Saturday, December 8, 2007

Help! I don't know how to blog!

I'm often at a loss in how to "participate" in the "community" that is the "blogosphere."

I struggle constantly with the problem of what I call "the quick and the unread." If you don't respond to a blog quickly, almost at twitch speed, your comments have little chance of being read. Taking the time to thoughtfully respond to a blog often results in the original blog being supplanted by a new one. Once the blog you wish to respond to gets pushed down the page, the likelihood of discussion rapidly approaches zero.

My current dilemma is this.

Lenny writes a blog full of facts or advice I dispute. Squiggy leaves a comment on the blog, but provides a response I disagree with.

What should I do when I disagree with the premise of a blog or the facts within and one ore more commenters provide feedback that should also be challenged? Do you respond to the blog AND the comments? If so, should this be in the same comment or in multiple posts? Will other readers be confused by more than one point being made in a comment?

Add to this scenario the fact that many bloggers view criticism as "being mean" regardless of the merits of an argument. Other blog readers simply ignore complex arguments or those longer than a couple of paragraphs.

Should I ignore the other person's blog entirely and write a blog on my own site? How many readers will I lose by moving the conversation?

I'm confused.

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  • I regard comments as generally disposable. I leave comments if I want to say something quickly... to avoid the overhead of creating a whole post myself, linking to the original piece, quoting it, etc.

    A lot of these comments are so short and cryptic that they probably make no sense to most people, but they're just comments, and not worth more time, so who cares!

    If I want to write something that needs and is worth more time there are a few good options. You can just write the comment and then quote your comment on a post on your blog. Or just link to your comment on your blog. Or write a post with your response on your blog and either paste it also in the comments or link to your post in comments.

    If you're entering late in the game, comment-thread-wise, the last option is probably the best.

    By Anonymous Tom Hoffman, At December 8, 2007 4:39 PM  

  • Don't worry about it...just write for fun. If others read and have a reaction, they'll link to it and send traffic your way. If not, at least you have the benefit of having had the fun in writing it.

    Best wishes,


    By Anonymous Miguel, At December 8, 2007 4:53 PM  

  • One reason I move conversations to my blog is because so many times, I need to cite multiple sources and perhaps embed a video or image that I think has value and most commenting systems don't allow for it.

    I have to admit, I never take as much time to post a comment in comparison to the time I take to write my own. I figure that the blogger is the host of the conversation and I'm simply added to it. They called the meeting.

    If I feel I really want to take a different direction, I call my own.

    By Anonymous Shareski, At December 8, 2007 10:36 PM  

  • Hmmm...maybe you shouldn't read Lenny and Squiggy's blogs.

    I gave up trying to figure out all the "rules" of the edu-blogosphere. Seems that some people CLAIM to want a conversation, but truly want to hear themselves repeating their own ideas.

    I still prefer the old newsgroups we used at Pepperdine (pre-Web 2.0) where you could quickly see which conversations were active and hop in and post your idea...or read what was there and mull it over for a bit and then respond.

    Today if you aren't a-Twittering at light speed or hyper-commenting, the moment to respond will quickly pass.

    Now, I have to see if Laverne has posted a comment! ;P

    By Anonymous Roxanne Glaser, At December 9, 2007 3:41 PM  

  • Roxanne, If you like the quick jump in and out you might like the discussions at

    Gary, my student's blog is set up with a threaded discussion format so you can reply to the post or the individual comment. If you want to join a bunch of 10-12 year olds you could blog with us and not worry about it. N.

    By Anonymous nbosch, At December 9, 2007 7:13 PM  

  • to nbosh,

    What plug-in are you using for the threaded format on the student blog?

    We have a project where we use videoconferencing for students to interview our local meteorologist and then are trying to get them blogging with him, but I need the comments to thread.

    I saw one that someone else recommended, but no one is supporting or developing it anymore.

    (to Gary) Yes, I have moved the conversation away from helping you learn how to blog! ;P

    By Anonymous Roxanne Glaser, At December 9, 2007 7:37 PM  

  • I am more confused by your claim to not know how to blog. You enter conversations quite nicely and have attracted me to some of your disagreements. I don't get time to blog as much as I would like, but I love reading blogs and leaving a thought here and there. If something really moves me, I can see writing my own blog about it. I think it is difficult to determine why some people write their blogs, but I doubt there are any real rules to blogging.

    By Anonymous SherryC, At December 9, 2007 8:54 PM  

  • I would pretty much reiterate what Tom and Dean suggest here, but I disagree with the idea that bloggers find disagreement on the merits as being mean. I think it's about tone, and it's about getting beyond the merits into the personal. Dissect Lenny's facts, articulate why your advice would be different, but don't imply that Lenny is stupid (even if that's what you think.) I might disagree with Tom when he suggests that no one cares what the comments say or mean (I know many that do care, myself included) or with Miguel when he suggests that it's all in fun (which it's surely not) but I'm not going to suggest that either is clueless or ignorant in thinking that. They have their own reasons and experiences for feeling that way and acting that way. And regardless of whether you think adults need to be treated with kid gloves or not, the bottom line is that for me at least, I give a lot more consideration to comments that attack the ideas and not the people.

    By Anonymous Will, At December 10, 2007 4:31 AM  

  • Maybe spending 25 years working with gifted kids makes me suspicious but I thought your entire post was "tongue in cheek". If not, you got me!

    Roxanne--we use Drupal for our student blog but you can also do threaded discussions using Moodle--we've used Moodle for a couple of book discussions.

    By Anonymous nbosch, At December 10, 2007 5:48 AM  

  • You are responding to a conversation, not just the initial post, but the comments as well. Therefore, I would respond to both.

    I agree that commenting on blogs in the current format does little to really increase conversation. Commenting on a 2 week old post may be a useless endeavor.

    In cases where the comment is highly critical, very involved, or requires and inspires an extended response, it may be best to post to your own blog and reference the original post.

    Thanks for your posts, and for your comments on other blogs. At a loss or not, you are contributing to the blogosphere.

    By Anonymous Sandy Wagner, At December 10, 2007 8:08 AM  

  • Interesting that I am commenting on a post that is partially buried on your blog... wonder if you even reading this...

    For me if I find myself writing a comment that takes longer than a typical comment should be (usually when the thought "I'm writing too much here" pops into my head). I will go ahead and write a post for my own blog, not to steal the conversation, but to add more to it. I would link to the original post name the author and then add my 50 cents worth if I want. Possibly add a video as Dean suggests to lend support to my thoughts and/or feelings.

    I love comments, some are very confusing sometimes because I don't know the context or angle the commenter is taking. Or maybe it's my writing... anyways, the thought just popped into my head... better wrap this up before it appears on my blog.

    By Anonymous BrianC Smith, At December 17, 2007 12:06 PM  

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