Robin of Metanoia wondered in this post about the development of communities around the comments in blogs. Who visits? Who comments? Why? Has the rise of aggregation software like Google Reader, which makes it easy to rifle through and read the most recent posts on your favorite blogs, reduced the likelihood that someone will comment — and thus diminishes whatever sense of community might exist in that virtual spot? I know that each extra click reduces the chances that I will comment. Is what I had to say worth moving from Reader to the blog? opening the comment box? typing in the code that confirms I'm human? typing it in a second time when I've failed the test? or forgotten if this particular anti-Turing test is case sensitive? Oh -- never mind!
I'm curious about what leads to a building of community around one blog but not another -- for example, the People for Others blog at Loyola Press has a regular body of commenters, with some interesting perspectives on the posts and some give and take, while the comment traffic on DotMagis, also out of Loyola, is much lower. I like them both, the content is always first rate. Why does one engage readers in further conversation and the other not?
And then there are the blogs who have groups of commenters who, while not quite trolls, are certainly not out to build a community but there are boatloads of comments. I suspect that a blog needs a certain amount of traffic to sustain a conversation in the comments. Certainly one way to do that is to be deliberately inflammatory, but I'm wondering about other ways to invite conversation.
Fr. Christian Mathis at Blessed is the Kingdom invites visitors to introduce themselves at a subpage on his site. I've toyed with the idea off and on and once my peripatetic month is over (that's another blog post!), I may do the same.