There’s a good deal out there about why bloggers blog, and bloggers, as is their wont, comment on why they blog (or don’t blog). However, it is safe to say that one reason bloggers continue to blog is because people read the blog and respond to the blog, often in the comments section (there’s a secondary comment area that’s not readily apparent because it does not take place in the comments section, but suffice it to say that I’ve seen extensive discussions about blogs and blog posts on various discussion groups; sometimes those discussions even give rise to blog posts because the blogger is able to identify an audience he/she knows will respond).
Not all readers and commenters are necessarily in agreement with the author of the blog. Some people seem to track blogs (and bloggers) with the primary purpose of expressing disagreement; others feel the need to desire more than to respond. Some of the critical voices here have followed me from blog to blog or from various discussion groups; I’ve seen folks criticize the blog and blogging, only to show up here (sometimes within days), as if they are moths drawn to the flame. Of course, many of those same folks (a bitter group well-known to some readers of this blog) also seek to join discussion groups that they have criticized. Some of this is no doubt due to the decline of usenet as a vehicle for discussion (of the two Civil War groups that once held sway, the moderated one is no more while the unmoderated one would struggle to reach one hundred posts a month without spam and the occasional flamewar). For other folks, there seems to be something of a watchdog function: various bloggers have their favorites, and vice versa. I’ve even seen a few bloggers basically carry on a conversation between each other on their respective blogs, and those exchanges aren’t always friendly.
Those folks who follow blogs in order to criticize posts tend to comment out of proportion to their numbers, although they sometimes spark lengthy exchanges. Most readers, however, don’t fit the descriptions provided above. Yes, bloggers read what other bloggers say, and sometimes they respond. But most readers don’t comment, and many who do offer thoughtful (and not uncritical) reflections on what they’ve read.
So, the Sunday question, in two parts: why do you read blogs? Why do you comment?