Just two years ago, I was able to make a list of all the BC educators who were blogging. Since then, the numbers have grown exponentially with numbers well into the hundreds of teachers, administrators and others who blog on a semi-regular basis. It is wonderful to see how many people are sharing their thoughts publicly and modeling for our students the ethical and responsible use of technology, whether it is to build relationships or on how to share their thoughts.
While I have continued to attract more readers to my blog over the year, one trend I have seen is the number of comments on the posts are decreasing. In past years, posts like this one on school sports and this one on learning in depth generated dozens of comments. Now, I only receive one or two comments on a post.
This, of course, has made me wonder why?
Here are some of my theories:
My posts aren’t as interesting — Admittedly, I don’t write for the purpose of getting feedback. I write about topics for a variety of reasons — mostly, I really enjoy the process of trying to work an idea out and put my thinking down and share it. It is very possible that my posts aren’t as interesting or as engagement-worthy as they once were. It is easy to default to writing safe posts. Having had some of my words taken out of context and republished elsewhere, I am more conscious now of what I say and how I say it, and it may be limiting the quality of what I write.
My position limits discussion — It is a real challenge to write about education from inside the system and then invite discussion. While I know my posts are well-read inside the school district, almost all of the comments come from outside the school district. I also get it is a no-win situation to comment on a blog written by the Superintendent whether they might be challenging my ideas or supporting them.
The novelty has worn off — Blogging was new and fresh three years ago, but this novelty may have worn off by now. We are an ever-changing social media society. Perhaps I need to crank up my Instagram presence to increase engagement?
I am not doing my part to participate — My commitment when I started blogging was that for every post I wrote I would comment on three others. I think it is part of “the deal” about being a member of the community. Over the last several months I have not lived up to this. I do feel bad about this. I read so many interesting posts, so many that help shape my thinking, but I don’t often take the time to write a quick response.
Twitter love is the new blog comment — We seem to be shortening our thinking to 140 characters. Perhaps a quick comment on a RT (Retweet) is all that can be expected now.
So much to read, so little time to write — With the huge growth in the number of people blogging about education, it is exhausting trying to keep up.
Some People Aren’t Nice — It only takes one time to be personally attacked for a comment on a blog, and that person may never come back. While education is a pretty safe landscape, there are some who move quickly from challenging ideas to insulting people. Perhaps this is the reason why I see so many comments on my blogs I share on Facebook — it is a “safer” community with the authentication of IDs.
We Aren’t Good at Commenting — Commenting is difficult to do. It is something that takes a lot of time when working with students and blogging. When we (students or adults) comment we want to be respectful, make a point that contributes to a conversation and say something to continue the conversation.
I do see the trend across many education blogs of fewer comments. The danger is that without dialogue our blogs become newsletters. And, it is the conversations around our blogs which keep them and the ideas alive. It is great if these conversations happen around the water cooler, or the dinner table, but one of the real attractions to blogging for me is to have thoughtful discussions about interesting topics in the public realm.
I will try to do my part to re-engage with other blogs and be a more regular commenter. The move to transparency with digital writing is something we should continue to support.
Any other theories why the commenting in the educational blog world seems to be drying up?