People innately desire to belong. It makes us feel safe, secure and wanted. The sense of belonging gives us the courage to speak up and share our thoughts and feelings.

In safe surroundings we know we won’t be judged. We find our voice, and often find others who think like us. It’s in those safe places, friendships often blossom.

Today’s Lesson

As I travel through blogosphere I’m amazed at how some blogs have phenomenal content, but their comment section is dead. Then I land on other blogs where the content is good, doesn’t necessarily have that “WOW” factor, yet the comment section has exploded with responses, and I feel welcome.

Wondering why that might happen is revealed in an article titled Psychological Sense of Community. The authors (McMillan & Chavis) cite there are four elements to the sense of community.

1) Membership
2) Influence
3) Integration and fulfillment of needs
4) Shared emotional connection

Under membership, five items are listed. They are:

a. Boundaries
b. Emotional safety
c. A sense of belonging and identification
d. Personal investment
e. A common symbol system

When I look at each of these items, I begin to understand why great content may be just that; and why other blogs soar and quickly become the “go to” place(s) in blogosphere.

If our visitors feel comfortable when they land on our blogs they will often log in and leave a comment. Based on what they witness in our writings and our comment section, they feel safe and believe their voice will be heard. We, as blog authors, now have the opportunity to welcome them with open arms, reply to their comment and/or express our gratitude. When the commenter returns and reads our response, that sense of belonging may inspire them to join our online community.

As blog authors we have the power to create that safe haven. We can make our blogs a place where our visitors feel comfortable voicing their opinions. A place where they will find interaction. A place where they won’t be judged. A place to which they’ll want to return.

Often it’s not the blog post that draws in our readers, but the essence of feeling they have come “home”.

Today’s Assignment

Do you have favorite blogs where you feel “at home”?

What was it about the blog that inspires you to go back?

Have you ever visited a blog where you felt unwelcome? Did you return?

If you felt unwelcome, what elements of the blog turned you off?

Knowing psychology plays a huge role in the community we find on blogs, I’m curious to hear your answers.


Special thanks to Jodith @ Administrative Arts and Rich @ FeverBee for the inspiration for this post.

Photo Credit: Broken Arts

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Look Who's Talking
  1. Jamie HarropNo Gravatar says:

    Interesting post, Barbara.

    A couple weeks ago I wrote about subscriber to commentator conversion rates and how many blogs of thousands of readers only manage to get two or three comments per post, while there are plenty of blogs with 200 subscribers averaging 15 comments per post.

    One thing that really develops a sense of home is when the blog author replies to comments.

    Each time I write about my high reader to comment ratio, and I ask my readers why they comment on my blog so much, their response is always:

    1. You reply to comments
    2. You always ask questions at the end of the post and specifically say to tell you our thoughts in the comments

    While I just quickly write those questions in at the end and never pay too much attention to them, apparently my readers really notice them and try to answer them. I guess I give them a call to action and an open door to let them know it’s ok and I want them to comment.

    Excellent post as always, Barbara!


    Jamie Harrop´s last blog post..How Long Have You Been Blogging? – Poll!

  2. John HoffNo Gravatar says:

    Hello Barbara.

    Another component might be understanding. If a blog author can step outside of their own needs and experience the world from their commentator’s or community’s perspective, people will appreciate that and feel welcomed and understood. People definitely like to be understood.

    @Jamie – People also like to be told what to do LOL
    Your call to action is good and on the surface that’s what they tell you as to why they comment, but I suspect it has a little more to do than just that and your replies, ya know. 😉

    John Hoff´s last blog post..Understanding The Psychology Of Your Website Visitors

  3. LanceNo Gravatar says:

    Hi Barbara,
    This is really good to think about…what is it that really makes the comment section a thriving place?

    Like Jamie, I agree that personally replying to comments people leave helps greatly toward people feeling welcome. To expand on that, it’s also in giving a heartfelt reply – more than just a quick “thanks for commenting” reply. If your visitors know that their comments are being listened to, I think they are more likely to continue commenting – or for that matter start commenting – when they see the dialogue already going on.

    So, yes – I do have favorite blogs – that draw me in – and it’s because of what I feel is personal interaction. That’s not to say that great content won’t draw me in, as well – it will – yet there’s definitely something about making it personal that really makes opening up, and sharing comments – more likely to happen – for me.

    Lance´s last blog post..And The Word Is…

  4. melanieNo Gravatar says:

    I have blogs that make me feel welcome and jump right in to comment.
    I also have blogs that are my favourites but I wont comment because I feel intimidated by the author . This maybe because of my own fault or theirs, hard to say.
    Others are just too clicky and do not include you at all, like you are an outsider. I delete them after a while because I feel like a voyeur or a gate crasher.
    I have taken notice of these observations and tried to avoid any of the negatives on my blog, however, I am no expert yet and I am still at the stage where I would publically hug someone just for visiting and commenting lol.

  5. I have sentiments similar to Lance – a personal connection draws me in. I have unsubscribed from blogs where I feel the author is preaching at me about right and wrong. That does not make me feel at home.

    Stacey Shipman´s last blog post..A (Brief) History Behind Let it Flow

  6. I think you’ve hit the nail on the head with making your blog feel like a “safe” place. There are a few blogs where the comments have a “wild west” feel about them – where the content and the comments tend toward the “snarky” side.

    Liz Strauss, you and Cath Lawson all do a great job of moderating comments to make your blogs feel like a “safe” place to comment.

    Kathy @ Virtual Impax´s last blog post..Twitter Bug on the Loose

  7. I think an engaging topic is the key to making readers feel “at home” or welcome. If you have good ideas or things to say of course some one else will have a comment as interesting as the post and this in turn will encourage others to do the same. I myself have favorite blogs to read and they are those with whom I can have a good conversation with the poster and the commenters. Regards!

  8. MarelisaNo Gravatar says:

    Hi Barbara: I think it’s the difference between walking into a café where the coffee is really good but everyone is reserved and keeps to themselves, and walking into another café where everyone greets you and makes you feel like you’re part of the conversation. I think that you’re much more likely to return to the second one. On the other hand, the content on the blog has to be interesting enough to spark conversation. So it’s a combination of interesting content and a community feel.

    Marelisa´s last blog post..The 25-50-25 Rule for Getting Things Done

  9. Cath LawsonNo Gravatar says:

    Hi Barbara LMAO at Kathy’s wild west comment. I’ve visited those type of blogs before.

    I prefer commenting on blogs that teach me something and make me think. Some people pull it off but some go overboard. I sometimes visit a couple of blogs where the story is long and complicated.

    And the answer to the question they ask is either way too personal, or it requires hours and hours of thinking. And I find it hard to get into discussions on those blogs. It can feel as though the writer wants you to make more effort responding to their post than they have put in writing it and people just don’t have the time.

    BTW Barbara – incase you’re trying to access my blog, Bluehost shut my site down without warning – too many traffic spikes I guess. I still don’t have access to my account but as soon as they let me in, I’ll have to try to move it. Thought you’ want to know, since Bluehost is your host. I’ve been speaking with a few people on Twitter and it isn’t just me they targeted.

    Some folk were closed down for using a plugin tht Bluehost didn’t like.

  10. sharonNo Gravatar says:

    You have highlighted an area I really need to improve on Barbara. And I agree with all the above comments. The cyber world is often highly automated, so when someone actually responds to comments etc, then of course people will like that. It’s a nice feeling to know that your voice has been heard or that someone has noticed you. Great post!

    sharon´s last blog post..Pray Without Ceasing

  11. Eric HammNo Gravatar says:

    Barbara, this is such a great question! Sean and I are always talking about the difference between high traffic blogs and highly interactive blogs. You would certainly think they were the same animal, but as you pointed out, this is often not the case.

    I would say that the more you feel connected with the blog author, the more you’re willing to participate in the posts. We can go to any good quality content blog and take the information provided, but it is only when the author makes you feel like YOU personally matter, and let’s you in to their little world, that you will want to comment on a regular basis.

    It’s the whole difference between saying, “Hello, how are you doing?” to a friend and listening to a good speaker with no desire to verbally respond. Great food for thought, Barbara! Eric.

    Eric Hamm´s last blog post..Video Interview With Leo Babauta of Zen Habits

  12. Early on, Barbara, I decided I would try to take my cue from the way you respond to comments here. While we hardly get the traffic or number of comments you, or Cath, or Lance, and others get, it seems to me that engaging in them sets bloggers apart.

    I love it when commenters and I get to think about something more and respond, and away it goes. It just happened recently to us. The magic of interaction is really something!

    Marelisa’s analogy to the coffee shop is great! Thanks.


  13. J.D. MeierNo Gravatar says:

    I like the safe haven metaphor. It’s simple and sticky.

    I also always like how you do your homework to figure out the “why” behind the results … how things work or what the pattern is.

    J.D. Meier´s last blog post..Growth Mindset Over Fixed Mindset

  14. NaTuRaLNo Gravatar says:

    Yes, 2 blogs where I take my shoes off and kick my feet up. One blogger is a brilliant writer and the other one is just funny. They make me feel welcome just by being themselves I guess. They don’t take things too seriously, they have fun on their blog while still delivering great content.

    No, I don’t return to places where I don’t feel welcomed. A waste of time. Not EVER responding to comments is a turn off. I know we’re busy but say hello or at least go to their blog and leave a comment….I like being acknowledged. hello.

    NaTuRaL´s last blog post..You Know It’s Time To Give Up Blogging When….

  15. Blogs (like yours) where the writer is obviously interested in making a connection with readers call me back. There are some where the commenters all seem to know one another and that can be a bit off-putting. Then there are the uber-blogs (like problogger) where the info is good, but for me there isn’t much to say in a comment (you know, “great post” and all that gets old!) But as you know there are always tons of comments there.

    Vintage Mommy´s last blog post..A Big Milestone and a Small Milestone

  16. Do you have favorite blogs where you feel “at home”? – yes

    What was it about the blog that inspires you to go back?- the blogger’s personality and attitude

    Have you ever visited a blog where you felt unwelcome? Yes

    Did you return? No

    If you felt unwelcome, what elements of the blog turned you off? A snarky comments section.

  17. JannieNo Gravatar says:

    Yes, I sure have a few blogs that I smile about just thinking of them.

    I think the sense of connection comes from relating to the sameness in others. Some bloggers whom I totally click with another blogger may not so much – just like relationships in “real life.”

    Also, I think like anything, effort has to go into maintaining relationships. Reading others’ blogs, commenting, following up.

    And e-mails can be a great way to go a little deeper with a blogging friend too.

    Jannie´s last blog post..A happier ending

  18. FriarNo Gravatar says:

    The blogs I like the best are the ones that get hijacked, where you end up with off-topic comment discussions.

    Especially if things get out of control, and everyone starts ROFL’ing and LOL’ing.

    I admit, I often deliberately try to derail things, and stir things up. (Often, with my accomplice Brett).

  19. atchissonNo Gravatar says:

    the blogs I feel most at home with are the ones I have most in common with. I find myself frequintly returning and sharing my thoughts openly

    atchisson´s last blog post..Cell Phone Pistol

  20. Razib AhmedNo Gravatar says:

    I feel that there are many bloggers who give a lot of importance to SEO stuff and thus, their entries bring good traffic but are not ideal for receiving many comments.

    Razib Ahmed´s last blog post..Economic Recession: 10 Similarities Between America and South Asia

  21. RuthNo Gravatar says:

    I think sometimes blogs with really informative, well-written factual content don’t get any comments because there’s really nothing else to say. A few people might say “thanks for the info,” but nothing else. Those would be posts on things like “when you’ll receive your economic stimulus check” or “10 steps you can take today to clear your workspace.”

    I’m most likely to comment on posts which are opinion-based. Written by people who give off clear signals that they care what other people think too. Like you’re interested in what makes us want to comment. Not only did you make a call to action, but you meant it.

    Opinion posts turn me off if they’re too much “my way or the highway,” even if I agree. I’d rather see something that asked “am I the only one who thinks this is crazy?” (like Vered’s recent post on Butt Writing). The first type are almost like factual ones…unless you really want to rebut them, then there’s nothing to add because the writer’s mind is made up. The second encourages me to get in the spirit of the post.

    (Um, that was longer than I meant, but your post made me want to outline a theory of why I prefer to comment on some posts and then why on some opinion posts vs. others. Comment-inspiring win?)

    Ruth´s last blog post..Operation Nice: Small Ways to Make a Better World

  22. RuthNo Gravatar says:

    Postscript: if a blogger responds to comments, then I’m also MUCH more inclined to comment!

  23. Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

    WOW! I can’t believe what I just did. I had nearly every comment answered and accidentally hit the wrong key which erased all of my replies…….

    Let’s start this again.

    Hi Jamie – Thank you. You are giving your readers a call to action by asking questions. They want to know you care what they think. By you then replying to their comments, you’re letting them know their voices are being heard. Great job!

    Hi John – Good point. If (and that could be a big IF) we can put ourselves in our reader’s shoes, we might end up rewriting our blog post, realizing the wording is more preachy than helpful.

    Hi Lance – Absolutely. Replying with a simple thanks might work on some posts, but generally our commenters want to know we understand what they’re saying and that their comment is being read and not skimmed.

    Hi Melanie – For new bloggers, comments are very important and we treat them like they’re gold. When we get bigger, it’s a good idea to remember those beginning days and not assume comments will come easily.

    Like you, I’ve been on blogs that feel intimidating. Most times it’s because what’s written is over my head.

    Hi Stacey – I agree. Preachy content is a huge turn off.

    Hi Kathy – Thank you for your kind words. Wild West? Snarky? Yup! I’ve seen a few of those.

    Hi Chicago – It is great when we find blogs like that, isn’t it? The conversation is good and we feel welcome.

    Hi Marelisa – Great analogy. You’re right. It becomes a combination of interesting content and feeling welcome.

    Hi Catherine – Like you, I love blogs that make me think. but like you said, when the questions get too personal or time consuming to answer, it’s time to leave.

    Thanks for the heads up on BlueHost. I hope you get your blog up and running real soon.

    Hi Sharon – Thank you. Yes, we all like to know we’re being heard and noticed. Replying to comments is an easy way to do that.

    Hi Eric – I see you’re coming in from your new blog. 🙂

    I’ve thought about that specific difference in blogs, too. I think some blog authors only want high traffic and not comments. If the blog is monetized it’s more profitable if someone clicks on the ads and/or buys, than to have them commenting and not clicking.

    Hi Betsy – Thank you for the great compliment. I truly appreciate it.

    It is magical when that interaction happens in a comment section, isn’t it? It’s hard to put into words.

    Hi J.D. Thank you. My analytical side really came out in this post, hey? 🙂

    Hi NaTuRal – Isn’t it great when you find a blog and you feel you can “take your shoes off”? Hopefully we don’t have stinky feet. LOL

    Hi Ann – You know it. I do care what you all have to say. The comments I receive are what motivates me to keep plugging along.

    Yes, the big blogs do get tons of comments without author participation, but if the author is cranking out great material, I don’t mind as they are providing value.

    Hi Vered – You bring up a good point. We can easily get the feel of a blogger’s personality and attitude by the words they use, and how they use them. That says a lot, doesn’t it?

    Hi Jannie – You’re right. Follow up is very important. Our visitors like to see us on their blogs, too. It’s a two way street.

    Hi Friar – LOL Hijacked blogs? You and Brett are great for that. The comment sections get mighty interesting, don’t they?

    Hi Atchisson – Yes, when we feel we have a lot in common with the author, we feel a great sense of belonging.

    Hi Razib – That’s right. Some content is great as a resource, but not all that great for comments.

    Hi Ruth – Well put. I’m with you on the “opinion – my way or the highway” posts. The author’s mind is made up and although they may get some to disagree with them, they often aren’t compassionate to another point of view.

    Yup! A comment inspiring win. 🙂

  24. MayaNo Gravatar says:

    Great post Barbara.

    I am very much with Lance on this one. The blogger really need not respond to my comments but if i feel the blogger is caring enough to respond to comments it makes a big big difference!

    Maya´s last blog post..Preparing to Believe in Yourself: The Science of Ditchiness

  25. Kelvin KaoNo Gravatar says:

    You know what I just realized? You can’t spell “belong” wihout “blog”. Does that mean anything? No, not unless you love stretching metaphors until they don’t make any sense as much as I do.

    I go back to visit blogs if they bother to reply to my comments. Not necessarily every single time. Every now and then is good enough for me.

    Kelvin Kao´s last blog post..Goodbye 2008, Hello 2009!

  26. John HoffNo Gravatar says:

    @Cath – we should talk. I think I can solve your problem with the /blog directory if you switch to my hosting, you can pay month to month, and maybe fix your suspension problem as well.

    @Barbara – I hope you don’t mind the mention of my services on your blog. You know I’d never spam your site. If I ever do, you have my permission to spank Hunter LOL 😉

    @Hunter – just kidding bro!

    John Hoff´s last blog post..Understanding The Psychology Of Your Website Visitors

  27. I’ve always believed blogging to be about rich conversation. When I don’t see one I figure that the blog owner either doesn’t care enough to have one or feels as though he/she doesn’t need to have one. So, if there are very few comments is it really a blog?

    I enjoy commenting on a blog where I feel as though we’d be talking about the same things if we all met for coffee.

    Tom Volkar / Delightful Work´s last blog post..Be Authentic and Grow Rich

  28. DavinaNo Gravatar says:

    Hi Barbara. Great topic! I follow blogs that give me other perspectives on things and where I can learn something new… some blogs do this with humour, some tell it like it is. I learn both ways and appreciate the variety.

    “A sense of belonging and identification” as you mentioned is key for me. Everyone wants to be heard. The comment section to me is the playground for this. The blogger knows their words are being “heard” with the comments, and the readers know they are being heard when their comments are acknowledged.

    Davina´s last blog post..The Quote Effect: Naughty, Nice & Niche Bloggers

  29. Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

    Hi Maya – Thank you. I agree with you, too. I like when the author responds to my comments.

    Hi Kelvin – Hmmm. Now you have me thinking about metaphors. Recognition for our comments is a nice way of saying our words are important to the author, aren’t they?

    Hi John – You know I have NO problem with you mentioning your services. It makes me happy you may have a solution to Catherine’s problem. I miss not being able to visit her blog.

    Haha! Hunter is also the fall guy if I end up hating Twitter. He’s getting the blame for lots of stuff. 🙂

    Hi Tom – How do you take your coffee? Mine. I take black.

    That’s a good point. Blogs are suppose to be an “interactive” means of communication.

    Hi Davina – Thank you. Isn’t that two way communication great? Like you, I like when blogs give me other perspectives. It really helps to exercise the brain.

  30. TumblemooseNo Gravatar says:


    Interesting concept.

    I’ve spent some time teaching adults in a variety of settings and teaching people to teach. On of the strongest impressions I want to leave with new teachers is the concept of a safe classroom. If students feel like it is not safe to voice opinions out of fear of ridicule, or if the opportunity is not made available for them to participate openly, learning shuts down.

    And truly, shouldn’t we view our blogs as a virtual classroom? (Although, some of us are much further ahead in that regard) 😉



    Tumblemoose´s last blog post..The inspired writer

  31. Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

    Hi George- How interesting that you also taught teachers to build “safe” classrooms. It makes sense that in any environment, if others feel secure, they’re more apt to participate.

    Virtual classroom? Know where I can find one? 🙂

  32. Happy new year Barbara!

    I have about 7-10 blogs where I feel completely at home and I will actively try to comment, even if I don’t have anything astounding to add to the conversation. Of course there is a matter of time permitting, but these blogs have my loyalty to the extent that I could never imagine not reading them. Usually this is because of the personality of the blogger and their unique writing voice or content.

    As a rule I don’t like to comment where there are 60+ comments per post, but some of my friends are in this league now so I have to make an exception for them. But I know they notice me and I am part of something. if the blogger doesn’t know me then it seems like a waste of my time.

    Blogging communities I don’t like are where the comments section is allowed to get adversarial on a regular basis or where people just kiss the ass of the blogger because they’re ‘famous’. I have also had attitude from a blogger once because of a comment I posted on their site. They became very confrontational over what I felt was a benign comment. I never returned and deleted them from my reader. I have no time for people who want to pick fights and be negative.

    Interesting discussion, which of course is to be expected from this high quality blog.

    If I’m going to kiss ass then it shall be for my friends 🙂


  33. RobinNo Gravatar says:

    Hi Barbara – this is very interesting.

    I’ve read every comment above me, which means I’m interested in what your readers have to say. Which means that what they say is relevant to me. Which means I belong here.

    I leave comments if I know the blogger, or someone has just left a comment on my blog (apart from the past few weeks when I have been struggling to find time to read blogs, and have not left as many comments as would have liked to).

    I lose interest in blogs if they never leave comments on mine.

    I’d recommend Little Oak hosting – their service has a personal touch.

    Robin´s last blog post..5-Year Plan For This Blog

  34. Evelyn LimNo Gravatar says:

    I certainly have a list of favorite blogs. I know that if I put a comment in there, I will not be judged for the difference in my ideas, beliefs and thoughts.

    I also don’t like to comment on blogs that have too many comments. However, yours, Vered’s and a few others are exceptions. Yes…these blogs and their friendly hosts made me feel safe, cherished and nourished!!! They may get crowded with people but at least, the environment is nice, warm and friendly.

    Evelyn Lim´s last blog post..Past Life Memories In Hokkaido

  35. Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

    Hi Kelly and Happy New Year to you, too – Like you, I’ve seen comments that are only used for the purpose of sucking up to the author. Like you, I’d rather save the kudos for my favorite bloggers.

    Hi Robin – This has been an fascinating discussion, hasn’t it? Like you, I’m also getting back into the “groove” after taking time.

    I agree, when a blogger doesn’t make the time to visit us, we do lose interest in what’s happening on their blog.

    Hi Evelyn – Your comment made me wonder if someone showing up might feel like their words wouldn’t make a difference here (if there are too many comments). I’m happy to hear you feel safe and know I cherish your participation.

  36. From my experience on my blog it seems that fun, fun, fun is what makes people feel most at home.

    I don’t get nearly the number of comments you do Barbara but whenever I write a silly or “just for a laugh” post people seem to comment a lot more.

    I think it puts people at ease. Many people are scared to put personal opinions or reactions that may be controversial, but they love joining in with fun and games.

    the three dog blogger´s last blog post..31 Dog Duties To Dutifully Do For 31 Days

  37. Dr. CasonNo Gravatar says:

    As you know I have gone back and forth with all of this comment stuff because it takes a lot of effort.

    In the end I have come back to what you have always suggested- Answer your commenters even if its I heard you all and back later on!

    I am shocked that some blogs fail to interact. I have tried many times on one blog in particular and never heard boo. Given that she had so little commenters I would have though she might reference it or come for a visit. Nope.

    I haven’t been back.

    Dr. Cason´s last blog post..Time to Vote Again! and How to Incorporate Photography into Your Life

  38. chrisNo Gravatar says:

    Well teach, this just confirms that I really need to reply to my comments again. This post really hits home because I’m at crossroads. I can’t decide whether to increase my readership or just to maintain the ones I have. Thank You.

    chris´s last blog post..Seventy Years

  39. SaraNo Gravatar says:


    This post comes at a very important time for me. I’m changing my focus on my blog and want to attract more conversation from my readers. I noted the importance of commenting back to a person who left a comment. I need to work on this!!!

    I started to make a list of blogs that make me feel comfortable, but it’s too long. It might be easier to note the ones that make me uncomfortable. They tend me the marketing, self-promotion or “expert speaking” blogs.

    One last thought: In addition to leaving comments about posts that make us comfortable and safe, I wish there was a neutral place to go for regular blog readers to give feedback to bloggers about their sites.

    Thanks for the excellent post and the good advice!

    Sara´s last blog post..Happy New Year: clean your life closet!

  40. LindaNo Gravatar says:

    I have found many sites I find that right up my alley. However, I do not know IF I can say anything else the rest of the commenters have elegantly said. I will say that you sure do know how to bring out the thinking that we may all do but do not talk about. 🙂

    Linda´s last blog post..Have You Heard?

  41. Bunny got BlogNo Gravatar says:

    Hello Barbara,

    I would like to turn in my assignment.

    I have a handful of blogs where I return to daily if time allows.
    Probably five favorites where the authors write on various subjects that interest me.
    Their writing techniques and personality is what draws me back.If they motivate me to think Of course I will return.

    Authenticity of the subject.I love personal views and not always agreeing with them but I find it interesting to read others takes on subjects.
    How we show mutual appreciation in comments and an offering help or advice. It is really is usually a very friendly community.

    I have to say yes,I have had rude comments on other blogs.Only two.Hostile.

  42. GennaroNo Gravatar says:

    I definately think it’s important for commenter on your blog to feel comfortable. One way is to comment back on their blog. Another is to moderate the comment section to endure there are discussion and points being made instead of personal nonsense.

    I find the comments to be one of the most enjoyable parts of running a blog. Getting feedback or ideas from readers is great.

    Gennaro´s last blog post..Passport Cards Speed Border Crossings

  43. Hey Barbara,

    I really enjoyed this post. To me, it’s all about community. And, I’m finding out that it’s difficult to build an effective community on a blog! So far, it seems that I get more repeat visitors when I take the time to provide thoughtful comments back to those who comment on my site.

    This is the way I can best see to create a comfortable and inviting place for folks to stop by.

    Kevin Sandridge´s last blog post..Fed’s MBS Buy Back Program Helps Keep Florida Home Loan Rates Low

  44. Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

    Hi Three Dog Blogger – Good point. Humor often brings others in, even if it’s to say you made them laugh. I agree that many people prefer not to be controversial on blogs (although some will do it on purpose).

    Hi Dr. Cason – Yes, replying to comments does take time, however, if we want that community effect on our blogs, I don’t think it can happen without the author’s input. Although some blogs get massive comments without the author’s participation, I don’t feel the warmth that I do on those where the author gets involved.

    Hi Chris – I’m guessing you’re choosing to increase your readership. Yes?

    Hi Sara – You’re welcome. I’m happy to hear this post helped you. What I find is not only does it help to be involved in the comment section, but to ask your readers for their thoughts at the end of a post. If I genuinely believe a blog author wants to know what I think, I feel honored and will leave a reply.

    Re: A neutral place to go to get feedback on your blog, I’m going to email you and have you elaborate on that for me. Maybe it’s something I can add to this blog.

    Hi Linda – Thank you. My ideas for posts often come from what I’m observing and questioning. I’m guessing others may have the same concerns, so I throw it out there. I’m happy to hear it’s working. 🙂

    Hi Bunny – I’ll gladly accept your assignment. You’ve done a great job. 🙂 You’ve brought up a great point. Authenticity of the subject can be a huge motivator to keep us coming back, even if we don’t agree with them. Those are fun comment sections to read, aren’t they?

    Hi Gennaro – Another great idea. Moderate the comment section so the comments stay of topic (although some, like Friar prefers the opposite).

    I know exactly what you mean about comments being the most enjoyable part of running a blog. Getting that feedback is awesome.

    Hi Kevin – You’re right. It is difficult to build a community on a blog, and time consuming. I think as long as we make it our goal to build a community, we can accomplish that. I’ve done it by replying to my comments (although I may miss some on older posts), and also visiting the blogs of those who visit me as time permits. If I read a comment on another blog and what was said interests me, I visit them, too. Now that I’ve joined Twitter, I’m finding more blogs to add to my RSS feed. At times it feels overwhelming, but I’ve learned to do what I can with the time I have (for blogging).

  45. SvastiNo Gravatar says:

    I have a very short attention span – like many people do, I suspect.

    So things that turn me off a blog include:
    * Too much advertising (especially if its getting in the way of the content
    * A tone of voice in the writing that makes me think the author feels like they’re ‘above’ others. I find that really boring and not engaging (*rolls eyes*)
    * Obvious spelling mistakes and bad content layout (not enough paragraphs, too much rambling) – makes me feel like the author doesn’t care about their readers

    Things I do like are:
    * When an author relates on a human-to-human level.
    * An interesting spin on the subject matter – they could be writing about the same old, same old, but with their own point of view
    * When the author displays a sense of humour and the ability to send themselves up

    I always check out someone’s blog when they comment on mine. I generally subscribe via RSS if I find their blog of interest and whilst I don’t comment on every post for every blog I subscribe to (there’s way too many of them to do that!), I definitely try to get around and comment whenever I can.

    Its sort of like saying “hello” and hopefully adding something useful to their post as well.

    Svasti´s last blog post..Fear and panic – or – more stuckness

  46. Great timing. I just had CommentLuv installed last night and blogged about the importance of providing a Subscribe to Comment function so your blog community can return to conversations that interest them. After visiting the CommentLuv site this is one of the first posts I came across and perfect for linking in and sharing at FriendFeed (already done).

    Derek Semmler installed it for me and his blog is one of those communities where loyal participants return and comment again and again. He is about to post on this subject as well so I sent the link to this post off to him too.

    Your blog is another one of those great community “Safe Havens” as you described them. Great idea to place your subscribe button under the comment box. The words you use there are inviting. As soon as I share this I’m off to subscribe too. I’ll be back and hope we can exchange ideas across blogs.

    Internet Strategist´s last blog post..Blogging Best Practices: Enabling Your Readers to Subscribe to Comments

  47. We want to be around other people that are putting in good effort.

    You are right. The blog that has a bunch of comments makes me want to join in. I feel like the community is willing to share. It’s hard to create this environment. It takes hand holding and a lot of giving to other bloggers, but it’s worth it.

    Karl Staib – Work Happy Now´s last blog post..Change Messes With Everyone

  48. CricketNo Gravatar says:

    Well, I love to float around the blogosphere and find those blogs where I can jump right into the comment section. I have many that I check during the day that have a “chatting party” going on.

    A little over a year ago I was blogging a great deal. I was after the numbers, etc. I then slowly began to change how I felt about blogging. I am happy now in my little niche that I have made. It is growing and I am happy with it. I feel like I have my own little city at my blog where I am getting to know my neighbors. I just wish I could sit down and share a cup of tea!

    So, yes…I love places with happy comments.

    Cricket´s last blog post..Who would I rather be?

  49. LisaNewtonNo Gravatar says:

    I just started my blog, so your post is extremely timely.

    Thank you so much………………..:)

    LisaNewton´s last blog post..Californian’s Want Wetlands

  50. DerekNo Gravatar says:

    As mentioned above by Internet Strategist, I did just publish a post tonight on how I have been able to increase the comments on my blog and have built a community of regular contributors.

    Basically, the way that I have helped make people feel comfortable is as others have noted: respond to their comments, provide plugins that enhance the user experience, and return the favor by commenting on their blogs.

    Happy to have found my way here, both through a recommendation from Internet Strategist and the Active Sites list on CommentLuv.

    Derek´s last blog post..Magic Formula To More Comments :: Only 3 Ingredients

  51. Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

    Hi Svasti – I agree that an author’s “tone” can put people off. I don’t like to be preached to, so I avoid blogs that do. Like you, I also check on the blogs of new commenters and subscribe if I feel I might learn something or have something to contribute.

    Hi Internet Strategist – That is a great post you wrote. So comprehensive. Thank you so much for sharing my link with Derek, and for your kind words. I truly appreciate it.

    Thank you also for all of the links you shared with me on Twitter.

    Hi Karl – You’re right. We do hold each others hand and need to be unselfish. Together we grow. Together we succeed.

    Hi Cricket (Tammy) – I know what you mean about going after the numbers. In the beginning I thought that was what I should do, but then I found community on blogs, and the number aspect of blogging went by the wayside. Sharing a cup of tea with our blogger friends would be awesome.

    Hi Lisa – You’re welcome. I just looked at your blog and love all of the beautiful photos you’re sharing of Los Angeles. I’ll be by to visit you real soon. Happy blogging!

    Hi Derek – It ‘s great to see you here as Internet Strategist told me about you and your current post. I’ll be by to check it out. The plugins that are available to showcase comments are fabulous, aren’t they? My favorite is CommentLuv. Awhile back I had the honor of interviewing Andy and he shared more about the plugin in this post: A.S.K. Andy Bailey – What Was The Inspiration Behind The CommentLuv Plugin. He’s a great guy who stays on top of updates for the plugin.

    I’ll head over to your blog as soon as I get my post for tomorrow published, See you there.

  52. Eric HammNo Gravatar says:

    @Barbara: “Hi Eric – I see you’re coming in from your new blog. :)”

    That’s right! I wore my suit instead of my sandals. 🙂 Eric.

    Eric Hamm´s last blog post..Changing the World

  53. Hi Barbara. I hope you had a wonderful holiday. I apologize for not visiting lately, I have been moving, settling after the holiday and work is a madhouse! I will try to do better – lol

    There ARE blogs that make me feel welcome and that I really enjoy reading. I like blogs that don’t show too much right up front. I admit, I do like gadgets and fun things, but they need to be strategically placed as to not take away from the posts. I like blogs that talk to the reader and ask for opinions. I like to see pictures. I am not a fan of blogs that try to get me to buy things, i.e. household products, jewelry, etc., however, I like reading about REAL people and ideas to make life a little easier.

    Jennifer (Danifer)´s last blog post..Movie Review: The House Bunny

  54. […] latest post at Blogging Without a Blog is an excellent example of both a popular blog and a post that garnered plenty of comments: 54 so […]

  55. Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

    Hi Jennifer – It’s great to see you here. I know what you mean about busy schedules.

    I’m hear you. Finding blogs that ask for our opinions are fun to visit. They get us thinking and help to exercise our brains. Can’t beat that.

  56. CompservNo Gravatar says:

    Lol i’ve try taking the time to go through comments in one of my blogs to create a closer feeling. It’s great at first, until i found my self spending all my time going through the comments. Now it’s more of a quick skim to filter out the profanity and perhaps try to catch any that are directed at me. Maybe it’s time I take a speed reading class? lol

    Compserv´s last blog post..Basic Computer Care – Computer Cleaning

  57. jan geronimoNo Gravatar says:

    That’s a valuable blogging lesson, Barbara. Creating a safe heaven for readers – can’t go wrong with this approach. Surely, we’re not doing away here lively discussions, are we? There’s still some room for differing points of view? Of course, these are not mutually exclusive of each other. One can have fiery discussions but still preserve the safe haven feel to a blog. And the blog author’s tone and manner of interacting with readers have a lot to do with maintaining that delicate balance.

    I’ve just been to a lively blog. The topic was not even controversial. I left a comment. Another reader jumped on me with a comment extremely solicitous at first, but obviously reeking in sarcasm. I replied politely, keeping to the topic. This reader backed off, but another reader picked up where the other had left off. Gloves were off – the second reader turned personal and insulting.

    I had subscribed to the comments – that’s how I know. I wasn’t able to sleep the whole night because of that vicious comment. Let 24 hours pass before I returned to this blog. Perhaps I’ve misread the whole situation? Perhaps I had it coming? Perhaps I deserved this antagonism?

    I reread every thing. From the post, to my initial comment, reaction to my comments and my replies. Sad, but I realize some readers in that blog can’t be appeased whatever I say. That’s my gut feel. So I refrained from commenting further.

    What made it worse? The blog author did not step in. Is it a good tactic to create a little excitement for your blog at the expense of a reader?

    That’s the last time I’d go to that blog. Never again.

    I will never do that to my readers. I may not be a brilliant blogger, but I’d do everything possible to make my readers feel safe in my own living room.

    Thanks, Barbara. You’ve clarified a lot of things for me with this splendid post.
    .-= Check out jan geronimo´s awesome post: My Philosophy in a Bottle of Ketchup =-.

  58. […] Bloggers are feeling validated and their readers have a safe haven. […]