The Five Surprising Impacts of Blog Comments

This week I received the 10,000th comment on my blog. That’s a big deal! And while this lucky commenter (who will be named at the end of the post), will receive a $500 prize package (for real!) I’d like to humbly explain why I have completely changed my mind about the importance of blog comments.

When I started blogging, I was disheartened by the unfulfilled expectation of blog comments. Where was the ballyhooed social media “conversation?” This felt more like a string of random observations by strangers.

But then a funny thing happened on the way to my forum … a community bloomed.

By most blog measures, {grow} receives a lot of comments. In 2011, the average is 53 comments per post (many of them mine of course!).  Let’s look beyond the numbers to something fascinating and vital occurring with the comments on {grow}.

1) Comments can create REAL community. 

Some things are happening that are making {grow} feel like a REAL community, not just a string of observations.

  • Work groups have organized outside of the blog based on relationships formed here. For example, folks who met on {grow} have formed a group called the SMB Collective under Jayme Soulati.
  • A similar group who met on {grow} is now hovering around Jon Buscall’s fine blog and supporting his work.
  • Reza L. Malayeri created a charity event in Seattle based on inspiration from people on {grow}.
  • Community member Josh Duncan donated two computers to a charity I work with.
  • The Social Slam event occurring in Knoxville this week was inspired by Arminda Lindsay, who called me and asked me to put together a conference so she could meet the cool people on the blog. Dozens of people on {grow} have become my dear friends. And we’re having a homecoming!

Caring. Creating. Collaborating.  This is not just a string of comments — {grow} is creating powerful human interactions.

2) Comments create economic value. 

Why comment on a blog? Do it for the money! {grow} has been an economic engine for people who care enough to become involved and contribute. People who get to know me and others through the blog comments have received employment, paid freelance assignments, hardware and software to help their careers, free advice on their business, sales leads, guest posts, brand awareness, donations to charitable causes, book contributions, help in research and more. New economic value has been created through blog comments.

3) Comments create strong ties that result in influence.

I haven’t seen any academic research on the topic yet, but there is certainly a lot of anecdotal evidence that the weak ties on Twitter do not necessarily lead to influence. However, I contend the strong ties that develop in blog communities absolutely lead to influence. A number of people have told me I have impacted their lives through the blog. That probably isn’t going to happen on 140 characters or a status update.

4) Comments are an incubator of new content.

Every month, dozens of people write entire blog posts based on their comments on {grow}. Similarly, about 25% of my blog posts are based on comments made by readers. Comment sections are content engines.

5) Comments drive intellectual growth. 

I think I am most proud of the intellectual diversity and debate on {grow}.

An impromptu experiment confirmed that {grow} folks are not a bunch of sycophants.  Awhile back Mitch Joel and I had wildly different views of whether you should be an elitist with your Twitter followers. We both wrote posts with opposite views in the same week.  In a subsequent podcast, Mitch half-jokingly said, “Isn’t it funny that all of your readers agreed with you and all of my readers agreed with me?”

Could that be true? Are the readers of {grow} a bunch of sheep?

I went back and categorized the comments. The results from both blogs were almost identical: more than one-third were in disagreement with the author of the blog, about 15% were neutral and the rest agreed with the author. I think this represents a healthy swath of dissent and confirmed that there is meaningful debate on {grow}.  But you probably already knew that.

This is powerful stuff.

I can only speak for my experience, but the comment section on my blog provides more psychological, economic, intellectual, and emotional benefits of any social media activity … by far.

Watch how this works. When I was nearing comment number 10,000, I sent out a tweet about it and asked folks what I should do. Elizabeth Bushey provided a list of suggestions, including a certificate from a favorite company, VistaPrint.  Just so happens Jeff Esposito, Vistaprint’s Manager for PR & Social Media, is a regular around {grow} and I met him for the first time at SXSW.  I asked him what he thought about helping us celebrate and he said, “SURE!”

And the winner is …

I’m happy to award a $500 VistaPrint credit to commenter number 10,000 – Davina Brewer of Three Hats Marketing. Davina has been an amazing contributor to {grow} for many months now, so this is quite fitting.

So now it’s time for the commenters to comment on commenting, How is it looking from your perspective?

Disclosure: I have no affiliation with Vistaprint other than my blog connection with Jeff. But since they have been so nice to help mark this milestone, I’d like to tell you a little about them: Vistaprint empowers more than 9 million small businesses and consumers annually with affordable, professional printed and web-based products that make an impression. With a unique business model supported by proprietary technologies, high-volume production facilities, and direct marketing expertise, Vistaprint offers a wide variety of products and services that fuel business growth.  A global company, Vistaprint employs over 2,700 people, operates 24 localized websites,and ships to more than 120 countries around the world. Products include business cards, website design, postcards, banners and many other essential business communicaiton products.

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  • This really hits home for me. I began following Mark when I had less than fifty Twitter followers, and Mark very graciously followed me back. I then found this blog by accident, just scouring the internet for really great business blogs to show my boss.

    Then I began commenting. Mark began to comment back, and a friendship began to form. A month or two ago, I emailed Mark with a question and he kindly responded the same day. We continued to be friends on Twitter, and I casually mentioned that I live near Rutgers where Mark sometimes teaches (sort of) and that was when he said he would like to meet me if possible.

    We met in person last week. The really amazing part is that this all came about from commenting on this blog and being on Twitter. Nothing else was really needed. You never know where any connection will take you.

    Commenting on blogs has also given me a few other great connections, and isn’t that what we are here to do anyway? None of us can do all of this alone. I love seeing how your community has grown, and I am really happy to be part of that.

  • What does that mean that I sort of teach? : )

    Great story Nancy and obviously there are hundreds of people like you who have realized real business benefits from being an active member of a blog community. The benefits have been overwhelming, really. I could fill 10 blog posts! Thanks for being such an important part of the blog experience here on {grow}!

  • Anonymous

    Comments also make a great first impression to a new visitor. It’s nice to arrive and see community, discussion, rather than crickets. It’s a lot like walking into a bar or restaurant and the place is empty. Something must be wrong with it. I don’t mean to say a blog with no comments has something wrong with it. That’s not always the goal of the blogger and that’s fine. But there’s something to be said about seeing all the discussion below and feeling like you’ve arrived somewhere. 🙂

  • Mark,

    First off, congratulations are in order. I want to echo everything you said above and add the idea that by commenting, you open yourself up to a community of challengers, challengers who will encourage you to become better by exposing you to new ideas and helping you to understand your own capabilities.

    Thank you for being one of those challengers, Mark. I wish you continued success, and I look forward to being more active once again here on {grow}.


  • That is such a great point Lisa! I wrote a post about this idea of social validation you might enjoy: Six ideas to build social media momentum

    Thanks for taking the time to comment today!

  • This is the second time in less than ten days that I heard about Creating communities on your blog comments.

    I guess it is the need that we have to communicate and interact with our peers. Share our experiences and learn more about each other and the things that make us connect.

  • Mark W Schaefer

    Glad to have you back Jamie!! Thanks for caring enough to comment.

  • Anonymous

    Mark, I am so aligned with the intention that blogging, sharing and giving are really what social media is all about: and giving without the expectation of receiving. When that’s the intention, as it is with your writing and sharing, people WANT to participate, respond and comment, and that’s what builds community and a sense of belonging.

    I really like your statement “comment sections are content engines”. It’s within the comments that so many additional ideas surface, prompting new ways of thinking and often sparking a concept for one’s own post.

    As we’re bombarded with metrics, tools to measure, tools to “spy” on our competitors, it’s nice to simply participate for the sheer pleasure of doing so. Don’t get me wrong: measurement is an important tool. But I think sometimes the focus on the tools gets in the way of why we should comment or post in the first place: we have something of value to share, we expect nothing in return (although returns are nice!), we feel enriched by doing so and trust that others are enriched as well. Cheers! Kaarina

  • You know, it’s funny. A few years ago, before I ever started blogging or getting into social media, I didn’t ever comment on blogs because I related it to the often ignorant and hurtful comments that are made on newspaper websites.

    I soon learned that blogs are in an entirely different sphere completely. Instead of pointing out everyone’s flaws, people seem interested in healthy debate. I think it’s fantastic! I only hate that I didn’t start commenting sooner.

    I think it’s great what you’ve done here, Mark. And, I’m glad that thanks to Twitter and blog commenting, we were able to meet almost a year ago. I look forward to the homecoming this week in Knoxville!

  • Essential to any learning experience from this commenter’s “comment on commenting perspective” is {grow}ing a caring and vibrant community; {grow}th as a writer in sharing ideas, and
    {grow}th in the freedom and the safety for self-expression.

    Thank you Mark for the opportunities you provide with each and every blog you write.

    You are a great teacher! ; )

  • Talk about valuable. This is great. I often have people ask me, “why should I leave comments”. First I think that question reveals some self serving motives, but let’s ignore that for now. Your list (which will take some reads to really digest) gives such a valuable and in depth answer to that question. I love the communities that grow from comments idea. Thanks for writing.

  • Mark W Schaefer

    I can only speak for myself, but it has worked for me : ) I know some people are less supportive of the notion, but for the me, I can;t deny the results! Thanks, Luis!

  • Mark W Schaefer

    This point about measurement is key, Kaarina. Of all the benefits i listed here, how many would show up on an excel spreadsheet? Not many. We have to expand our minds about the potential of qualitative, as well as quantitative, measures. Thanks!

  • Mark W Schaefer

    That’s a really interesting point, Laura. There is certainly a lot of toxicity with commnets in other places, especially newspapers. But I have not found that at all. In general, people have been very supportive, kind and incredibly generous. Very inspiring to see what people take the time to write every day! See you soon!

  • Mark W Schaefer

    You’re welcome! I do enjoy teaching. It’s part of my DNA : )

  • Mark W Schaefer

    See, when I get a commment like this, it keeps me coming back for more. It’s like having a lousy day at golf, but as long as you have that ONE GREAT SHOT, you get up and do it again. A post like this takes a lot of work so sharing your appreciation means a lot to me, John. Thanks!

  • Community building is a great goal. I’m glad to hear it expanded from that into other areas!
    I agree it’s fitting that Davina won the 10,000th comment award! She certainly brings a blog to life!
    All the best for your next 10,000 comments, Maybe I’ll win that award!

  • Mark W Schaefer

    Well, I thnk there are lot of possible awards from commenting. You just never know where these connections will lead! Of course a $500 prize is always nice too! : ) Thanks Lori!

  • You’ve done a nice job of laying out the benefits, and I’d like to add that these are not limited to the highly popular blogs. You don’t have to get 50 comments per post to build a terrific community around your blog, create profitable ties for your readers, etc. The good news is it’s very attainable if you know who your audience is and create good content.

    And congrats to Davina, who is also a “member” of my blog’s community! Wise comments from folks like her are what make blogging so rewarding.

  • Congratulations Mark for this exciting number of comments.

    I am following you now for about one month since you answer one of my questions on focus and I really like the way you communicate with people.

    In addition there are a lot of opportunities to learn and that might be one point you forgot in your list above.

    Kind regards from Germany


  • Mark W Schaefer

    Well said Kellye! Agree 100%

  • Mark W Schaefer

    I tired to keep the popst as short as possible but that is certainly a key point I tired to embed in the part about debate and intellectual growth. A key benefit. Thanks for emphasizing this Hansjörg. I’m delighted you’re part of the community.

  • Months? It’s been years Mark, years! I say that in jest and to emphasize something to the nascent bloggers out there: this takes TIME. And work. Like Nancy and many others, you were one of the first people I met out here and we became part of each other’s communities over time via many, many comments and tweets. My community has grown, continues to every day as I get to know so many people on their blogs as well as my own.

    I must WORD your #4 as comments create new content. I’ve taken posts and comments, repurposed them which is to say I’ve stolen your stuff for new blog posts of my own. 😉 I give link backs to comments when the discussion really gets going, when there’s too much to say or you want to build on that conversation, take it to another level. Which brings me to your podcast debate with Mitch: IIRC I sorta agreed and disagreed w/ you both; just thought there’s my way of Twitter, what’s best for me. I also get a lot from the debate itself, when it’s done in a way that makes me think, ‘grow’ as it were.

    Lastly, WOW. Rare luck for me to win anything, so thank you very much. Look forward to many more posts, many more comments. And just for kicks, I’ll disagree with you once in a while, keep you on your toes. Thanks again.

  • Mark W Schaefer

    Hurray for business beneifts : )

    Yes this does take time — and patience — which I did not fully appreciate when I started! If you connect in real way, provide meaningful content and offer authentic helpfulness the benefits will occur!

    Thanks and congratulations!

  • Anonymous

    Ok, I DID in fact enjoy it. One, because you mountain bike. which is my favorite thing to do when there is no skiing.
    But it’s funny you should share that link with me because Gini and I were were talking about some of the top-ranked bloggers and I won’t mention any names, but we were discussing how they get so much validation from content that is less than excellent. Say for example, they write about fajitas (I couldn’t help myself, sorry), how can everyone just nod and think WOW, that’s fascinating stuff? Because to your point, it’s the restaurant with all the bikes parked in front of it. Which means I’m back pedaling (if you’ll pardon the pun) on my original comment above.

  • Wow, what a milestone Mark. Congratulations!

    I recently found your blog and have been constantly impressed with the level of engagement and content you feature on Grow. I agree with you about blog commenting being a goldmine for many reasons.

    sidenote: I am glad to see that you have not jumped on the Facebook comments bandwagon. #justsayin

    Good stuff, keep it up!

  • Apparently so ; )

  • My pleasure Mark. I instapapered the post (a verb I think). I will be chewing on this for a while.

  • Anonymous

    Your blog has been one of my favorites to read because you truly do read everyone’s comments and always always encourage them. Thanks for leading by example, Mark 🙂

  • Congratulations Mark! I have only been following your blog for a short time but I truly enjoy the content you are sharing here. One of the things I noticed upon visiting is that you respond to almost every comment personally. That is something I have applied to my own blog.

    Thanks for writing this Mark!

  • Mark W Schaefer

    Actually I wrote a post about that subject too:

    You will REALLY like that one : ) I guess eventually I will write a post about everything! Let me know what you think!

  • Mark W Schaefer

    I’ve noticed you around here Chris. Probably some momentum building! : ) Thanks!

  • Mark W Schaefer

    You have been one of my greates inspirations for almost two years now. Think of all the benefits we have created together. I mention your name in almost every class i teach : ) Let’s keep it going!

  • Mark W Schaefer

    It’s funny that many people find it unsual that I reply to most comments. You have provided a gift of your valuable time by reading this post and commenting. How can I accept this gift and not offer a thank you in return? Doesn’t that just make sense? That’s the way i was brought up. : ) Thanks for being part of the community, Russ.

  • Oh, yeah; Ms. Davina Brewer, commenter extraordinaire! You WIN the lotto! And, thanks, Mark for the acknowledgment in the top billing slot of The SMB Collective. We all just call you Honorary Founding Father for creating the platform for this community that has spawned the platform for others. It’s a wonderfully fascinating journey, eh? So looking forward to seeing you tomorrow!! Thanks for all you do and with whom.

  • I just realized something…Mark, you need to do this again. I see you commenting on everyone’s comment (as you so duly noted above), so that means, ahem, you’re really only at 5,000. Heh.

  • Thanks for interesting info. I’ll visit your site oftener.

  • Anonymous

    Um, I LOVED that one!!! made me laugh out loud three times. But it’s so true, some achieve a level of invincibility where their followers just wait with baited breath to be amazed. You don’t discredit that it takes a TON of work to earn that status.

  • Congrats Davina! I am truly happy she won, she brings an amazing spontaneity to social media. Something we can all learn from.

    I read Mitch’s post last week where he lamented that blogging had become a who-has-the-most-comment content. I don’t agree with him and believe that bloggers should interact with their readers. Godin doesn’t and that’s his choice and I respect it. Actually I respect it a lot more than people who open their comments and then don’t answer them.

    Yes it does make sense that a majority of your readers (or anyone eles’s) agrees with what you say. Unless you are flooded by evil spammers who want to attack your blog, your readers enjoy your blog and comment. That’s a bit like asking who likes burgers inside a fast food joint.

    A bit amen to all your reasons for comments.

  • Mark W Schaefer

    Yes, meeting Soulati tomorrow!! Woot! (think I did that right? : )

  • I never realized the importance of blog comments. In fact, I wrote my own post: Let me know what you think. Thanks!

  • I also read Mitch’s post. We often disagree but it gets down to our goals, which are different and no less legitimate. His stated goal is to make his content as shareable as possible. That sounds a lot like broadcasting to me. I mean why be on social media unless you interact? But, as you say, it works for Seth, who has his own set of goals and you can’t argue with his success. Thanks for your observations, John!

  • Horning in here momentarily…Jayme, are you going to Social Slam??? If so, you’ll be seeing me tomorrow as well! Yippee!

  • WHAT??!!! Oh, Yeah…PARTY!!!

  • I think I’m must a little bit too excited on this blog today; I got all the exclamations going strong and you’ve got the W00T! Is that right, too? 🙂

  • Anonymous

    Crazy! I left your book for my dad in California! 🙂 Had to show him someone
    knows how to spell my name 😀
    Keep going Mark, you’re doing it right.

  • First, awesome job, Mark for {grow}ing such an awesome community here! Truly, right after I landed on Spin Sucks and started stalking, I mean following, Gini Dietrich, she introduced me to you and your blog. Now, I’m stalking you both. 🙂

    All kidding aside, you create a really comfortable atmosphere here for commenting and I concur, that’s where the good stuff occurs – content can be created for everyone, economic value, influence, all of it! I read Mitch Joel’s piece last week after John Falchetto read mine on commenting before blogging and suggested I read it. My theory was that a new blogger would be well served to begin by visiting other blogs and commenting before just jumping into the arena. The reason? Build social capital. And that’s what happens here. Love it.

    Finally, CONGRATS to Ms. Davina Brewer!!! How very fitting that she be the 10K commenter on your blog. Well deserved and well representative of what you and your blog are all about!

  • Mark W Schaefer

    Well done, thanks!

  • Mark W Schaefer

    Thanks Allison. Look forward to meeting you in person this week at the homecoming!

  • Mark W Schaefer

    I’m getting nervous! I do think we might have a good time : )

  • Mark W Schaefer

    You mean people often misspell Michelle? Nuts. : )

  • Karen Bice

    Great post, Mark, and congrats on the 10,000th comment! I always look forward to reading your posts because of the excellent content.

  • I love the comments section and community on Grow. Along with Spin Sucks, this is the place I hang out the most because of the conversation.

    Through this space I’ve got to work with the incredibly talented Johnny Spence (AKA @freelance rant), and get to know the likes of the equally dynamic and wonderful Jayme, Jenn, Neicole, Davina, Erica, Dr Rae, Michelle just to name a few.

    As you point out Mark these folks (and you, of course !) have commented on my own blog and supported me on Twitter and taught me how international the marketing and communications space is online. Although I’m scribbling out of Stockholm, Sweden, I have all these connections and conversations with you guys in North America. On a daily basis things gets me thinking, questions my own approach to online communications, and allows me to share the things I’ve learned. It’s also a place to form friendships.

    I’m sure the 20,000th comment will come around much quicker than the first 10,000 if we all keep the conversation coming.

  • Hey Mark,
    Loved this post on every level!!

    Much like people are the life of a party – Comments are the life of a blog. At least to me they are :).

    I have often learned more from comments than I have from the actual post. I have also made some incredible friends and connections because of the conversations that take place in that section – not to mention the ideas that come about because of them.

    Congratulations on your 10,000 comment! What an amazing milestone. I look forward to the next 10,000 and more :)!

    And a congrats to Davina :). Well deserved as she truly leaves the types of comments and ignites the kinds of conversations that any blogger could hope for.

    Have a great evening.

  • Thank you Jon, I’m honored to be included in your heartfelt expression of gratitude.

  • Dang it! I was trying to game the system so I was number 10,000! 🙂 You know I agree with you on building community by allowing all sorts of opinion. You’re one of the best at it, in my book.

  • Really? Huh. I just comment here because you humor me 😀

    I view every comment I get as a gift. A gift of time. A gift of thought. A gift of reciprocity. I hope I always feel that way. So far so good 🙂


  • Mark W Schaefer

    Thanks Karen. I always smile when I see you pop up in the comment section and the Twitter stream!

  • Mark W Schaefer

    Such a nice comment Jon. You are a great colleague and confidant and it has been wonderful to be connected with you. I’m excited about meeting you in a few weeks!

  • Mark W Schaefer

    Love this: “Much like people are the life of a party – Comments are the life of a blog.” A great quote Ingrid! And so very true. The comments are almost always better than the post around here. It’s like Christmas every day! Tanks for taking the time to comment.

  • Mark W Schaefer

    That means a lot to me. I have worked hard to encourage diversity of opinion and even reward it. Except when people disagree of course. Can;t stand for that! Kidding, kidding.

    But I am really proud that people come in here and disagree with me in a very thoughtful way. I respect when people attack problems, not people.

    Thanks so much for your support and frienship. I simply have to get Chicago on my calendar soon!

  • Mark W Schaefer

    You do get me going sometimes Marjorie. I don;t know what it is but you bring out the humor!

    I agree with you. I think it is just respectful to acknowledge the gift of a comment. You do a great job with that on your blog. Thanks!

  • Mark W Schaefer

    I think you did the W00T correct. Or maybe it is w00t. I am so culturally out of it. I have started watching Mad Men so that’s progress. I’ve finished season one so now I m just four years behind the rest of the world, which is good for me. Mad Men and The Office. other than that, I’m blogging! : )

  • Wait, so do you mean I have to invest in other people, like, as if they were actually people that I may meet at the coffee shop, the library, the grocery store, or PTA? Wow, I’m kind of new to blogging and I’m just not sure if I’m up to all that. Are you sure, cuz there are a lot of people out here that say all I have to do is post a few trite words and everyone will like me and the money will start pouring in. Not sure I like your way with all stuff.

  • I’ll admit I love reading comments almost as much as blogs themselves!

    Don’t remember how I ever found your blog, but I’ve gained a lot over the past few months from it!

  • Mark W Schaefer

    It’s probably how we find anything on the Internet – majestic random synergy : )

  • It’s really amazing to see how far this simple tool of commenting can go and benefit people. At times I think it works greater than the other networking tools. On top of that, it is clutter free!

    10,000 comments is definitely a milestone worth celebrating! I’ve also been following Mark for awhile now and I must say I always learn something new when I visit.

  • Mark W Schaefer

    You are a kind man and I’m glad we’re connected Jan!

  • Wow, interesting.. Off course, I do agree that commenting is most important thing in blogging. We can achieve many great things from commenting.. This article is amazing. I like each level in your articles. Thank for such a lovely article. I hope to see many more like this.. Thank you!

  • I am honored to be a part of your story, Mark. Not only is this a great blog worth commenting on – meaning you OBVIOUSLY spark some real thinking – but you’re RIGHT on, regarding the importance of commentary in general.

    It’s true interactivity: best of all, unlike the immediacy of SM such as Twitter, it allows commenters to give some real thought to their responses, giving them some real value.

    A recent comment from one of MY blogs prompted ME to “ring up” His Right Worshipful the Lord Mayor of Liverpool. The comments on the ever-popular “momblogs” spread all kinds of idea viruses: and that cause-and-effect is now moving the world in exciting new ways.

    At least: I’m excited. Then again, maybe it’s just being mentioned in your blog that’s got me all-aflutter. I’ll let you know, once I rub the goosebumps down.

    Thanks again!
    elizabeth williams bushey
    and for grownups only, who appreciate satire:
    Twitter: @inklesstales

  • Um, yes. You do!

  • Thanks Erica. I started commenting before I started blogging, as I was lurking and reading before leaping into writing; just a good way to learn and develop as a professional.

  • Thanks for the shout-out John. Commented on Mitch’s blog last week, agree it’s not a numbers game and the different blogs have different objectives, which is fine. I disagreed on the constant agreement; I’ve disagreed with Mark here, with Gini, Neicole .. perhaps not an entire post but will certainly pick a nit here and there. That is one of the best part of these communities; we take it professionally and our comment discussions do take that debate, kick it up a notch. FWIW.

  • It gets me in trouble every time as I run off many a prospect, all this time and effort and work nonsense, like who do I think I am? Your way sounds a lot easier Kevin. 😉

  • Mark, I love this super powerful post!

    A thriving blog community is where the gold in social media is. Things are happening. Value is being created. Lives are being changed. Your contribution to the lives of people is important. You’re making a difference. You’re contributing to shaping the future of business, communications, marketing, customer service and the overall life experience of everyone you touch with your work.

    Hmm, sounds to me like blogging is a worthwhile enriching endeavor if you’re doing it for the right reasons. I’M IN!

    Cheers to you Mark and congratulations for establishing a voice that counts through the power of comments and community.

    You ROCK!

  • There is a lot I could say about this post because commenting systems are one of the topics that keep coming up for me as a User Interface designer. One particular aspect that concerns me is the ‘disappearing comment’ phenomenon.

    Let me set a context here first – C.C. Chapman used a great analogy that getting a blog to be successful is like getting a good camp fire burning – patiently adding fuel (posts) and building it slowly, avoiding seeking the viral explosions that don’t last. I really like that analogy and would say that the comments themselves are like the flames and sparks that provide the meaning to the whole undertaking – as you point out in this post.

    As a relatively new blogger I had an exciting thing happen on my web site a few weeks back – something caught fire and I had actual comments! Not enough to cook a marshmallow or anything useful like that – but enough to prove to me that some (b)logs do actually burn.

    But I later learned, via Twitter, that at least one person had invested time and energy in making a comment and for some reason it got lost. Ouch! Tossing away that time and energy is the worst that can happen from a usability design point of view.

    I’ve found that the Disqus system seems to sometimes either lose and/or filter out comments that contain links. (I tested this on my own site – it was happening a while back but now it seems to work.) I’ve had this happen when posting comments on other sites too (not necessarily Disqus based).

    There is an upside for me in that it gives me something to blog about! My home page currently has a 60 second video blog about this.

    Having said all that, I also had this occur right here on {grow} last week after I had hastily banged out a comment (just before running out to catch a train) in response to the hilarious piece by David Murton. The comment disappeared.

    Now, was that because of the Disqus bug or because it was edited? I assume you do some weeding and my stubby comment was a bit of a weed so I honestly don’t mind if it was. But I am curious, both as a UX designer and a newbie commenter, to know why it vanished.

    So Mark, now it’s time for you to comment about commenters’ comment quality. Do you find you have to edit much and, if so what, beyond blatant spam, gets you reaching for the ‘delete’ button?


    Michael Keara

    PS, if it was a bug, does that mean that comment 10,000 is really 10,001? 😉

  • Congratulations, Mark. Well done, sir! You have earned every one of those comments and more importantly, those relationships. I will say it here for others to read, you have become a great friend to me in a short amount of time. We can know and work with people for years and not really connect but the social web is so much more than the tools (no, not another tool soapbox diatribe).

    You are the authentic person we talk about when we look at the convergence of humanizing business. Your clients are lucky to have you as their CMO for rent and I am privileged to call you my friend.

  • That truly is a great post, Mark. From my own experience with you I can say with some certainty that you aren’t just talking here. Funnily enough I got hooked up through Twitter, “where no one hears you scream” to use your own words.

    It was this short (repeat) engagement of an established account with a rather young and small one. But it was as short as it was entertaining and actually helpful. You should have seen my follower count in the hour afterwards. 😀

    This made me take a closer look at, which in turn made me add you to the list, for which you said “thank you” quite nicely again. And so it would go on because you just can’t help it any other way.

    My key point is: Commenting is only as powerful as the site owner is social … Congratz to the 10,000!

  • Just wanna mention I love Vistaprint. I know, wierd, huh? I guess I’ve gotten used to all those SUPER EFFEN ANNOYING upsale screens. Really, they don’t bother me anymore – so take that Vistaprint. I do like ordering stupid shit with my company name on it – in very small quantities. That’s it, nothing special. A coffee cup here, a bumper sticker I will NEVER use, there. What a hoot! And if you’re reading this Jonathan and Lee – got a cool GoGrabLunch surprise for you.

    Congrats on 10,000 mark Mark. See you tomorrow at SocSlam. Keep on {grow}ing!

  • Mark, it’s great to see how well this community has grown! I only pay attention to a few blogs and GROW is #1 on the list. The discussion are terrific and very informative. As a writer, you always manage to hit on the topics that matter and because of that, your community participates. Generally speaking, the folks I’ve met here are the best of the best!

  • I dip in and out of about five great blogs as a commenter but this is definitely the one that feels most like a proper community. I met Jon Buscall (online) through this blog and recently started reading Gini Dietrich after a recommendation from Jon. I’m looking forward to meeting others here. {Grow} really is what an online community is all about: education, guidance, help and entertainment.

    Don’t know if you’ve noticed but my little trick is to read about five or six of your blogs in one go, which normally means that if I comment, I am usually one of the last. There’s been the odd post I’ve commented on three months after you write it – but you always respond. Top work. Have yourself a fat cigar. It’s my shout.


  • That is a very high compliment indeed Michael. Thank you for your kind words, support and always interesting addition to the community!

  • I owuld say you deserve the title of community founder : ) You have stuck with {grow} longer than anybody my friend!! It is always a delight to see you in the comment section!

  • Thanks very much Frank! You have a been a great part of this community!

  • That is very nice of you to say Stephan. It is very humbling that people spend time reading and commneting on {grow}. After all, time is our most precious commodity!

  • (blushing) We’re all in this life together so we should help each other when we can. I’m grateful we’ve become friends Kneale!

  • Of 10,000 comments, I have only deleted two legitimate comments because they were inappropriate. One was just blatantly selling their services and one just had threatening and profane language. Otherwise the community has been very professional, even in heated dissent.

    There is a growing trend toward comment spamming to plug backlinks, but that is a subject for a future post.

    Disqus has worked pretty well for me (at least as far as I know!) This is the first time I can recall somebody telling me their comment got lost but I will snoop around and see if I can find anything out.

    As far as editing, I never edit comments unless the original author asks me to make a change on their behalf.

    So pleased to hear your blog is progressing! That is exciting to hear Michael!

  • You’re in … meaning the blog is happening I hope? : )

    Your sentiments here are accurate. It has been a very rewarding experience, especially when these online relationships bloom into lifetime friendships, which seems to be happening at a regular pace! Thanks for your input and support Mark!

  • Thanks for your ideas and persistence. Pushing me to offer a “prize” was a great contribution to the fun of {grow}!

  • Hi Mark – I’ve had Srini over at my house in Costa Rica for the last couple days and you’ve been the topic of some interesting conversations. All good sir 😛

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  • That’s a remarkable statistic with only 2 out of 10k comments requiring deletion. More credit to this community.

    So it would seem that the elusive Disqus bug did kick in then. If anyone else had heard about this or suspected they may have encountered it, I’d love to know and try to get a better understand of it and send the info to Disqus. Having been on the receiving end of bug reports I know they are pretty useless unless there is a way to reproduce the problem.



  • Yeah I think comment moderation is a waste of time. Overall I have found people to be kind and professional even when they disagree.

  • KamakshiSri

    Yes, your first and last points are too strong to stand.

    Everything costs us time. Blogging costs more time than commenting and that’s the reason behind those who for some reason or other have failed to create a blog, enjoy commenting on them. And as such a real community is created where people interact. The best example is me. I have no blogs and because I am into an entrepreneur run , now, I cannot even dream to have it. I may hire someone but I may not like the work, at least , I will panic that I haven’t written a single word of the blog posted on my behalf.

    My comments are small, may not be as sensible as a professionals would be, but every word I type comes straight from my heart revealing my level of understanding, however, low or high, it may be.

    I am happy and contended that it’s me doing it and no body on my part is doing it.

    Actually, a blog’s intention is to catch a good reader and a commenter, as well.

    Honestly speaking, I have gathered knowledge through every blog I have gone through and sometimes, I have observed the commenters focusing light on important topics where the blogger might have really lost.

    So, I love reading your blogs and commenting and to be included in your community, as well.

  • Comments are amazing and when someone leaves a comment on my blog I feel as if they are passionate about the same things. I don’t get too many comments on my blog but it is slowly growing.

    There are moments when I feel as if people are ignoring a post and not bothering to comment – I get frustrated as I don’t know why and then I start to wonder how I can better engage people to leave comments. While I do want to find better ways to engage people to leave comments, I tell myself to not focus on those that don’t leave comments. I, instead, focus on the few that take the time to comment and make their presence known.

    Comments are really important in this space. The kind of comments that go beyond ‘great post’ or ‘great photo’

    All of your points are bang on and I like seeing someone talk about commenting. I wrote a post long ago about ‘what if no one comments’ and I never published it. It was filled with frustration. I can now look at it objectively and edit it.


  • Thank you for sharing – your knowledge, your time, and your community. It shows how helping others results in an impact many times greater than the impact of the original act.

    You recently took the time to stop and give me feedback. It was direct and correct. You could have easily seen it and moved on; but you didn’t.

    It’s this sharing that has made your community {grow}.

    The “caring, creating, and collaborating” of you and your community is the best example of how to build an online and, more importantly, a face-to-face network.

    Thanks again.


  • Lol Don! Glad we connected at the Indiana event and look forward to helping each other in the future!

  • It certainly take a lot of time and patience to grow a community. I went through many frustrating months too, especially when I thought I wrote what I thought was something great and nothing happened … which still happens by the way! Hang in there and focus on delivering great content Scott.

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  • I have turned more than one of my comments on another blog into posts for my site. And on the flip side, I’ve turned responses to comments made on my blog into posts. So I totally agree with you that the conversation that’s provoked in the comment section of your blog is awesomely valuable.

    And like Nancy Davis, the first person to comment on this post has had happen, I’ve emailed an awesome blogger I’d gone back and forth with in the comment section of their blog before and gotten help on a challenge I had finding a designer.

    I’m glad you’ve experienced the marvelous benefits to be had on your site and wish you much more success in the future!

  • Wow, this is awesome! Congratulations Davina! It was well deserved. And congratulations, Mark, for hitting 10k comments! What a feat. I only just recently met my 1k milestone. 🙂

    This is my first time on this blog (came over from Davina’s site), but I really love what I see. I also just recently bought your book (The Tao of Twitter) without even realizing it! A few people had recommended it to me, so I just had to check it out on Amazon. 🙂 I should receive it in a few days – can’t wait to read it!

    Keep it up, Mark. What you’re doing is admirable. I look forward to contributing much more to this community in the years to come. 🙂


  • Congratulations! I’m so happy for you Davina!

    Keep up the awesome work!


  • Hey Mark,

    Thanks for the shout out! I am way behind in my blog reading. Thanks again for sharing all your learnings and have a great weekend!


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  • Hi Mark, Mark Harai kindly directed me to this blog post and I’m so glad he did! Congratulations on your 10,000th comment, though I’m a bit late to the party. Am I perhaps the 20,000th?

    I’m a big Vistaprint fan. I’ve been using them for years and they just keep getting better. What a fitting prize for a fitting winner. Davina not only has a great blog, she is prolific with her comments as well!

    And my condolences to you for not winning the prize. With how generously you respond to comments, my guess is you had about a 50/50 shot of winning the Vistaprint award! 😉

  • Harvey Gardner

    This is a terrific.  Number 4 reeks value to me.  What could be more timely and relevant than content inspired by one’s blog comments?  Thanks for pointing that out.  And . . . I’ve been a VistaPrint fan and customer for several years.

  • Thanks for sharing nice points..Blogs helps to collect backlinks and also increase the traffic.

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    Blog Commenting is very important for keyword ranking and back links .

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  • Mark, 10,000 comments is impressive!  Congratulations.  I have just recently become a {GROW} reader, but I can see why you have a great community.  You write good stuff.

  • Comments are like a knot that complete the circle. Up to this point Tweets, Posts and other updates are just loose bits of string that others tug on once in a while.

    When people start to comment on your posts, and more importantly you comment back, relationships start to form. Further debate around the post, expansions of the core idea all “grow” from this activity.

    Once this interaction takes hold a sub-group is formed around the blogs core subject, in anticipation of continuing the conversation.

  • Superb observation Sean. Well said. Thank you!

  • Thanks Harvey!

  • Absolutely right about the idea incubation. A big reason I visit, and hope I give back sometimes 🙂

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