So 26 people commented regarding how they handle comments on their blogs - whether they email responses back to the commenters, or visit their blogs and leave a reciprocal comment, or reply to comments within their own comments.
For the most part, I think everyone is evenly divided on this subject. I Need a Martini Mom had over 100 comments on this topic, and I think her comments were about as evenly divided as those left on my blog.
Here's my take on the comments that y'all left on this subject: we all do the best we can, and we all do it differently. And there's really no right or wrong way, no true blog etiquette when it comes to comments and responding to them.
Neil from Life with Dogs responded with his trademark humor, at first: No comment. :-p
He followed that up with: And now for a real answer. I can't do it. Can't visit or comment on all. And I don't like that I cannot, but when I work 80 hours a week, getting back to 30 or 45 comments from a post can eat a lot of time.
Bottom line: just respond as much as you can. Obviously those who get TONS of comments cannot feasibly respond to every single one. But I've been to blogs who have, for example, less than 20 readers and when I've left comments I've never heard a word from them... even when I've left multiple comments over the space of a few weeks. I'm sorry, but if you obviously don't care that I'm reading your blog, then I'm not going to visit anymore. At that point, I'm feelin' like a dog kicked to the curb.
Midlife Slices said: Either way, I feel if you leave your blog open to comments, you should respond in some way or another and if you're too busy to do that, then you should close your comments.
I have to agree with her statement. If you want to blog and you have no intention of ever responding or even acknowledging those who read your blog, then why are you blogging at all?! Make your blog private if it's only for family and friends. Or close the comments section if you don't want to deal with comments.
As far as responding to comments, we've probably all wondered or thought, "there's got to be a better way to do this!" I always have a feeling of disorganization when I'm trying to stay on top of everyone who has commented; I want to be sure I take the time to return the favor in one way or another.
I've decided that it works best for me to leave the emails in my inbox (I have the comments set up to forward to my yahoo email account) until I have taken the time to go through them and reciprocate - either by email if their email is available, or by going to their blog.
I think most of us agreed that it sure does make life easier if people turn on their email permissions -- in Blogger, you can do this within your Edit Profile section. I'm not sure how it's set up in Wordpress. Sometimes, if you've left me a comment that includes a question for me, I prefer to respond directly to you. I still visit your blog in most cases, but having your email just makes my life a lil easier!
Smart Mouth Broad said: I always respond to comments within my blog but wonder if anyone comes back to read them. I love it when it turns into a conversation in the comment section but it's not always that way. Who has the time to go back several times. So many blogs...so little time.
SMB hit it right on the nose; when the comments turn into a conversation, it's a pretty cool thing! I guess if I don't respond within my own comments, I've killed the potential to have this happen.
When I posted this topic on Sunday, I had decided to change my response format, and to start commenting within my own comments. But after doing it only once on Saturday, it feels foreign to me. I'm not used to doing it that way. So I've changed my mind and I'm not going to do it that way. I'll continue responding via email or by visiting your blogs.
In the meantime, I think we can all hope that perhaps Blogger and/or Wordpress will come up with a way to streamline the whole comments forum. I like the way Wordpress allows their bloggers to respond to comments, and from what I understand, the response posts within the comment section AND can also be set up to email the comment response to that person. If that's the case, then Wordpress sounds like they're on the right track.
Wendy from Of Books and Boys mentioned: After reading www.cardiogirl.net, I have longed to have a comment forum as she does (she calls hers the VIP lounge and regularly gets feedback conversations going on).
We'll cross our fingers and hope that the blog engines out there will think harder about how to better their available comment options; a forum like Cardiogirl has would be oh-so-cool! There are most likely plug-ins out there, but the more things I "plug-in" to my blog, the chances increase that I'm going to mess up my blog for sure!
I just proofread what I've typed in this post so far... my eyeballs are chasing themselves around in their sockets. I'm not sure if it's because what I've written here so far is confusing, or if it's because I'm extremely tired.
I'll go ahead and post this and maybe take a nap, or get caught up on the Bachelorette episodes I've missed. A few hours from now I'll read this again; if it still sounds confusing, then I'll fix it. 'K?