Friday, April 27, 2012

My Nerves and Your Comments

I just lost this entire, completed post when my computer spazzed out and shut itself off and I realized that this new Blogger 'upgrade' doesn't seem to auto-save posts...  so. not. okay. with. that. Re-wrote the whole thing while I imagined punching the designer of the new Blogger dashboard in the nose.
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Today I wanted to share something a little personal with you and then also get your feedback on an important aspect of my blog...

First off, I'm preparing for a performance on Sunday evening -- I'm singing a solo in Vivaldi's Gloria in northern Utah, and I'm feeling a bit nervous. I love singing, but fell into it fairly recently; I never studied it in school and so I don't have a lot of vocal performance experience. My pre-performance anxiety levels have moved from debilitating to a more normal level, but I still can't get away from that little voice inside my head; we all have one.  I know I'm no professional, I just want to perform to the best of my abilities, so I'm just having to work on putting a muzzle on my little voice. Any positive thoughts you could send my way would be appreciated!

 
 (via ChoralNet - I just thought it was funny!)

I think it's funny that I have zero anxiety about speaking in public (except for the normal adrenaline) but I get so nervous about singing. I spent so long secretly wanting to sing, but afraid to share that part of myself with others in case it would lead to a Simon Cowell-tender-little-spirit-crushing moment. It can be pretty scary to put ourselves out there in front of others, right?

The other thing I wanted to write about today is about the overall direction to take one aspect of my blog: replying to comments.

I'd love your thoughts so that I can make the best decision. One of my favorite parts of blogging is the connections I make with other bloggers and readers, and engaging with people through comments and emails. As I've read more blogs my opinion of the best way to accomplish this has evolved a bit, and I feel like I need to stop wavering and set a policy (for lack of a better term) for Take the Side Street.

My question is, should I reply through emails or through the comments section under each post? 

I've primarily been an email replier but I've grown less satisfied with it over time. First, you have that entire subset of commenters whose email addresses aren't linked to their accounts and so can't receive a reply. Second, I believe a blog author should be very present in their comments and email replies can make a blog author seem absent and aloof when you scan the comments and she's nowhere to be seen; I like blogs where the comments can be read like a conversation and people can engage with each other and the author can engage with his or her readers. Last, if someone asks a question on a post and others might be interested in the answer, if you email the replier, no one else benefits! I just don't have the time to email and comment on the post for all the questions... even as relatively small as this blog is, I know I couldn't possibly commit to something like that.

My only concern is this: do people come back and look for replies or answers to their questions? I don't want people thinking they're being ignored if they don't receive an email response.

How do you feel about it? If I did switch to replying primarily through the comments section, I would of course send replies via email for personal questions or comments that needed some extra attention and follow-up. But for day to day, regular commenters... could the comment sections be a conversation?

That is, after all, what this blog is about. Chatting with each other, ignoring stuffy grammatical rules about overuse of italics and hyphens (I'm speaking for myself here). Sitting with our pretend nonfat cinnamon dolce lattes and a maple bar or two (imaginary = no calories, so scratch that. A maple bar or six, y'all) and connecting. 

(Image from AllPosters.com)

P.S. The designer of blogger's new non-auto-saving dashboard is not invited to our maple bar party.

27 comments:

  1. I love this question and I would also love to know the answer. I personally tend to reply via email (when they have an email address to reply to) but then I feel I am falling short by not having it visible on the actual post. But I rarely get a chance to go back to a set of comments on someone elses blog to follow the string and conversations. So I don't know. But I will check back here to find out how others feel about it.

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    1. Thanks for your thoughts! I agree, I'm bad about checking back but I wonder if I actually posed a question if I would?

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  2. I don't think I've ever gone back to a blog to see if something I asked was answered. If I really want something answered, there's sometimes a box to check that emails you if someone replies...or I just hit the author via twitter/facebook/direct email.

    I don't think I've ever expected someone to respond to every comment, but if I've reached out through multiple avenues & still no response, I'd probably move on.

    And I'm sure you'll sing fabulously!

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    1. Ooh, thanks for the reminder - I always forget to check the subscribe by email box (there's even one here, I just discovered). :)

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  3. Anna!
    First, good luck on Sunday!
    Secondly, I am so glad you posted about this and cannot wait to see what other people say because this question practically keeps me up at night! I was just asking another blogger about this yesterday! I usually go email when I've got an email to respond to (for fear that they won't go back to the post to read, Plus it's how I've made some great relationships through blogging), but then I always wonder if other people see the comments on the actual post and think I ignored them! Definitely excited to see what you learn here and put this question to rest! Thanks for putting it out there!

    xoxo,
    mk & Gwynnie

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    1. Thanks! I'm glad I'm not the only one spending time thinking about this :)

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  4. Good luck Honey. I had to preform a solo in front of the whole world (okay it just felt like it) in 4th grade. My advice? Just sing. It will be fine.

    And leave your clothes on.

    As for the comments, the feed is definitely easier. If someone is interested in a responce they will come back and look. Sometimes I do come back, sometimes no, but all and all I like the dialog that follows.

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    1. I will do my very best to stay dressed!!

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    2. Unless the singing performance goes horribly wrong. Then by all means, get naked and have some fun. :)

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  5. Good question - I've often wondered the same thing. I'm usually an e-mailer but I also try to comment on the blog too. I know for myself as a reader I rarely if ever go back to see if the blogger responded to my comment on their blog.

    Good luck with the solo- you'll do great I'm sure! We're always our worst critic.

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  6. Congratulations on the singing accomplishment. I can't carry a tune in a bucket, but singing should be like acting, putting yourself out there. I'm so impressed. Good luck on Sunday.

    Regarding the comments. I never go back to an original post to look for an answer. I always answer questions or give thanks, via email. I don't feel responsible for the dunder-heads who are no-reply bloggers. I mean, how hard is it? I make my life easier by having accounts at all the blogging platforms, so it's easy to comment and easy to get a reply.

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  7. I've seen blogs that, when the blogger replies in the comment section, an email is sent to the commenter automatically. This may be the best of all worlds - you only need to respond once, other readers can see your reply, but the original commenter doesn't necessarily have to go back to the comment to see your reply, its in an email! Now while I know this is possible, I don't know how to do it :) I'll do some searching!

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    1. Katie, do you know if that's the "subscribe by email" link that's down by the publish button when you comment, or is it different code? I'd love to learn more -- I agree, it seems like the best of both worlds.

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  8. PS. Good luck with the singing event! You'll do great!

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  9. I almost posted this very question to my readers this week! So funny. I used to reply in the Comments section, then moved to email. But it just KILLS me that not everyone has their email tied to their Blogger account! I always feel bad when I can't get back to someone to acknowledge their comment or answer their question. I've been looking into different commenting plug-ins to see if there's one that would work better.

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  10. I would reply right on the comments because then others can see what you had to say. sometimes I also want to know the answer to someone else question.

    Also I just wrote a blog post yesterday with the new interface and it crashed but was auto-saved in my post section fine. I would contact blogger about it.

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  11. Definitely reply to the comment. I am much more apt to comment when a blogger replies to comments. It is visible and makes me feel like I am part of the blog rather than just another comment.

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  12. I love the dialogue that goes on in comments - and often, get questions answered or info there that I otherwise wouldn't have! Of course I love comments on my blog, but I double love it when there's questions or conversation!

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  13. I had the same problem with blogger not saving an incredibly LONG post I was almost done with. I'm taking a break because I'm frustrated! Oh well! Good luck!

    And I also love the conversations in the comments sections. I often don't want to ask a question that I see someone else has already asked, so I hope the blogger answers via comment.

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  14. I'm having someone help me install the reply in the comments so that I can reply after the comment and it goes to their email.

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  15. hi Anna, yes visitors do come back to your blog to check for answers to their comments but what might also help is that as far as you can at the beginning, when you visit theirs just mention that you had left an answer to their question on your blog. i do this with new visitors who may not be used to my system and doing it once is normally enough although i use it as an opportunity to blog visit and leave comments on theirs.

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  16. Anna, as Katie Newcomb mentioned, there is a way to reply in the comments section and have an automatic email reply generated at the same time. It KILLED me that I was responding in the comments section and people weren't necessarily checking back to see my replies. So I asked to hubster (aka computer genius) to find a way to fix it so they would get an email response at the same time. If you need the code to do this, let me know and I'll have hubs cough it up for you.

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  17. Susan, do you have a WP blog though? I know WP has plug-ins to accomplish that but I don't know of a way to make it work in blogger. I WISH there was a way though!

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  18. I'll admit, I'm one of those creepy blog stalkers and will check back to see if someone has replied or commented on my comments. If not, no biggie, if so, then I do a little happy dance.

    Even though my blog is very very tiny (miniscule really) I make it a point to check multiple times a day and reply to a comment as soon as possible. I might only get one or two comments (a month, and from my best friend who feels bad for me so they post a comment to make my day - and it does) but I think it's great to post replies right there in the comments section, because yes, if it's a question that is being answered, it does benefit other folks. Also, even if it's not a question, it might start an interesting conversation about something else. You never know.
    Mmmmmm maple bars. That sounds delicious.

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  19. Forget the comments--I am fixated on those doughnuts!

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I ♥ comments. Me + you = BFFs 4VR.

(P.S. URAQT)

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