In this wonderland that we call a book-blogging community, we are mostly tit-for-tat. You show me yours and I'll show you mine. (Comments. I'm talking about comments.) It's amazing. Welcoming. Friendly. Helpful. And, at times, exhausting.

Our entire comment culture is, theoretically, a wonderful thing. And I'm not just saying this because 99% of all our bloggish friendships and connections were made that way. (Though possibly I am.) It's a way for a new blogger to discover a community, and for a community to discover new blogs. It's a way to make blogging into an interactive experience it was meant to be. It's also a way to gently insert yourself into your favorite bloggers' heads and hearts and take over their brains.

What was I saying? Oh, yes. Comments. Recently in the book-blogging community alone, the comment-for-comment principle was criticized by Tonyalee @ LilyBloomBooks, where she argued against the obligation to leave comments as a form of 'thanks' rather than because we have something to contribute to a post. And Shannon @ It Starts At Midnight wrote a wonderful (and infinitely relatable) post about the general feelings of inadequacy when we fail to respond and comment back in a timely fashion. 

And people think blogging is a relaxing hobby. (Hahaha. No.)

The art of commenting is at times strenuous and difficult and takes up exactly 29 hours in a day.

But both the up sides and the down sides of blog comments do raise a question: who is it that we actually comment for? And why do we take the time to do it?

So I've conducted a scientific poll* and come to this conclusion: we largely think that we comment for the sake of the blogger.

* By 'scientific', I mean: my Statistics professor would cry. And not of happiness.

Exactly no one, I think, is surprised. We've made stats-increase into an art form. We sometimes answer 'What does your blog-" with "A HUNDRED AND FIVE COMMENTS" before the question is even spoken. Commenting increases the blog's stats. It raises the numbers. And we as bloggers tend to really like to see the numbers rise. So it's easy, if not justified, to view the process of commenting as something we do for others. The three most common reasons for commenting that I could unearth are these:

Any active participant in the community is somewhat guilty of this. Some more than others. (And me more than most.) We settle into a community we enjoy, amass a number of favorite blogger humans, and just... follow them exclusively. The comments have more to do with our enjoyment of their humanly/bloggerly selves than it does with any particular post. We'll comment on everything. Because nice humans deserve it. (And you can't really argue with this point.)

The second most prominent reason is the one which prompted this post. We are either returning 'the favor of a comment', or leaving a comment in anticipation of said 'favor' returned. It's a dog-eat-dog world out there, my friends. And we are all just trying to stay afloat. And get comments. And not see our blog reduced to a diary.

Not that I'm biased or anything, but this is my favorite reason. We comment not due to the familiarity with the blog/blogger, or because we want them to love us and cherish us and promise us lots of caffeine and Nutella. Rather, we comment because the topic is such that we can't... not comment. We have something to say. The blogger missed an important point. (As I very likely am presently. It's the Circle of Blog.) We need to add our two cents.


And each and every single one of these reasons is... reasonable. And familiar. And it contributes to our 29-hour commenting days. So it isn't as though we need more reason. But because I am nothing if not truly unhelpful, I am here to suggest another reason for taking the time to leave a blog comment:

NOT so the blogger will love us back. NOT so we'd have x number of comments on our posts. We comment because, in doing so, we become an active participant in the workings of another blog.

Blog comments are not the same as book reviews. They aren't something postfact wherein we evaluate a finished product with no way of shaping said product. Blogging is fluid, continuous, and flexible. As commenters, we can help steer the blog in a direction we'd love to see explored. We can get more of what we'd love to see discussed in the future. We can help a blogger determine what works and what doesn't (for both themselves and us). WE can shape the content that WE get to read.

Favors to others are great and all. But sometimes it helps the extrinsic motivation become intrinsic when we think of A Thing as a favor to ourselves.

But these were only my two cents. And, frankly, I've probably invested both in a cup of coffee by now, along with 298 of their friends. So perhaps, just perhaps, I'm entirely wrong.

So talk to us, lovelies. What prompts you to leave a comment, and how do you feel when your comment is 'heard'? Do you feel like you comment exclusively for others, or do you sometimes to it in order to marry the blogs you love with the content you'd love to see? Are your comments ever in the form of feedback? And how do you feel about receiving such comments on your blogs?