31 day comment challenge reflections

How are our online conversations part of our own learning?

I’ve been loosely participating in the 31 Day Comment Challenge, (which is an effort to focus on improving blog comments through various activities.)  

It’s been a little bit of a learning curve for me to figure out how to use coComment, which is the tool we are using, but by joining the 31 day challenge group, and then backtracking to blog post’s other participants have been commenting on, I’ve discovered a number of bloggers I had never read before and have been gradually widening my reading circle. 

And some of the activities, like yesterday’s Five on Five,  intrigue me in terms of doing them with students.   (The challenge is to respond to five blog posts in five minutes).  I think this activity would help break through the ice for those teachers or students “shy” about responding to blog posts, somewhat like a writing “fluency” activity that English teachers use.  (Though reasonably, maybe it should be Five in Ten, to be feasible!)  And of course, the point of commenting isn’t generally to comment just to comment, but sometimes it does take some steps to get students or teachers over that hurdle to try making a comment.

A teacher at our campus, Bill Martin, pondered this idea of helping students with commenting during a recent workshop we did.   He wondered how to help students move from commenting that was somewhat “parallel” where they engaged with the blog post, but not with the other comments, and how to help them engage in more of a conversation.   I think creating a challenge like the 31 day Comment Challenge (a simplified version possibly) to help students “practice” and develop their conversational abilities in writing might be a valuable way to ease them into blogging.


As for reflections on my own blog, I notice that sometimes my posts aren’t invitational enough to comments, or don’t seem to be.   So I’ve been pondering how the way I write posts might enter into that.  (Although I don’t think this is the entire reason–many excellent bloggers don’t have a wealth of “commenters” but have many readers, of course!)     But I think about posts that sort of challenge an idea, or throw a question out, or challenge the accepted thinking, or generate controversy, and how those posts are written.

Clearly, the point of blogging isn’t purely to “receive” comments, but there is a lot of learning in the discussions and exchange that can happen.  So that is why I’ve been reflecting about this.    And as we start our blog for our new professional learning community, I want our blog to be a place where everyone involved feels like an active part of it and comfortable either posting or commenting, so I’ve been pondering the invitational-ness (is that a word) of the writing I do there.  

So some questions…

Are there particular writing styles that invoke comments?  If you read this blog and don’t comment, is there a reason?  I’d love to hear feedback.  

Is it because you prefer just reading?  Or that you don’t tend to comment on blogs in general?  Or don’t have time, but enjoy reading?  Or is it the style of some posts that don’t seem to require comment?  Or you think that you have nothing to add(though I’m sure each of you does!)     Or other reasons?   Even if you don’t usually comment here, I’d love to have input or reflection on your commenting habits, and perhaps relating to this blog in particular if you feel so moved. 

10 thoughts on “31 day comment challenge reflections

  1. Smiles —

    My #1 hesitancy to comment on blogs is the “fear of looking ignorant” in what I might have to say.

    Also, I tend to be a blog skimmer rather than a blog reader — and so oft times, I don’t give the writer the time that they probably deserve…..and so, I don’t leave a comment.

    My rational for comments:
    1. If it makes me knee-jerk, think, or admire what the author says, I will comment.
    2. If it is a new blogger, I will comment.
    3. If it is a friend, who I can support with my words of encouragement, I will comment.
    4. If it has something to do with online projects and collaboration with PreK6, I will comment.

    My rational for not commenting:
    1. Fear
    2. Someone has already said what I would say and I would be redundant
    3. I just didn’t understand anything they just blogged about.
    4. Time

    Sometimes I mark a blog to come back to later, and stew over what was written, and compose my comment over and over in my mind and then reread the blog again. However, that is not my norm! 🙂

    Thanks for the post.
    I am enjoying being a bench-sitter for the Comment Challenge — perhaps next time I will be an active participant.


    ps — On a side note, I find I receive the most comments when
    a. I write about something passionate (such as twitter) 🙂
    b. I end my blog post with an invitation for people to share their thoughts.
    🙂 Seems to be working!!

  2. I liked the concept of the Five on Five for a couple of reasons. Firstly I spend a lot of time writing comments so was interested if it could help make me more focused by setting time limits. But the other reason was I thought, like you have mentioned here, that for relucant commenters it may be a way of them feeling more secure and comfortable with commenting. I’m hoping that a simplified version of the challenge with students may also be beneficial.

    Definitely blogging isn’t purely about recieving comments but as you say it certainly helps the learning. It’s a combination of how you write, what information you provide and the sense of community you have built on your blog all working together (if that makes sense).

    What is works well with this post it has been reflective. You are sharing your thoughts out loud and pondering. Then you have asked good (right) questions at the end of the post.

    Based on the Challenge most participants, even those with blogs, are reluctant commenters with fear being an issue.

  3. Carolyn, being new to the “bogosphere” (just started in March) I haven’t started using readers or aggregators or whatever else they might be called. Is it possible that those take away from someone immediately posting a comment or never getting back or coming to the site to make them? After seeing some of the different mentions about no-comments or why don’t people comment I think the previous commenters have a point about the need for maybe some pertinent questions at the end. In my humble opinions, blogs are about what I am thinking about, some may be an editorial on something that would spur a comment or two, others may incite the need for comment, but I think most give us the opportunity to say merely to ourselves oh yeah I can see that or something along those lines.

    Anyway those are some of my thoughts and again I thank you for being one of the shift makers in my electornic world.


  4. Paul, I suspect you’re absolutely right in your surmise–especially for those of us who follow a lot of blogs, skimming most posts. We’re unlikely to click through to the site to post a minor comment, and particularly not just to agree with something. And, in general, we don’t see other comments–or always that there are any–so may be less likely to join a conversation.

    My discomfort with asking specific questions is that sometimes you don’t get answers…and that can be discouraging.

  5. I just have a quick thought on the specific 5 in 5 activity – although I know it’s a way to work on commenting, I think it places a lot of importance on commenting just for the sake of commenting, rather than to share thoughts or resources with the author. Honestly, I love getting even a “great post” comment on any post, but it feels weird that it could be only as a result of some prescribed activity. I, like Jen above, usually comment on posts that give me that knee-jerk reaction, like “I MUST tell the author my thoughts on this”.

    As for fear, I can completely understand that too. I just started participating in a another area of blogging (parenting) and have commented on several posts where I don’t think I really fit in. It’s interesting to see the dynamics of readers of different blogs – some have a very tight-knit group of people who comment all the time and don’t necessarily “welcome” newcomers.

    Thanks for making me think about this 🙂 I didn’t join the challenge because I regularly comment quite a bit already and have SO much on my plate right now that joining another group would have put me over the top, but the work you guys are doing is admirable!

  6. Carolyn,

    I’ve also been (very) loosely participating in the Challenge. The commenting part is fun, but I have a real reluctance to do “required” postings on my blog. I know it’s a control issue, but I pick my own topics, as strangely assorted as they are.

    As to commenting on your blog, I’m not fearful, just admiring. Frequently, I don’t feel that I have anything original to add and don’t want to sound like a parrot or yes-man. It’s your fault for being so intelligent and competent!


  7. I tend to use my reader and don’t see the post. No time to comment most of the time. I’m mostly a blog observer. It enriches my pd life and gives me ideas for the classroom, makes me more likely to try new things and to stay positive.

    This is my first comment in ages. It has to really grab me.

  8. I think time is the biggest reason I don’t comment more than I do. Although, some of the other mentioned reasons also apply, at least at times: fear, nothing new to add, etc. I follow many blogs, probably more than I should. I cull often, but still have a significant number. Something has to really strike me to make me take the time to comment. Posing questions, as you did, certainly pushes me to do so.

  9. I too have been loosely following the comment challenge in my RSS reader, mostly via Vicki Davis. I think that sticking ot my reader was one reason that I didn’t comment as much. I started commenting more as a result of the challenge in various blogs, it’s a good way to meet new people online, and really delve into the ‘conversation’ – installing Cocomment has been invaluable in following what other people are saying. Finally, commenting on other blogs has given me cause to synthesize my thoughts, and develop them into my own blog posts.

  10. I do not necessarily write posts to attract comments but I am mindful of what will attract readers, so whilst my blog is primarily about my own learning, I also try to be strategic about what I write.

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