Christina's LIS Rant
Saturday, November 01, 2008
  Is there any value in blogging when you get no comments?
Any long time readers or people who have heard me speak about blogs (which has been at least a couple of years ago now) know that I'm not bent around the axle about getting comments -- which is lucky, since I rarely get comments on this blog. I mean almost never and when I do they are very likely to be from people I've also met offline at some point or another.

Yet from the earliest days of blogs there have been pronouncements that you need to post so many times per time period (once a day? three times a week? no less than 4 times per month?) and do all other sorts of things to build and grow readership. Some people do all sorts of stunts to get readers. Likewise, there are all sorts of pronouncements (and in another place this week) that you have to have comments and trackbacks to have community and without communities blogs are pointless.

So I was reminded of this when two different people at the most recent conference and a few people at the two SLA events I attended this year made a point of telling me that they enjoy reading my blog. Very flattering and nice to hear, thank you. (another person mistook me for Jessica Baumgart, but anyway). Also, my blog has fairly decent readership stats (I knew there were ~160 in bloglines, but just thought to check feedburner - holy cow, 670? hm, maybe includes some bots?). Actually, though, my primary reasons to blog have always been:
  1. to park ideas for later or so that I can think of something else
  2. for personal information management
  3. to try out new ideas
So it's all about me :) I go through long stretches when I don't post anything -- I've been terribly cranky recently and I've deleted posts I was working on because there was really nothing constructive in them at all - not for anyone. I think people find me via searches and subscribe to my feed... so I'm not really worried that people forget about my blog and I'm not going to write posts in some - what I think is vain - attempt to get people to actually visit the site.

Obviously some of my posts are directed at certain audiences - like how to do a bit of citation analysis or how weeding works or ones about various interfaces or the couple I've done for ResearchBlogging. I'll keep doing those when I think I have something to contribute. I'll also blog conference sessions when I can - I refer back to those frequently.

I post on twitter and on friendfeed - but for me, those are a different animal than my blog. Those are really for - oh, look! - alerts and of course complaining that another service is down.

I hope that a certain British STS/Information Science researcher who said she was planning to start a blog does so, because I'd like to read it. So many practitioners in LIS blog, but hardly any researchers or professors and I think this is unfortunate because it makes it seem like there is a large divide when there really isn't one.

In interviews with a few scientists who blog, they also mentioned the personal information management bit - one said how much easier it was to search his blog than his LaTeX files on his desktop. Yep.
Comments on blogs were raised in a recent blog post over on Nature Network - http://network.nature.com/people/ennis/blog/2008/10/31/no-comment#comment-20858

A few people emphasised that comments are not the main signifier of quality blogging.

I always find it a bit disconcerting when I meet someone at a conference or something and they say they read my blog. It's like meeting someone who knows something about you but you don't know anything about them.

Micro-fame takes some getting used to. Of course, since it's micro, the weird stuff doesn't happen very often.
I've been working on Designing Better Libraries for nearly two years and the comments have been minimal. But I do believe I derive value from committing myself to writing about design thinking, user experience, or an innovation or creativity topic at least once a week. That keeps me reading articles and blogs about the topic so I'm constantly learning more and thinking more deeply about it - you can't write good posts if you aren't constantly taking in information and processing it in a thoughtful way.

I also see the blog as having value in establishing and maintaining my reputation as the library profession's primary expert in this area (can't say others agree or care but that's all right). I just notice now that a few other bloggers are mentioning user experience which is good and I hope some of them are checking out DBL. I liken it to being the person who get to the South Pole first. I post my flag there to establish it as my territory. Sure, it may be many others don't care and aren't planning to visit the South Pole anytime soon, but eventually there will be more interest and I'll be there to help lead the way.
Well, if it's on nature network, then it must be true ;)
Note she averages what, like 7 or 14 comments per post? Poor woman.
Anyhow, I'm not looking for blogging quality...or to be a quality blogger. Just rants. @John, yeah, even more when the person calls you Jessica :)
Some of my blogs get zero comments... But once we get a redesigned Drupal website for the library, then we will have a place to feed the blog into. I like skimming your blog for ideas, so I may not comment at the Rant. I might comment to you in email/FF, etc....
Yes, there is value. It's just that not everyone takes the time or even follows comments. Depending on the style of the blog you are going to get different amounts of comments too.

If you wanted more comments (and I don't think you do, necessarily), you could have a look at which articles get the most interest and write more about those topics.
Another question worth pondering is whether there is value in blogging when no one reads your blog. I think there is...just as there is value in thinking even if no one reads - or hears - your thoughts.
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This is my blog on library and information science. I'm into Sci/Tech libraries, special libraries, personal information management, sci/tech scholarly comms.... My name is Christina Pikas and I'm a librarian in a physics, astronomy, math, computer science, and engineering library. I'm also a doctoral student at Maryland. Any opinions expressed here are strictly my own and do not necessarily reflect those of my employer or CLIS. You may reach me via e-mail at cpikas {at} gmail {dot} com.

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Christina Kirk Pikas

Laurel , Maryland , 20707 USA
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