I’ve been thinking a lot about the performance of Levelcapped.com and of course myself as a long-time blogger. As one would expect, readership is one reason why we blog in public and not simply write in personal journals; we as thinking, social creatures want to share our thoughts with other people, and to have other people share their thoughts with us. Keeping those musings in a discreet, public space, advertising those posts, and having people stop by to read and comment on them is a big part of what we want to get out of blogging.
There’ve been several occasions where I’ve written about how I feel about the amount of traffic I get here, which is not all that much, despite pimping posts on whatever social networks I’m connected to. I see other people who write posts on the exact same topics that I write about but who get more traction, and just scratch my head. What am I doing wrong here, people? Is it my “voice”? My attitude? My grammer? Subject matter? Maybe it’s because people stop by and for all intents and purposes, the blog just looks like people don’t visit, because although my stats say that people are stopping by in small amounts, the part that’s visible to other viewers — the comments — is very spartan.
I asked some folks on Le Plus whether they prefered to comment on blogs or through other venues where posts were advertised, and most people seemed very reluctant to work with a blog’s comment system. I was kind of taken aback by this because blogs pre-date all of our social networks and I’d think that folks would be conditioned to believe that commenting with the post was “the thing to do”.
From a content creator’s standpoint, the best case scenario is the retention and consolidation of a discussion where it’s relevant, and where it’s easy to refer back to the source for both the author who’s expected to participate in the conversation, for day-one viewers, and also for viewers who find the posts days or weeks later. Discussion stems not just from the source, but also from the volume of participation. 10 comments on 10 social networks is nice (aside from the difficulty of trying to keep up as the author of the conversation starter), but 10 comments on one post might snowball to 20 or 30 or more comments when everyone can see everyone else’s posts, and comment on other people’s comments as well.
From a selfish point of view, I want people to read my blog, and I want new visitors to see that the blog has traction in the community. I feel that it matters to visitors, even if they don’t end up commenting because there are times when some posts don’t generate a burning need to comment, but a single comment in conjunction with a post can “prime the pump” so to speak. Commenting shows engagement, and I want my posts to be seen as engaging and the best way to do that is to have the post and the comments in the same place, negating how people arrive at the site.
Everyone who participated in the discussion on discussions seems to have some issue with at least one kind of discussion vehicle, so it’s apparently impossible to please everyone in this age of so many choices and personal preferences. Some folks don’t like commenting on blogs. Some folks on Twitter don’t like commenting on G+. A lot of people wouldn’t comment on a gaming blog that uses their Facebook profile.
Basically, I’m in a bind, caught between several camps who refuse a common method used to put the discussion where it can actually do the most good both for me as a content producer, and for the community engagement among readers, so I’ve had to make a decision that I feel will help the blog while hopefully still allowing people to maintain some of their preferred methods of engagement. I’ll say that it’s definitely not ideal by any stretch, and it still won’t drive people to start commenting on my posts if they weren’t before, but it’s the only thing I can do short of not advertising my posts where people can see them in an effort to force them into the bottleneck of on-site commenting (which would just flat out piss some people off for good).
I could blow the doors off the whole scenario and just load up with every comment system under the sun — Livefyre, Disqus, Facebook, etc — but everyone I talked to seemed to have options they prefer, options they’d consider, and options that would drive them off the grid if they were asked to use them. I’m limiting the options to those that I personally use, the ones that seem to actually generate conversation, and those which seem to get the most traction.
Again, none of this is ideal, but hopefully it’ll help people to participate more, and will show people that this site isn’t entirely a ghost-town.