Tuesday, August 20, 2019

No Comment, In Which I Disappear Up My Own Fundament

I rather blew my chance of a good, meaty post today by using up a lot of the material in reply to a couple of very interesting posts by Kaylriene and Naithin. Looking at it from a Blaugust advice on blogging point of view, it exemplifies a perennial problem: when to comment and when to post.

A blogging "scene" requires certain key elements to sustain itself: enough people blogging to create a critical mass, a significant degree of interaction between them and a willingness to share. Get all those in place and you have a good chance of a stable community maintained by synergies that are self-sustaining.

Bouncing off other peoples' posts is an essential element. It's also crucial that, when doing so, each blogger not only credits their inspiration but links to the source. That's how blogs find new readers and readers find new blogs.

Commenting is also deeply important. Comments validate the effort of the blogger who wrote the post that inspired them and let them know that someone out there is not only reading but paying attention. More importantly, comments create conversations.

Individual blogs can exist perfectly happily in a void. If you're keeping a personal journal there's really no need for readers. Blogger actually has settings that allow you to make your blog available only to invited readers or even to make it unavailable and invisible to anyone but you.

I have absolutely no doubt that there are people out there knocking out thousands or even hundreds of thousands of words every year that no-one ever sees. Not everyone wants other people reading their diary, after all.

Random shot from Kingdoms of Amalur because you have to break the text up with something.

By definition those private bloggers don't matter to anyone but themselves. Effectively, for the rest of us, they don't exist. Everyone else likes a bit of feedback and if there's going to to be a blogosphere or a scene, the feedback needs to form a loop.

Most of the time I have no problem encouraging and facilitating that. I habitually bounce off other bloggers and spray links in all directions. It's one of the best ways to keep a blog lively and current.

Not infrequently, though, I find myself facing a minor dilemma. I'll be reading a post that piques my interest and I'll start writing a comment, because I can no more resist the sound of my own voice than I can breathe treacle.

As I get stuck in and the comment grows longer and more convoluted, it will occur to me that a) comments shouldn't have a dozen paragraphs and b) I could probably turn what I'm writing into a full post. At that moment I have to decide which way to go and it's not always a straightforward decision.

I often think it's a bit rude to remove a lengthy comment from consideration without the blogger in question having any idea it was ever there. If other bloggers are anything like me they'll cherish their comments, metaphorically rolling around in them like Scrooge McDuck in his money pit. It's cruel to deprive anyone of that pleasure even if they never find out.

My solution is often to write a very short comment saying I was going to write a longer one but then I decided to turn it into a post of my own. I'm never sure how welcome that really is. It could sound a bit like someone telling you they had a great idea for a birthday present for you but after they bought it they realized they liked it so much they decided to keep it. And then gave you a photo of them using and enjoying it. As your present.

It's getting prettier as I get further in.

On the other hand, discovering that a post you've written has inspired or provoked another blogger into a response post of their own is at least as satisfying as receiving a comment. More so if it's a good post that expands on the subject, as when Everwake posted something on Developer Appreciation Week which referenced my post on the same subject.

Then there's the question of how much you really want to write the post. It takes me about five per cent of the time to write even a lengthy comment than it would to put a full post together. I freestyle comments and don't read them back (as you can easily tell from the high incidence of typos, spelling and grammatical errors).

Even if I've already written an overlong comment running to a few hundred words the chance of cannibalizing any of it to cut and paste into a post is minimal. I sometimes try but it's more trouble than it's worth. Easier to start again from scratch.

It does sometimes occur to me to leave the whole comment in situ and then do the post as well but somehow that never sits quite right. It leaves me with the strange feeling I've just plagiarized myself. And it seems a bit of a cheat, as if I'm trying to get double credit, although from whom I couldn't tell you.

In both cases today, bashing out comments to Kaylriene and Naithin, I had in mind the amount of effort it would take to do a proper post on the highly nuanced and complex issue of Sandbox versus Themepark gameplay. I had ideas sparking like lightning across my synapses and I was uncomfortably aware of the minimal likelihood of any of them being amenable to tamping down.

Also, I'm absolutely certain I've pontificated at considerable length about this subject before. Several times. Not that that would stop me but I knew that if I wasn't going to just repeat my established position and trot out some of the same well-worn anecdotes I'd have to go and do some primary research.

Also hotter, drier and dustier. And more orange.

I do a lot of research. I enjoy it and I really hate getting facts wrong. I actually did some research even to comment on Naithin's post, because I was refuting something another commenter, Quin, had said and I wanted to be sure I wasn't talking through my hat.

As a complete aside and also an illustration of how rabbit holes can open up under your feet at any time, when I tabbed back to Time to Loot to get the above link to Quin's comment, I clicked on his name and it took me to his blog, Where The Monsters Are. I had seen his name as a commenter before but I had no idea he had a blog, let alone one in which his latest post is a direct counterpart to my DAW post (linked above, let's not over-egg it), taking almost the opposite stance on exactly the same developer.

Where The Monsters Are looks like a very interesting blog indeed and I immediately added it to my blog roll, not least because I'm already on his. If anyone else has me on their blog roll and I haven't reciprocated, please nudge me.

Unfortunately, when I checked to see if it had worked I couldn't see Quin's blog anywhere. I scrolled all the way down to the bottom and there it was, showing the most recent post as this from seven years ago. I fiddled around for a while but I couldn't get Blogger to recognize the current WTMA. Anyone with any ideas on how to fix it please let me know. It works fine in Feedly...

Getting back to the point, assuming I ever had one or could remember it if I did, sometimes a comment is all you really need but sometimes it takes a full post to get your message across. Knowing when to break out and when to tuck in is an art rather than a science. I'm still working on it.

Then again, you can always comment first then spiral off into a post that's tangentially related at best. That works too!


  1. I found him in the WordPress.com reader, which is good for finding things based on tags, categories, and where you have left comments.


    1. Yes, that's the url I'm using. I've tried copy/pasting it, typing it in and I even went to the RSS feed, which works fine on Feedly, and pulled various versions out of there, all to no avail. It's probably some idiosyncracy of Blogger. There are several blogs stranded at the very bottom of the roll that Blogger recognizes but won't update.

  2. I didn't know about him either, that went straight on my blogroll. I don't like advertising myself, but I have come semi-out of retirement if you'd like to list my main blog:


    Any traffic source helps both with eyes and motivation. Getting listed on massively OP certainly did. I'm up to four posts this year. Maybe next year I'll do five ;-)

    1. Added you! I could have sworn your blog was already there but apparently not.

  3. It may be that it's referencing my Wordpress blog - wherethemonstersare.wordpress.com and not my new self-hosted site!

    I confess I missed your DAW post re Verant/SOE because the title threw me off and I've beeen falling behind in my Blaugust. I appreciate your posts Bhagpuss mostly because we came at MMORPG issues from very different points of view. I've just now gone and read that post, and I'll leave a comment on it.

    Thanks for the shout out!

    1. Yes, there are just too many posts to keep up with thanks to Blaugust. I keep missing things too. I really make a rod for my own back with the titles I use - I was in the habit of adding the game or some other reference as a coda but I've fallen out of the habit of doing that. Maybe I'll start again.

      I think we are almost at diametric opposite poles on some aspects of the way the genre has gone but in other ways we're very much coming from the same background. Although I love reminiscing, I'm very much not one for living in the past so I tend to work on the assumption that there's always something worth enjoying in new things.

      That said, I have a lot of sympathy for the idea that WoW, or post-Vanilla WoW, pretty much reset the MMORPG genre and broke a lot of it at the same time. I kind of take the position that the whole hobby needs to split into sub-genres that meet the needs of different audiences and I think that might be happening, slowly.

    2. I agree that many games try to be everything for everyone and end up pleasing no one! Some sub-genre stratification would be welcome indeed.

  4. Blogroll seems to be working fine now for me.

    1. Yay! It seems to have fixed itself. Excellent.

  5. FWIW, I don't view comments saying that a post idea has been triggered are a bad thing at all.

    Although this is speaking as someone who occasionally does the same. So maybe that's a given. ;)

    When I do it I'll try to offer the kernel of the thought process, or some other additional insight so that the comment intrinsincally holds some value of its own -- but I note that you do this too anyway.


    "It takes me about five per cent of the time to write even a lengthy comment than it would to put a full post together. I freestyle comments and don't read them back (as you can easily tell from the high incidence of typos, spelling and grammatical errors)."

    God yes. Enough so that it has been close to spawning a post of its own on this very topic already. Your quote here might just be the catalyst to push that off into reality. xD

    1. Goodo! Look forward to reading it.

      As I've said before, it was mainly the ever-growing length of the comments I was leaving on other peoples' blogs that spurred me into starting my own. Also, Tobold. He used to refer to Nils as "Nils, who writes more on my blog than I do" or something like that and he kept on at Nils to start a blog of his own, which he eventually did, with some considerable success. I still get traffic from Nils site, even though he hasn't posted for years.

      Writing posts does take a lot more time and effort than commenting but it's also a lot less throwaway. I wouldn't want to be without either these days.


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