105 Ways to Give a Book

Comment Challenge 2011: Signing Off

After making sure that I included all the people who signed out in the links or comments, I picked a few winners. But before I announce those, I’ll add a final word about comments. While I was checking in with participants, I found this wonderful post at Jumping the Candlestick about the anxiety of commenting. It’s funny because it’s true:
  1. Read an interesting blog post.
  2. Think to self, “That was an interesting blog post!”
  3. Think to self, “I should comment on that interesting blog post.”
  4. Click on “Comment” button. Wait a microsecond for the comment box to open.
  5. Stare at blank comment box for 5 seconds.
  6. Think to self, “So. Well. What to say.”
  7. Stare at blank comment box for 10 seconds.
  8. Think to self, “Good blog commenters say insightful things. Say something insightful!”
  9. Stare at blank comment box for 30 seconds.
  10. Start typing something that aims for “insightful.” Type two or three sentences. Add a fourth for good measure.
  11. Reread insightful blog comment. Momentarily think, “What an insightful comment!”
  12. Reread insightful blog comment. Realize it’s not insightful. Realize it’s inane.
  13. Backspace to delete two of the four sentences
And it goes on for seventy-six brilliant steps, at the end asking for advice on what to do differently. I added a comment that followed my train of thought in writing it to show my own process. The post also helped me define three issues that serve as commenting barriers for many people, but especially book people.
  1. You’re setting the bar too high. If you need a reality check, read the comments on any YouTube video or Yahoo article. These people don’t spend time concerned with whether their comment is “witty” or “insightful” or “makes sense.” Seriously, you are in the top ten percent of commenters merely by paying minimal attention to basic spelling and verb/noun agreement.

  2. You’re over-thinking your comments. We know this social media stuff, but can make the wrong leaps to how comments help in the process. It’s not like someone will read your witty, insightful comment and give you a book deal. It’s more like being at a book event and you’re talking to this woman about how much you like zombies, and she asks what you do, and you say you write picture books, and she says that she was at this session earlier where the editor was talking about the sad lack of zombie picture books. Score! And all this from your witty, insightful comment “Great necklace! I love zombie jewelry too!”

  3. You’re reading blog posts like articles. This is understandable, because they are articles, but they are also conversations. A comment isn’t crafting a letter to the editor. It’s closer to your response after listening to someone excitedly tell you about this great novel they just read. After they finish talking, would you simply walk away? No, you’d say something like, “I’ll have to find that book, especially because I love zombie romance stories,” and you wouldn’t worry that you weren’t adding enough value to the conversation. Other times you’d have more to say. Who knows? You might even be witty and insightful about it. But it’s not a requirement.
Anyway, I hope these three weeks helped you form a new habit, gave you needed practice, or made you think about commenting in the blogging community. Now, prizes:

From the 100+ Comment Club, the winner is...From the finishers of the Comment Challenge, I selected three winners:
Thanks to all those who participated in Comment Challenge 2011, with extra super-special thanks to Lee for being the Wind beneath my wings.

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teacherninja said...

I think the past couple of Comment Challenges have helped with this need-to-be-insightful thing for me. Now I feel okay just saying, "Great post!" once in a while just to know the blogger I'm there because I appreciate it so much when others comment. Thanks!

Unknown said...

I can't tell you how many times I've started to comment on a blog, and then closed the comment window because I couldn't think of anything interesting to say. It's good to know that it's ok to just say "Great post" or "I agree" or whatever.

Janet Halfmann: http://www.janethalfmannauthor.com said...

Insightful post. Thanks for sharing.

Carmela Martino said...

This is terrific advice. I especially like what you say in #2.

Anamaria (bookstogether) said...

Thanks Pam (and Lee) for organizing the Comment Challenge--I always find great new blogs to read regularly, and really appreciate the folks who comment on mine. I'm going to try to keep it going!

Betsy Parkes said...

That is one of the funniest posts I've read in a long time...because of how true it is. When a post is good and added to your life, you want to return the favor in your comment. So funny! Thanks for the perspective. :)

I've just stumbled across your blog today. Great stuff! I've added you to my favorites.

Betsy Parkes

Abby said...

Aauuuggh - wonderful!
I (sigh) did not play along this time because I was out of town and off the blogging grid when it started and then I was so busy when I got back that I just never got around to catching up. But this is a wonderful thing y'all did for the kidlitosphere, so thank you for hosting it!!! Maybe next year I will get my act together (because I do really love this challenge!).

Lee Wind, M.Ed. said...

Great advice, and

Awwww, shucks. Thanks, MotherReader. It's an honor and a pleasure to build community with you and help all of us who read blogs build strong commenting muscles!

Hurray for the Comment Challenge!\

Namaste and Hugs,

Zoe said...

Poorly, poorly children and a lack of sleep and a washing machine doing overtime meant I've only just been able to check in and say thankyou for hosting the comment challenge. It's been brilliant, if a bit more of a challenge for me than last year (but then that's what it's all about isn't it). Lee's collage is fantastic. Encouragement from both of you has been super. So thanks! Oh, and I managed 131 comments in the end, and discovered several new brilliant blogs. Here's to many more comments and discoveries!

Jessica @vegbooks said...

I agree that comments should be more like snippets of conversations and less like letters to the editor. Thanks too for sharing the winners of your contest -- they're new to me, and I'm now subscribed to a couple of their RSS feeds.

Mary Lee said...

It just about killed me not to take part in the challenge this year, but I'm proud of myself for being realistic. I simply could not add one more thing to my plate and stay sane. In a few months, I'll get back to more regular blog reading and commenting, and I won't give myself too much grief for the one-sided conversation I'm having with the kidlitosphere right now (posting only).

Thanks for keeping the challenge alive. See you next year!