You should think about the way people actually decide to comment.
Analyze your entries like a scientist. Identify comment-able items. Evaluate the reward structure, what a person might gain by commenting. Identify factors that might hinder someone from commenting. Then you can begin manipulating your blogging style to get the number and type of comments you want.
- In this post you had many comment-able items. Too many perhaps. You want to tell your commenter what to comment about, don't leave it up to them.
- The reward structure in this post... People like to tell other people things they don't know. Maybe it's competitive, maybe it's cooperative. They like to get space on their friend's mental real estate. To stay connected. To make a blip on the radar of everyone else who reads the post. This post also has reverse psychology working for it.
- Time investment is a big factor. Controversy (drama) is another one.
If the subject requires questioning your beliefs or finding out things you don't already know, less people will comment. If it's intellectual, people will be shy. If it takes more concentration than the average person can spare while multitasking at work, there goes the LJ audience.
Somebody once said this: "an intellectual is someone who's found a single thing in the world more interesting than sex". On that note, I only want to know who the two women were if they were the mothers of anyone in DDI.
> Then you can begin manipulating your blogging style to get the number and type of comments you want
Love it! Makes me feel like a mad scientist.
Seriously though, my question is on how people are motivated, not my blog comments per se. Suppose I wanted to write about, I don't know, the politics of alternative energy or something? How would I get people thinking -- and acting?
People are motivated when they see a reward (or aversion of punishment). With blogging it's mostly the former. Some people enjoy intellectual discussions, and that's enough. Others don't enjoy it but do it for esteem.
Everyone likes having their 2 cents heard. A good blog post is like the "leave a penny take a penny" dish at the 7-11. More of a framework for the ensuing comments than a chunk of knowledge. This is the key difference between a blog and an online publication.
I find your travel tales and subsequent analysis/insight fascinating, but your thoughts are so complete and well-crafted that I rarely have anything to say in return. Somehow, a "wow, that sounds completely outside anything I've ever experienced before in my life, go you!" seems inadequate.
It's not that our ears are deaf, I think. It's more that our mouths (fingers?) are stilled by the raw Talent.
Reading your `log is sort of like reading chapters from a Real Book. And, even with the advent of authors' blogs and whatnot, I think a lot of people are either too intimidated, or too unused to interacting with Real Live Authors. (See: John Scalzi's blog, Scott Adams' blog, etc...they're a few authors that have a rabid online following and actually respond to folks, but I don't know many authors who maintain such a high-profile web presence)
You post great and amazing things Jonathan, it just takes too much mental power to care unless I can debate subjects to your face.
Speaking of which, threesomes are not covered by Cobra.
2008-02-18 06:10 am (UTC)
The subject line caught me, but it wouldn't have made me stay.
What I really wanted to comment on was the bit about the circuit in your brain... I've got one, too. (Literally exactly that circuit, funny enough. I'm realized recently getting mugged last year is part of my intensified focus on racism.) I may not have commented because my default mode in large group conversations is to save my words unless I have something original and important to say. "Me, too." and "Hmmm... interesting." Don't make the cut. Other times, I'm just too over-stimulated and/or in pain to make a mediated interaction be worth the amount of energy it would take. I like face-to-face interactions in small groups or with one other person the best. In my case the silence is often a thoughtful one, and the lack of comment has to do with my own stuff, not what you've said.
I don't get many comments to my save the world posts, either. That's okay with me because I write them primarily for myself. I write them to process my passion for saving the world and to figure out how I will be most effective. Also to this end, I have been practicing teaching by example and being outspoken about my beliefs for quite a while now. Sometimes people seem to hear, sometimes they don't. If pause to listen to people after they've had a chance to process, I learn that folks DO hear me; it just takes time to process big ideas. It takes even longer to change behavior. But it happens eventually. Trust and faith are key.
Perhaps what you need is to re-frame your goals for your writing? Who do you write for? How do you want to move them? Is your audience the same as the folks who are reading this? How are you willing to market your writing? You are right: basic needs must be met before people can internalize ideas, and some folks seem to never get past worrying about their basic needs. (see Maslow's Heirarchy of Needs) How can you add something juicy and delicious to your writing without compromising your message? How can you inject your raw, dripping, passion about the problems of civilization into your intellectual analysis? What is it about these problems that grabs your heart/balls/guts and makes you sweat/cry/bleed? You say yourself that you wouldn't be writing if you weren't passionate. Put that passion into your writing. Let it show. Intellect and passion don't have to be opposing forces; they can serve each other.
Above all: Please keep writing. My guts appreciate knowing other folks care and are thinking about the state of the world. From one activist to another, have faith. People respond to things when they are ready. You may not be privileged to witness it, but your words cause ripples.
2008-02-18 06:13 am (UTC)
Re: The subject line caught me, but it wouldn't have made me stay.
Though I may have been a bit more interested if the threesome involved another man... ;)
Number 1, your posting on livejournal where drama is expected.
Number 2, drama and relationships are something everyone can relate to easily and quickly; thus, people comment on them easily and quickly -- we're pretty wired for gossip.
Number 3, intellectual comments are not as easy to just fire off: it often takes a bit of thought and sometimes research to make a good intelligent comment. Well sometimes people do just fire off a response, but then they get smacked down since the original poster often knows more.
Speaking of firing off an intellectual response too quickly: My "your" = "you're"
Not being able to edit one's posts really makes lj the suck for intellectual comments.
2008-02-18 12:35 pm (UTC)
"I thought ´bout something mindmoving, please recognize it?" Is this what you are talking ´bout? Stray, don´t be such a whimp. You really don´t need that.
2008-02-19 09:13 pm (UTC)
Re: What´s that?
Nope, what I'm talking about is the question of "what makes people react?"
I think it's largely because people are lazy, and replying to your incredibly interesting and well-thought-out posts in a meaningful manner requires effort. Effort is something we often can't seem to muster--even if we do appreciate what is being said. My posts generally are the equivalent of water cooler banter--mindless bitching to which many can relate, humorous anecdotes that can be read and processed in five minutes or less, etc. I long ago noticed that my more thoughtful and/or artistic posts would get maybe one or two comments, while a one-liner about how the bathtub clogged up this morning (if properly delivered) would generate twenty-plus comments. It's just how people are, especially on livejournal. This is more often a place for entertainment, not intense intellectual discourse. It doesn't mean what you're writing isn't being read. I certainly read it, and am often astounded by your level of insight and am very appreciative of how your well-articulated thoughts regularly bust open my world view.
FYI I hardly ever make it through your entire post Jonathan. I love you enough but I simply just don't have the attention span. There are actually moments when I (out of pure laziness) cannot afford to keep reading so I stop and then feel disappointed because i really want to know what else you had to say. It's weird.
2008-02-20 10:03 am (UTC)
Re: attention span
That's fine, it just means my writing is not sufficiently interesting. A good thing to know! Writing that keeps someone's attention over a long time turns out to be difficult; that's why I'm not ready to write a book yet.
That might not be entirely true. When I do have the time and I am in the mood to read (which is rare) I do enjoy and am even greatly stimulated and inspired by your writings. You are a gent.... well your a scalar for sure!
And here is my quick chime in....
I often blaze through LJ posts, I have a lot of friends. When I come to a juicy one that I know my mental bandwidth cannot really process and I actually want to process I open it in another window (this happened with your post last night) and just leave it. I will sometimes have to leave my computer on for a couple of days just so that I can go back to all the open tabs that require more attention, I made it a priority today to go back into this post and read it and the comments meanwhile a tab languishes on my home computer that a friend wrote last week, I really want to comment on it but am still pulling my thoughts together as it's a really overarching topic for me as well as her and requires more of me then saying "me too".
All I can really say is keep writing, people are reading. I'm actually really stoked about the article that you sent (you had referenced it in another post I think a while back because it caught me mentally then since I am in the fundraisting sector, or perhaps one of my co-workers had sent out a synopsis article on it) and I'll print it out and read it when I'm not working 10-12 hours a day. After that I doubt I will comment back to you about it, but perhaps in a year if we're in Greece or somewhere warm it'll come up in discussion and we'll chat about it but I would have already forwarded it on to my boss and had it affect our software application (or not) in some way (perhaps).
So, you can't really know where or what happens to your brain space once you write it out. But there are many of us processing what you put out, but it may not come back as direct comments due to time effort or simple redirection. Engaging with someone's LJ drama about their current upset is much easier.....
I just had a giggle becuase I hit send then came back to the post title and realized that I totally forgot to ask about the threesome... actually I'm not that interested in the threesome but I don't think that I ever did tell you that I really thoroughly enjoyed the tension in the erotic story you wrote about the woman and the leash. Nice intellectual tension for smut makes me happy (and horny).