Six Pixels of Separation - The Blog
September 25, 2008 7:59 PM

The Comment Economy

The Comment Economy is alive and well.

The debate over why it's important to comment on a Blog has been beaten to death. It's clear that comments provide valuable and powerful feedback to the Blogger. It extends the conversation, adds perspective and colour and - from a purely selfish stand-point - most people who leave a comment also provide a link back to whatever content they're creating (sometimes it's a Blog, sometimes a link to their flickr photos and sometimes it's even a link back to their Twitter profile).

One thing is certain: comments are what make a Blog exciting. Beyond the conversation, the Blogger feels a sense of satisfaction based on the amount of comments they receive and the people who comment have a platform to have their voices heard.

Yesterday I posted my business column which runs every two weeks in the Montreal Gazette and the Vancouver Sun daily newspaper (Selling 2.0 - Let The Customer Do The Communicating). I am continually amazed by the flow of phone calls and emails from people saying how excited they are to read it every two weeks. Along with it being flattering, you win too. Here's how:

The Comment Economy has an underground economy.

For every new person that comes to the Six Pixels of Separation Blog, they're not just reading my Blog for the first time... they're reading your comments too (and clicking on your links to learn more). The Comment Economy is as much about you as it is about the Blog owner. All too often, people read a Blog posting and have an idea of what they would like to say in the comment section and never do. The tragedy is not that the Blog owner will never see that comment, the real tragedy is all of the readers who will miss it.

What value does that have?

The number one reason people don't have a Blog of their own is because they're worried they won't have much to say or worried they won't be able to deliver consistent and fresh content. Commenting on someone else's Blog adds tremendous credibility when building your personal brand and getting your voice heard. I've seen search results pop up on certain individuals based on the comments they have left on various Blogs.

The Long Tail of content extends into comments. The Comment Economy is still rich and highly under valued.

Think of the thousands of new people that might discover you simply because you left a comment on a highly trafficked Blog.

By Mitch Joel


Comments Comments Feed
  • Posted by Adam Singer
    Mitch Joel

    Somehow I felt a need to leave a comment on the comment thread.

    Great post, and I think your last line is really important to consider for new bloggers.

    Good comments I have left on ProBlogger early in a post have driven me 100's of visitors over time. Great, free exposure for people who are directly interested in your content.

    One other thing - I find that I get more comments when I post things of controversy than anything else, that's one thing that I am not sure is a positive or a negative....

    Would be neat if I got as many comments on things I work really hard on too...

    Reply
  • Comments are the "secret weapon" of blogging success.

    They can help develop an argument, issue, or discussion that a blog post begins.

    They can help you discover new sources of information and new friends.

    They can attract traffic (as mentioned).

    They can even help smart people who don't have time to blog themselves share occasional "drive-by" insights with the rest of us.

    I feel a blog post about comments coming on myself...

    Reply
  • Mitch Joel

    Classic quote from Scott Fox above:
    "Comments are the 'secret weapon' of blogging success." Very true.

    Also feels like we're coming back full circle to "what matters" in the sense of interacting in new media circles. For example, I'm getting newsletters (yes, via e-mail) from people like CC Chapman and Chris Brogan (amongst other digirati) that feel more personal than simply opting into an RSS feed and watching it burn. I also have Twitter, LinkedIn, Flickr, and other apps to customize the depth of interaction.

    Let's face it, most apps are walled gardens. A blog is like welcoming someone into your home (and swimming laps in your servers). A comment is a sign of respect in good faith and they'll never go away.

    Reply
  • This is a timely post for me, as I have been putting a lot of thought into how to draw people into a conversation on my blog (linked to my name above if you should like to visit...). I have a small but consistent following, but I've met with little success in getting comments.

    And although I crave the richness of potential dialogue, I must admit that my motives for wanting more comments is not altogether altruistic... I reckon that comments also provide social proof for a blog and must count towards ranking on various engines, lists, etc.

    This is important for me, because although I am compiling quite a bit of useful content on my blog, and am finally starting to find the "voice" of the blog, its traffic is not what I think it should be when I compare to others in the space.

    At any rate, thanks for another great post!

    Cheers,
    Adam

    Reply
  • Posted by Malcolm Bastien
    Mitch Joel

    I think where commenting is going is deserving of another look at the whole idea.

    Comments started as being short contribution nodes for another persons post, but now with so much of the conversation taking place in comment systems, they're so much more than just "comments". And the momentum for the dialogue driven through comments will only increase as bloggers open up their sites to platforms like Intense Debate and Disqus.

    I think these platforms are going to play a big part in updating attitudes towards commenting, and the value everyone gets out of doing it.

    Reply
  • Posted by jon buscall
    Mitch Joel

    Now that spam catchers are getting better, and what with the emergence of excellent comment systems like Disqus, there's no reason not to have comments on a blog.

    I think the level of feedback, dialogue and downright engagement in what you write that comes from comments, is essential to developing a great blog.

    Personally, I find that the better comments I leave on blogs, the better online relationships I build with people working my field.

    Reply
  • Posted by Derrick Kwa
    Mitch Joel

    In terms of platforms, I do think that commenting in itself can be changed/improved (wrote about it a bit at http://derrickkwa.com/archives/thinking-about-the-blog-experience/), though.

    But that said, I couldn't agree more with you. Definitely, comments are really important, and "the comment economy" is definitely not dead.

    Reply
  • Posted by allan isfan
    Mitch Joel

    As a blogger and a frequent reader of many great blogs like this one, I can share a couple of thoughts on what gets me to comment beyond thought provoking content:

    1) the blogger responds to people's comments ... makes us feel we are part of the conversation and build towards something. nudge nudge wink wink say no more say no more.

    2) participants respond to each other's comments (see above):
    Example: Well put Scott Fox re comments are a blog's secret weapon of a blogs success (and my blog so far is failing).

    3) tool brings me back when something new has been added in the comments, especially if it is response to a comment I made (vanity of course). Lots of good widgets or comment tools like Disqus which do this very well.

    Reply
  • Mitch Joel

    Whats most important for you? Is it knowing that your blog readers are reading what you blog? OR, knowing that your blog readers have opinions on what you blog about?

    Reply
  • Posted by Crispin Bailey
    Mitch Joel

    Another great post Mitch!

    A couple points worth repeating...

    If you have a blog, think of your post as the topic for discussion. The comments are the conversation. Keep that in mind as you craft your post. It makes a difference.

    If you're leaving a comment, consider whether you are contributing to the conversation or just adding noise (eg "First!"). Don't be that guy.

    Though still a relatively new form of expression and communication, posting and commenting are becoming increasingly important social and business skills. One day our comments may say more about us than our posts. They really should start teaching this in schools.

    Reply
  • Posted by Joe
    Mitch Joel

    I am in the process of putting my blog together and in the meantime have been very active in Blog Commenting and using Twitter until I have my hosting resolved.

    I absolutely agree that the comments are what really create the interaction. Anyone can write a blog...but when you have that discussion and interaction - what you write becomes really interesting!

    Reply
  • Posted by tom brakke
    Mitch Joel

    As someone who decided to leave comments off of his blog, I find this posting (and, yes, the comments) to be interesting and thought-provoking.

    I thought long and hard about it, and decided that given the specific purpose and audience I have I wasn't going to publish them. The comments that I receive are jumping-off points for private conversations rather than public review.

    That puts the burden on me to make my content interesting and unusual to my readers (who toil in the investment markets).

    There are trade-offs involved here, and while the vast majority of blogs have comments, I decided to do something a bit different (which, not coincidentally, is what my clients hire me to do).

    If you have an interest, you can check it out my work at http://www.researchpuzzle.com/.

    Reply
  • Posted by frank
    Mitch Joel


    I agree that commenting is alive and well ... as a matter of fact ... it's essential for those who are not in the A-list or very well known bloggers.

    One thing that i believe about commenting is that it can help you learn/understand/grow ...

    reading a persons post is one thing ... taking it to the next level and thinking about how to comment and add value is a whole new level of engagement that adds value to both the blogger and yourslef ...

    We all know that if you read something it teaches you something, but if you take it to the next level and write something or comment or go teach it to someone else that information will become that much more rock solid in your mind.


    ---
    http://twitter.com/franswaa

    Reply
  • Posted by Dave
    Mitch Joel

    As a new blogger I must agree with this posting. The most exciting part of a blog is waiting to see the reaction from the readers and hear their opinions. It truly is about creating a conversation and getting people talking.

    The tough part is the wait though. Now that you have a billion blogs out there or whatever the numbers are, its kind of like waiting to be picked at recess for the pick up football team.

    Reply
  • Posted by Kelly Rusk
    Mitch Joel

    A funny thing I was observing today about my own blog.. Is that while my subscriber numbers are low, and my incoming links are downright pitiful--I get a lot of comments and that's enough for me to judge my blog as successful.

    And not only that, but also compared to other blogs I've had that didn't have a lot of comments--other people perceive your blog as more credible with comments.

    I admit lately I haven't been reading/commenting on other people's blogs nearly as much as I used to but I'm trying to get back in the habit of it. Thanks for the inspiring words!

    Reply
  • Nigel P. Chillings

    Mitch, what a deliciously incestuous social media circle you've created here. I mean that in praise.

    Though, at what point does the reciprocating circle become a black hole?

    Reply
  • Posted by Digimaven
    Mitch Joel

    Dude, nothing makes me more excited than receiving a comment on my blog. Of course, there haven't been many yet, but my blog is still young and developing. You're a great inspiration yourself.

    Reply
  • Adam - I think this is one of the issues with Blogging. When people comment because it's controversial it merely reminds me that this is a micro mass media.

    Rob - Could not agree more. I alsways look at this Blog as welcoming people into my home. The more the merrier... as long as you don't puke on the carpet ;)

    Adam - getting comments does not always have to be what this is about. Nothing wrong with Blogging just to put your thoughts out there. I do it all the time.

    Jon - commenting does build relatinships. That was a great point - thank you for sharing.

    Allan - I am pretty guilty of not diving in at the comment level. Truth be told, a lot of times I have said my peace and I'm just happy to read/follow the additional comments for additional insights. Saying "thanks" to everyone (from my perspective) is a waste of space where someone else could be adding and entending the idea... IMHO.

    Michael - Bingo! For me, it's always been about putting my thoughts out there. The comments are a huge bonus, add tremendous value and spur new Blog postings.

    Dave - I also think there's a time problem. If I post everyday and there's millions of other posts, the comments don't linger for much longer than that. After 24 hours, it's pretty much done. So much for the Long Tail ;)

    Nigel - see above. After about 24 hours.

    Reply
  • Posted by Adam Steer
    Mitch Joel

    I find the comments in older posts don't get much attention, but I'm going to post this anyway because I find it relevant.

    Since reading this post I have been trying to be less of a lurker and more of a participant in the blogs that I frequent. The interesting thing is that I find I am going through the exact same process of "finding my voice" as a commenter that I had to go through (and continue to go through) as a blogger.

    I'm coming to believe that commenting (and I mean getting so that you do it well) is a learned art.

    Thanks again for the thought provoking and action inspiring post.

    Cheers,
    Adam

    Reply
  • Posted by John Soares
    Mitch Joel

    I've been blogging for a little over three months. I have about ten related blogs on my blogroll and my RSS feed, and I check them daily. When they have posts for which I can make a relevant comment, I post.

    I've already had one of these blogs write about me in an entry and link to me, which is of course another way to drive people to my blog.

    Reply
  • Posted by Tony Vario
    Mitch Joel

    Today marks one week of financial turmoil in the world markets, a fictitious and fabricated recession - only one problem with that specific wording - The only country that truly has any problems is the USA. These financial companies must get a grip on themselves - they are no different than our own households. When things go bad with household income – the leader of the house or the person that runs the household, makes decisions in order to curb the losses sustained. This is not evident with the US financial institutes – they have been mismanaged for years, and now it has reached to the point of no return. Yes, many will say that banks and lending institutes from abroad have also contributed to take a loss – this is only because these financial institutes took risks – it could have been profitable and non of us would have heard of any repercussions when earning billions of dollars – but now that they have lost, and they ask for hand-outs, we now hear of the problems related to hard economic times. – well ladies and gentlemen “Business is business�, and it is unfair for governments or countries (via the backs of tax payers) to bear the brunt and contribute in order to keep these companies afloat. If these financial institutes have made bad decisions – then they should be allowed to fail. Had any of us faced the same consequences – the banks and governments would have allowed us to go into bankruptcy – they should be no difference. These governments have absolutely no right in allowing any bailout programs.

    The Canadian Government as well as the British, Italian, German, Iraqi governments should all stand and spell out that their counties do not have the same financial problems as the USA, and that these financial problems are solely the USA’s problems, and the USA should not drag other countries down with their financial worries

    Stock markets around the world should not be reacting negatively, instead Canadian, Italian, British, German and most European countries should all be booming.

    The media has done an excellent job securing fear in the world markets

    Facts – the USA has more debt than any other country
    The USA continually spends billions on a war that they should not be involved with
    The USA will never be able to pay off its debt in our lifetime

    These are the facts

    Reply
  • Posted by mirc
    Mitch Joel

    werry good thanks..

    Reply
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