Commenting Best Practices

Over the last 4 weeks, I have had some excellent discussions with other bloggers regarding the most effective use of comments to engage other bloggers and readers of any given blog. Yesterday, EntreCard announced a partnership with SezWho in what EntreCard hoped would generate more quality comments and ultimately more traffic to the bloggers using SezWho with Entrecard.

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However, after installing SezWho twice on my blog and watching it generate fatal errors in Internet Explorer and Display Errors in Firefox, and after discussions with other bloggers who have similar issues and different points of view, it appears that this time EntreCard has failed in executing what could have been a very good idea. Ultimately it's not about providing an incentive for bloggers to make quality comments in exchange for credits. Ultimately it's about always generating interesting and thought provoking quality content and building your own blogging community of engaged readers.

This post will attempt to analyze where EntreCard went wrong with this latest partnership, and then it will provide what I believe to be a comprehensive commenting strategy to achieve the goal of enhancing any given blog's readership and increasing traffic.

But before I get into the discussion at length, I want to acknowledge five bloggers who have engaged me in this discussion, and to them I owe in part my ideas, so I would like to share credit with Mrs. Mecomber of New York Traveler.Net, Ken Armstrong of Ken's Writing Stuff, Mariuca of Wishing on a Falling Star, Mama Flo of Mama Flo's Place, and the Monkey at Monkey Fables and Tales.

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WHERE ENTRECARD WENT WRONG
The intent of EntreCard's partnership with SezWho was to incorporate a rating system into participating bloggers' comments sections to increase the quality and relevance of comments, provide an incentive to make quality and relevant comments, and thus by simply engaging bloggers with each other to drive more traffic to participating blogger's blogs. In theory, it sounds brilliant. But the discussions that have taken place, especially on Mama Flo's and The Monkey's blogs, and even EntreCard's own blog have been telling.

EntreCard made three major errors in rolling out this partnership, thus greatly limiting any benefit to EntreCard members: 1. The Partnership was rolled out before bugs in the SezWho software were eliminated. 2. EntreCard essentially dictated that users had to use the SezWho plug-in whether they wanted to or not. 3. Just the same as not having time to drop cards, bloggers don't have time to comment for compensation.

1. SezWho Software Bugs
What became very apparent in the first hours of the SezWho / EntreCard partnership roll out was that there were a great many bugs with the SezWho scripts. While the announcement on the EntreCard Blog said SezWho was compatible with Blogger, Wordpress and other platforms, it became painfully obvious that the SezWho script did NOT work with Blogger. In fact, the script caused display errors and it failed to install the rating stars in the comment section of Blogger posts--instead the rating stars appeared at the end of the posts. The idea of the SezWho plub-in is to rate comments, not posts. Additionally, for many users, the SezWho script causes fatal errors in Internet Explorer and caused blogs not to load in various versions of the IE browser. Additionally, SezWho did not support WordPress 2.6, SezWho did not support Joomla, and there were other platforms that could not make use of SezWho as well.

Two things: The first here is that if a service like EntreCard is going to roll out a great new program to engage bloggers and generate traffic, it is incumbent on EntreCard to ensure that the program would be functional for all of its users. EntreCard succeeded in doing so by rolling out the Digg initiative a couple weeks ago. However, that program as well was rolled out with little forethought or training for EntreCard Users and resulted in a massive misuse of Digg by many EntreCarders who had no experience using Digg or who were not sure how to use Digg to their advantage.

But secondly, unlike Digg, SezWho just does not work on all the blogging platforms SezWho claims they support. EntreCard should have performed better due dilligence in this regard before rolling it out as a partnership. Yes, SezWho has been responsive in tech support to try and correct these issues with its scripts, but in doing so they have actually created more issues. Our blogs are not SezWho test sites, but they are being used as test sites to solve problems with SezWho scripts at the expense of any given blog's readers who are trying to access the blogs. But instead of seeing a new feature, those readers are seeing display errors and/or blogs that just fail to load.

2. EntreCard Dictates Use of SezWho
Rolling out a brand new program to benefit bloggers is one thing. Dictating that bloggers change software and/or plug-ins to take advantage of the porgram's benefits is another. Very quickly after the partnership rollout it became clear that many bloggers were already using various comment systems such as Intense Debate and Disqus, among others. For SezWho to work in blogs with these alternatives already in place, those plug-ins would first have to be removed. That's discriminatory and frankly, a little arrogant on the part of EntreCard.

The way the SezWho/EntreCard partnership works is that EntreCards awards credits for those who use SezWho and who rate other participating blogger's comments and the comments made on their own posts. This will result in EntreCard Credits. So anyone using another system and who doesn't want to change to SezWho can't earn the same credits for his or her own commenting behavior. What EntreCard should have done is picked a plug-in, any plug-in, maybe even SezWho and gone ahead with its comment award system. But EntreCard should also have worked out a way to honor the systems already in place by EntreCard users if they wanted to retain their current system. Whether it be Intense Debate or some other system. Forcing bloggers to switch is disruptive on a large scale, and it excludes those bloggers from the program's benefits if they decide not to switch.

3. Commenting for Compensation is Just a Bad Idea
EntreCard's intent was good. Reward great commenters with EntreCard credits. And why not? It's hard to drop 300 cards every day. It takes a lot of time. Why not provide an alternative avenue for earning EntreCard Credits?

The thing is though that EntreCard's system is flawed. First it involves the ratings of other people's comments to earn those credits based on non-objective criteria that are different for every blogger, and it also involves a judgement on the part of those running EntreCard as to what a good, quality comment is. Sometimes a good comment on a Wordless Wednesday post might be: That photo is so beautiful. What more would EntreCard want to make that short sentence into a quality comment? An art major's dissertation on the way lighting is used to make the photo beautiful? Let's face it, political blogs can more easily engage their readers in in-depth discussion that could generate more "quality" comments than a blog that posts pictures of the blogger's cat. (I don't mean you, Daisy, of course. ;)

Secondly, it takes time to comment. Most bloggers will comment if they come across a post they find interesting and feel compelled to comment on. But while it is not the intent of this EntreCard program, what it accomplishes by effect is that it encourages comment spam. For those out there really looking for the EntreCard credits, they will post comments that may not be relevant but sound good for the sole purpose of earning EntreCard credits. And the reason why this would naturally be true is that bloggers already have their own commenting patterns. Bloggers freely give comments for what they feel moves them to comment. They're still going to do this in the time they have available for commenting and blogging, but this program will not give them more time to comment more. If EntreCard rewards these comments with credits, great. But EntreCard does not provide more time, and encouraging commenting in this way, just like the encouragment to digg posts, involves another step or two in the commenting process.

In a perfect world, I would be independently wealthy and thus able to spend all day browsing blogs, reading posts, and writing long, thoughtful, pithy and witty comments. But I work for a living and have limited time to blog, limited time to drop EntreCards, limited time to digg posts, and limited time to rate comments for a few extra EntreCard Credits. It's just not worth the time it takes to rate comments.

And finally, rating comments for credits is a little cheap. When someone leaves a comment on my site, or when I leave a comment on someone else's site, it's because I have been moved in some way to express myself to that blogger or that blogger feels he or she needs to express himself or herself to me. If I'm being rewarded with credits for my comments, then my comments are devalued because the blogger will never know if I'm being sincere or if I'm just doing it for the credits.

In a lot of ways this is like pay per post or social spark, or any other form of paid advertising. Yes, I'm discriminating. I will not accept money to write a paid post for something I have no interest in or something that I don't agree with. But let's face it, if I'm being paid for my post, I might not be as critical--if it's a review post, for example--then I would be otherwise if I were writing it on my own because of my interest without getting paid. It's the same with comments. This program will encourage those commenting for credits to change their language to get better ratings for their comments. And in that way, all those comments end up being devalued.

Summary
For those of you who will be using SezWho, I wish you well. If this means you will no longer comment on my blog posts because you will not receive credits for doing so, I'm sorry. I'd like to think the reason you read my blog and chose to comment is because you remain interested in the topics I write about. But if that's not the case then go and earn your credits elsewhere.

For those of you who will be using SezWho and continuing to comment on my blog, I really must thank you because I value your time, and I really appreciate what you have to say. If my posts can generate any kind of interest for you or perhaps help you in some way, then I am most gratified and I will always be most appreciative of your comments--especially because it still will take you time to make them, and you will not be compensated for them with EntreCard Credits.

The jury is still out on the SezWho/EntreCard Partnership. It's possible that the scripts will be fixed. It's possible that more support for non-supported blogging platforms will be created. It's possible that EntreCard can find a way to reward bloggers who make quality comments with credits even if they don't use SezWho and use some other plug-in or even none at all. But like other recent roll-outs from EntreCard, this one just seems to have been done too quickly without enough thought or a plan of implemenation that would be easy and make sense for everyone--and not cause issues of concern--such as all blogs using SezWho with blogger to cause fatal errors in Internet Explorer.

COMMENTING BEST PRACTICES
Now that I've talked about the EntreCard/SezWho Partnership, I want to talk about commenting strategies that actually will work in generating engaged readers of your blogs and generate more traffic to your blog. Over the last three months since I've resumed blogging from a one year absence, these strategies have worked for me in improving my Alexa ranking from over 16 million to under 200,000. Additionally, my Technorati Authority has gone up from 9 to 102. This is just in three months. And I'm not killing myself spending more than an hour or two blogging each day. The most time-consuming aspect of blogging for me is dropping EntreCards. If I continue to follow these strategies, by the end of the year I should be very pleased with the results, and you should be too. So without further ado, these strategies are what I've learned on my own, and what I've learned through detailed discussions and back and forths with other very successful bloggers. I hope you find them helpful.

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1) Write Quality, Thought-Provoking Posts.
Let's face it, if you write posts of the highest quality, readers will take notice. Not only will you build traffic by engaging your readers, you'll find that your readers will comment on your posts, will Digg or Stumble them, will share them with their friends, and might even nominate them for an award or two. Nothing proves this more than my recent post Circles, which has become Yearblook's most popular post of the year; has generated the praise of a nationally renowned poet, Taylor Mali; has generated 15 comments and 41 diggs; has won a prize from another blog, the Plotdog Press; and has generated 4 more loyal readers of my blog through the referrals of other bloggers. If just one post can do all this, imagine what could happen if your blog was filled with posts like this. I've thought about it, and I'm trying to generate more posts with the quality of Circles.

2) Comment. Comment. Comment whenever you can.
But set your commenting standards high and always take the high ground. We all want comments. We all want to be read. We all want to be acknowledged, even if we are blogging just for ourselves. But no matter what your blogging style is, what theme your blog has, or the reasons why you blog; set your standards high and stick to them. Be nice. Be positive. Follow the Golden Rule. Avoid any form of negativity directed at another blogger. Freely acknowledge great work when you come across it. Don't get into flame wars. Maintain your personal integrity and high personal standards. If you have nothing nice to say, don't say it. Never settle for something less than your best because you don't have the time. If you follow these principles, your kind words will get results and others will read your posts, list you in their blog rolls, and comment on your posts, digg your posts, stumble your posts and share them with friends and family and other bloggers.

3) Relevant Comments vs. Non-relevant comments.
I've gone back and forth on this issue with my friends Mrs. Mecomber and Ken Armstrong, and I've seen a different practice altogether by my friend Mariuca--who typically gets over 100 comments for each of her posts. I know, it's insane. But I have a theory about Mariuca that I'll get to next.

Anyway, some debate occurred because I read on a blog somewhere that when you receive a comment, you should reply in two places: 1st on your own blog, 2nd on the blog of the person that left the comment to show that person that you read the comment, that you appreciate the comment, that you have a reply and to engage the other commenters on the other blogger's blog. For example, let's say I have a movie review for Batman: The Dark Knight and I get 10 comments. I reply to all 10 commenters in my blog. Then I copy those responses to all 10 commenters and paste all those responses in one comment on the blogs of all those who commented. After discussing this practice with Ken Armstrong, we agreed that it could generate interest in the other commenters on the other blogs that might cause those commenters to seek out the blogs of the 10 commenters. We agreed it might be distracting when the comment appeared on a post unrelated to Batman: The Dark Knight because it's out of context. But we also agreed that it was better to reply to the commenters on their own blogs so that they could see that their comments had been read and acknowledged rather than only responding on my blog where, if the commenter never returned to see a response, might never know the response was there.

Mrs. Mecomber had another opinion entirely, and that was that all comments should be relevant. Mrs. Mecomber's blog is on New York Travel. If she commented on my Batman movie review on my blog, any comment I might add to her recent posts on, for example, the Erie Canal, really amounts to spam. My response to her Batman Comment and my responses to every other Batman comment don't belong on her post about the Erie Canal. It would be confusing for her readers, not relevant content, and an unwelcome intrusion on her blog.

Maybe it's because replying to all 10 commenters individually in one mass-produced comment response and pasting them on every commenters blog takes up a lot of space, but other bloggers leave non-relevant comments all the time. When someone diggs one of my posts, they'll comment: "I dugg your post, please come to my blog and digg mine." That's not relevant. On my recent post, another blogger will come by and say "Happy 4th of July, Matt. I hope you had a good holiday." That comment left on a non-4th of July post is not relevant, but it means well. Or, after a blogger votes for my post Circles on Yearblook or in my current Battle of the Blog on Blog Explosion, and the blogger comes back and tells me so in a comment on my new Wordless Wednesday post, well, those comments aren't relevant either, but I appreciate the thought--even if they have nothing to do with my post.

So it's very clear that there are lots of opinions out there regarding relevant comments versus non-relevant comments. And it's my opinion that there is enough room in the blogosphere for both, and what I have learned from the discussion is this: just like a stock portfolio that should be diversified, it's necessary to be diversified in your comments as well. A combination of relevance and non-relevance in one comment is acceptable, and a weighting of relevance versus non-relevance really should be determined by a post. Let me explain:

For example, on Mrs. Mecomber's Erie Canal post--which was very detailed and well-written, non-relevance should be minimized. My response here would be a thoughtful couple of sentences on topic to her Erie Canal post, and then perhaps a btw, here's my response to your comment on my Batman Review Post--deleting all other responses to other commenters. If I was on a blog that was also reviewing Batman, then I could post the entire response to all 10 commenters like this: That's an interesting review. I enjoyed where you talked about the darkness of Heath Ledger's acting. You described that in such depth I really saw that performance in an entirely different way. Here's my response to your comment on my Batman Review on my blog, and because you might find the other commenter's responses interesting, following my response to you are my responses to all others who also commented on my Batman Review--here those comments are relevant. On Mrs. Mecomber's blog post, they are not relevant.

Another way to handle it without being intrusive would be to refer the commenter back to the original blog post that was commented on. For example, on the Erie Canal post, I might comment: Mrs. Mecomber, that is an outstanding post. I found it quite informative and interesting blah blah blah. Also, I just wanted to let you know that I recently responded to your comment on my post: Batman: The Dark Knight. You can find that response {here--insert link}. Thanks and have a great day. Or something to that effect.

Does that make sense? What do the rest of you feel about comments that are either relevant, non-relevant, or somewhere in between? I'd really like to know what you think. But before you respond, I want to give you the case of Mariuca!

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4) The Mariuca Example
Okay, this is INSANE! The last five posts on Wishing on a Falling Star have 100 comments, 260 comments, 129 comments, 100 comments, and 153 comments. And for you EntreCarders, Mariuca has not been selected for a Comment Rush.

HOW IS THIS POSSIBLE?
To quote Black Mamba (Uma Thurman) from Kill Bill "I'll tell you."

Mariuca is the most friendly blogger in the blogosphere. I recently recognized her with an award and in my post I say that, among other nice things. But what is Mariuca's secret? It's not her template. It's not her content. It's not her memes. It's not her blogroll. It's not her photographs. It's not her personality. We all have these elements just the same as Mariuca does. But where Mariuca stands out is in her commenting practices.

I don't know how long Mariuca has been blogging, but she has built her own rock-solid blogging community unlike any other on the net. And like any gardener tending her garden, she nurtures every member of her community. She has memes in which she names for participation different members of her community. She gives awards in which she finds something for just about everyone in her community. She participates in Battle of the Blogs on Blog Explosion and when she votes for a blogger in her community, she comments on that blog's most recent post letting him or her know she voted for him or her and wishes him or her a good day. When she reads a post she likes, she writes a comment. When she sees a photo she likes, she writes a comment. At the end of the month, Mariuca writes a post thanking her top ten commenters and passes out some link love.

Mariuca is always positive, always friendly, always consistent and manages to touch base with just about every blogger in her community every day or two. I can't imagine how much time she spends blogging. But cultivating her blogging community is something she does better than any other blogger, and that's why she has regular readers, about a billion incoming links, and more comments on her posts than a lot of national newspaper columnists.

The comments that Mariuca makes are not always relevant to the posts she comments on, such as Battle of the Blogs acknowledgements, but that can be forgiven because she bends over backwards to comment and run while she drops and runs.

5) Using Digg and Stumble and Social Networking Sites
My last best practice for this post is to talk about using Digg and Stumble and other Social Networking sites. I'm not going to go into huge detail here because one, this is a really long post as it is, and two, I describe the Digg strategy in detail HERE.

When you receive a Digg, Comment. When you give a Digg, Comment. This is actually quite simple. When you receive a comment on your blog, you are probably accustomed to commenting back. It's the same principle. If you use services or social networking sites such as Digg or Stumble or Social Spark or any other one; every day you will probably receive Diggs or stumbles or the other equivalent, normally on your most recent posts. Using Digg as an example, if you have favorited your post, it appears on your profile page. Click on the posts that have Diggs. There is a button below the post for you to click on to see which Digg users have Dugg your post. Click on those users, go to their blogs, and comment on their current post and thank them for Digging your post. The advantages of doing so are the same as they are with comments for normal reasons. You will get to know other bloggers and increase interactivity. You don't have to Digg their post if you don't like it, and really, you shouldn't. But you should comment and acknowledge the Digg.

The corollary also applies. If you digg or stumble someone's post, comment on that post. Tell the blogger you are digging or stumbling it, and give them a real quality comment as to what you found interesting about the post and what characteristics of the post have caused you to want to digg it, stumble it, or share it in any way. You'll engage other bloggers this way, build your own blogging community, and increase your comments and traffic to your blog.

SUMMARY
These five strategies I list are rather simple. But most solutions to difficult and complex problems are often very simple. They are proven to work, and the more time you have to devote to them the better.

What strategies have you used to generate comments and traffic? Comment here with your ideas and I'll compile them all together for mass distribution and some link love for all.

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UPDATE July 18, 8:00 AM
Check this out everyone...26 comments so far on a very long post that's just relevant. I don't know if it's a Quality Post or not, but I think it demonstrates that if you make a post of interest to your readers, the comments will follow.


Thanks for reading.

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43 comments:

Amy Lilley Designs said...

WHAT...after ALL THAT AND NO COMMENTS!!!! Wow, Matt,such a comprehensive post, which has given me an even deeper respect for you, the Mensch...seriously, I must come back and take another read thru..I had trouble getting the Digg widget on my blog, and I did run into problems yesterday w/ the 'new guys'...but, all systems worked today...there is ALWAYS going to be something new to sign up for, to get more comments with, to receive more attention in the blogosphere, and we have to choose wisely, I believe...this will be a never ending discussion... thank you Matt for a 5 star post!!

July 16, 2008 10:16 PM
wendy said...

I am relatively new to the blogosphere. Please be patient when I beg the question:

Are we thinking about this too much?

For this noob's point of view, blogs are an *almost* new way of expression and media. We get to make up the rules and, maybe, that's exactly what's happening here... But, wow, my head hurts when I start thinking about EntreCard, SezWho, Bloggibutt, whatever. My head hurts, perhaps, because it's being split wide open. I kinda want to engage in this dialogue and this community, but it seems so far away and foreign. Even though I am a fairly hip Gen Xer, I'm finding that weeding my way through this world murky. This post makes me want to go back to school and get a degree in BLOGWORLD just so I can translate and participate...

...And, yet, even as I comment, I wonder if this comment is going to be determined "good" or "relevent" or "germane." Who's to say?

I was a writer long before I knew I was a writer. And I wanted to write books long before I was published in ANY realm. I am curious (not criticizing) about these blogging standards... I wonder where Rights of Expression begin and end. I wonder about what's fair, what's expectable, what's appropriate. I wonder if that's even what you're addressing here... As a New Kid to the blogosphere, I'm not sure...

Who is to say, other than the Subject-Blogger of any given comment, what's "relevant" and what's not?

Anyway. I'm pretty sure that my dad is the only person who reads my silly blog with any regularity. Besides that, my strategies to generate traffic have been amateur and basic, at best: I link my friend's blogspots and sometimes they'll link mine. I've read about some Official Strategies, but I'm trying to navigate that gentle balance between Promoting Oneself and Discretion. Are we bloggers freakishly narcissistic, or is this just The Way The World Is Now? I don't know. All I know is that I started to blog because I simply couldn't resist. And sometimes it feels silly and irrelevant. And other times I'm all like, "Aw, hell. There's nothing to do but blog."

Does that make any sense?

Anyway. Thanks for reading me out.

For whatever it's worth,
Wendy+

July 16, 2008 10:50 PM
wendy said...

So, we're functioning under a Community's Standards? If Blogging is equal parts Commenting and Writing, then how does one even BEGIN to engage? This community is GIGANTIC. Blogging could be a full time job. What's a girl to do? However is a New Kid to figure these things out?

I feel like I must do this in order to be With It. Moreover, I am sure that I have a place in the blogosphere. Arg. It's overwhelming.

Alas. Project Runway's on.
w+

July 16, 2008 11:10 PM
crazy working mom said...

Wow, my brain is still trying to comprehend all of your wonderfully valid points. I have installed SezWho. I also have a blogger blog and have noticed that it looks as though the posts are ranked rather than the comments. I thought it would be a great way to reward my daily commenters who also happen to be card droppers. It is most definitely NOT making me comment more. But, it's nice to get a little boost from EC for behavior that I already show anyhow.

I have been using Digg, and maybe it's just the same as anything else, EC included...you get out of it what you put into it. I've not found it to be that rewarding, and it does seem to be slowing down my load time. So, I'm thinking of ditching it.

It'll be interesting to see how SezWho fairs in the long run.

July 16, 2008 11:15 PM
Mariuca said...

Hola Matt! WOW, another long but excellent post from you! I saw ur comment at the EC blog and decided to wait a while before installing the new SezWho app.

I love the way you have experimented with this comment thingy and brought the many different aspects of commenting here. I agree with you that there should be room for both, relevant comments and non-relevant comments. Sometimes, u get a reader dropping by just to say hello or to leave u a tag etc... and I appreciate that, having he /she drop by my blog and taking the time to leave a comment for me. It shows me they care and they have me in mind.

Also, I love my relevant comments too, that means my readers actually take the time to READ, and my post gets some love. Either way, for me the most important thing is to appreciate your readers, whether they drop off relevant or non-relevant comments/hellos cause they're the ones that bring your blog to life! :):):)

PS. I love the sound of The Mariuca Example lol! ;)

July 17, 2008 2:25 AM
LadyJava said...

Great post Matt!

I've also installed sezwho recently but like you say found that it was buggy and am removing it even as we speak.

On relevant or irrelevant comments, I'm with Mariuca or as fondly call her, GP. All comments are important to me.. be it a simple hello or a lengthy comment on a post or otherwise. You'll even see me and GP exchanging comments on our fav soap opera on a post about someone jumping down from her building! How relevant is that?

Whatever it is.. for me, blogging is all abt fun and having pple comment at your blog is even more funner (if there is such a word)...

Cheers Matt. another excellent post and I mean it.. with or without credit point!

July 17, 2008 5:26 AM
Lady Rose said...

I have bookmarked your post as one of my blogging references, and sending the link to a friend too. Her and I co-author a blog together that we will be moving to its own domain soon and becoming better commentors will be a big help.

I think Entrecard's and SezWho parternship has good intentions but I can see where there should have been better preparation. It's totally optional so it's not like they are forcing any one to use it. I'm waiting a bit before putting the plugin on my wordpress blog (but did use it on one blogger blog - it's buggy still)

Comment for credits *shrugs* the incentive isn't that big. As far as I'm concerned - I will comment as usual - on posts that "move" me to do so - if a point gets tossed my way then cool - but that is not why I comment.

I love Wendy's comment above about going to school "BlogWorld" - while back I had a post about a blogging school - Blogwarts (nod to Harry Potter fans) - I think we all feel that way sometimes. I'd nominate you has headmaster!

Have a great day, Lady Rose

July 17, 2008 5:57 AM
faeryrowan said...

The issues you (and other people) raised about the recent Entrecard-SezWho partnership is very valid and it made me think. I admit I jumped into the bandwagon as soon as I read the feed announcing the partnership in my inbox. I got a little excited because it felt nice to know that I can now be rewarded or recognized for taking time out to comment on people's posts that I can relate to.

Like what Lady Rose above said, it's probably done with good intentions, and like me, they probably didn't see the downside right away. Is it maybe because the pros outweighed the cons? I wish I know the answer to that. Anyway, what I saw was the possibility that this move will or could motivate people (not force them) into reading and/or commenting...than just hopping, dropping, and then leaving. I appreciate the latter type of visitors more. But that's me. I understand people have different views, and I respect that. I guess it all boils down to how every blogger perceives or reacts to this new "incentive scheme" and how (good or bad) they will use it (or not) to their advantage. We all have a choice after all. We can either take it or leave it. *wink*

But thanks for posting this. It is very enlightening. =)

July 17, 2008 7:19 AM
Matthew S. Urdan said...

Amy--I think you're exactly right, the important thing is to choose wisely based on where you're at in your blogging. I think this partnership is more intrusive than any other feature that has been offered so far. Sometimes the old adage, KISS--Keep it Simple Stupid--is the way to go. Thanks for stopping by!

Wendy--Like I said in a comment on your blog last night, ignore the first half of this post if you're not on EntreCard. For the rest of us who are on EntreCard, it's not really thinking about this too much, but it's rather discussing a new technology and trying to understand if it makes sense to use it or not.

From a newbie's point of view, keep it simple. Get into regular habits with your blogging. Make posts. Perfect your template. Submit your URL to blog directories. Join and use technorati. Beyond that, you have to decide what the purpose of your blog is and who your readers are and what they want from and expect from you.

As for the second half of my post, if you're looking to adopt a good basic Commenting strategy that will result in quality comments on your blog and an increased readership, those five strategies are a great place to start.

As for functioning under community standards, all I have to say is we create our own communities and have our own circles that we revolve in and out of. If you participate in EntreCard, you are in a community with others who drop on your blog and with whom you drop on theirs. If you're on Blog Explosion and participate in Battle of the Blogs, you're in a community with them as well. Different communities intersect.

If you want to remain independent and stick to your own standards without caring what others in the circles you revolve in think, that's fine. But the power of blogging, for better or for worse, is the communities it creates. Generating traffic and readers of your blog is a function of your involvement in various blogging communities. In that regard, yes, we are working under community standards. If you have a blog roll or link list, you have formed your own blogging community.

All this being said, your blog is still your own individual expression as personal or as anonymous as you want it to be. And whatever your blogging style is, whatever your goals and purposes you wish to accomplish with your blog, your primary responsibility as a blogger is to remain true to your purpose and maintain your personal integrity so that your readers trust you and come back often to read your blog.

I hope that helps and that you have an awesome day!

Crazy Working Mom--I think you've got it down! You're right, like anything else, you'll always get mroe out of something the more you put into it. And for your purposes, it will provide a little boost for those who take advantage of it with no additional effort on your part, as long as the software is working correctly on your blogs--as it is on some.

But like you, I just see it as something that increases load time, which is always a balancing act. To me, if a feature, plug-in, sidebar widget is installed on your blog--it has to contribute soemthing to your blog's readership without compromising your blog's personality, standards, theme, AND load time. If the SezWho plug-in is not pulling it's weight on your blog, and only a few of your readers are using it's features, it's not worth the bandwith and you should ditch it.

Let me know how it turns out for you. I'm very interested in everyone's personal experience with SezWho...Based on how other features, such as Digg, have been used in the EntreCard realm, it seems to me that there will be a flurry of activity, everyone will install it because Graham says to, and then most everyone will stop using it or not use it as it is intended to be used.

Mariuca--Thanks for dropping by, it's always a pleasure having you here. Thanks for your feedback. I believe you are correct. Comments are like a handshake or a wave hello in cyberspace. Comments, relevant are not, should always be appreciated in the blogosphere because they mean someone has taken the time to stop by and are interested enough in the post or the blogger to pause in their day and shake your hand, wave, or smile.

You are right. It's all about appreciating your readers. You do that better than anyone. Somehow, using SezWho might devalue that as it may encourage some to only stop and say hello for credits.

Lady Java--Thank you for the validation. I agree with you 100%. Like you, I often get involved in comment discussions on other people's blogs that end up becoming off-topic discussions as various points of the comment discussion evolve into off-topic discussions. To me, that's part of the organic nature of the blogosphere. Posts are a launching pad for discussion. However that discussion evolves should be welcomed, and often, some of the comments in a well-worn discussion will evolve into separate post ideas of their own.

Lady Rose--glad to have you here as a regular reader! And thank you for sharing this post with your friends.

You're right, EntreCard is not exactly dictating use of SezWho or shoving it down anyone's throats. But because it is the official commenting plug-in of EntreCard and EntreCard is offering credits for those who use it, I think it's clear that it is EntreCard's hope that everyone who uses EntreCard installs the plug-in and does use it. And I'm not naive, so I understand that EntreCard must benefit from this partnership in other ways. Graham isn't going to all this trouble because he has an altruistic desire to help other bloggers be better commenters and receive more traffic. I'm sure he wants to help everyone, but I'm also sure he wants to make a profit at this as well. But SezWho was rolled out way too quickly, it's not working correctly, and it's not something every EntreCard can just copy and paste and be up and running smoothly in just a few minutes. So because of the issues, only a few EntreCarders really can take advantage of the extra credits EntreCard is dangling as a carrot for its use. And that's not equitable for all EntreCard users.

Headmaster of Blogwarts, eh? Well that is high praise indeed and most appreciated. I've never thought of myself as a Dumbledore type. I sure wish I had a wand, a Phoenix named Fawkes and a Pensieve though.

Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to weigh in on this discussion!

Faeryrowan--I have no doubt that this partnership was offered with the best intentions. But you know what they say about roads that are paved with good intentions, right?

And I have no doubt that for beginning bloggers, having SezWho installed on their blog--if it works for them without bugs--and if they utilize it properly will help improve the commenting on their blogs and increase their traffic, which is all admirable.

But for advanced bloggers, or those that have been around the block a time or two, it's more a gimmick. The internet is filled with them. Check out the Google Widgets page for all the widgets out there that you can install on your blog. The number of widgets is exploding like Tribbles on the Starship Enterprise.

No one can use every widget. No one has a use for every widget. The goal for every blogger has to be to be wise and choose the widgets that work for him or her and for his or her own readers.

SezWho can help generate comments and traffic to a new blog or a blog without a readership. IF it works correctly. But ultimately, and again I point you to Mariuca's blog, if you follow the Five Commenting Strategies I illustrate in this post, you'll have good comments and a quality readership. The more dilligent you are in your own commenting, the quicker you will achieve these results. The SezWho partnership with EntreCard has the same goal. It encourages you to be a better commenter by rewarding you with EntreCard credits, and the more you comment, the more credits you get. But you have to balance your commenting with your own time constraints. And by trying to earn more EntreCard Credits by seeking out EntreCard blogs with SezWho, you'll probably find you'll be expending way too much time and effort commenting on posts that don't even interest you or trying to find them when that time could be better spent developing quality posts of your own and focusing on your own readers.

Thanks everyone for the awesome feedback and discussion. Keep those comments coming!

Cheers!

July 17, 2008 9:06 AM
Roxiticus Desperate Housewives said...

SezWho lasted all of 8 hours on Roxiticus Desperate Housewives. After installing it, my comments seemed to stop and, while Blogger gave me no indication that commenting was broken, I realized that if it was, no one would be able to comment in order to tell me. Plus it wasn't working right...visitors could rate my posts, but I couldn't rate their comments.

Please ask Wendy to provide a link so that we can all sign up for the Blogibutt service...I couldn't find a widget for it.

Roxy

July 17, 2008 3:24 PM
Daisy said...

I am usually quick to try out new things, but I am holding off on SezWho. The part I do not like is the ratings. I am nervous about getting ratings on the quality of my comments and I really don't like the idea of my readers' comments getting ratings.

The reason I sometimes get a lot of comments on my posts, I think, is because I spend a lot of time commenting on other blogs. And it is easy to comment on my simple posts: "Cute outfit, Daisy!" You have to think a lot more to comment on your in-depth posts.

Let me see, I will give my comment 2 stars.

July 17, 2008 3:56 PM
MamaFlo said...

OMG!!! Talk about a tirade, Yikes, I didn't know your feelings ran so deep!!!!

EXCELLENT Post, Excellent!!
I comment when I have time, when the post is something that strikes a nerve in me, it's something I'm passionate about, either in a good way or a bad one. I love it when I'm compelled to post a comment and it most often means that I'll keep coming back to that person's blog to comment again and again. Having more points may be important to those that are so competitive but it's you readers that I want coming back and posting comments, I don't give a damn about points.

July 17, 2008 4:06 PM
Iris said...

Great Post Matt, We can understand the point of Entrecard to help us earn more point and to boost commentds but to dictate us to stop using the comment system we are currently using is not good idea, they should have thought every angle before they introduce the system especially with sezwho who's been around before the entrecard (They should know already how the blogosphere works)... i think it leaves me nothing to say anymore because i agree with everything you have posted. Excellent Post! 5 star for that.

July 17, 2008 4:42 PM
Matthew S. Urdan said...

Roxy--If you click on the link to Wendy's blog here in the comments section, I think you'll be able to ask her yourself!

I also find on the sites with SezWho that they load slower. I think it's definitely best to keep it off a site for that reason alone.

Daisy--I agree. I might be able to live with ratings of my posts, but not ratings of my readers comments. The last thing I want is for a reader to be embarrassed because they take the time to comment, and some anonymous individual rates them a 1 or 2. It's my blog, I think comments towards me are fair game if someone wants to rate what I have to say poorly, but it's unfair to expose my readers to that.

2 stars for your comment? I'd refrain from rating you because all of my readers' comments are valuable to me, especially when they validate my thinking or thought processes, like you have. And besides, Graham said any rating of 2 or below is akin to comment spam, and your comment is in no way shape or form spam. ;)

Mama Flo--Well, I get passionate about such things from time to time. Especially after I waste a day of my time trying to work with tech support from India--where all tech support comes from these days--and I find out that tech support says the issues are fixed, but in reality, they're even worse--i.e. Internet Explorer failing to load my blog. Only tech support can spin a negative development that way.

As for the rest of your comments, did you see the movie Ghost? My answer is DITTO!

Iris--thank you very much. Sometimes when I go out on a limb and actively buck the powers that be, it's nice to find that others are thinking the same things that I am. 5 Stars, huh? You had to go there. Well, I'm not sure what that means in the EntreCard SezWho partnership, but I might owe you 4.9 EntreCard Credits or something.

Cheers all!

July 17, 2008 5:10 PM
peter@korkala.se said...

This is a really excellent post! Long, but 100% quality and a lot of good points.

July 17, 2008 6:27 PM
Carol said...

Thank you Matt. Very informative and cleared up several points re: Digg I was unclear on.

In answer to your question, I've found everything you said to be of value. I used to reply to comments right in my comment area, but realized that wasn't working. I never returned to check other bloggers' comment areas for responses; why would I think they would do differently?

Several bloggers I read and really developed relationships with replied to comments directly in email. I noticed these were the bloggers I felt were nurturing a relationship with me as a person. So, I began copying that practice.

While it doesn't allow all other readers to see that I am personally responding to each person personally, they do know I'm replying to them/thanking them for visiting and commenting.

I'm not certain whether I'm happy with this practice or not - I'm still trying to decide. My blog was very active and I was very content with stats and comments until I took a break, then returned inconsistently for a time. Now that I'm back to my old habits (consistency, etc.) I'm exploring new ways of doing things.

Blah, blah, blah...more than you wanted to know. Sorry.

Anyway, thanks again for this post. It's given me much to consider.

July 17, 2008 6:59 PM
Carol said...

Oh, and Stumbledja! Didja feel it?

July 17, 2008 7:00 PM
Margaret said...

I can only echo everyone else here -- what a comprehensive post and I can't believe I was the first to stumble it and only the 4th digg! It deserves way more than that people! GET ON IT!

Matt -- this must have taken you two days to put together. I'm so sorry the sezwho thing doesn't work on your site. I can't help but wonder if it has something to do with your template rather than "just" the blogger platform as I've seen it working just fine on other blogger blogs.

I think if you took your concerns to the sezwho support group they would do everything in their power to make it work for you. After this, they couldn't refuse! You have shown respect for both Graham, his ideas and goals while pointing out it's minuses and then gone on to still be respectful of the sezwho community at large.

OF COURSE you will still get comments. I don't need credits to write comments. Having Entrecard giving credits for comments will only be a side blip on the radar screen for me as I comment when and where I feel like it and as most will attest, I tend to write books like this one :LOL: Some cringe when they see I've left a comment cause they know it's going to ramble.

I installed sezwho way before this announcement. I was looking for some kind of system to help me get comments on my blog(s). I can't say it gave me a ton of commenters, but I seemed to get GOOD commenters if that makes any sense. I saw a little peak in commenting after the announcement, but it's pretty much calmed down since then.

I do hope everything gets resolved to your satisfaction.

ê¿ê

July 17, 2008 8:15 PM
Jena Isle said...

That was a long read, but I read it anyhow - and take note - I have the SezWho installed in my blog.

Like you said, a good content needs no Sezwho to be commented on.
But I do spend some few seconds now that I get credits to post a comment on an article that has sparked my interest... in spite of being in a hurry for work, which I don't usually do before the Sezwho.

I still don't comment though, if the post don't interest me at all.

I find your blog interesting but it opens slowly in my computer and as it is opening all the other sites I have opened also stops. (This does not happen when I'm opening other blogs) So what I do is to close it after I have dropped the card, so that the system can go faster. (You said so yourself, that time is of the essence!)

I was able to comment this time, because I clicked on five blogs and left the computer for a while. When I came back, they were all ready; and I tried clicking your comments portion, (luckily it did open)...there were several times in the past, that it just got stuck up) so I just close it again.

Perhaps today is my lucky day...
I would have missed a very analytical post if I was not able to read it.

Thanks for sharing and more power.
(Hope that your blog opens faster, thanks)

July 17, 2008 8:34 PM
Jena Isle said...

Oh, sorry for the typos in my first comment. I meant "IF THE POST IS NOT INTERESTING ."

Anyway, I would just like to add that Graham has a good motivation in his Sezwho plan. This entrecard community is his "baby" and I'm certain all he wanted was for Entrecard to grow and develop beautifully.

And by the way, it was a well written, analytical post.

I say this not for any points. (because I won't be earning them from this comment.) (smiles)

July 17, 2008 8:45 PM
Mrs. Mecomber said...

MATT: very thoughtful post. I felt I should add some clarification to our conversations we had that you mentioned here.

Relevant comments do not necessarily mean you MUST discuss the Erie Canal if I have blogged about the Erie Canal. What I meant was that it was "like spam" and irrelevant for you to post your comments about your post in my blog-- answering all your commenters to your blog on MY post. I didn't mean that you couldn't pop in and discuss the weather or say Happy Birthday, lol. What I think is poor etiquette is when a person leaves huge "reply comments" to HIS blog on MY blog's post.

I hope that clarifies this. :) Thanks for writing another substantive post.

George- Thanks for your comments and talking the time to remind me about the abolition of slavery in New York. It was quite a time for the Empire State, wasn't it! The Legislature had actually passed the law in 1824, but it didn't go into effect until July 4, 1827, and that was for slaves born before 1799. Thanks again for your thoughts on the subject.

Carol- I appreciate your concern about the cheesmekaing industy in Wisconsin! LOL! Have no fear, New York State slunk back to Number 2 whren our endearing government made it illegal for taverns to serve free food with their beer. Wild, huh?

Jose-- I heartily agree-- the Utica Boilermaker should remain Utica's! What nonsense is being spewed by our leaders now?! Good heavens!

Sarah-- Thank you for your kind words! I love the history of the Erie Canal, although I do have my doubts that it really helped the state. A few short decades after it's inception, the railroad business was born, which essentially archived the Erie Canal. I am no friend of a government that will confiscate thousands of acres of private property for such a short-term, multi-billion venture, only to have the canal filed with weeds and swamps 50 years later! It's why I am against the NYRO power lines that want to take our land so they can build power lines along 200 miles to Downstate NY. Terrible. It will devastate large areas of Upstate NY.

David-- I have no idea who Fitzgerald H. McGillycuddy was in Onondaga County history. Have you checked the census information online, or the genealogy site at NYgenweb.com? They have a ton of information that you may find useful.

Frank- French Cemetery is somewhere in Cayuga County, in the tiny hamlet of Victory, NY (north of Auburn). Buried there are many of Western New York's earliest settlers. I believe the exact location can be found on Google Maps, if need be.

Matt-- kind of comments like that. Get what I mean?

;) ;)

Your friend,
Mrs. M

July 17, 2008 9:33 PM
Cindi-Moomettesgram said...

Hi Matt
Your blog has quickly become a favorite of mine. I learn something new every time I visit. I can't comment as eloquently as your other commentors. I am relatively new to blogging and trying to absorb all the info I can. I'm not a techie, as I can't even install a new widget on my wordpress blog for fear of messing something up. I try to comment when I can on blogs, and have to read up more on SezWho. My first impression was to lets see where this ends up before I try to install it. I don't think I will. I definitely would like more comments on my posts. As you said, it's hard enough to try to drop 300 ECs a day, especially with working FT and family responsibilities.

I look forward to your posts for further information. I see many familiar names here, all wise folks I've met through the blogging community! Thanks for the info.

July 17, 2008 9:58 PM
Cindi-Moomettesgram said...

Hey Matt, please fix my URL I gave you the wrong one. It should be http://moomettesgramsmusings.com

Then you can delete this comment.
Thanks. Cindi

July 17, 2008 10:00 PM
The BoBo said...

Matt - excellent post. I use WP with AJAX commenting. When I saw that sezwho partnership - and that I would have to give up my AJAX - as with all the other EC mandates - I opted out of that one as well.

I comment when I can - but I'm so busy either keeping up with the comments on my own blog, researching to write my posts, or doing EC that I just can't stop on every single blog that I see to comment.

I will generally stop and comment on a blog that has a topic that really catches my attention..like this one!

I only wish I could get as many comments as Mariuca. I think the most I've ever been up to on one post was somewhere around low 50's high 40's. But, you are absolutely right - if you want them to come back - you need to engage in the comments. When you write your posts - you should have in mind that you will have someone that may want to talk to you about that..not just post and run and leave your readers hanging.

Good job!

July 17, 2008 11:32 PM
Mike Riley said...

Matt-

Now that's a bloody POST! Seriously, you concidered many issues I did not when I looked at the subject on my "the blog lab" site. I'm having the Blogger tech issues, as well as facing some of the moral questions you bring up.
Come to think of it, though, I'd really rather get ratings for my original posts than for any comment I may write somewhere. Maybe we're addressing the wrong question...

-MR

July 18, 2008 3:16 AM
Nishadha said...

I almost didn't read the post thinking its just another EC-SW post , but you make some valid points here.But there seem to be some great benefits in the service as well , so I think I will give it a try for about a month.

July 18, 2008 5:55 AM
Karen Zemek, author of "My Funny Dad, Harry" said...

I bookmarked this post in Delicious and also included a link to it in my post about the Entrecard-Sezwho partnerships at http://zemeks.blogspot.com/2008/07/entrecards-partnership-with-sezwho-is.html. This is a very helpful and obviously well thought out post. I already have started giving some link love to all my commentators for each month. So far I don't get that many so can do it for all.

July 18, 2008 8:21 AM
Nancy said...

Wow ~ Lots of info. I am new to blogging and still trying to figure it all out! Being a little ADD and an "older" Posh Mama, it takes me a little longer to catch on to things - ha! But I enjoy reading things like this that are really meant to help all of the bloggers in the world ~ so Thank you! I actually started with a Squidoo LENS page and then the Blog. Guess what I really need is more time to improve them both. Happ Friday to all. :)

July 18, 2008 8:53 AM
Matthew S. Urdan said...

And the comments keep on coming! How awesome! This is an awesome discussion and dialog and I'm very gratified that so many of you are getting benefit from this post.

Let's continue, shall we?

Peter--Welcome to MTMD from Sweden! I'm heading out to see Mamma Mia! later this afternoon. Thanks for your validation and I'm glad you found this post useful!

Carol--Excellent! I'm glad I could help with Digg! I didn't intend to discuss Digg in this post, but because I'm using it to reach out and comment on those blogs who digg my posts, it's relevant. This also validates the ideas of deep-linking--referring to other posts on your blog and linking to them from the body within other posts. It makes individual blogs more accessible.

No doubt everyone writes in their blog about topics that come up over and over again. Using deep linking, you can refer to those posts, reference their content, and increase the readability of your blog.

This is an off-topic tangent that arose from a discussion in the comments section of this post. And is another example of the detail and substance that quality comments from engaged bloggers can add to your blog. The comments, in this way, sometimes act like footnotes.

Further, I really like your email response idea. Sometimes email addresses are not readily available, however it's a great way to get in touch with your readers.

I think the value of commenting on your own blog is apparent here in the discussion that is taking place and that individual email responses might reduce that interaction a bit. But using email in addition to commenting in the post in response would probably cause the commenter to come back, take another look, and further the discussion along.

For example, your comment came later. If I emailed you a response and you or other commenters never came back, some of the commenters would have missed my tangent on deep-linking.

Great contributions, Carol, thanks! And I tripped and stumbled a bit over your stumble! ;)

Margaret--Yeah, I worked with sezwho tech support. After reporting my issues, they "fixed" it and made it worse so that those using Internet Explorer found my blog caused Internet Explorer to abort. I can do without that kind of tech support, especially when people are stopping by to drop entrecards.

I find that their customer service is accessible and responsive, but again, my blog is not a testing site for their service. If they ever figure it out and bug-proof sez-who the way digg, stumble, technorati, or any other plug-in is bugproof, I might consider it again. But I'm also concerned about the load time. Having sezwho active slowed my load time and the pop ups are most annoying. I really don't feel I want to subject my readers to that.

And as you can see, I've got a truckload of comments already just by writing a post of interest to so many. I think that's the ticket, and following the Mariuca Example. ;)

I don't doubt that sez who will result in an increase of comments and relevant comments. I don't deny that it does serve a purpose, but I think it is especially valuable for new blogs that are seeking a readership. For established blogs, and mine is kind of in that category, it's a question of what would I get out of it really? Somebody rating my readers' comments for credits? What if my readers came back and saw their comments rated a 1 or a 2? How would that make them feel? As a blog author, I'm concerned about that. I value all my commenters and those who take the time to read my blog. I would not want to hurt their feelings or expose them to any form of arbitrary criticism in that way, which is what I think sezwho can do--not that this is what always results, but because it's a possibility.

So in this instance, especially after the troubles I've received from sezwho, I'm going to stay out of it for this go round.

I value my readers time and sensitivity and I don't think this is the best option for them. Others may agree, others may see it as a tool, others may disagree. And that's fine. Everyone needs to look at the pros and cons and make their own informed decision--which is part of what motivated this post in the first place.

Jena--thanks for your feedback. Regarding my slow load time, sometimes it's hit or miss. When I upgraded to this new template I was informed it loaded way faster than my old one. However, because it's on blogger, sometimes there are issues with blogger that cause slow load times. Also, some of my plug-ins also affect load time. Sometimes social spark, for example, really slows down my load time. Sometimes it's entrecard, sometimes it's photobucket where I have my images stored.

I am sensitive to this issue. Really I am. And sometimes my own T-1 line at work is so taxed load time is excruciatingly slow.

There are a lot of issues regarding load time, but the biggest one I've discovered is my own computer. When load times become so slow I can't stand it, I reboot my computer and suddenly "Pooft!" load times improve.

I don't think it's just my blog, I think others experience the same things in varying degrees throughout the day. But I am sensitive to the issue, and I'm glad you were able to view my blog and comment today.

Also, I appreciate your point about Graham. I know he has everyone's best interests in terms of blogging at heart and he's trying to help everyone in the blogging community. But sometimes his execution doesn't exactly match his hopes and intended good will.

I wasn't the only one that issues with sezwho when this was rolled out. SezWho could have spent more time fixing these issues before the announcement was rolled out so that more entrecarders were not inconvenienced. If you remember, the same thing happened with Digg. Graham announced it, it was rolled out, everyone jumped on the bandwagon, and then everyone started mis-using digg and sending spam emails--I dugg your post, please digg mine.

I've emailed Graham to this effect and have received no response. Granted, he's busy. But the next time he rolls out some new awesome feature that could help all entrecarders, he should take some time and prepare them and teach them how to use the tool before making it available.

Mrs. Mecomber--thank you so much for your contribution to this discussion! I really value your input.

Your points are very well taken, but I fear that your comment proves both your point and the point I was trying to make about the advice I read about commenting, and thus leaves things as clear as mud. Although now I'm probably 60% in your camp and 40% in my own.

And here's why:
While I could give a rat's ass about the boilermaker in Utica, I missed your post on the abolition of slavery in New York and as a history buff, your comment to George posted on my blog would interest me in enough to go back to your blog and look for it.

Additionally, my father is from Oshkosh, Wisconsin. And growing up I learned a lot about the dairy industry. Maybe I'm weird, but the various state rankings in terms of commodities production fascinates me. As you well know, New York is an apple producing state. I'm always interested in seeing where Michigan, New York, and Washington stack up in apples production since I'm from Michigan. And if New York at any time passed Wisconsin in Cheese production, I would be interested in that as well. So this is another comment that has absolutely nothing to do with what we're talking about on my blog or yours, that would pique my interest enough to go back to your blog and look for the post.

I can't say that this will be true 100% of the time. Like I said, maybe I'm just a freak of nature. But as hyperlinks made the internet a tool to go off at random and discover new information, comments can perform that same purpose.

I'm heading out to see Mamma Mia and Batman today and to get an oil change, but tomorrow, I'll be back on your blog looking for those posts of yours that somehow I missed previously. And I never would have a desire to do that if you didn't respond to my post in this way.

So I guess the question for you is: Does this make any sense at all, or is this pretty much a matter of personal preference? For a commenter, there's no way to know ahead of time, so would it be advisable to state a comment policy or guideline somewhere on your blog for your readers?

I mean, I would welcome these types of non-relevant, off-topic comments if they cause me to want to return to another blog and look up the posts I missed. That's what I believe their strength is. But other bloggers, like you, may consider them spam. And knowing that, I wouldn't want to leave comments on your blog that would be considered so.

So what's the best way to inform our readers of our commenting preferences, and is doing so a good idea or not?

Lots of questions, great discussion, and I'm looking forward to continuing the dialog!

Cindi--thank you so much for your very kind words! I'm glad you are enjoying reading my blog. That is music to my ears.

If I can be of help to you in any way, please don't hesitate to send me an email or drop me a message on entrecard. You don't need to be a techie to take advantage of technology. I'm glad this post gave you enough info to help you make a decision regarding sez-who.

Keep on blogging!

The Bobo--thank you so much! It sounds like we have kindred philosophies. And I feel your pain! Mariuca gets an insane amount of comments, but she cultivates her community. I try to, but who has the time? So I do what I can and I try to respond to everyone, even if its not as quickly as I would like to.

Thanks for commenting here--this was your first comment on MTMD, and I'll do my best to slow down when dropping entrecards long enugh to comment on your blog as well.

Mike--yes it is a bloody post! A lot of ketchup bottles had to die to make this post possible. LOL.

And I agree with you...I think ratings for the posts would be acceptable, but if you think about it, we don't need sezwho for that when we already have Digg, stumble, reddit and other sharing options already enabled on our blogs.

It's like Malcolm said in Jurassic Park: "yes, we have the technology and we can do things like recreate dinosaurs from DNA, but we never took the time to ask the right questions. Nobody ever asked the question: Should We?"

Nishadha--there are definitely advantages to using SezWho if you are a new blogger and do not already have a strong readership base. Using SezWho will cause a peak of activity on your site. I'm sure of it. And I hope you get a great deal out of using the service on your blog without any of the cons that also come from using such a plug in. Good luck!

Karen--thanks so much for the del.icio.us bookmark and the deep link. I'm sure I've never been to your blog, so I'm looking forward to visiting and checking it out. I'm very gratified that you found this post useful. Thanks again and I'll be stopping by soon!

July 18, 2008 9:14 AM
Matthew S. Urdan said...

Nancy,

Thank you so much for your kind words and I'm glad you found this information useful. You know, life is a non-stop learning process, and the thing about blogging is that we're all learning and adapting to the new technologies that seem to pop up every week or so.

We are all continually improving our blogs. Often by trial and error, sometimes by more error than trial. The best advice I can give you is just to keep at it and be receptive to criticism and don't take it personally. Accept the criticism that you think is legit, reject the rest and take suggestions and feedback with a grain of salt. What is best for one blogger and that blogger's readers may not be best for another blogger and his or her readers.

If I can be of help to you in any way, please let me know.

Cheers!

July 18, 2008 9:21 AM
Arkwife said...

Honestly Matt, your post totally enthralled me. As a result, I've decided to remove SezWho from my blog, because a lot of what you said suddenly made a world of sense.

Ever since I added SezWho, I've had trouble editing anything in my blog's layout. Trying to move around or save the embedded code that comes with SezWho has caused countless errors and frustration with my Blogger account.

I've also already received spam comments. By this I mean comments that were not thought through at all, and were just left for the sake of leaving a comment. Quite frankly, I didn't even bother to reciprocate, as I was more insulted than anything else.

What I can say in SezWho's defence, is that it made me stop to read your post, and I'm positively hooked. Thanks for your informative (albeit long) posts. I'll certainly make an effort to read what you have to say in the future, and I don't need compensation to do so. :-)

July 18, 2008 9:28 AM
carey @ happysteps.net said...

Thanks for this informative post! :)

Eversince Entrecard launched SezWho, I was hesitant about installing it despite some encouragement from other blogs to try it out. I too am not that keen about the idea of commenting just because there are credits to gain... commenting really takes time, and sometimes I am contented with just reading a good post without leaving a comment, then I hop on to the next blog. At the end of the day, it still depends on the reader's interest on the post, if he finds it worth commenting, then the credits are just a bonus. I still am undecided about installing SezWho...it's a wait-and-see approach for me.

Cheers and enjoy your weekend! :)

July 18, 2008 4:26 PM
Amy Lilley Designs said...

Well Matt, comments upon comments...the jury is still out for me...I'm going to give it a whirl and just keep on doing what I've been doing...which is what it seems most bloggers are doing...all points well taken, pro and con, all angles examined and dissected, so many thoughts from such bright bloggers..this post may live on for quite some time to come!

Hope you enjoy the movie!!!

July 18, 2008 8:28 PM
Jennifer Robin said...

Hi Matt,

Can't say that I disagree with your theory about Entrecard's rushed implementation of Sezwho and the resultant fallout. I also thought your take on the whys and wherefores of commenting was appropriate and thought provoking. Kudos to you for taking the time to give us all your take on the situation with such a lengthy but well written post.

Regarding your comment on my blog about the flaw in the Sezwho rating system and how it displays on Blogger; hey, I'm just happy I got it up and running with relatively little hassle. I'm a "read the instructions" kind of gal, and generally find that to be an expedient way of getting things done. As to how well this partnership with SW and EC works out, I'm prepared to go with the flow. I'm quite happy with the already enormous (by my standards anyways!) amount of traffic I get a day, and I have just about all the comments I have time to read and respond to. If the bugs get ironed out and my blog becomes even more popular, so much the better, but I'm not going to lose any sleep over it!

July 18, 2008 10:29 PM
Matthew S. Urdan said...

Arkwife--Wow, thank you so much. I'm glad I was able to provide information that helped you. I really appreciate your kind words.

I think that SezWho can be a useful tool, but I think the people that run the site should have simplified it and tested it more thoroughly and came up with a different implementation that did not results in readers rating other readers' comments.

And if Digg, and Delicious, and EntreCard and Technorati and every other plug in can work without causing errors in a blog, you'd think SezWho would have been able to get their service to work that way as well.

The idea is great--comment, comment, comment....Implementation seemed to be a low priority for them, and that's the biggest reason why, at least for me, it's the wrong way to go.

Thanks for stopping by.

Carey--thanks for stopping by and adding your thoughts to the discussion. I really appreciate it. I think you're wise to take a wait and see attitude. I admit I jumped on this bandwagon early, as I did when EntreCard rolled out Digg. With Digg, it worked but there were issues. The same happened with SezWho, only the technical issues became too much to take the time to work them out, and I'm not sure it's possible to work out the technical issues involved.

I'll definitely pause to consider the next time something is rolled out from EntreCard.

Amy--just so long as it doesn't live on in infamy I'll be okay with it!

Jennifer--Cool! I just wanted to point out it wasn't working on your site the way it was intended. As long as it works for you, all is good. I hope it gives your site a boost!

July 19, 2008 11:47 AM
Polly said...

One thing that I have noticed is that some blogs have placed the SezWho widget on the side ... so far, I haven't been able to get any of these to work.
I have installed it onto my Blogger account - at first nothing was copied over then finally I had star ratings all the way back to dot but now they have just gone on to recent posts. They are at the ends of posts and it looks as though these posts are being rated and probably this is how people are using them - especially as anybody can click onto them.
I think that the way things are heading we will soon be expected to remain at out computers 24hrs a day. I take ages over dropping - I don't have any quick solutions to it and going from the inbox onto a basic computer is very long-winded. Expecting oh - so much more is to take the enjoyment out of it. I enjoy blogging but don't wish to be controlled or dictated to in how I go about it. The question we all need to ask perhaps is which do we prefer VISITS or comments ... some days I do admit my visits are fleeting other days I stop and read every word. I assume this is probably the same with most of us - but one thing I do appreciate is the fact that every one has at least visited my blog and when they get the time, hopefully they read the posts and sometimes when they have a little more time they comment!!

July 19, 2008 3:40 PM
crazy working mom said...

I still have SezWho installed on my blog, although it seems the bugs have not been worked out on their end for us blogspot users. It seems like you have to be in an individual post to be able to "rate" the comments, etc. I have even switched to embedded comments and it's still not working. The jury is still out for me. I've earned a whopping 3 credits for comments thus far. It seems as though the comments I leave on EC blogs aren't using it.

July 19, 2008 8:24 PM
Mariuca said...

Hola Matt! I am back from my vacation yay! :)

I still have not installed SW and based on some of the comments here, I think it's best if I still put this on hold for a bit longer. My main concern with this application is having it possibly slowing down my blog. Plus, I really don't think much of the rating system, I'd like to give all my commenters 5 stars if possible lol! :):):)

July 20, 2008 11:14 PM
Jack Payne said...

I always want comments on my blog entries by genuine readers of my blog or someone who have landed up on my blog by chance and likes what they saw or read. I am not too sure about this comment credits thing. Only encourages spam.

July 21, 2008 11:24 AM
Unbalanced Libra said...

This is a very informative post. Very enlightening and a reminder that I need to comment more on blogs. I sort of dropped the ball there for a while. Thanks for this post!

July 23, 2008 11:43 AM
Matthew S. Urdan said...

Jack--I couldn't agree with you more.

Unbalanced Libra--Thank you very much, it's my pleasure. Just like anything else, it takes work to keep up with comment responses. But it's work well worth doing.

July 23, 2008 4:23 PM
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