What stops people from commenting on blogs?

Why aren’t there enough commenters?

One of the areas I investigated into was what stops people from commenting on blogs? I also came across another interesting fact: only about 10% of blog readers actually bother to comment, and of those 1% do so regularly.

There is definitely a lot of people who are happy enough to want to read blogs, but don’t feel the need to add their penny’s-worth to what they have read. Are they scared of contributing, worried about what others will think of what they have written, or feel they aren’t qualified to have their say? Sometimes being the first to ‘break the ice’ is too much for nervous readers, which is a shame because reading comments encourages others to contribute too!

Commenting isn’t that difficult

There is definitely a mindset required to write comments on blogs, but I don’t think it’s that hard to acquire. Most of it is just common sense, combined with courtesy, willingness to show appreciation and a desire to continue the conversation.

But I notice this trait is not second nature to many, and this is more noticeable in the UK and Europe, as we don’t seem to have the same attitude as our cousins from across the pond who are much more obliging and outgoing in their opinions. It’s a pity this American phenomenon of expressing thoughts online for everyone to read has a much more guarded approach over here.

Things can get in the way

The trouble is, not every blog makes it easy for people to leave comments. Sometimes the text field for the comment is not easily found (or has to be searched for at the bottom of a lot of other comments), the ‘checking in’ method is off-putting (most ask for your name, email and web address, but others ask you to log in via your social media platforms which can be confusing for the non-technical), or there may be other confusing options the commenter has to go through (like coping with a CAPTCHA system that checks you are human and not a spammer).

The last example is a problem. Spam is a big nuisance, and blogs do get swamped with absolute rubbish in their comment moderation boxes. It’s a shame that people who spam have absolutely no qualms about leaving a comment, especially since this is now accomplished by armies of humans now the automated robot systems have been thwarted.

There’s no incentive

Sometimes the content of the post doesn’t provide sufficient opportunities to compel readers to have a go at commenting on blogs. Perhaps the post had covered everything and there was nothing left to add, the content wasn’t inspiring enough to induce a desire to leave an opinion, or there simply wasn’t a request to leave a comment at the end of the post.

Simply asking for comments can have a most satisfying result. If the author encourages their readers to contribute, makes them feel welcome and wanted in a community-like ambience within the blog, then there will be more compunction for readers to have their say, especially if the author is on hand to answer every comment and keep the conversation going.

Technology takes over

During my investigations for my e-book (see above) I came across the phenomenon that the process of reading blogs on smart phones and tablets has caused a decline in commenting on blogs. This is mainly due to the design of such devices, as their keyboards are not suitable for composing extensive responses.

The key pads are too small (especially for ‘fat fingers’), it’s not easy to check what you’ve written, it requires thumbs or two fingers rather than touch-typing, when you’re out and about it’s more difficult to respond, and sometimes the process of emailing the link back to yourself to be ‘dealt with’ later is sometimes too much bother.

Surely it’s not that bad?

Actually, I think what is needed is a change in mindset once people have learned more about how commenting on blogs can make a difference, and that’s why I wrote my e-book (see above). The more understanding their is about the power of blog commenting, hopefully people will feel more compelled to go out there and start interacting, on whatever device you have to hand. Let’s prize us Brits out of our shells and get them to leave their opinions all over the place – wow, that would get things buzzing!

What do you think about this?

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  • I found your blog by following the comment love from a comment you left on my blog! So it does show that leaving a comment can help build a wider network and introduce you to blogs you may never have found otherwise. As a blogger I always reply to any comments left on my blog, even if just to say thank you.
    I shall follow your advice to encourage response to my future posts. Thank you

    • You’re welcome Loubelle, and thank you for commenting on my blog! And yes, commenting on other blogs does offer many opportunities to meet other bloggers that may be very interesting indeed (I loved your post!).

  • Personally I hate struggling to find how or where to comment. If I have to type in some annoying captcha it better be worth my time and effort.

    I have seen blogs which do not make it easy to comment and I have to skip them. Sometimes I feel the need to advise the blog-author about what they could do to improve their blog to make it user-friendly. But they assume my advice is an ego and ignore me. So now I don’t bother giving advice.

    • That’s a shame Deon, you should not be put off from leaving advice. Not every blog’s author may understand that their blog’s layout makes the commenting procedure difficult for users. Certainly CAPTCHA is necessary if the blog is plagued by spam, but the layout of the comment text field and the accompanying incentive messages around it can certainly be adapted by having a word with a friendly web-developer.

  • For me it’s shyness ! I’m a new blogger and it’s such a new concept to me….I’d just got the hang of facebook and then had the urge to start my blog…now I’m tweeting and commenting too. I imagine it is a case of getting into the habit of conversing with fellow bloggers. My worry is that I make some terrible faux pas, not sure if there’s an etiquette to commenting yet! Thanks for your article, really helpful to a newbie like me 🙂

    • Oh, Nicola, this comes with practice! Don’t worry about what you say, as long as it’s respectful, useful and sticks to the subject. You’ll make some great friends by commenting on other blogs, especially within your niche. I’ve just written an e-book about commenting and one of the chapters is about comment etiquette – it’s mostly common sense, but it’s good to know what is acceptable in the blogosphere.

  • When I first started reading and following blogs, I would shy away from leaving comments. It requires a bit of initial confidence but, as with social media, once you have taken your first step you find a new “boldness” and everything gets easier. I try to comment as often as I can. If I don’t comment, it is more likely that time is a factor or I am on the Iphone. Much prefer to comment via a computer.

    • Thanks for commenting Lindsay! Commenting can be scary, a bit of a bind (if you’re busy) and sometimes it’s difficult to think of something sensible to say. But it’s always worth while and you never know what mind come out of it! ‘Tis a pity mobile phones hinder immediate interaction, something we hope the manufacturers may address in the future…?

  • I really enjoyed this article. I have to admit I don’t always comment but the times that I do there is nothing more deterring than a complicated comment system. If it’s not easy the first, maybe the second time, I will leave with no comment. Who has time for all that? 😉

  • Thanks for this. I have been reading your blog articles with interest for some time and have commented from time to time but perhaps not often enough! It is interesting to note in myself why I don’t comment more often as it is an indication for me why the readers of the blog I run over at The Wellbeing Centre site might not comment after enjoying our articles. It feels a lot more exposed to post a comment on a blog than on facebook for some reason – not sure why?!

    I’ve taken on board some of your advice and recently changed our comments over from a facebook-based system to a system that allows you to login from either facebook or twitter or simply email and website – much better! I tried comment luv but couldn’t get it to look good on our site so have left that for now but do appreciate the link you offer on your site – I see my latest blog post being set to display below.

    Anyway, thanks again for this and for your recent lunchtime learning video on this subject. I’ve bought the e-book too!

    • Wow, thanks Claire. I hope you enjoy my ebook.

      Very interesting that you feel more exposed commenting on a blog rather than on Facebook – I would think it was the other way round! A blog is more of a closed community of like-minded readers, whereas Facebook exposes you to anybody who is looking in your direction. Also I think you could comment with more clarity, thought and precision on a blog, whereas Facebook commands a more flippant, throw-away response.

      Give Comment Luv another try, even if it only the most basic of facilities to allow commenters to share their latest post.

  • It’s hard to imagine, being an American, that I was surprised to learn we’re more outspoken than others. 🙂

    Great post. Some things to consider.

    • The trouble with being American, Anita, is that you don’t know how you come across to others who are not so.

      Americans can be seen as very outspoken, and therefore react and respond better to social media and commenting. It’s in your nature, having had it drummed into you from pre-school, to talk about what you feel and not keep things bottled up.

      Us Brits, however, are still getting over the tyrannies of the ‘stiff upper lip’ syndrome from the Victorian age when we weren’t allowed to show our feelings. Therefore commenting isn’t second nature. Oh, and it’s much worse in mainland Europe too.

  • For me I hate logging in to leave a comment (I am looking at you ‘discuss’) If a blog has that I will just skip on by. I can never, ever, remember my password for it and resetting a password before I can write a comment is too longwinded.
    I don’t mind the name, email address but after that I want a box to write in and a submit button (like this one..yay)
    For me it needs to be quick and easy. If I have to faff around trying to find where to comment, or how to log in then I am just going to move on and not bother. Especially as I am usually on my phone when commenting.

    I also think interaction is good, while I know some blogs get a lot of comments and it isn’t possible to reply to them all and I don’t expect a reply for every comment. I like to be interactive and will regularly comment on blogs that I enjoy. But I have had it where I have left a comment on every post for someone I follow (it wasn’t a massive blog, they got around 2-5 comments per post) plus I also commented on some of their IG and twitter posts and over the few months never had a single reply, that makes me feel like what is the point? Is anyone even reading it? Even just a ‘glad you enjoyed the post’ response every now and again is good as at least then I know someone has read and appreciated the comment. As I say I don’t expect that on every comment but every now and again is good.

    (Reading that back apparently I have just found my soapbox. I will get off it now. Ha ha)

    • Hi Nicola, I am so glad you got on your soapbox about this. This is a real barrier towards people leaving comments. It’s a real bind having to remember a password to log into Disqus to leave a comment – by the time you have managed to locate where you carefully wrote it down, the desire to comment may well have evaporated, never to return. This is certainly not conducive to inspirational or reactionary comments, which some may see this as both good and bad. Since commenting on blogs is a rare occurrence nowadays, any comment of whatever nature (as long as it’s not spammy or troll-like) is a welcome addition to a post, and definitely be encouraged.

      Thank you for taking so much time to express yourself so eloquently. I am launching a challenge to encourage more people to start commenting on blogs again, once I’ve thought of a good name for it. It will endeavour to teach people the why, how, what, where and when about commenting and how it benefits blogging. Please keep an eye out for my adverts about this in the near future.

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