Discussion #7: Comments

How do you feel about the comments you receive on your site? Do they help, or confuse? Most of the poetry prompt sites have a tag line about how they are not meant for critiquing, unless specifically requested. Do you agree with that request or would you prefer a more open stance? As a commenter, do you feel a bit hog-tied by the need to stay “Positive”?

Do you respond to the comments you receive, or is that too much time, energy, consuming? Do you have personal rules about how you deal with certain types of comments, and have you ever simply deleted a comment because for some reason you objected to it, or were confused or possibly offended in some way?

What would you prefer to see in your comment section? How do you feel having your own words quoted back to you as the only comment? Do you ever get the feeling that the individual who made the comment didn’t even read what you had written? Are there certain words that make your back teeth grind when you see them in a comment? These are just a few suggestions and certainly not meant to cover the entire topic. Take it wherever you need to go and I’m glad to see you here.


About 1sojournal

Loves words and language. Dances on paper to her own inner music. Loves to share and keeps several blogs to facilitate that. They can be found here: http://1sojournal.wordpress.com/ http://soulsmusic.wordpress.com/ http://claudetteellinger.wordpress.com/
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15 Responses to Discussion #7: Comments

  1. anl4 says:

    The comments are great! Very supportive. I like them. I try to respond to them, go to their sites and thank them for their comments. Even if I didn’t like them, they give me something to think about.

  2. pmwanken says:

    “No comment.” 😉 (Heehee…I couldn’t resist.)

    I love getting comments on my posts. I’m always honored that someone not only took the time to READ what I wrote, but to also pause long enough to leave a thought or two behind. I try to acknowledge every comment with a reply. I tend to frequent those sites where I have left a comment and receive a reply–not sure if it’s only because I go look for the reply, or if by receiving replies a bit more relationship is developed and therefore more interest/desire to read other posts at those blogs. Therefore, I like to do the same on my blog–leave a reply for those who have visited. I know not every person returns to read replies…so I try not to put anything in my replies that I wouldn’t want the person to miss. For that I’ll use email or leave a note at their site.

    When I make my rounds and read others’ poems, I don’t always leave comments. If something really spoke to me or was a “Wow!” phrase (like Mike calls them), I will definitely say so. But I try not to just put something as a comment just to put something. But generally…yes, I try to be encouraging.

    One thing I learned was that the online poetry community is very encouraging. All I was ever getting was encouraging comments. While I wanted to believe that my work was fabulous, I knew there had to be some people out there thinking, “if only she had…” or “…this part didn’t make sense…” But no one was leaving those comments. That came only after a rapport had been developed. It’s also hard to leave “critical” comments without knowing a greater spectrum of someone’s work.

    Oh. As far as “teeth grinding” comments? Sometimes I feel that way with the comment, “interesting.” That’s kind of like saying someone’s mystery meat casserole was “unlike anything I’ve had before.” Or…a not-so-attractive baby/child is “precious.” You know what I mean. 😉

    Thanks, Elizabeth for the questions…hopefully my thoughts weren’t too scattered. I started writing with cohesive thoughts in mind…several interruptions later, I’m just going to click “post.”


  3. neil reid says:

    It’s not just me then, who’s slow to respond to this topic? Yet so near, so dear (isn’t it?). More than just me being away from home right now, with all my familiar gizmos also away from me?

    (But something while I’m still attending to discussion #4.)

    Yep, the interactivity of blogs I much appreciate! So yes, of course comments are bread and butter that way. They nurture (make me think myself not insane, not yet), they open doors (like to being right here for one!), they engage, they prostrate themselves (yes, sometimes that’s so, but done well, that’s also fine), they tease, they cajole, they empathise. At best, they become a conversation!

    What should comments look like? Don’t we mostly really already know. I have an ego. How about you? Try to befriend the thing, so a little sugar, that’s good; and wouldn’t it be a lie to say otherwise? But don’t we (me) also want more than just sweet nothings in our ear? (Not degrading sweet nothings at all, mind you please. Go ahead, give me a few. I’ll put a few in your hand as well.) Simple truth is that when someone takes the time to read, understand and comment with some measure of specific understanding, I feel honored (loved) by their attention. We know that too. (And I do my best to reciprocate, although don’t always do so good at that, but at least comment back to the reader’s comment appreciatively.)

    This is all just obvious about being in community and being supportive.

    What nature of comments? I do whole-heartedly subscribe to the first “rule” of comments: be appreciative, positive, encouraging. I like the quote I use to head my own blog: “Whenever possible be kind. It is always possible.” But I do understand the question that grows from this stance. When and where might it be appropriate to make more constructive types of comments about another’s writing? Sometimes I bite my tongue, but still I wait for an invitation (granted, that’s seldom seen).

    And we have to filter off considerations where there’s simply a difference in style of major point of view (sometimes hard to make separate from comments about the workability of a poem as itself). Sometimes I say nothing, and sometimes that’s what it means (ie. not to my personal taste, but please, you go on doing what you do).

    Someone I read suggested using some common type of phrase as key to say “positive suggestions welcome”. I like that idea, but haven’t yet really gone after making that more real.

    A third avenue (also up for consideration) is a special section of a community blog, for example, in which all poems are purposely open to constructive comment. (I suspect that might become a fair amount of work for the host to monitor. Unknown?) Early on I encountered such a website, using the motto, “if you can’t take the heat, get out of the kitchen”, but honestly I felt the comments were at root mean spirited, as in showing how “tough” (or real) they thought themselves as writers. I don’t buy that pitch.

    One aspect of this topic I do wonder about however. The point in particular being two-fold. How to encourage those who don’t comment at all, to begin, to become visible (even as just readers). And how to encourage folks (at least some of the time) to write more specifically meaningful comments. Is such even possible? I don’t know. However I remember way “back when” and I was new to all of this, someone posted a paragraph or two about the merits of leaving comments, setting aside doubts (do I have anything “good” to say?), and making comment anyway – for both their own sake (participation) and the author’s (appreciation) too. I took that advice to heart.

    So is that a new sub-topic here? Promoting comments?

  4. Mary says:

    I try to leave meaningful comments, to say something specific relating to a poem. What I enjoyed about it. Specific wordings I thought really worked! Or even reflect on the subject of the poem from my own perspective. I sometimes enjoy having a ‘conversation’ with the other poet. I try to say something relevant, not only a “wow” or “great” before I move on to someone else’s poem!

    The kinds of comments I appreciate are the same kind. I like it if someone shows in some way that they really read THIS specific poem of mine, and that the word(s) could not be written about every single poem anyone has written (ie, the word ‘interesting’) I like to know if a poem I have written has touched the reader, triggered a similar feeling / memory.

    I make it a point to be supportive of the regulars who visit my blog. I will visit their blogs (they are in my “Reader”) on a pretty regular basis unless life somehow gets in the way (as it did last week when my computer crashed /hard drive suddenly failed). I believe in mutual support and that commenting is not a one-way street. If new people visit my blog, I visit theirs…and hope it is the beginning of a new relationship. If I comment on someone’s blog repeatedly (been there, done that) and they don’t visit mine, I, frankly, just stop visiting.

    Interesting discussion, all!

  5. Irene says:

    Wow, that’s frank! I’ve been guilty of not returning the visit. So I don’t blame if others have *dropped* me. Or sometimes not returning the comment. I try, I try.

    I’m sorry! It feels like work sometimes, and I’m already so tired out by work and writing poems.

    But I do read the circle…you know those whom I remember.

    I think I’m fine with any sort of comment, including *ahem*. Of course what we all want is something sincerely said, because the responses are valuable pointers about how a poem is being received.

    I’ve thought about stopping. Simply because time is short and I can’t keep on playing this game. So I’d like to say to everyone here, no pressure to comment at all!! I mean it. And only if you feel like it. I love that we’re all writing as a mini-community. That in itself encourages me (and you) to keep writing.

    Can I go lie down now?

  6. 1sojournal says:

    Lol, yes Irene, go lie down, you deserve it for taking the time to read and write here in this comments section. But, you have also made some very good and valid points. I love to write, to blog, to post, and to read the comments. However, it sometimes does become hard work to respond to each one, especially after visiting and commenting on whatever they have offered. And it does take time and who has enough of that?

    When I first started blogging I saw the comments as the opening of a conversation, so I committed myself to doing my part of that communication. That was fine because there were many days when I had no comments at all, and others when I was pleased to have two. Since joining the prompt circuit, my committment has slipped on occasion. Now, I try to make sure I return the visit, and then simply thank those who do leave a comment. But, take time to respond to questions, whether they are about the poem itself, some thought within the topic of the poem, or perhaps even concerning the process notes. I’m with Mary as far as the conversation aspect is concerned. I think it is one of the most important aspects of the blogging experience. And those who take the time to read and comment, should be acknowledged and the effort reciprocated.

    There are times when I feel that an individual either didn’t read what I offered, or may have confused it with something read earlier. That’s when I ask questions in response to the comments offerred. But, I try never to forget that this is another human being, someone who is trying to write, someone just like me with thoughts and feelings.

    And that is how I approach my own commenting on other blogs. I try to find something positive to say, about the work, the imagery, or how it made me think of other things, experiences, memories. It’s important to me that no one feel censored or silenced. I was, and I don’t ever want to do that to another human being. And like the rest of you, if I can’t find something positive to say, or I don’t have any response other than confusion, I remain silent and hope the next one will be better.

    I particularly like what is happening right here on this site. Like I said above, I like the conversation aspect of the comments. But, here we are taking that to a different level. And that pleases me no end.

  7. Tilly Bud says:

    It is in the comments that we build relationships with other bloggers, so comments are vital. But not all. I have been blogging long enough to know that the polite/generic comment is meaningless. I have left a few myself! The equivalent of leaving a calling card.

    I always return visits and comments, but if I know a blogger well and they have left a smiley face, for example, then I don’t feel the need to reply. We know each other well enough to understand.

    I like to be encouraging and if I don’t like or understand a poem but a phrase leaps out at me, a form works well, etc, then I say so. That is also useful when I come late to a post and everyone has said what I would have said if I had been early enough.

    It is difficult to write in a vacuum. We need the comments to know that there are others out there, just like us.

    The hardest comments to answer, for me, are the compliments. I’m not comfortable with the you are so great I love you kind, even when they are sincere. I like specifics: this poem worked for me because… I like that turn of phrase… etc.

    I don’t often post an unfinished poem; but if I do, I ask for critiques. It’s how we grow as writers.

    • b_y says:

      I’m always glad to see your smiling “like”. I’m a rotten neighbor lately.

      • 1sojournal says:

        Good to see you Barb. And we all have scedules and other obligations that get in the way of what we’d really like to be doing. I’d love to respond to each and every comment fully. We all know that ain’t gonna happen. But, Tilly is right, the comments are the building of community and the necessary element to keep us here in this space, doing what we are doing, and feeling we are a part of something larger.

        Thank you all for responding here, and I’m pleased to see this variety of voices.


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  9. neil reid says:

    I just wanted to add something more of a personal note. Because.

    First. I don’t comment even so much as I think I “should”. (And blah blah blah about the why’s and where’s of when I do, what moves me to comment or not… but… ) Whether or not it always gets said so clear, it is always meant implicitly that I much appreciate all those who make the effort, who dare risk to speak/write and share that process in public here. Whether each poem satifies my one personal taste don’t matter to me or at all. (How many say or write nothing at all? How appreciated then are those who do!)

    Tilly comes to a very good point. Do we address the poem or address the person? More formal (some would say – appropriate) response is to comment upon the craft of the poem itself (and keep personal “gushing” to a minimum). Yet I sit somewhere astride that fence. I do often want to acknowledge a poem’s content as well its’ craft; neither do I keep all apart the writer from their poem (although this later is something that grows more competent over time and experience with another’s history of writing). Therein is a balance to be conscious about I think.

  10. Elizabeth, I am late responding here. I’ll keep it brief.
    1) I never comment on a poem I don’t like, and if I like it, I am kind with my comment.
    2) I do not correct grammatical errors on someone’s work on their blog. I email them. I feel it is the polite way of handling this situation.
    3) I always read the poem I am commenting on. If I didn’t love poetry, then why am I doing this in the first place.


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