You Can’t Please Them All

You Can’t Please Them All


I’ve been thinking a lot about the performance of 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).

  1. I added a Twitter widget to the sidebar. Of course, this will only show my Tweets and re-Tweets, so it’ll be up to me to surface any conversations so they can appear here.
  2. I’ve added a G+ comment plugin so that G+ comments show up on each post. I get most (read: pretty much all) of what comments I do get via Plus, so echoing them on the blog shows that yes, Virginia, there is engagment somewhere. So even if people don’t want to use that vehicle, they can see what other people are saying.
  3. Since I know people can be violently opposed to G+, I’ve left the original blog commenting system turned on as well, although format wise it’s kicked down below the G+ widget. I can’t do anything about that/don’t have the time/the WordPress chops to make it look any better, but on the off chance someone decides that he or she wants to leave a comment but doesn’t want to converse via Twitter or G+, the sold standby is ready and available.

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.

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4 Responses to “You Can’t Please Them All”

  1. Chordian says:

    I know the feeling, here’s me back in 2011 after four months writing my first blog:

    I had a blog for about half a year and probably expected way too much, even though I barely knew one other blogger that also only knew me. After about half a year we both just gave up and killed our blogs.

    “Build it and they will come?” No, not necessarily on the internet.

    I revived the blog again in 2015 with a new theme (even imported the old stuff from 2011) and told myself that this time, I would mostly write impressions/reviews about PC games for myself and not care too much about visitors, but somehow the nature of having a public blog makes that almost impossible to ignore. I even wrote some blog posts later that clearly caters for an audience.

    I did find this helpful post on Reddit with a lot of tips about how to spread the word:

    The tips seems to be about a monetizing blog and thus some of it is not of interest to me, but even so I still use Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, Pingler and sometimes Facebook. Pinterest actually seems to have given some hits from time to time. I’m not sure how much Pingler actually helps. But maybe you can use some of the tips too?

    • Scopique says:

      Thanks for the link!

      I’m OK with the “slow burn” of blogging; I’ve actually been doing this since…geeze, I dunno…back in the days before we had push-button blogs when I had to write my own from scratch. Late 90’s at least. If that’s not the definition of a “slow burn”, I don’t know what is! XD

      I suppose what I’m lacking is the effort in branding. There’s been at least two ice ages here at where I had stupidly decided to stop blogging. I feel that those periods hurt my standing in the community. I used to get some pretty good, consistent traffic, but maybe people now consider me to be unreliable, or maybe my tone has changed (I know it has). I’ve been trying to keep a concerted presence across most of the things I do, whether it’s branding on Twitch, YouTube, Twitter…

      …but then again, I don’t want to come off as someone who hands out business cards at conventions. I do this for fun, and also to commune with other like minded folks, and I’d like to provide something that people WANT to read and WANT to comment on and WANT to return to, and not SEO or use marketing tricks to get people in by promising some kind of dog and pony show.

  2. Stargrace says:

    The folks who write the same ‘types’ of posts as you and receive more comments – what’s their overall blog like? Does it draw in more comments (overall) because their usual fare is controversial? Sparks up differing opinions and it just so happens that they have a post or two that follows the same ideas as your post? Or does their entire blog follow the same type of posts as yours and still gets more comments? I think it’s important to look at a bigger picture. Also, a lot of blogs that get comments (that I see) are those who interact on a different level aside from the blog, mostly twitter (which I find difficult to interact with).

    Just my 2c (which is basically worth nothing with the Canadian dollar where it is).

    • Scopique says:

      Haha! Yes, it seems that those other blogs are the ones that are generalist like I am, and yes, it does seem that they have a “built in network” of community members who follow them and therefor probably read and commune with them through different media.

      I’m also in the same boat, then, since I’m OK at interacting on Twitter, but there’s a lot of people who talk about games I’m not involved in, so I don’t have much to add. That leaves me to attach to those who ARE talking about the games I’m involved in (a very small percent), and those with whom I usually can talk or joke around with.

      Maybe I expect too much, then. I see many people gushing about acting like a community, and I wonder what that means. Does it mean circling the wagons around those in their circles with incresed support? Does it mean expanding their circles in all ways? I am the first to admit (as I have, in writing!) that I’ve been slacking in my community duties, and have vowed to work on that, to be more supportive where I can, and to expand my circles to include more people and to get involved in other ways when I can.

      All of this sounds horribly self-centered, I realize. In the end, I’m just trying to find a way to fit in better with people who seem to be fitting in better. My tactics are to analyze the situation, when maybe I really should just say “screw it!” and not worry about numbers and appearances and just be everywhere I can.

What do you think?