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New Blawgers: What about Comments?

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As one of a small, but growing, number of Oregon legal bloggers (aka blawgers), I’m asked often to talk about blogging. (I’ve posted some of what I say here and here and here and here.)

It occurred to me that I haven’t blogged for the New Blawger about blog Comments (though I do talk about Comments when I talk to lawyers and librarians about blawging).

So, here goes:

Comments Intro: When preparing your Blog Strategy, it is important to think about how you will handle Comments. You will need to decide this when you set up your blog. (But you are also allowed to change your mind as you grow wiser, or more bitter, whichever the case may be. I recommend a blog-vacation if you start drifting toward the latter.)

Comments 2: Not all bloggers post their Comments, and that will be your own decision to make on your blog (e.g. to post, delete all, some, etc.), but you should know what to expect from Comments. You will get Comments that include abuse, spam, and offers of “a good time” you will definitely want to refuse. You will hear from people who clearly haven’t a clue what they are talking about and who may or may not be well meaning or curious to learn more. You will also get thoughtful, warm, funny Comments that make it all worthwhile. You may want to respond, or not, to any or all of your Comments. It’s your decision!

Comments 3: Reading other bloggers’ Comments is instructive for new bloggers. You might not think that what you wrote is controversial, provocative, or subject to challenge, but every blog post is potentially all of those. In fact, reading Comments is a good way to learn – about the substantive post and about the blogger, not to mention the Commenter. Here are 3 examples of blogs that inspire large numbers of Comments (but most of us will not, thankfully, see these numbers of Comments). You will see why you need to develop a thick skin, practice restraint, and maintain your sense of humor and balance. Blogging should be fun and useful and if you are going to write a blog, take the high road, remember you’re the grownup, and keep an open mind to new ideas and criticism.

1) Schneier on Security (Excellent range of intelligent and funny blog Comments.)

2) Jack Bog’s Blog (Portland, Oregon, law professor, blogger, blawger, citizen activist, etc.)

3) Boing Boing (Most of us will not, and do not, want to have this size and range of readers, but you may as well see what happens when every “wo/man on the street/Internet has an opinion and a keyboard.”)

Comments 4: You can’t judge a blog by the number or even the quality of its Comments. Many blogs have thousands of subscribers and readers, but few if any Comments. An example will serve us better than any attempt I could make to explain to you why this is so: beSpacific. See? What’s to Comment on, other than saying thank you (again and again)? But you can be sure that beSpacific has a huge, massive, worldwide readership – and well deserved too.

Comments 5: Last but not least, you will if lucky get some Comments from bloggers you respect and admire. Savor those Comments. You may not be able to respond to them all, but do respond in kind when new bloggers who arrive on the scene after you, and even to the “old” bloggers when time allows. Yes, most of us blawgers are horribly busy (witness the volume of Sunday and late night/early morning blawg posts), but be sure to spread some of that kindness around once in a while when you can, even if it’s just a thank you or an “LOL” to a blogger’s post. It’s a grand community and, despite appearances, still relatively small. A lot of us know each other – in our own funny blawger way.

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