Is Responding to Comments a Waste of Time?

21 Sep

Yesterday I had a staggering piece of information introduced to me via Nina Badzin’s post “Blogging Tips: What I Know Now” (referenced on The Daily Post).  

In her post, Nina states some of the assumptions she had when she first started writing and then writes about how these views have changed in light of her blogging experience.  Here’s the tidbit that had me in a tizzy:

“WHAT I THOUGHT ABOUT RESPONDING TO COMMENTS: Readers will return to my blog to see my response.

What I know now: Most do not. “

I’m distraught by this.  Not because I’m upset at the idea that people don’t care what I reply to them, but because I’m upset that I take time to respond to do it if I shouldn’t.  I mean, I reply to every single one.  Sometimes I even check my spam to make sure that no one got blocked that wanted to take a moment out of their day to say hello.  I’m not very good on the turnaround time, but I get to all of them eventually.    Even on Freshly Pressed posts, my friends, I have stayed up all night long just to answer every single little tidbit that everyone dropped by to share.  Really, I do.  Check out the “Top Posts” tab at the top of this page for verification.  It’s important to me to let folks know that I really appreciate the time that they take to read and to drop a line.  

So the idea that this has all been for naught is rather distressing.  I could have been doing so many other things.  Like sleeping.  Or getting in shape.  Or reading a book that would enlighten me to a wisdom beyond my years.  Instead, I spent it toiling away at my computer, thinking up relevant, perky, sometimes clever, but always grateful little responses to each and every smiling face that clicked my link.  On top of writing a post every day.

Totally depressing.

So hey – I’m curious.  Before I go throwing comment responding out the window (it seems wrong to just read, appreciate silently, and not address it), I’d like to get the real scoop.  Do ya’ll ever check back to see if people respond to your comments?  I’m taking a poll.  And the results of that poll shall determine whether the several posts worth of comments I have in my queue are addressed or are simply read and silently appreciated behind the light of my laptop screen. 

It’s anonymous, so don’t worry.  I won’t be sending a crew to your house to take back the hours of time you’ve wasted me if you happen to be a “no-check-backer”.  We’ll still be friends.  I’ll still love you because I have no way of knowing who you are.  

Just give it to me straight: am I wasting my time? 


58 Responses to “Is Responding to Comments a Waste of Time?”

  1. phrogmom September 21, 2011 at 9:16 am #

    i guess i wish there was a better way of being notified if there was a response to a comment? i try to comment on as many posts as i can. but if you subscribe, then you get every comment to eternity, and that can be pesky. as you know from responding, it can take a long time to re-visit all the comments you left….just to see if someone replied. so, hmmmmm…..i would LOVE to go back and see a conversation that sprung up from a comment i left. but i would need a quicker way to know where those conversations were?


    • Jackie September 21, 2011 at 10:21 pm #

      I agree with all of this. Yes. All of it.

      I’ve recently been enlightened with the possibility of replying to a comment on the blog while simultaneously emailing the comment to the commenter. I’m curious as to whether folks will feel invaded by that or feel I’m doing them a service. Even so, there’s no way to see if other comments grew out of your response without returning to the blog or *ugh* subscribing to comments.

      Thanks for chiming in – always love to see that hilarious gravatar.


  2. wtfhappenedtomyreallife September 21, 2011 at 9:25 am #

    I come back to see if you replied and to read what other commenters have said. I return quite frequently. 🙂 I love your blog.

    Love and light,

    Lucky Star


    • Jackie September 21, 2011 at 10:19 pm #

      Hi Lucky,

      Thanks so much for sharing your perspective on this one – it’s really great to hear back from so many folks and I’m glad to see that people care about the replies!


      • wtfhappenedtomyreallife September 26, 2011 at 8:10 am #

        You are most welcome. I wanted to let you know that I really appreciated the comment you made on my post recently. I do have a new more positive post up. Trying to get back there.

        Love and light!!


        • Jackie September 28, 2011 at 8:45 pm #

          Oh lovely 🙂 And I saw the one about meat pies as well – I have to admit that the idea of meat in a pie is repulsive to me. Perhaps someday I’ll take a stab 😉


      • wtfhappenedtomyreallife September 28, 2011 at 9:45 pm #

        It seemed repulsive to me too until I thought about the fact that pot pies are meat pies too. Dinner turned out SOOO good! It is savory AND sweet. We put about a tsp of soy sauce in it too which gave it a nice kick.


        • Jackie October 2, 2011 at 8:16 pm #

          Pot pies are indeed meat pies… Very true. And I love me some turkey pot pie. Maybe it will be my gateway pie.


  3. lexy3587 September 21, 2011 at 9:52 am #

    i get the comments emailed to me… i get to read through them all in a mostly-makes-sense order 😛 but i do definitely appreciate it when bloggers actually respond to comments, even if it’s just to say “thanks for stopping by” 🙂 And I hope that the people who comment on my blog do read the responses I leave too!


    • Jackie September 21, 2011 at 10:04 pm #

      Awesome – good to know. I’m so glad we all seem to be on the same page here. Perhaps I haven’t been wasting my time at all 😉


  4. egills September 21, 2011 at 9:54 am #

    I come back every time, isn’t the whole thing about a community, you blog, we give our opinions / thoughts / support etc. I don’t expect you to reply to everything I say but it’s all feedback isn’t it?


    • Jackie September 21, 2011 at 10:04 pm #

      You give me warm fuzzies.


      • egills September 23, 2011 at 4:07 am #

        Aw 🙂

        Of course it doesn’t help when they decide to change the whole layout – it took me ages to find the comments button this morning…


        • Jackie September 25, 2011 at 9:47 pm #

          it appears we all struggled


  5. pegoleg September 21, 2011 at 10:42 am #

    I always check comment responses, and I always reply to every comment left for me. I’m with egills – it’s about building community, and often the comments and reply threads are funnier than the original post.

    I don’t subscribe to have comments emailed, because that would really fill out my inbox. phrogmom, have you tried clicking on the “Track My Comments” link under the “Me” box on the left of your WordPress taskbar (when you’re signed in)? It shows posts you’ve left comments on and any further responses.


    • Jackie September 21, 2011 at 10:04 pm #

      Yes, you do respond and holy cow you’re fast.

      How are you so fast? Do you reply at work? Because I’m always tempted to but I’m afraid. You can tell me – it’s safe here.


      • pegoleg September 22, 2011 at 10:19 am #

        Yes, I do reply at work. I can do it because I own the business, so I’m playing hooky from myself. But I wouldn’t recommend it for you.

        If one of my employees was spending as much time goofing off as I am, I’d fire their a** in a heartbeat! 🙂


        • Jackie September 25, 2011 at 9:56 pm #

          I didn’t realize you RAN the place. Jeesh! Look at you, big lady on campus. 😛


  6. sanetes September 21, 2011 at 11:06 am #

    Like Pegoleg I check comment responses.

    So far I have also replied to each comment left on my blog, but I have decided to change that a bit, because I feel some of my replies are a little lame or repetitive. If several comments say the photo turned out nice, well, how am I going to come up with several versions of “thanks”? I feel my time is spent more in my readers’ interest, if I post another nice photo.

    So I think I will switch to replying to most comments and visiting the blogs of the commentators more often to comment on something they posted or simply click the “Like” button.

    I will reply to everyone who comments on my blog for the first time.


    • Jackie September 21, 2011 at 10:01 pm #

      I’m embarrassed to admit that before this discussion, I thought of several ways to say “thanks” just because I didn’t want anyone to feel left out. Lesson learned there. Thanks for weighing in – I appreciate it!


  7. Jessica September 21, 2011 at 11:14 am #

    I agree with phrogmom. I used to subscribe to comments so I could get replies, but that’s become a huge PITA so I’ve stopped. I usually comment infrequently enough (and I want to know if I get a response) so I make the effort to try to check back. The other thing that has worked for me is that because I have a blog on wordpress too, I use the My Comments feature to keep track of replies but it only works for other wordpress users. So it saves me time but anyone with another blog host or their own site, I still have to check back on my own.


    • Jackie September 21, 2011 at 10:00 pm #

      Yeeeessss comment subscription is ridiculous. I want to subscribe to just MY comment – not ALL comments. Why isn’t that an option?

      My Comments gets a little funny. It’s hard to keep track of things and like you said – only works for wordpress users. I want something that works for all my readers, not just the wp crowd. I hope WordPress can make adjustments eventually 🙂


  8. Nina Badzin September 21, 2011 at 11:48 am #

    I don’t think answering comments is waste of time. I answer them via email in a way that shows up on my blog on in the commenter’s inbox because I don’t expect the reader to come back to my blog. I’m keeping the reader in mind. There are so many posts out there to read . . . which is why I rarely visit a post again.

    Also, responding to comments shows new readers to the post that you’re engaged in the conversation. So even if the original commenter doesn’t see it, the new reader will. Does that make sense?

    Really though, responding via email is the answer. It solves the issue immediately. But remember, not all comments need a response. As I said in my post, I’d be annoyed to receive a bunch of emails that said “Thanks for commenting on my post” or something empty like that. Sometimes the conversation is ready to end after the comment.


  9. Nina Badzin September 21, 2011 at 11:49 am #

    So by the way, I won’t see your response unless you learn to do it via email. 😉


    • Jackie September 21, 2011 at 9:58 pm #

      Wellllll doing it via email is a big ol’ pain in the tush so I’m just going to do it this once. I’m not even going to do it properly – I’m going to write it on here and then just straight-up email you. 😛

      Thanks for the post on things you’ve learned – I’m glad The Daily Post featured it – I’m always a fan of post fodder.

      I want there to be a better way to respond to comments. I don’t like the copy/paste option and that seems to be the only solution unless you’re a user and get a plugin. Perhaps WordPress will update it – but until then, I find the ‘Manage Comments’ area the quickest way to go about it.

      Thank you so much for stopping by – I really appreciate you adding your thoughts!


  10. wordsweneversaid September 21, 2011 at 11:55 am #

    I always respond to comments on my blog and I will often (almost always) check back to other blogs I have commented on because sometimes the comments are as good a read as the post itself.

    A blog is you (me – fellow blog holders) communicating with others – right?

    If you didn’t want comments – you would block them or post privately to ensure you are not bothered.

    Maybe it’s too Canadian of me but I feel very rude if someone comments and I don’t at least thank them for bothering – they spent time with me and time is a valuable gift to give.

    Just my take,


    • Jackie September 21, 2011 at 9:55 pm #

      LOL “too Canadian of you” – love that.

      I agree – I think it’s important to show that I read and appreciate people spending their time to let me know what they think. Especially with the postaday gig, it’s so hard to make it through the year without encouragement. So if I don’t let you guys know you’re important to me, why would ya’ll let me know I’m important to you?

      I think we’ve got a good cycle going here – I’m pleased to see that my readers care. 🙂


  11. Emily May September 21, 2011 at 12:00 pm #

    I reply to every comment too, although I do not get many comments! I often come back to read any recent post or to comment on something, and quickly check your response – I always know you’re there! 😉


    • Jackie September 21, 2011 at 9:53 pm #

      Thanks, Em! I need to work on my turnaround time though… I would prefer to respond much faster but some nights I have to choose between a post and responses – and sometimes several nights in a row. Maybe I can talk wordpress into making the whole thing faster and easier so that I can whip through them 🙂


  12. Jules September 21, 2011 at 12:19 pm #

    That other blahger is full of !@#$. I always come back to check if there was a reply. I’m telling you this now and I’ll only say it one time. Less people will show interest what you say when you don’t give them the same courtesy. It will snowball like an avalanche. Next thing you know, you got a dead blahg.


    • Jackie September 21, 2011 at 9:52 pm #

      Oh no dead blahg! Always and forever, a comment-responder I shall be.

      Unless I skyrocket to superstardom. Then I can hire someone to do it for me. 😛


  13. thesinglecell September 21, 2011 at 12:59 pm #

    I comment on a lot of bloggers’ posts, and I always check to see if they’ve replied. And I always reply to my commenters, as well. I don’t find that it’s all that difficult to be thoughtful and respond with something more than “Thanks for reading!” unless I’m not 100% sure the commenter isn’t spam that made it through the filter by accident. I agree with the previous comments about it being a community of writers and fellow humans. It’s important to show support and to show it publicly on one’s page rather than via direct email. I don’t want all that stuff in my email inbox, anyway (which is why I learned not to ask to be notified of follow-up comments via email).


    • Jackie September 21, 2011 at 9:51 pm #

      Haha isn’t that awkward when there’s a questionable comment that you aren’t sure is spam or not? You don’t want to look stupid and reply to a bot, but you don’t want to leave someone out just because they seemed to have a general sweeping comment.

      I hate the “follow up comments via email” as well – I would rather hunt for the original post again and scroll down to hunt.

      But above all, I’d like a better means to address this altogether.


  14. mistressofpoetry September 21, 2011 at 1:52 pm #

    I always return to see if a comment I left got a reply. It’s a bit of a downer when I find that my comment was not responded to. I always try to come up with comments more intelligent than “nice post”, and I always try to respond to any comments left on my blog, although they are few and far between. It just gives the commenter the feeling that they count and didn’t waste their time. And I agree that sometimes the comments and responses are just as amusing if not more amusing than the actual post. So no, it’s definitely not a waste of time. 🙂 Just keep doing what you’re doing. I love your blog and read it every day.


    • Jackie September 21, 2011 at 9:50 pm #

      Exactly! I just don’t want people to think they waste their time. I read every single one and so I want people to know that. And I’m making an investment when I comment on someone else’s, so I guess I just expect that I’ll be acknowledged as well. Most of us seem to be on the same page here.

      You’re a daily reader, eh? Thank you so very, very much.

      And I agree – sometimes my commenters are the best part of a post.


  15. Neil C. Reinhardt September 21, 2011 at 1:56 pm #

    Hello Jackie,

    While most times I subscribe to the comments to assure I do read and perhaps respond, it really depends on if I give a damn what the blogger may, or may not reply with.

    As I find you worth my time, I read your comments.



    • Jackie September 21, 2011 at 9:48 pm #

      Well thanks, Neil! I appreciate you considering me to be worth your time 😉 And for you weighing in on the convo today – I’m pleased to see that it makes a difference to most of my (at least vocal) readers.


  16. Samantha September 21, 2011 at 2:11 pm #

    I definitely will come back to a blog to see if my comment got a response, but it doesn’t mean that I necessarily will comment in reply again, unless it actually started a discussion. I also reply to most if not all of my comments on my blog, especially since there aren’t many 😛 I usually just check back on the “My Comments” tab even though it’s sometimes a bit wonky and doesn’t actually show the correct order, then I will go back to the original blog to see what my response was. That is what the whole community is about though, is discussing and communicating with each other. 🙂

    I love your blog. It makes my day happier. 😀


    • Jackie September 21, 2011 at 9:47 pm #

      I do My Comments as well. Again – wish there were a better method. It would be incredibly helpful to have some kind of indication of what comments have been responded to and which haven’t. Sometimes I have to go through my posts and cross reference which one I’m on so that I don’t respond twice to the same comment. It gets a little wonky, as you called it. (Love that word, thanks for using it).

      Thanks for reading – I’m flattered 🙂


  17. misswhiplash September 21, 2011 at 2:57 pm #

    I nearly always answer comments but not every time. I know that I never return to see if there is a further comment and I don’t expect others to come back to mine.

    BUT if I do want to say something or they have asked a question, or queried something then I will send it via e mail. That way I also get a reply if a reply is needed and I also know that they have received their answer.

    There are so many to comment on that you can spend a whole day or more on just searching for answers


    • Jackie September 21, 2011 at 9:46 pm #

      I like the email follow-up – much more personal. I do worry sometimes though that folks will worry that I abuse their email address and so I’m wary to email anyone directly unless I’ve somehow announced that I will (raffles, etc).


  18. Lian September 21, 2011 at 3:00 pm #

    Took the poll. I subscribe to the comments. That way I can see what others comment as well and I don’t have to remember to check back (yes I would forget otherwise). If I think I need to reply again (sometimes someone asks a question in their reply) I go back to the blog post and reply! I definately like it when people take time to respond to comments though!


    • Jackie September 21, 2011 at 9:45 pm #

      I wish the subscribe to comments was a little more user-friendly. WordPress is always making improvements – I sure hope they improve comment replies sometime soon. Thanks for sharing your opinion – it’s so great so see so many responses today.


  19. pickle September 21, 2011 at 3:46 pm #

    Jackie!!! I check back every time I comment on your blog…every single time!!! Because you respond to my comments is why I love to read your blog. When you read blogs, you can forget that a real person in a real place is really blogging their real thoughts and feeling. I love having conversations with you via comments because it makes your blog more real to me!


    • Jackie September 21, 2011 at 9:44 pm #

      Very good to know – Thanks for coming back to see the reply. I think this is indicative of a need on the WordPress server for the ability to easily respond to both the comment on the blog and the commenter via email. It appears the only way right now is to sift through comments via email and post someone’s email in the To: line… but when you’re responding to 100+ comments a week, no one wants to do that.


  20. Oanh September 21, 2011 at 6:49 pm #

    Hi Jackie

    This is my first comment. I’ve been reading ever since a freshly pressed popped up when I logged onto facebook, and I’ve read back through your archives, too. I just haven’t felt it relevant to comment before but this seems appropriate.

    I *always* check for comment replies, even when I comment on very popular blogs (which is rare unless I feel I have something worth saying). And it’s really easy to do if the other blog is a wordpress blog. And I tend to get a bit annoyed by the popular blogs who don’t respond to comments, especially where the commenter has asked a question. I tend to also cease reading bloggers who don’t respond to their commenters, especially where they are clearly also trying to increase their traffic. I am forgiving of crazy popular blogs and not replying where the comment is something along the lines of a “wow, that post was awesome” comment. And I’m forgiving of non-replies from bloggers whom I comment on regularly and we’ve developed a relationship through our blogs. I know they’re not ignoring me. I, as a blogger, try my hardest to reply to all my commenters, too. (though not always in a timely fashion …)

    So, all that’s really to say – don’t stop replying. I think that other blogger is wrong.

    Really enjoying your work.


    • Oanh September 21, 2011 at 6:50 pm #

      ug, I meant when I logged onto wordpress.


    • Jackie September 21, 2011 at 9:41 pm #

      Oanh, it’s so nice to have a name/gravatar to associate with the hits 🙂 Thanks so much for saying hello and for weighing in on this. I really appreciate it.

      One takeaway I have so far is that there are certainly comments I can just leave be. I don’t need to reply to “nice post!” or “I agree!” – but I felt obligated to before.


  21. kaliesthoughts September 22, 2011 at 12:26 am #

    I definately care about replies I read ever reply I get back 🙂


    • Jackie September 25, 2011 at 10:01 pm #

      Well then when you read this, know that I totally appreciate you stopping by to let me know that! Also, love the post on negative/positive outlooks 🙂 What a great thing to do.


  22. Faith Othello September 22, 2011 at 2:58 am #

    Even if I don’t comment I like to skim through the comments underneath the post. Usually the conversation, comments and replies to comments adds more goodness to the post 🙂 So definitely continue replying because I love reading the comments and your replies when I finish with a post.


    • Jackie September 25, 2011 at 9:59 pm #

      Oh I agree – especially my commenters because ya’ll are fantastic.


  23. Michelle September 22, 2011 at 3:09 am #

    I always check back to see if my comment has got a reply, and often read all the comments on a post. If I leave a comment on a blog and the blogger doesn’t reply, I kinda feel like I’m intruding. It’s silly, I know, but it’s a bit like waving and saying, “hi” to someone in the street and they just ignore you. Kind of.


    • Jackie September 25, 2011 at 9:59 pm #

      not silly at all – I love the simile and I agree!


  24. Ro September 22, 2011 at 6:02 pm #

    Our friendship, both virtual and real life, would seriously suffer if you were to choose to ignore my quips. Because I am freakin’ hilarious. 😉


    • Jackie September 25, 2011 at 9:50 pm #

      I don’t think we have a real life friendship anymore. Given that I haven’t actually had a real live interaction with you in yeeeears. 😛


  25. Flossie September 23, 2011 at 2:54 am #

    I always respond to comments on my blog and I do go back and check if someone has responded to mine on their blog. If needs be, I’ll respond to their response too!

    I come from another blogging site where it is positively RUDE not to interact so I have been brought up to do so, as it were, lol. I find it slightly less user-friendly here so it can take a bit more time but since I don’t have that many comments nor do I read that many blogs where I leave comments yet, it’s manageable.


    • Jackie September 25, 2011 at 9:48 pm #

      ah – positively RUDE! Well that settles it 🙂


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