Is it weird that I desperately wanted to continue the "On Comments" with "on Cupid! On Donner and Blitzen"? I resisted doing it because, hey, maybe it's too weird but I can't seem to stop myself mentioning it completely.
Often I happen by the Weekly Geeks page on Saturday to see if there's a topic there that will sufficiently motivate my lazy blogger butt (and it's very lazy and should in no way reflect on the hard work Weekly Geeks folks are doing to come up with good questions every week) to write a post. This week's questions about commenting got my attention. I mean, we're bloggers. We might say that we do this for ourselves, that we don't need comments, but how true is that? Sure, I could keep on writing in a commentless vacuum, but it would be a total bummer. No interesting literary conversation, nobody to relate to in our good or bad feelings about a book, nobody to offer sympathy when we can't help but write about something rotten going on in our lives, nobody to disagree with us and challenge us to think harder about our opinions, and certainly no "surprise" author comments would make for a sad, dismal, and unsustainable blogosphere, methinks. So, if posting is the body and comments are the soul of blogging, then how do we handle our comments? Do we reply personally to each of our commenters? Are we excited or petrified about that ultimately unexpected author comment? How do we deal with trolls and spammers that are poisoning the commenting water? (How many metaphors can I mix in ones post?)
I love comments and the commenters who leave them. Unfortunately, despite my desire to respond to each comment one by one, I don't do it as consistently as I like. I really appreciate it when other bloggers respond to my comments on their blogs. I appreciate the dialogue and the opportunity it gives me to get to know other bloggers better. Feeling that way, I often wish I was more consistent with my responses to others here, but time constraints are such that I find myself having to choose whether to spend my time replying to comments, reading other peoples' blog posts and leaving comments on them, or writing another post of my own, and often one of the other choices wins out. It's not something that pleases me, but it is a fact of life, I suppose.
One thing that would save me a lot of time for worthier activities would be if the spammers would evaporate. I think I was fortunate for a long time that spammers hadn't bothered Leafing for Life. Considering that I've been blogging here since 2007, it's only been relatively recently that spammers have begun to crop up here in droves. For a while even, I could manage it by going back and deleting the few spam comments that appeared. Now, however, more drastic measures are demanded. I've noticed a lot of bloggers mentioning that they've turned on comment moderation for posts older than two weeks, which seemed like a great idea to me, so I've adopted that tactic. I even tried word verification for a while, but my general loathing for it, especially on Blogger blogs where the comments are embedded and don't ever seem to work properly for me, put me off that. I'll probably still use it when I'm on vacation or in some scenario where I don't have a computer readily available, but when I'm around, I'll just delete any spam that happens to slip through. One other thing I'm not a big fan of is having comment moderation for all posts new and old. I always feel bad for that person (or, uh, myself) that thinks they're the first commenter and then isn't actually when the comment is published. That makes me feel awkward, and I hate feeling awkward, and I think I would hate thinking that I made one of my commenters feel awkward because of that.
As for comments from authors? Sometimes I think there can be nothing more awesome or terrifying. I think sometimes it's easy for me to forget that really anybody can read what I write here. Really, I think that's a great thing because honesty is easier when I'm not thinking about what this or that particular person is thinking about what I'm writing. This is not to say that I don't try to write posts and reviews with sensitivity overall, but I'm usually not thinking with any immediacy about the author themselves when I'm writing a review. Because of all this, it always seems to blindside me when an author leaves a comment. I've been fortunate to have all positive experiences with authors commenting here, though I have been a little embarassed when they've commented on my goofy gushy posts instead of the posts where I attempted to thoughtfully review their books. Nonetheless, regardless of the post they comment on, it's a pleasure to see an author comment and realize that what I'm doing here does mean something to them.
Really, that's what's great about comments all around. Often, right or wrong, I look to comments to give meaning to what I do here. In a busy life where it's hard to carve out time even for a hobby that I love, it's good to know that my words are being read and appreciated by others, and I often wish I had more time to show my great appreciation for all of you bloggers out there who are often working thanklessly to produce great blogs that people want to read. So - thanks to all you great commenters who make doing this that much more worthwile. And here's to being that better commenter that I want to be!