What is the Value of a Reader's Comment?

Peter B. GiblettStarred Page By Peter B. Giblett, 1st Sep 2014 | Follow this author | RSS Feed | Short URL http://nut.bz/2jdk02nf/
Posted in Wikinut>Writing>Columns & Opinions

With the openness of the web today there are many ways in which we can publish our viewpoint, yet perhaps the only way we know how well it is received is through the comments other people make. In truth writers appreciate comments which can become fertile ground for future articles or lead to further debate.

The need to say Something

As a writer whether your beef is about US gun law, freedom of expression, war in Syria or Iraq, the shooting down of a civilian airliner in Ukraine, the LCBO monopoly here in Ontario or you are simply interested in publishing grandma's sweet pumpkin pie recipe then there is somewhere on the Internet that is right for you to have your say, and once published it is good to know how your views are received. Comments are a valuable way of letting the writer know that their contribution is of value. In addition it provides the commenter an ability to contribute to an ongoing debate.

The point is anyone who has a mouth to open can have their say in this web-based world and it is because we value freedom of expression that we do not limit who can make a contribution. It is not for us to say whether a Chinese person, living in Australia has the right to discuss the finer points of the US constitution and whether that nation currently adheres to the ideals of the nations forefathers. In truth we are free to say anything we desire to, but as soon as we have published we also put our ideas out in the world for potential criticism. Generally the more controversial statement you wish to make then harsher criticism you must expect, from those that believe you to be anywhere from misguided to being a complete lunatic.

Of course it would be ideal if people were to comment in a sane and rational manner, but usually the more controversial the subject matter the more harsh the criticism is likely to be, hypothetically imagine what would happen if a US Senator were to stand up in a debate supporting the position of ISIS in Syria/Iraq or that of Hamas in Gaza today.

Community Views

Having written for a reasonably diverse set of sites over the last few years I would have to say that it brings me immense satisfaction to see someone comment on something that I have written - even if they do accuse me of being a complete lunatic, because at least then I will know that I have hit a nerve. Each community has a different level of involvement. When I published a personal blog I did at one time have hundreds of people reading my material each day, but frustratingly never a single comment was left on the site.

Here on Wikinut people start commenting from the moment an article is published and people are not shy about adding a comment to an article that is now many years old, which goes to prove that because something was published many years ago it is not out of date.

Make it Worthwhile

Each community brings with it the opportunity for comment and debate, although generally there are too many comments like "interesting info", "so nicely put", and "good write up", these non-committal comments have very little value and I have to wonder if they are a way in which Wikinut writers have developed in order to earn their fellow writers money by lingering on the page a few seconds more. All this is commendable but it is not leveraging the fullest extent of an ability to comment, I would prefer to be accused of being a lunatic while providing a considered opinion than be simply told "good article".

A good comment should add value, not only for the original writer, but for those that read the article at a later time and can be as important as the original posting..

Two Considered Comments

The following comments were made recently on articles produced on the web. I reproduce them here because they demonstrate how to add value to the writer's original post.

COMMENT NUMBER ONE

    While I am not blaming anyone, nor am I a saint without any human follies, yet I find that most people have double standards. They want other people to praise what they say or write, yet they themselves like to be critical of others and often unreasonably so. If others criticize them, or even disagree, with valid logic, they become angry and show displeasure.

    In short, a kind of hypocrisy. Now, to some extent, I also at times show displeasure with someone who criticizes me, but then, I am quite sensible on Online sites and will normally agree or disagree, yet giving valid reasons.

    On the other hand should you criticize me heavily for what I wrote, I for one would be more delighted, that at least people are seriously reading what I said

This comment (includes my emphasis) but is clearly a reasoned comment about the need for giving reasoned responses. The following takes a different approach on an emotive topic.

COMMENT NUMBER TWO

    We Americans scream out in defense of both the First and Second Amendments. The US Supreme Court has widely interpreted the First Amendment and has determined that speech, includes other forms of expression, such as flag burning - in Texas v Johnson (1989), indeed there are a plethora of court cases relating to the application of free speech including sedition, freedom of assembly, obscenity, freedom of the press. Many undesirable groups, such as white supremacists have relied on the protection of this amendment to distribute their hate material.

    Yet in respect of the second amendment the same Supreme Court, as you correctly point out, has only one interest, to strike down hand-gun bans wherever they occur. Unlike the first amendment the reality is that they have ignored a desperate need to interpret this law. One valid argument for interpretation is based on the original wording that grants control of weapons as relating to service in state militia. This was sidestepped in District of Columbia v Heller (2008) because by this time there was a significant group of lobbyists who were able to convince justices that a change in the law at this time would have a detrimental commercial and legal impact.

    In reality the founding fathers of the United States would have been the first to admit that their laws would need to be reviewed over time. In that regard they would be pleased with progress on the First Amendment, but see nothing but an abject failure by the courts and the government in respect of the Second Amendment - which now stands in contravention to the modern needs of society. There is a failure, by both the courts and yourself to understand that our land is no longer a frontier land, but a modern democratic society where ladies and gentlemen no longer need handguns.

Here it is clear to see how the commenter and writer disagree over the central topic, yet the person making the comments looks to use reasoned argument to point out the writer's failed logic (in their humble opinion). Keep the argument closely allied to the content of the original article and you should always avoid personal attacks.

More than a Passing Thought

Of course you would need to read the original articles in order to put these comments into their relevant context, each read as a mini article, portraying the commentator's ideas and demonstrates that they have given the whole topic more than passing consideration, which is important.

Whether or not we agree with the specific comment is not relevant here, what is important is that someone has given thought to things that are said and has been prepared to add value to the original contribution. Ultimately debate is healthy and should be encouraged. The author of the original article has the ability to either add a further comment or of-course go and write another article on this subject.

The value of well considered comments is immense in that it adds to the original piece and points out errors. It is true that most articles published on-line will not have major historical significance but they are important at the time they were written and to fulfill the purpose they were written for, however fleeting a time that may be.

Your Considered Thought

If you have a considered thought then you are of course welcome to add it to the mix of other opinion available on the subject - your viewpoint is valuable in that it extends the scope of knowledge about the subject in question.

The following are some of the more recent articles that I have published on a variety of topics, which is now more than 470 articles on Wikinut.

Each person has a unique voice and Wikinut is great a place for you to share some of your wisdom, insight and knowledge, you could start by adding a comment, but perhaps you need something more in which case should join Wikinut, write then become connected to others who share a passion for writing, supporting one another, and learning on Wikinut.

Tags

Article, Blog, Comments, Open, Original Article, Paid Writing Site, Personal Blog, Peter B Giblett, Value Of Comments, Web, Wikinut, Writing

Meet the author

author avatar Peter B. Giblett
Author of "Is your Business Ready? For the Social Media Revolution"

Social media consultant, with C-Level background.

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Comments

author avatar Mark Gordon Brown
2nd Sep 2014 (#)

Some people write controversial articles then get mad if a commenter does not agree with them. If a person is not prepared for negative comments they need to stay away from writing things they know will provoke others.

A good comment will relate to the article, search engines read comments so people need to delete spam comments.

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author avatar Peter B. Giblett
2nd Sep 2014 (#)

Yes controversy will breed controversy. It is like posting an anti-gun article and expecting the Jerry Walch and others in the pro-gun lobby) will not attack it.

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author avatar Escritor Natanael
2nd Sep 2014 (#)

It is the commentator who gives life to the text giving your opinion as a form of assessment of written content.

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author avatar Peter B. Giblett
2nd Sep 2014 (#)

I agree that the comment writer breathes extra life into the original article, even if they disagree.

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author avatar Retired
2nd Sep 2014 (#)

I get comments from some people that seem to have only one end in view, namely to shame me into doing the same for them.

I am referring to inane comments such as one might get on Bubblews - "nice post" for example - that add absolutely nothing to the conversation but lead to the award of a couple of Wikipoints. OK - they benefit me rather than the commenters, but presumably the people in question are expecting me to do the same for them. Sorry guys - if I've got nothing worth saying, I'm saying nothing!

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author avatar Peter B. Giblett
2nd Sep 2014 (#)

On Bubblews of course there is 1 cent per comment made - but thankfully short comments are no longer permitted.

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author avatar Retired
2nd Sep 2014 (#)

I detest "tit for tat" commenting and try to refrain from the standard "nice post." However, there are times when I'm rushed and harried and getting ready to go to work -- I want to acknowledge the writers I read and have been known to dash off simplistic stuff. Most of the time, I try to add something, or recognize points I hadn't thought of, or express sheer delight in someone's excellent writing.

I appreciate all comments, but especially the ones that let me know a reader has read my entire article -- even if they're "criticizing" my work. Thought-provoking piece, Peter, and appreciated.

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author avatar Peter B. Giblett
2nd Sep 2014 (#)

I do not have time for getting into "tit for tat" commenting and I do not believe it advances anyone's thinking - it is best to stay silent than do that.

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author avatar Retired
3rd Sep 2014 (#)

Nice post! (ha ha!)

But more than that, Peter, you bring out the noble reasons for commenting, and your commenters so far have added the value of what they think their comments do as well.

I, for one, appreciate the "Nice post" comments because I know the readers at least opened them up, but at the same share the disappointment that they took no more time to add value.

A well thought out and well written comment, whether it agrees, disagrees with, or challenges an article's content is a gift....something our readers give back. To garner no comments is a lonely existence for writers, indeed.

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author avatar Peter B. Giblett
3rd Sep 2014 (#)

The lonely existence was something I recall when writing my own blog - I knew there were viewers from the site stats - but no-one ever told me what they thought.

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author avatar Lee Hansen
3rd Sep 2014 (#)

I think comments will help motivate the writer to become an even better writer. If a good online conversation is started as a result of the topic then it appears that the writer has done their job successfully.If you can stand the idea that someone may disagree with your point of view than an online forum is probably not a good match.

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author avatar Lee Hansen
3rd Sep 2014 (#)

It should be "if you can't stand the idea"

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author avatar Peter B. Giblett
3rd Sep 2014 (#)

I knew that as soon as the computer read it to me.

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author avatar HacBao
3rd Sep 2014 (#)

I agree with lee

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author avatar Peter B. Giblett
3rd Sep 2014 (#)

The critical comment also helps the writer improve their clarity next time around,

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author avatar MarilynDavisatTIERS
3rd Sep 2014 (#)

Good evening, Peter - from your article: "The value of well considered comments is immense in that it adds to the original piece and points out errors." There are many writers here at Wikinut who do contribute either an opposing viewpoint to my articles, or add additional information. Those are the comments I value. While I understand what Susan Durham is saying about being rushed but letting the writer know their article was read, I had one individual write seven times in one day, "Nice article. Well done." I ran out of ways to say thank you after four. Part of the problem with those comments is I do not know what was nice about it or what was well done. Either reference a particular aspect of the article or even quote back to me so I know what interested the individual reader. Now those are helpful comments. Still – Nice article, Peter; well done.

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author avatar Peter B. Giblett
3rd Sep 2014 (#)

I have a policy of never replying to the quick comments, indeed only considered opinion gets my attention and here by quoting my original article you have highlighted an error because "points out errors" should have read "points out factual errors".

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author avatar Helen Thomas
3rd Sep 2014 (#)

Thanks ~ Peter ~ for what is to me a very interesting and informative article. I was able to have a few chuckles while reading this and I like that as well. My major take away is: what is important is that an individual has given enough thought to what has been said that they prepared to add value to the original contribution.

I also believe that debate is generally healthy and should be encouraged as long as there aren't any personal attacks involved.

I so agree that the value of well considered comments is immense. Yet ~ in our rush ~ rush environments of conflicting priorities, unfortunately it is often not feasible to take the time to do so.

Blessings for helping us in this area.

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author avatar Peter B. Giblett
3rd Sep 2014 (#)

But in my opinion it is that "rush" that causes us more often than not to be careless and forget to add value. Thank you.

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author avatar spirited
3rd Sep 2014 (#)

I came to wikinut from a writing site that does not cater for comments.

Articles there would simply be rated against other articles by the writers.

I am still getting used to this comment idea.

I used to just post my article then go on to write the next. I never looked back to see any comments. There were none there unless a writer sent you a personal email about it.

I sort of liked it though when an article was rated highly, I guess a favourable comment does the same thing for me.

We all like our ego's stroked from time to time, but heartfelt comments also stroke our hearts, and really they can make our day too.

So I am making more comments now when I remember to do so.

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author avatar Peter B. Giblett
3rd Sep 2014 (#)

Thank you spirited - I would agree that we all like our egos stroked in response to our words.

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author avatar Retired
3rd Sep 2014 (#)

Indeed the Internet does allow us to express our personal opinions, whether we agree or disagree with the author of an article. I have no objection to people disagreeing with what I write. I even hope that responders can add further information or correct any errors that I may have made. But, most important for me is to keep it polite.

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author avatar Peter B. Giblett
3rd Sep 2014 (#)

I agree about keeping things polite, this applies to all writers whether article posting or commenting - we should be both polite and respectful in particular to those that we disagree with. Calling someone a Witch, for example, is out of order.

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author avatar Phyl Campbell
4th Sep 2014 (#)

Hmmm. How to respond to this? I am certainly one who writes controversially and tries to engage others. I have found that some people are not comfortable with debate, and have taken to "give what I get" -- appreciating their effort to write, recognizing their reluctance to say more than "nice job."
For the past few weeks, many difficulties with page loading have prohibited me from seeing articles when I log in (but I can still read comments), so I read those to get the article's gist and make intelligent comment -- I want the author to know that I tried to read him/her.

I need to get better about brevity. I need to stop beating dead horses. Other people's articles are theirs -- my comment should not exceed their article's length, no matter what reaction it stirred. ;) There's a learning curve to it, definitely.

Finally, I think it's easier to skip over "valueless" comments when you are fortunate to get enough comments of value to warrant it. I know I still feel in the newbie camp of having to respond to everyone -- but perhaps that is also because I can elicit such divisive comments. I feel it necessary to prove I'm not always a "witch," perhaps. ;)

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author avatar Peter B. Giblett
4th Sep 2014 (#)

Brevity is not always good. I recall reading a 19th century philosopher who was analysing another authors work - the critique was about five times as long as the original.

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author avatar Stella Mitchell
4th Sep 2014 (#)

I have found Peter that I have to limit the amount of comments I write each day, or I would spend my whole free writing time in response to the posts I have read .
I recall once having read one of your comments on someone else's page that mentioned you dislike poetry , and so , as a poet , I do not expect a comment from you ...that said ...I am happy with those who do add a note however short or long .
I hope your eyes are better , or well on the way to recovery .
Bless you
Stella

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author avatar Peter B. Giblett
4th Sep 2014 (#)

I believe what I said about poetry was that I don't like the majority I have seen posted here on Wikinut. The reason is simple because most are just a random collection of words about a subject not having rhyme or reason. Poetry is actually, when done well, the highest form of writing - trouble is most modern poets are not poets.

I do agree about limiting the number of comments I write - my focus is also writing and when commenting I am not crafting something new, so I find that I need to apportion my time appropriately.

Thank you for asking about my eyes - which are slowly improving.

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author avatar Mariah
4th Sep 2014 (#)

Great article Peter, it's always good to be provided with the opportunity to add our individual points of view in matters relating directly to the site.
Personally I always express my acknowledgement and appreciation of a good write
ie. highlighting the talent of the writer with reference to particular points in the publication, expressing the reason for my enjoyment in reading their article
The writer is then in awareness that I have fully digested the content and sincerely applaud their work, credit where it's due is my motto.

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author avatar Peter B. Giblett
4th Sep 2014 (#)

I agree that writers like to know the parts they have done well with.

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author avatar JayeByrd
4th Sep 2014 (#)

Well said. My comment would be, If you are going to write about controversial issues, you should develop the hide of a rhinoceros. Comments, even if the antithesis of my opinion, always add to my education.

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author avatar Peter B. Giblett
4th Sep 2014 (#)

But those comments that are the antithesis of your opinion are not necessarily correct, so maybe it is the commenter that needs a rhino skin.

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author avatar Sivaramakrishnan A
4th Sep 2014 (#)

Good to talk frankly about this issue Peter that is at the heart of online writing especially here at Wikinut. Most respond to the comments received positively.

I post my comments only after reading the posts and understanding the gist of what the article is about. I tend to avoid highly controversial articles on which I do not have a logical response.

My posts are mostly about coexistence and wasted opportunities due to our leaders ignoring their agenda based on which they got elected. There are always hidden hands emboldened by money power and greed everywhere who pull the strings. Also, I lament why the big powers do not listen to 99% whose yearnings are same everywhere. These touch a cord with most and they too add their few words from - forget it, just an inherent trait of humanity, stop being an idealist - to encouraging me to pursue my agenda adding my few words to keep the issues alive. I am happy when I get detailed comments and I use them to clarify my thoughts further. I do not know whether I can get another platform to express my views and reply to them without any rancor - siva

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author avatar Peter B. Giblett
4th Sep 2014 (#)

Regarding wasted opportunities: the world needs writers like yourself that continue to point these out.

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author avatar RBB1010
7th Sep 2014 (#)

I agree so much with good interactive commenting and at times the comment helps explain the article better or shed more light on it. I read all of the comments thus far and the lady who mentioned your feelings on most poetry writers, now kind of scares me
in a good way hopefully. That being ..I try hard to give my best and learn to do better as I go. I know without hesitation my English skills and poetry or writing in general is lacking. I love to write and poetry if mine is poetry, is my favorite way of writing. I am in no way criticizing you for what you like or don't as we all have our favorites. I believe the main thing and I hope I can write things most enjoy reading and that I in some way add to thoughts and feelings by writing and commenting. Thanks for such a good, needed, and important article.

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author avatar Peter B. Giblett
8th Sep 2014 (#)

In reply to Stella I said "Poetry is, when done well, the highest form of writing" It is tough to do very well. We actually have a couple of excellent poets here on Wikinut.

I always encourage those whose first language is not English to improve their writing skills, but I would also say that Poetry is not a good place to start for someone who is not fully confident with the language.

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author avatar Bodylevive
8th Nov 2014 (#)

I must say Peter, I enjoyed reading your article. The reason it caught my eye is because comments mean everything to me. I 've read some of what others had to say and I agree, I can not stand, 'nice post' that lets me know you didn't read it. I signed up here a year ago and wrote one post. I can't understand why you decided to follow me Peter, I was a terrible writer a year ago, I'm a little better now :) as my writing skills are a bit sharper now. Thank you, it's nice to know someone like you has my back and I can handle constructive criticism.

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author avatar Peter B. Giblett
8th Nov 2014 (#)

&bodylevive I am glad you have taken the time to comment on this issue, there are far too many people that do not think about the comments they post, they subtract from the original post by just saying thank you - I could do better than that by simply reading one paragraph and making a relevant comment about that item. I don't do that, but I am sure you understood that.

You say you were a terrible writer a year back, but they key thing about writing is that if you are willing to improve and you take action to make it happen then it will.

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