Dork Tower speaks the truth.

Today’s Dork Tower comic offers some great advice to bloggers on the subject of comments.

It seems I am asked by newer bloggers for advice on how to attract comments to their entries more than any other question. The truth is I haven’t figured it out myself and I’ve been at this for a couple of years now. I never cease to be amazed by my complete inability to predict which entries I put up will attract lots of comments. Something I spent four hours working on about a topic I’m sure is going to draw just tons of comments will be lucky to get a single comment in the first few days since I posted it, but some crappy little four-line entry about jock itch that I tossed up because I couldn’t come up with anything more compelling to talk about will generate a flood of comments as though I had pontificated on the ultimate meaning of life. I’d like to think that this means my weightier entries are so well-reasoned that most folks can’t come up with a worthy counter-argument, but I have a sneaking suspicion the reality is that my picture in the upper left makes some folks think that if they disagree with me I’ll hunt them down, kill them with my bare hands, and then eat them for my dinner.

And that’s another thing that just floors me: The perception so many people have that I’m a big, tough, bad-ass type. Anne laughs her ass off every time I tell her about another email where someone said I was all scary and intimidating in my picture. I look at it and I think I look kinda happy and jovial, but if I had a dime for every email that asks me what I was so pissed off about when that picture was taken, well, I’d have a lot more dimes by now. Now my pic on the SEB Reviews blog is one where I was trying to look kinda scary and I think the glare I’m sporting in that picture could justify a few you-so-scary comments, but the one here on SEB? Com’on! That’s a ‘Who’s your buddy?” pose if I ever saw one!

18 thoughts on “Dork Tower speaks the truth.

  1. Religion is always a big one for comments. I mean, just look at your top 7 most commented threads:

    -Kent Hovind shows us why Creationists are considered “quacks.”
    -Definition of “marriage” has always been in flux.
    -Virgin Mary image appears on a fence post. Religious-types freak out.
    -Conservative Christians shut down Normal Bob Smith’s website.
    -Oh, by the way… (formerly word on the new Matrix trailer)
    -The Constitution of the United States of America – NOW with God’s law!
    -Atheist dressed as devil brings out the worst in “Passion” viewers.

    I also find that if you want to generate comments, feminism is a good topic to touch. (Though it might scream sexual harrassment.)

    Anyway, Les, whether you get comments or not, you’ll always be a…

    captcha: hit.

  2. I think you got that cool “Biker” look you going on. Maybe that intimidates some people, but I just know from personal experience that most of these guys are teddy bears deep down.

    (Me? I took down my latest pictures as I heard people were printing them out and putting them on refrigerators to keep roaches away!)

    As far as comments, I learned this from MetaFilter: End your post with a question if you want comments.  People feel compelled to answer.  And with popularity in general, people don’t want to read about a blogger, people want to read about a blogger talking about OTHER bloggers.

  3. Like you, I’ve no idea what will generate comments (or, beyond that, what sort of strange tangent comments will take after the original post).

    As a generalization, controversial subjects *or* trivial Andy Rooneyesque (“Don’tcha just hate it when …”) seem to be most likely to engender comments, but even that generalization is a weak one.

    As two other generalizations, I’d say the best way to get comments is to get folks who are the commenting sort—which means being an attractive place for readers (regular posts being a key to that).  And getting commenters usually means making a welcoming atmosphere for comments—don’t flame respondents you disagree with, be sure and respond (where appropriate) to what people say, etc.

    Beyond that, it’s a crap shoot. And if you’re blogging just to generate comments (or hits, or whatever), then bear in mind that you’ve entered the realm of show business, which means you’d better have a thick skin, a passion to succeed, and a lot of luck.

  4. Les, sometimes when you write a carefully thought-out essay, it just happens that you’ve said it all and there’s nothing else to add!  Whereas EVERYBODY has something to add to a jock itch discussion.  (Well, almost everybody.  I myself have nothing to contribute.)

    And I’ve always thought you had a buddy-like thing going on in the SEB photo, with a little bad-ass lingering in the background.


  5. I’ll hunt them down, kill them with my bare hands, and then eat them for my dinner.” Now I’m betting that would generate comments *grin*

  6. Oh he has the belly (sorry bro couldn’t resist), but I see the Santa Claus thing too. Some people have told me he looks scary too.
    I write what I like and then if somebody appreciates it, then that’s even better.  Fart conversations draw big crowds too.

  7. I’ve noticed that commenting on other peoples blogs usually generates traffic.  I’ve been watching this barely week old blog and she has been doing a sort of geurilla marketting campaign for it by leaving comments on new blogs every day.

  8. No, the scary pic (and the one I wish you’d bring back) is the one with you, sans beard, in santa hat.

  9. Les,

    I have to agree with GeekMom.  I think when you post a carefully thought out analysis of some issue, I just generally read it and think, “well, I couldn’t have said it better”.  I think the posts you consider trivial get more response because you do leave some more openings for people to comment.  Also I don’t think you look particularly scary, perhaps if you were scowling, but otherwise you appear to be a good person to randomly walk up to and ask for directions.

  10. Both scatology and religion seem to draw big comments. Perhaps you could combine the two?

    There’s a difference?

    As to what draws comments or not, I have no idea. My blog gets lots of page views but not so many comments. The stories that have received a number of them have to do wiht personal experiences that were somewhat … er … contraversial and pissed people off.

    Maybe I should post more vague instead of well thought out posts… wait… mine are not well thought out wink


  11. Most of the readers of my blog are personal friends who send me emails in response.  “Hey, why not post your comment as a response?” I ask.  “Well, I don’t know who might read it.” is one popular answer. hmmm  Another is, “I don’t know how to do it – I’m just not a computer person.” LOL

    But I know there are savvy readers because occasionally a kind soul will alert me to a broken link.  I guess my actual content must be non-controversial.  Or I need to make the “Leave Comment” link bigger.

    Generally your posts are so well thought out I’m more likely to respond to one of the comments.  SEB is frequented by an amazing mix of interesting people.  If you could figure out how to serve coffee, you might get rich.

  12. Scary looking-yes, mean and ornery-no, have a belly-yes but not a big one, well informed and able to pass on information or instruct people-yes.  Man I don’t know where he gets it from but I’m proud as hell of him.

  13. Oh, and as for the picture: you’ve got some bags under your eyes that could be “I’m smiling and happy!”, but could also be “I just got off a 24-hour run of crack cocaine where I wiped out the population of a small town in New Jersey, and I’m tired”.

    You know. Just sayin’.

    (Any of my pictures make me look like a, well, skinny teenage fangirl, so…)

  14. I think it’s true about the questions. My most commented post ever was when I ranted about those really annoying ‘learn more about your friends’ questionnaires people keep forwarding to me and then devised my own. I honestly though no-one would take me up on it, but a whole bunch of people did. Very enlightening.

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