do comment patterns reflect feedback on entries?

So…. this post of a video got 16 comments, and this post which was all “thinky” (or at least attempting to be) about art vs commerce, got 4 (the most recent from mcurry and quite “thinky” itself). Now, with over 1000 readers currently “friending” this blog, and who knows how many non-LJ people stopping by* — these are hardly a representative sampling to draw scientific conclusions from as the percentage is far too small. But it would seem to indicate that a 30-second post gets 4 times as much attention as an essay. Is this a reflection on the worth of those posts? I’m guessing not, but it does make one ponder where one should spend one’s efforts. Not that I’m trolling for comments. I just find it curious.

And now that I’ve pointed out mcurry‘s comment, people should go argue with him. Or agree with him, if they must. *g*

*Just in case anyone wasn’t sure, you can make a comment whether you are on LJ or not — they get screened but I go through and authorize them frequently.

63 responses to “do comment patterns reflect feedback on entries?

  1. I value your thinky posts very much! I soak it all in but never really have a clever comment to make in return. I still have so much to learn, ya know.

    • Thanks for the affirmation. It’s not that I’m depending on comments in terms of deciding what or how to post. I pretty much ramble along anyway. *g* I just found that so curious yesterday…..

  2. Thinky posts deserve thinky comments.
    Me no thinky. :}

    • It was suggested to me that this might be the issue: that thinky posts get short shrift due to their very thinkiness (so making up words here). I wonder if LJ has any sort of way to track which pages get viewed most often? My post was actually sponsored by Scalzi’s recent post about traffic on his blog. And it just got me to wondering about those two posts on the same day. LJ doesn’t even have trackbacks.

  3. Food posts always seem to get the most comments….

  4. I really enjoy essay posts even though I rarely respond. I tend to assume that you are busy and I would rather not be bothered by lots of comments, so I try to comment only when I’m confident I will contribute something substantial to the conversation.

    • Fair cop.
      Sometimes I don’t even get to read comments until later in the evening. But then it’s a way to connect after a long day in the salt mines. Heh.
      That’s actually become one of the reasons for the blog as it now exists — so I correspond in some format that isn’t query-based.

  5. Sometimes thinky posts are such that they’re interesting to read, but they may be too much in agreement for one to do anything but say “me, too,” and really, me-tooing on an agent LJ could make one fear that one might be… remembered. [cue ominous music]
    Or, as noted above, they may seem to require a far more “thinky” reply than “Hey, interesting!”

  6. there’s a great post on how to be an LJ comment whore, which comes down to make people disagree or leave an obvious hole for people to fill. it’s a question of why you post – to have a conversation or to express yourself. if it’s a long thinky post and you explicitly want responses, ask for them.
    I’d heard about 12 on NPR and I thought ‘interesting’ but that’s not much value as a comment. And your piece was ‘smooth’; it had its own beginning, middle and end, with few projections for my own thinking to snag on.
    plus you don’t know when you get the same group of people passing, or how much time and attention they have to spare that day.

  7. Maybe the 30 second ones ellicit a quick response whereas the thinky ones are just that – food for thought; things the reader will dwell on later but not necessarily have anything to add to immediately.

  8. Yup, that sounds about right.
    I’ve gathered roughly the same stats.
    Unless it’s something really controversial, and people want to fight about it, the short stuff always gets more commentary.

  9. trying to figure how and why people post LJ responses is, I’ve decided, its own form of Rejectomancy.. *grins*
    (hi, I’m home, I have your e-mails and you are right and wise and all that, and here’s me disappearing under work again)

  10. Rereading your post, it strikes me as thoughtful and interesting, but not particularly one that invites comment. It’s a statement, not a question. It’s a solid, complete thought, and it’s hard to argue with. It doesn’t even fill me with the urge to say “I agree”. (Maybe because it’s a bit personal as well?)
    mcurry’s comment strikes me as more of the same, though it does fill me with a minor urge to point out that a whole bunch of us are still happily wading in the genre fiction of 50-60 years ago — but I’m sure mcurry would agree with that, I’d be arguing against the implied argument of Karp, or something like that.

    • Hmmm…. I’ll keep this in mind. It’s hard to think in non-complete thoughts. *g* And actually I thought that personal bit was the opening I was providing. It seems to me that the point of blogging is to have a conversation, so the invitation in implicit. Therefore it doesn’t occur to me to always make it explicit.

      • Just to be clear, I wasn’t suggesting there was something wrong with the post, something you should change — just that it struck me as the sort of post that didn’t call (explicitly or implicitly) for much comment. I don’t see anything wrong with that, and I definitely think it would be wrong to rate the quality of a post based on how many comments it gets.

  11. For what it’s worth, I didn’t even watch the video post. I read and agreed with the “thinky” post. The only reason I didn’t comment on the thinky post was because I had nothing to add to it, and like someone said above, I tend to avoid posting “me too” comments.

  12. me too
    I didn’t watch the video either, but read the post and then when I came across the same topic in Pub Lunch, I thought, “ahh…yes…I know about that…I’m so well read!” Haha!
    One of my writer friend gets a lot of comments and I think it’s because she ends every post with a question. I’ve noticed that when I do that, I often get comments and on the ones where I forget, nary a comment to be found.
    P.S. I didn’t know you had a food blog. I’ll check it out. You might be interested in my Sunday Soup blog. It’s inspired by the Betsy-Tacy books.

  13. I prefer your “thinky” posts because they almost always answer questions that I have asked myself. But I don’t often have things to say that will forward the conversation, probably because I’m a newbie to the field.
    Thank you for sharing your thoughts!
    Adrianne Middleton

  14. I love the “thinky” comments, but sometimes don’t have time to comment since I’m at work. :-X The Karp post was quite informative but I didn’t have anything to add, especially after mcurry. 🙂 I read anything you post because you provide awesome information.

  15. I’m of the opinion that if you had said any of the following, in a slightly more formal manner, you’d have gotten more responses to that post.
    “I am not inclined to agree with Karp’s opinion. Your thoughts?”
    “While unable to provide my opinion of this for professional reasons, you’re entitled to your own below.”
    “I agree completely. Wave of the future. Disagree? Comments are always welcome.”
    I mean… I read it and formed a rather negative opinion of Mr. Karp, but without knowing how you feel… and without knowing much about the publishing industry… I wasn’t inclined to give you my opinion. Were I a potential author, on the other hand, I wouldn’t want to burn bridges*.
    * exception: I actually burn all my bridges, but that is a personal quirk.

  16. Thinky posts make people want to give thinky responses–which may mean the responses trickle in weeks later after they finally have time to write it out the way they want (which might never happen), or may mean the post inspires a post of its own instead of just a comment.
    Posts that get more comments:
    1. ask for feedback.
    2. have a picture.
    3. are posted not on the weekend.

  17. I read your blog every day. I suspect the lack of comments is because your posts are well-thought through and very complete.
    If you had half-baked or contentious posts, you’d get more responses. I know of a number of people who seem to be employing this strategy. 😉
    I’ll draw an obscure analogy: Badly written TV shows generate more discussion and fanfiction than good ones.
    Happy Canada Day

  18. One thing I’ve noticed on my blog is people like to be asked their opinions. Try making a habit of always ending your post with a few questions for the readers to answer, and your comment rate will go up. Writers love to expound, after all. 🙂
    It’s just like a face-to-face conversation; the other person may be happy simply listening to you, but they’ll be happier if you show interest in their thoughts too.

    • That seems to be a thesis on this at this point. And I find it interesting because I think I had sort of assumed that blogging was implicitly inviting a conversation. Otherwise, why type it up? But maybe I’m making an assumption there. Plus, I don’t tend to think about getting comments while I’m writing. Only afterwards does that occur to me, and then the questions feel tacked on and obvious.

      • I think I had sort of assumed that blogging was implicitly inviting a conversation.
        That’s a rational assumption. But don’t underestimate the number of people who are terrified of commenting because they fear they might be taking up your valuable time by generating comments that you will feel obligated to read and possibly respond to. I can honestly say that sometimes I don’t comment because I figure you must be very busy. I think I had it in my head that you do the blog in large part because it makes your job easier in some way; after all, if you communicate with the writers about what to do and what not to do, then you probably get better queries overall than if you did not have the blog. Also, since the blog is already a great public service, people probably don’t want to force you to put more time into it.
        Another thing that occurs to me: your blog is so informational that I think there might be the idea in people’s heads that it is therefore less conversational. Agent Manners, to me, has always seemed like a “if you want to talk to me, do it here (and nowhere else)” sort of thing unless you explicitly asked a question in your post. I realize now that’s not the case, but I wonder how many other people felt that way as well. I don’t think you’ve actually done anything to give a stand-offish impression, either — it’s just there by default, in the mind of an unpublished author who finds the blog. Most of those people, I would bet, are scared of screwing anything up, and probably don’t feel like they’re qualified to talk to you conversationally because oh my god you’re an agent. I think a lot of people very much don’t want to “bother” you, and quite possibly forget you’re human by no fault of your own. 🙂
        Now that I know you are inviting conversation, I will be less hesitant to comment when I do have something to say.

      • If you “don’t tend to think about getting comments” when you write the posts, you may be unconsciously giving the impression that you don’t expect comments. Blogs are a bit like public diaries; you can say whatever you like, and people may be very interested in reading it, but it isn’t necessarily invite them to interact with you.
        If adding a few questions at the end feels tacked on, consider going back and embedding them throughout the body of your post. That comes across as more natural and really helps give the impression that you do encourage dialogue.

  19. I have to agree with several people on here about thinky posts.
    While I like such entertaining ones as you post (and you are selective in your entertaining posts) I value your useful, practical posts more. Essentially the more “thinky” ones on writing, agenting, the business, etc. are of great interest to me. I don’t respond often because all I really have to say is “Wow! Thank you SO much. I didn’t know that!” And I doubt that you want that constatnly mucking up your blog. (If you do, let me know. I’m happy to oblige. :))
    But I do look forward to the occasional laughter-causing post. I like your sense of humor.
    I find all your posts entertaining, useful, encouraging, and valuable. Just because we don’t comment, don’t think we aren’t paying attntion.
    You could always get a free counter for your blog, or see if LJ provides a counter to track hits.

  20. I flat out ignore the video posts and read the longer ones because they are interesting. The problem is that I’m not sure if I have anything to add to the conversation besides just going “cool” or “I agree”. And then wistful hoping that I could actually take advantage of what you are writing about. 🙂 You know, like submitting something somewhere. 🙂
    Speaking of which, did you see the query letter drinking game? I don’t know where I got it but I was going through my writing bookmarks today. Seemed appropriate.

    • Actually… I started that game, and then Cameron was using it and then it ended up getting posted to someone else’s blog (Marie used to work at DMLA) before I ever finished all my rules. Although I’m sure that I wasn’t the only one to ever think that sort of thing up either.

      • Very cool. 🙂
        Couldn’t resist. Yeah, I suspect you would add color text to the list after a blog entry a few back (which I stole to tease a writer friend).
        But, it is cool, though I didn’t know the history. I like silly things like that, it tells you a lot of the frustration of the other side of things that I don’t get to really see.

  21. Jeepers creepers. It takes five seconds to type “cool video!” and about five minutes to type a thoughtful response to a thinky post. Of course the video gets more comments. Wouldn’t you prefer the slush to be four times as small and four times more thoughtful? Why not comment threads too?

  22. I think that discrepancy is to be expected. Thoughtful posts invite thoughtful responses.
    As an author seeking representation, I am always conscious of how I’m presenting myself in a blog post. I mean… what if in your copious free time *snort* you were inclined to read my profile or blog?
    I am not a bit surprised that in the swampy thick of a busy day, less readers feel they can post a thoughtful comment worthy of a thoughtful post. Posting “Woo Hoo! That was awesome!” or even dropping a one-liner in response to a quickie post requires much less time and thought.
    I have many less readers than you, naturally, but the post that got the greatest response on my blog so far was utterly ridiculous… I was quite sleep deprived and chose songs to represent Agents Who Blog for an imaginary compilation disk. (Yours was “All I Really Want” by Alanis Morrissette, by the way, in reference to some recent query clarifications.)
    And nobody’s even trying to impress me. *snort*
    Not yet, anyway. 🙂

    • Hey… I actually saw that post — and didn’t comment (this is a glass house I’m living in after all). Interesting song choice, though Alanis Morisette is way too popular for my own current taste in music (though I’m not nearly as obscure as some of my friends). Not that I have time — but I should make a query-reading soundtrack….

      • Hmmm… that smacks of a challenge. I shall search you out a song more akin to your tastes. *rubs hands together*
        And thanks for stopping by. *faints*

        • My tastes these days run to something we label ectophilic music — you can find out more at — and the most recent live concert I went to was for a group called My Brightest Diamond.
          But I do think Alanis is quite talented and like several of her songs, too.

          • Very cool site! Alanis is on there, FWIW. And Hem, who performs the song that inspired my novel.
            I’m working a shift today and even though I’m on my own laptop (in my downtime), the hospital’s firewall blocks listening to mp3’s online, so I can’t hear it, but I did stumble across this:
            An album called “Person Pitch” by Panda Bear, according to, is purchased by people who also buy My Brightest Diamond’s Bring Me the Workhouse.
            On this album is a song called “Search for Delicious” which could apply to BOTH your blogs.
            Sadly, I must bugger off as my new patient is wheeling onto the unit as I type. But I will find a more suitable song eventually.

          • Well, you’ve really sent me down an odd road. *snort*
            After reading a bit on the ectophile site, it struck me that M7X might be up your alley. I haven’t thought of them in years, although I did see them several times when I was in college and my ex-boyfriend was a bit of a fanboy so we listened to them often.
            I tried to google lyrics, and pulled up their discography. Typed by my ex, nonetheless. That was one uber-wacky relationship. I think I’ve done enough snooping for today.
            At the moment, I’m toying with Rachel Smith’s Appetite. Which also ties to your other blog and thankfully has nothing to do with my ex. *snort*

  23. It’s the law of blogging — the posts that you think will generate the most comments never do, and the random ones you don’t think twice about generate a ton. Plus, people just like YouTube. *g*

  24. I like reading a variety of posts, whether video or the deeper, “thinky” posts, but I don’t always have time to post a comment or the inclination to add anything. I’m terrible at debating and tend to leave that to others. Unless I feel that I can actually contribute something, I tend to read to take in the thoughts.
    The post about art vs commerce was one of those “That’s interesting to consider but I can’t really contribute anything worthwhile to comments.” Keep posting those “thinky” posts. I like reading them, even if I don’t comment.

  25. It’s those ‘thinky’ posts that have kept me coming back here for years. And the insight some of them give into the mind and days of Madame Agent are what sold me on sending a query your way 🙂

  26. And of course, this one already has 48 comments. 🙂
    I think a large part of it is honestly a combination of whether anyone has something to add or not, even if it’s nothing more than a hearty “YES.” Commenting certainly doesn’t indicate whether the post has been read and reflected on.

  27. Contribution
    Being a regular reader of the blog for quite a while now—though not much of a commenter—my instinctive response was that the number of comments mostly depends on what the readers of the post have to contribute to it. Then again, I think it’s generally acceptable that smaller posts attract the readers more.
    As an aside, after reading this post I did revisit the art vs. commerce entry and found a little something to add to it, though I’m not sure if it’s much of a contribution.
    Hey, I could actually apply some econometrics using the data from your blog to try to pinpoint which factors affect the number of comments…just a thought.

  28. Read both posts when posted. Pondered over one. Smiled at the other. Didn’t think I had much to add to either, so I didn’t. Your question on worth of the posts does correspond to a poll I saw once about feedback. Basically the poll determined: if you make your audience stop and think, they are more likely to go off and ponder; if you make them smile or have a quick and powerful gut reaction, they are more likely to expend that excess energy in a comment.
    Please don’t stop ‘thinky’ posts. I stop by mostly because of them, even though I enjoy all the posts you offer.

  29. I read your “thinky” posts with great interest because the writing business is fairly new to me. However, I don’t comment much because the writing business is fairly new to me. I guess that means I’m learning/absorbing and don’t feel I have much to contribute.
    Posts with videos I sometimes watch and sometimes skip over. I like “letters from the query wars” and “Agent Manners” and anything else with information about the writing world.

  30. I try not to comment unless I have something to add to the discussion or (if appropriate) a joke in the same vein as the thread.
    I enjoy your essays and usually walk away thinking about them, even if I don’t comment.

  31. On my lj friends list, I find that the people who post single sentences get far more comments than those who post more than a paragraph. I think it’s just attention span. With a hundred people on your friends list, it’s hard to pay close attention to each one and then have to actually think about what they’ve said.
    At least, that’s my take.

  32. Well, several of the blogs I read posted about Jonathan Karp’s essay, which I think was a good, thought provoking post, and I commented on it. But on another blog. Sorry. Don’t take lack of comment as any indication of what you should or shouldn’t be posting. Post what you want, when you want, comments be damned.

  33. I am at the point where my questions and comments about the publishing industry as a whole are typically niggling and nitpicking nuances and details that really shouldn’t matter from the writer’s perspective. I just have the need to understand the process of publishing from written word to consumer consumption.
    You know…like, why the hell are some people still formatting print press ready manuscripts with 2 spaces after a period? It’s an old monospaced typographical convention.
    My point is, I do have questions and comments but you shouldn’t have to feel obliged to entertain every.single.question.I.have. Especially when my questions and comments are outside of the scope of a blog that is by an agent with an intended audience of pre-published authors.

    • “a blog that is by an agent with an intended audience of pre-published authors.”
      Hmmm…. You know, I actually also have published authors in mind sometimes as well. And lots of my frenemies read here too so sometimes it’s just to let them know what’s up in my life. But, point taken.

  34. I seem to recall that Mr Crowley ( asked a similar question some time ago, and the readers overwhelmingly responded that most of them felt they had nothing nearly as witty to say as he did.
    Asking questions, as we see here, often gets responses.
    Personally, I use a Flash blocker, and don’t often play videos as the sound quality tends to be dodgy and my hearing is even dodgier.
    I read a bit of the thinky post, thought “I should read that when I am more awake”, opened it in a spare tab, and lost it to a browser crash. It’s likely I won’t have anything thinky to reply with either, but I’m glad to have been reminded to go and read the rest of it.
    Judging from you and Mr Crowley, we humbler readers should consider a few more “Thank you for posting this thought-provoking piece” comments. I know those always warm the cockles of my heart on the rare occasions when I get such.

  35. I don’t comment much (sorry), although I’ve been here for most of your posts in the last year.
    The flashy stuff (like the video) is fun, but it’s for the essay stuff that I read your blog.
    — Ulysses

  36. Long intelligent posts require intelligent comments. People are afraid to write intelligent comments. But they DO read long intelligent posts (well, I do.)

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