You’re smarter I am, so don’t forget to read the comments

Left: Results from a survey: “How do you consume the content on Web Strategy by Jeremiah Owyang?”

Well, that’s an understatement really. The readers of this blog are collectively smarter than any author, and I recognize that.

If you’ve been reading me for a while, I ask questions, as I want to know what people think. I read every single comment, and often respond to comments , questions and followups.

I recently ran a survey to find out how people are using my blog, and most are reading this blog via RSS in a feedreader, they’re not even visiting the site. While feedreaders are great for getting content when you want, where you want, and in the format you want, you’ll miss out on the wisdom being generated in the comments.

For example, last week’s post on Six Career tips generated dozens and dozens of juicy tips that can help you in your career, but if you’re reading that only in the feedreader, you’re really missing out.

So I encourage you to once in a while come back and visit to see what’s happening in the discussions, that’s where the real value is.

Update, a few hours later: A few people in the comments requested a summary. Ok here’s a comment summary: A few people requested a comment summary. This is the last time I’ll be doing a comment summary, ha!


Related: Shoemoney, a master at search marketing doesn’t take his commenters that seriously, I know many of those who have commented, I have a high degree of trust for my commenters.

34 Replies to “You’re smarter I am, so don’t forget to read the comments”

  1. There’s no question that a good comments section will bring forth important ideas and thoughts which nicely compliment good blog posts.

    You mention RSS feeders as a primary source of visitors. Today I came across your blog via Alltop. Is Alltop providing you with much traffic?

  2. What about adding Feedburner’s comments flare to your feed to provide an indication that there’s a conversation underway on a given post? I’ve found that I more frequently click through to take in all the great comments just by seeing that simple “Comments (10)” tag.

  3. Jeremiah,
    I find the comment arena cumbersome – especially if the objective is real conversations. On a webiste currently under construction I intend to try to encourage real asynchronous back and forth conversation through sending people to a forum for discussion (probably give them both options to comment or use the forum). What are your thoughts? Have you seen this work and if so what helped?

    I for one only usually comment with a statement – not believing in the tool for back and forth discussion.


  4. Hi Jeremiah,

    I’m sure you are aware that the results will inevitably show duplication. So whilst I consume your blog through a feed aggregator (Flock), titles of interest I will click through to the site to read the comments… so I’m a double entry.

    Having said that I can’t remember if your survey allowed multiple choice for that question.

  5. I also click through from my feed reader to your website in order the read the comments. In fact, I probably do that for about 80% of your posts.

  6. I’m another “mixed” reader: I scan things via Bloglines, but then I open posts that look interesting enough that I might want to skim the comments or comment myself.

    I do think it helps to have the “Comments” link show in the feed, esp. when it’s a post (here or on any blog) that I’m sure will have a comment-thread conversation going.

    By the way, I’m sympathetic to what Alana says @3, but “not believing in the tool for back and forth discussion” is neither here nor there. There are *plenty* of blogs (e.g. Making Light) where the comment-thread conversations ARE robust. It’s not the tool but the *use* of the tool that matters.

  7. I’ll read most stuff in my reader (Outlook in my case) but often click through to the comments if I am particularly interested).

    I kind of agree with the @Alana – I find the format of blog commenting to be a PITA to follow, particulary when the number of comments gets above 20 or so and later commentors are referring to prior comments – I often find myself scrolling back and forth between comments. Some kind of organizing structuremight be helpful.

  8. Why not set up a comments feed in addition to your posts feed?

    P.S. Good news! Comcast is actually connecting to Dreamhost today…

  9. Jeremiah, good post. I find that i don’t come back to your site enough as i get your blog through RSS. Your readers are sophisticated so it is good to consume their thoughts. Thanks for the nudge.

  10. I agree with the “too confusing” crowd – especially if there are comments to comments.

    Maybe it is because I go back to when gopher and archie were the internet terms -and NNTP was the only way for a conversation. But in a non – threaded model – for me the old newsreader indents were always the best. (BBS readers did the same!)

    You remember these ?

    Your Comment
    >previous comment
    >> the older comment
    >>>the original

  11. Great call on this Jeremiah. I find the comments in my blog to be quite good and they really flesh out ideas. Here’s a question for you. Do you check FriendFeed to see if there’s a conversation happening around one of your blog posts?

  12. Thanks for pointing that out, Jeremiah. It really is true though, a lot of people want to just read the content, and usually do not participate in the conversation. Maybe this is because we’re still used to the old model where you only read what is written. I used to be a letters-to-the-editor editor for a little while and even though the newspaper had a circulation of 30,000 I would only have ten to twenty letters in a month. I like that you point out how much value can be received from reading the comments too. That should give people more motivation!

  13. Well, if the comments are that great then I expect you to summarize them and put that wisdom in a future blog. The signal-to-noise ratio is too high for me to read comments on ever blog I follow.

    I’m not even subscribed to this blog. It was shared with me by a friend through Google Reader (we work together on video projects for the web).



  14. I’m with @Ameel. If it’s something I’m interested in, I always click through to read the comments. Do I check back for your response to comments or additional comments from other readers? Not really. I figured if there was something worthwhile buried in the comments that you’d make sure to point us back to them. A summary would be cool, too.

  15. @Kibbe – have you tried coComment? Not flawless by any means, but it lets you tune in to follow numerous conversations without having to remember to check back…

    Anyone found a better comment tracking solution?

  16. I can only keep up with all the blogs (60+) through RSS.

    I see your posts in my RSS ticker in Firefox, check the summary, and click through to the site.

    Now, we are commenters, so we probably represent a skewed view of your readership who never leaves a comment. 😉

  17. I agree with this completely, I use Google Reader and I think it’s a courtesy to click through to the original site, when something interests me. Besides comments, you also get context and the alternative is that people will only RSS a teaser and force you to click through to read the article.

  18. “мысли здравые, но тяжело читать, не знаю почему”

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