up around 4:30. Not a lot of sleep for a 30 hour period but I feel a lot less out of it. (It may be an illusion.) In any case, I will reply to the new comments now.

Odette, glad you commented. When you have a limited amount of time, a generic "Hi, Thanks" acknowledgment to your readers is sometimes all you can do. People understand, or, if they don't, they should.

That's OK Boomer, you make me laugh a lot too. Ain't it great to laugh now and then? I wish I hadn't written in my calendar in INK to reply to this comment of yours in six weeks. You have busted my bubble. I thought I had a new for me sure fire method of spreading out, or at least delaying, my responsibilities to one reader. And I hate a messy calendar. So I am writing now, in pencil, not to take you literally any more, except when you tell me to. ;-) !!

Femme forte: I am very glad you are chiming in. That is indeed one of the purposes of commenting. I think each of us has to decide whether or not to follow a writer who does not interact with his commenting readers. One size does not fit all on that issue. I tend strongly to drop them if I write several serious comments directed at the writer, and they are ignored. For me that just does not work. But many others stick with a good OS writer regardless. Your call. I agree it is hard to keep commenting if there is no response, although sometimes the comments themselves are worth diving into and contributing to that discussion for its own interest.

Hey, LC, I think that is simply a function of what you think is more important. I think it is more important to reply first to those who have taken the time and effort to read and comment on my work. Others see it the other way. I always think it best to take care of ones own readers first. That is a personal preference, not a rule or anything like that. Sort of "stroke the hand that feeds you" in my case. Sometimes, like now, that means that the notices are piling up in my PM inbox and I will be late reading those. It is strictly up to what you think is higher priority.

Hey, OM, wonderful to see you here. I too find it insulting to be ignored while the writer picks and chooses who to reply to and leaves other equally thoughtful comments without so much as a nod. I just don't understand how a mind works that chooses to do that. It is, in my book, particularly disrespectful, more so, even, than not replying at all to any comments with a simple generic thank you acknowledgment. We all miss some comments. It is inevitable. We are only human. Please do not be hard on yourself. I know where your heart is.

I get ignored a lot on OS.

Sometimes I just make jokes (of which, I think, are usually very clever).

Mostly, my jokes get ignored. Of course, some people are just plain intimidated by a sophisticated wit (so my mother used to tell me—when she was alive, that is.)

Sometimes, I write a long-ish thought-out response. I have observed that the response I get depends on the nature of the blogger.

Will A: your comments here are priceless. I am sorry that you too are "chopped liver." But what a great bunch of recommendations. I particularly like the lines that are bound to get the blood pressure up on liberals like me! Using them a few times will guarantee your quarantine indefinitely around here in this largely liberal den of snakes. I think I have a sense of humor but a few of those zingers would likely raise my bp about 50 points! Good work. I don't think I have read much of your work, but maybe it is time I did. Thanks for the chuckles! We need it now and then when we deal with a serious subject. I am adding you to the thank you list of Torman and Boomer and a couple of others for lightening up the scene a bit.

Artist at Heart: You are the first commenter on this post who has deemed it necessary to attack the writer rather than deal with the issues. You have decided that you have a personal vendetta against me, and, after all of these months of calling me names it has done you no good. But you persist. I do wish you would just go away and find some way to channel all that anger to a constructive use. After all this time, I find it inordinately tiresome. Further ad hominem remarks will be deleted.

Hey, Cathy. I have watched how you handle comments since I got here and you do a great job. Glad that you could drop by and comment here. Thanks. And, yes, comments are valuable tools and provide us with a lot of information, particularly if they are germane to the issues being discussed.


The conversation on this post has exceeded my expectations. Thanks to all those who have dealt so wisely and constructively with this important issue on a major way we interact as a community of writers and other bloggers.

Thanks for putting my heart at ease....it turns out that one of the comments I failed to see was yours. Ack!
I appreciate your kind understanding.
Hi Monte--This was obviously a great topic for conversation, and it seems I missed the group dialogue. I have mixed feelings about this. On the one hand I find it trite and almost claustrophobic to have an atmosphere where every single comment must be answered, and I'm not only referring here to being the original poster. On the other hand, I dutifully check almost every comment I make to see if the poster has responded, like a kid who wants approval. It's just one of those weird double standards. When I am the poster, I try to answer all comments, but I'll be honest: Sometimes I don't because it just feels completely contrived. And I'm kind of an intellectual honesty nut. I don't want others to condescend to me by saying, "Good point, Lainey" like I'm a dog looking for a bone, so I try not to do that to others. But then I come back to my wanting--or at least looking for--feedback. sigh.

This much I know is true: there are most definitely people who don't respond at all, and I understand that they have less respect for OSers than most do. I think when people just throw up their wisdom and hit the road, it's arrogant. I think what Rob and Monsieur do is perfectly acceptable--they read all the comments but respond only to the ones that seem to require it. I have started to do that lately and I hope everyone knows I'm there. People can jump back in and solicit something specific from me, because I'm there. I just don't want to be one of those people filling dead air for the sake of it.
So the moral of the story here, Monte is "be careful what you wish for"
OM: I think we all know where your heart is, and you are very, very involved with your readers. And we know it. Don't be so hard on yourself. You have a wonderful, exciting life unfolding before you, embrace it and we will be happy for you. Blessings.

Hi, Lainey, I think that people are not necessarily being "condescending," and in fact never even think of it that way in most cases, when they say something simple like "good post." They may just want you to know that they read and that they were there AND that they did think it was a good post. Keep in mind that there is nothing to make them write anything at all. So I see that as a compliment and as a sign of support.

I also do not think that it is necessary to reply to every single comment on every single post. Some posts are not such that they need a thoughtful, detailed comment, like, for instance, your post on taking the trash out. Now, I could have just read it and moved on. But I wanted you to know I thought it was cute so I left a cute reply. I did not expect an individual reply, but a general acknowledgment and thanks is not out of line by the writer in that kind of situation.

I think the idea of commenting on some posts and not on others on a serious thread is a thin ice situation. The idea of "read[ing] all the comments but respond only to the ones that seem to require it" really puts one hell of a burden on you to decide which require it and which do not. Of course your readers will know you are "there." But will they know that you care? Or will they wonder why their comments are ignored, when they may feel that they were sincere, and maybe even more relevant to the issues at hand than the ones you choose to reply to.

Its your blog and you can decide to reply to comments, some, all or none, but if you read back through the comments on this post it is clear that selective replies are by far the most offensive of all those options. People will tend to vote with their feet if they are excluded. It is just human nature.

Now, I think you could get away with a generic thank you and selective replies via PM. But to do it openly, to pick and choose who is "relevant" or "requires reply," opens up a can of worms. So, that is my take on that particular form of replying. I could be wrong, of course.

Thanks for commenting. I know the entire issue is not easy. And each has to come to a place s/he feels comfortable.

Boy, trilogy, you hit the nail on the head! My fingers are raw, my butt is worn out from sitting, my eyes are bleary, I got 4.5 hours sleep in the last 36 hours. Other than that it has been normal.


Hey Monte,

Just to be clear, I don't have a problem with someone saying "Good post;" it was more the "Good comment" by the poster I was saying is more problematic. I was being lazy with my vocabulary; I don't really think condescending is the right word, more like trite or contrived. It just feels like an exercise of obligation, to both the reader and the writer. (By "the reader" I mean people reading the comments, not the one to whom the original poster is addressing in his "contrived" comment). The thing is, I actually do this because it seems to be the thing that is done, but I'm just stating my objection to it as feeling a bit forced. (I'm sure I've forgotten some, but this is my goal, except for posts like the one I just did, as you referenced).

You are so right about the selective comments, and I've felt the sting of those myself, so I can't really object. I can only say that sometimes--and this is never me I'm talking about here--I hardly ever post and when I do I never get reams of comments--I'm just imagining the big picture--anyways, sometimes maybe 50 people comment and like 35 of them are the equivalent of "Good post!" but the others may involve some disagreement or a really complicated personal story or analogy or something. That's what I meant by "those that require a response." I can't imagine that people don't get the difference. I still think that an occasional "Hey, all, thanks for your thoughtful comments" along the way should cover those 35 simpler comments. But personally I think it's OK and understandable if someone feels the need to answer more specifically those other fifteen. I guess the ones I don't get are the nonanswers to some long comments but not others. Now that feels like dicier territory. Anyway, as you say, the long and the short of it is this: If people feel like you are a friendly blog--and that entails all that the page encompasses--the post itself, your presence during the conversations, your responses to comments, etc.--then they will want to come back often. If not, they won't. I agree with you that the burden is on the host/hostess to make such friendliness apparent.
I like to respond and be responded to. If I see the poster never answers comments, I almost never comment again. But if a poster responds to some and not me, I get my feelings hurt. For that reason, I like to respond to everyone who comments. I love comments. That's really what I like about OS, is the give and take. Sometimes the dialogues can go on too long, and maybe that's what keeps people from replying. I dunno. Good post. I'LL BE BACK.
I always try to respond to every comment -- even if it's just a "Thanks!" It doesn't take that much time to read through the comments, take note of what they liked and noticed and appreciate their comment. It takes time to read and comment, which I don't take for granted. Sometimes the comments lead me off onto an interesting thought tangent, where they see something I hadn't realized was there (which might lead to another post) so I am grateful.

On the other hand, I don't really get upset if others don't do it. People are busy, distracted, harried and torn up (which may be why they are blogging in the first place). I understand that I'm a speed reader and an accomplished typist, and that others may not have those skills. I read and comment on those posts I enjoy or those posts that touch me, and I don't expect any "shout out" for my effort, but it's an unexpected gift when that comes. Either way, I wouldn't stop commenting for a writer I admire.
We each have our own agendas and styles.

Some folks just post but never respond to comments. That's their prerogative. If I see a pattern of this, though, I soon lose interest in posting comments on blogs written by those writers.

There are a few writers that, even when folks comment agreeing with them, will rip the commenters to shreds - I normally steer clear of them as well.

My preference is to usually respond to folks who have taken time to leave a comment on my posts.

I've never closed comments (yet) but I do not agree that closing comments is cowardly - sometimes its warranted by very specific realities. Fact is, we don't owe anyone an explanation for why we do anything.
I try to acknowledge every comment, but when there are a lot of them or I don't have time, I will at least thank everyone and insult the spammers and trolls.
Having read a few of the responses, I do like it when instead of answering my comment, people visit my blog. That's more than acceptable. I sometimes do that.
I agree, it is a courtesy to reply to comments.
Lainey, I have read enough of your posts and how you treat commenters that I know that you care about them. And we both agree that if we offer an open and friendly blog, with respect and concern for our readers, they will understand where we are coming from. And, yes, the burden is on the host/tess to show that to the reader. Unless we just don't care about our readers and I know that you care very much about yours.

Thanks for your comments, latethink, with which I concur.

Glad to have your perspective, BV. It sounds like you have a way of dealing with these issues that works for you. I do agree that we need to cut some people some slack because we have no real knowledge of what is going on with them and what time and other pressures they are under.

Thanks, Kit. I have closed comments immediately a couple of times and had good reasons to do so, and I don't apologize for that at all. I was not soliciting them and was in no way interested in reading them. I just did not think comments were appropriate in those instances.

Zuma: you insult spammers and trolls!?? Well. I can't imagine. They are just doing their own little devil's workshop, don't you know? They feel that they have to make your life miserable, so why not just let them?

NOT! Good on you.

latethink, I too like the idea of people checking out your blog when they see you have commented on their blog post. But I do not see that as mutually exclusive to at least saying a general thank your to the people who have commented on our posts. We can do both. It is not "either/or."

Thanks, Kathy K. I do too. Thanks for reading and commenting.

Many thanks, all of you, and many blessings.

Excellent point, I like the idea of bookmarking too, I usually comment and move on knowing my over worked brain will never remember all the places I comment. I have tried to keep up with responses, not always successfully. I plan on being more diligent about this.

Grat job, rated,
I have read the comments and have to say that I agree. ;-)
Thanks, TSB, for reading and commenting. I have found bookmarking to be the easiest way for me to keep more or less on top of what I am doing here on OS. It isn't perfect by a long shot, but it works well enough for me.

Mike: thanks for reading. It is a real tour de force to read through all these comments, but I think it is worth it because we have a very good cross section of OS opinion here. Appreciate you dropping by, and hope that school work is going well for you.

As with all things in life, I find the key to happiness is having no expectations. I don't expect people to comment on my posts -- so I am delighted when they do. I don't expect bloggers to respond to any comments I leave on their posts -- so I am delighted when they do. That is, when I remember to check back. Sometimes I do (usually because it feels there's more of a dialogue going on) but often I forget. I assume that's true for others here, or they may just not bother to check for other reasons.

I try to respond to all comments on my own posts, although sometimes it's just a "Thanks." But I always wonder how many people even come back and see if their comments got responded to (per what I said above). I'm guessing it's actually the minority.

So how much effort around here is put into writing responses to comments that never get read??
silkstone, thanks for commenting. Will you come back and check whether or not there has been a reply to your comment here? Since the vast majority of comments are simple "good post, Fred" kind of comments chances are that the commenter does not come back to check. If all comments were like that a simple generic "thank you" reply, once, will suffice for most writers. But if a comment is longer, relevant to the issue at hand and sincere I would think that the commenter may well come back, and, based on the comments here, be a bit disappointed if there is no reply from the writer, if the commenter has any expectations of interaction with the writer who has encouraged comments by leaving comments open.

I am not sure I understand your last sentence. Do you mean that the replies to comments never get read, or that the comments never get read? I think both things, unfortunately, happen. In both cases I imagine the answer is a minority, BUT not in the case of thoughtful comments. In those cases I would imagine the majority of commenters will check back.

Karin, your comments make sense to me. And I am talking about intentions here more than I am about perfection. Life has a terrible habit of getting in the way of always doing anything. Something is always happening to side track us. There are exceptions to everything. I would just like to keep them as exceptions, not as the customary thing that is done.

I find selective replies very insensitive to the feelings of the other commenters. Fortunately that is not common here, but I see more of it all the time. And I hope that does not become the norm.

Thanks to both of you.

Sometimes I just rant and don't check back on comments...

Also sometimes I don't respond because the comments are so nasty. Commenting on them somehow validates the person that placed the comment. Mean people suck and I don't want to egg them on.
I am a firm believer in replying to comments unless I've specifically said I won't. But I also believe there are some people whom I call "Post-And-Run" ers, that simply don't want the interaction of replying.

I try not to take it personally if someone doesn't reply to a comment I've made. Similarly, it's nothing personal if I didn't respond to a specific comment someone made on one of my posts; I may have overlooked that comment, or I may have felt it did not require a response on my part.

But I do try to reply to all comments.

Hmmm...... I just had a thought. it may also be that some folks don't realize they can get e-mail notifications when they receive comments. I do that so I can see when new comments arrive.

Some more grist for the mill, as they say.
Gonzoid, thanks. I too will not reply to smarmy comments, and if they are off topic or personal attacks I delete them. My house. My rules. My rants are few but when I do I normally garner a flood of comments and usually have to reply to them. But that is just my style.

Bill: you are kind and considerate to your commenters, and I appreciate that -- even on the rare occasions when I have taken a position with you that differs from your own.

I have mentioned it here in my replies a couple of times but will reiterate it:

People, please check your account here and be sure you have checked the notify by email box about comments, that is, of course, if you intend to reply to comments. I use that service and it works most of the time. There have been times when it has failed to notify, but those are few and far in between.

Thanks guys,

I have a simple method: If I can't respond right away, due to work usually, I let people know. Once in a while i see an odd duck comment come in for very old posts, and I fail to remember to respond.

But I like to engage with people via posts, mine and their. I share your curiosity and at times frustration. It's work, but I feel obligated, perhaps due to the nature of my subject matter, to repay the kindness or attention with a response.

Mostly if I feel anything negative it's just a little disappointment. At least some writers, like Stellaa, declare who they are about commenting.

And this: you are expressive in such a natural way when you write. I immediately started my comment here as if we were just talkin'. That's an admirable quality of your writing: You come thru, your Voice, and you are accessible. I think that factors in for some folks.

There are at least two writers here I really like, and I am convinced they are incredibly shy. Another few are unable to come out from behind their formality or persona. I don't mean jerks on soapboxes; I have little patience for that. I mean credible writers with something to say who for whatever reason feel more comfortable informing, not having a dialog.

For example I love Saturn Smith. She rarely engages. (I never thought about it til just now. With her I don't mind.)

So I guess it depends. But i share your general feeling: this isn't just stuff lobbed over a transom.
Monte, I did come back! Sorry part of what I wrote was unclear. Here's what I was trying to say:

I actually put in quite a bit of time responding to comments on my blogs. Mostly because I want to -- because I find the comments gratifying and intriguing and I naturally have a response to most -- but also for the courtesy reasons you and others describe.

But as far as I know, very few people come back and see that I responded to their comment. I have no way of knowing unless they comment a 2nd time -- which does happen but rarely. (Mostly on my Mad Men commentary posts, I have to say!)

So for all I know, I put effort into composing replies that never get read. And not just because people don't want to read them but because (as others have noted) OS isn't set up for us to easily track our comments beyond the last few. So we have to rely on recall (yes, we can bookmark as you do, but I think it's very rare that people do that). And even if we remember, we all have limited time.

So I'm not sure how big an issue this really is. It's the old "if the tree falls in the forest" thing: If a blogger fails to acknowledge comments, but the commenter doesn't ever bother to come back and find that out, does it really matter??
I'm with Cap'n. I agree too but also will fall prey to laziness at times to continue responding to comments. And yet, I also find that it's commenting on comments which generates additional comments. But time constraints sometimes interfere (like right now--you can tell that it's a slow day at the car dealership when I'm doing this on OS).
Hi, Greg, love your comments. I see how you care about and for your readers and really appreciate that. And, I love this final phrase: "this isn't just stuff lobbed over a transom." I share the idea that we need to be accessible, but it is hard to create that reality if we don't feel that openness is "us;" or if we are inherently shy or introverted in general. When I came here I was pretty extroverted as I generally like people, and need them around me. But I was pretty closed in on what I was willing to say about myself, how open I was willing to be. Over time, largely by coming to trust my readers and their comments, I opened up. I was not looking for any benefit from that, but I got one: my writing became more honest, more translucent (transparency is not who I am) and I became more able to communicate with my readers. That was a real blessing, and still is, and I owe it to the members of Open Salon.

Hi, Silkstone: Thanks for coming back. I think more people come back than you think do, but there is no way to prove that. In any case, I think it is worth replying and taking our chances with that. It only takes one reply to someone who is trying to figure out who that person really is who wrote that piece to make a friend. One in a hundred would be worth it to me. And I think you know that too. So, in answer to your question, yes, it really does matter. And I am absolutely delighted that you took the time to come back and clarify this for me, and to be an important part of this discussion.

Walter: Replying to comments does tend to generate more comments and at time a real discussion gets going, which is just pure fun. Time constraints are even a problem with a retired person, me, if you can believe it. I never thought that was remotely possible. Thanks for your comments and for becoming a good and fun friend to know.

I personally love to comment on the comments and I love it when people respond to mine. I want to know what they think. Most people do I think and that is why I like OS. I haven't been her for awhile,but I should be able to check in a lot more now. Done with Student Teaching.
I used to respond to all of my comments in the comment section, but had a rather unsettling experience with that. I now tend to respond in PM's - I do read all the comments, which are often the BEST part of my post. I don't always assume that a commenter needs or expects a response, but perhaps I am wrong about that. I tend to assume my comments have been read whether or not I get a response - and I often don't check back to see if the writer has responded. (this is called Unconditional Commenting).

Anyway, if I offend anyone by not responding to a comment, I hope they send me a PM so I can let them know that I do read and value his or her feedback and/or support.
Thank You for bringing this subject up.
Hi, Sage. I have missed seeing you around much, and hope the teaching stint went well. You are very good at getting a conversation going in the give and take of the comment stream. I enjoy that about your posts.

Hey, BFTQ, glad to have you here. I believe this might be the first time you have commented on a post of mine. Everyone has to find a way to handle comments that suits them. I doubt, however, if very many people who are not happy with your lack of replies would send you a PM about it. They would more likely just vote with their feet if it bothered them. I think that is just human nature. People tend not to assume you care about something or someone if you don't give them an indication that you do. I wish that were different, but it is not in my experience.

Thanks to the two of you.

Hey Monte,
I am super sad that I missed this when it came out! I don't have much time for OS lately and wanted to comment before I read any of the other comments.

I always make my way to your post b/c you are one of the rare few on OS (much like in life) that walks his own talk.

You read those who read and comment on your posts. I respect that a lot. You not only read but give thoughtful feedback. And you alway reply to my comments on your blog. I realized that as I was reading this that I learned how to "be" on OS largely by your ettiquette. You are never rude, but will point out the other side. You spend your time on positive writing and help people express themselves better, understand better.

I joined OS a little over a year ago to become a better writer. I will admit that I don't read much except for my favorites. My favorites have been weaned down to those who I respect AND who will actually reciprocate and read my one posts. I need comments to actually improve my writing, or what is the point?

thanks for this and all you do around here :)
Hi, YH: you are never late to one of my posts. Thank you for your kind comments.

It is clear from the honest conversation in these comments that no one of us approaches this issue exactly the same way because there are unique issues at play in our individual lives that others are not privy to. But I think that caring, compassion and civility will usually guide most of our actions, and lead us to treat others, including our readers, with respect.

Thanks much, and blessings.

This is an interesting post.
All conversations are based upon the fact that one would have the time and honesty to do them justice. I agree that every thoughtful comment on any post deserves a return. But if there are those out there who write so much and are so popular that they dont deem it necessary to reply to any one ...it maybe just a lack of time and space.
Some comment-ers actually post two line comments which are palpably just to register their presence and thus have people visit them in turn.
Some writers actually get angry if one disagrees or critiques!

Well............ it is complicated.
sadly I hardly have much of readership here so when I got the chance to actually write Op-Eds for a niche newspaper and national magazine....I jumped at it. Hopefully create some more opinions there that I cannot here. The main thing is to start dialogues in as many platforms as possible.

Monte, I will be back sooooooooooooon!
Traveller, good to have you back even now and then. I know you have a full agenda over the coming months, and I wish you and your family much joy and love. This post did what I hoped it would do which was simply to get people to think about the issue, and to show some civility and respect for one another. It certainly was controversial.

Everyone has to decide for themselves how to deal with comments and whether to reply to each, or some or none at all. But whatever we do we should not be surprised if when we do not interact with our readers they take their reading elsewhere. As you say, "Its complicated."