The first phase of e-mail management is complete. Last week's count was 267, and at the time of this record I'd culled it down to 12. The New e-mail folder should be at around this number at some point each day and rarely be over 100 before emails get deleted or dispersed into folders. Currently I have 36 folders. These will eventually be consolidated with others or deleted as I sort through content. Now as long as I tend to the daily incoming e-mail in a timely manner, I should no longer have the confusing mess of new e-mail to wade through.
More About Commenting
Last Monday I discussed the concept of quality commenting, that is leaving a comment that has content that relates to the blog post. Today I want to take it a step further and look at commenting as a form of conversation, discussion, and relationship building.
Fortunately, Alex J. Cavanaugh's recent post, Blogging Idiosyncrasies Part Two, begins a recent discussion on this topic. If you haven't read this post yet, and the comments, I encourage you to do so as I am adding my views to that portion of that discussion that relates to commenting. And there was a lot of input from Alex's readers as to how they felt about the subject of comment.
The Blog Conversation
My take on commenting is that it allows a blog reader to interact with the writer and the other readers. A truly inspiring and interesting comment section has comments of substance and questions when more information is desired; heartfelt replies that either reaffirm the commenter or address the commenter's questions or concerns; acknowledgment from the commenter that the response was received if that response entailed further action like an answer or clarification; and in some instances, input from other commenters. In other words, an exciting comment section that exudes vitality and community would be like an on-line discussion forum.
Impractical and idealistic? Of course! Last week we already noted that most of us don't have the time for many quality comments, let alone an ongoing discussion. However, there are some cases when it does happen and it is quite exciting. I've seen it on my own Thursday Debate Day topics where an actual ongoing debate occurs among some participants of the comment section. I find it to be educational and stimulating.
A couple of other sites where I have seen this are Stephen T. McCarthy's FFFF Blog and LC's Back in the USSR. They often deal with controversial and debate-worthy topics that create a dialogue. I have seen many other similar sites in the blogosphere, but it's that time factor that gets in the way of following many of these. Too many fun blogs and not enough play time.
Tracking Comments and Replies
But if we are talking just simple dialogue, I do think this can be accomplished even if you are hitting a multitude of blogs each day. First of all, when you leave a comment, you have the option to "subscribe" to that post so that you will receive an email notification if the owner replies or each time someone else leaves a comment. It's kind of a nice feeling when you get that note from the blog owner that they got your comment. I usually race through any other comments, but on rare occasions another commenter responds to what I have said and it's nice to know that too, whether it be positive or negative. It's all a relationship building experience. I have discovered many wonderful blogs through the comments. Yes, the emails can really pile up, but I can quickly delete them as well.
As a blog owner, I just have faith that the commenters have subscribed to the post because I almost always reply to comments in my comment section. I mostly reply in blocks because it just seems more efficient. Some bloggers like Just Jemi reply one on one, which is a much more personal approach I think. Plus it doubles her comments (although even without her replies she's getting more comments than I usually get) and it sure makes her comment section look impressive. Jemi's connecting with her readers surely endears her to we who comment on her blog.
Replying By E-mail
Some blog owners reply directly by email, which is a nice personal contact, or better yet, reply in the comment section and with a personal email. I do direct emails in very special instances where my reply is more personal, but I still prefer to share my reply with all readers.
Offsite Blog Comments
Other bloggers may go to the commenter's site to leave a reply. I don't like to use this because I feel like it's stepping out of the discussion realm to reply in a different discussion realm where the reply lacks context for most of the readers. Most readers probably will not follow the interblog exchange and a part of the conversation is lost.
What's Your Opinion?
Do you want a blog conversation? Do you like a blog conversation? Do you "subscribe" to a blog where you have left a comment so you will be emailed if you get a reply? Do you read many of the other comments? Do you reply to the comments that you receive on your blog? Do you prefer receiving a one on one personal reply? Do you reply individually or in a block of personally designated replies? Is there an advantage to replying by e-mail or on the commenter's site?
This past Saturday I mentioned that I was going to be taking a tour given by the Los Angeles Metropolitan Transportation Authority. The tour was interesting and will be the inspiration of next week's blog topics on Tossing It Out. I will look forward to hearing from some of you on the subject of public transportation.