Monday, February 18, 2008

Lurkers and Private Blogs

"Many attempts to communicate are nullified by saying too much." ~Robert Greenleaf

We all know what lurkers are, in cyber world, right? You may even be one (I am, many times...there, I've admitted it). Lurkers are those people who visit blogs, or chats, or loops, and just sit back and read all the comments without making any themselves. Some people dislike lurkers. I don't. But maybe that's 'cause I tend to be one. Sometimes it's just because I don't have time to leave a comment - sometimes people have already said everything I would want to say anyway. And sometimes I feel like getting information withtout necessarily interacting.

Is that wrong?

I know from Google Analytics that about six times as many people visit my blog each day than leave comments on it. It doesn't bother me. Sure, that "0 Comments" at the bottom of a post doesn't exactly make my day, sometimes. But I understand that some people really do just want to read and not feel that they have to say something at the end.

But what about you? Do you wish lurkers would leave comments? Do you resent that they show up without leaving anything behind to say that they were here?

My mom was telling me the other day about a blog she reads regularly - it's by the wife of one of her nephews, about their journey adopting 2 babies from a foreign country. Lots of pics, info, etc. She doesn't usually comment, but when she does, she does so under the "Anonymous" feature. (People do that occasionally here too...again, I don't mind. Unless it's some kind of flaming negativity, why should I need to know who said it?) A couple of days ago, apparently the woman got irritated that people were lurking and not commenting. The next day, she changed her blog to "private" so that you have to log in with a valid email and user name to read it.

Wonder how many readers she lost?

I guess I can understand that if you're really only blogging for your friends and family, then having a private blog is a good idea. But I'm thinking you should start with that private feature from the beginning. Of course, my goal in blogging was to get potential readers, so the last thing I would want is to turn people away by requiring them to sign in first. I know some loyal readers who don't even like the word verification feature on blogs!

But it does seem a little weird to, without warning, change your public blog to a private one after almost a year of blogging.

Anyway, that's my 2 cents on lurking and private blogs. I've never come across a private one before; have you? And what's your opinion on them, anyway? I'm curious...


Sarita Leone said...

I haven't come across a private blog yet. Huh. Interesting, though.

Honestly, I love it when people talk to me. But I understand when they don't because, between us, I lurk. A lot. I read, smile and walk away loads of times without leaving a comment. But that doesn't mean I haven't enjoyed! :)

bunnygirl said...

I can't fathom getting upset if someone doesn't leave a comment on my blog. I'd rather someone say nothing than leave a really lame comment just for the sake of leaving one.

I'm much less informative and interesting than, say, the New York Times, and if they don't measure their self worth in how many comments they get, why should I?

Sounds like a lot of ego to me.

As for private blogs, I can think of a lot of valid reasons for wanting one. I have one for one of my novels. I want friends and beta readers to have access but I don't want it out there in public, since I hope to pursue traditional publication.

I can also see where someone with privacy concerns would want a private blog. Someone might be having issues with stalkers, for example, or they might want to kvetch about their work or family members. It's understandable.

But if you've had a public blog for a long while and suddenly decide to go private, I think it's rude not to give your regular commenters a chance to get on your access list. It's like slapping a friend for no reason.

Marianne Arkins said...

I have more than ten times as many visitors as I do commenters... typically, the same people comment daily (and I love them for it!), but I admit to getting a little thrill when someone new has something to say.

I am a comment whore.

And, for that reason, I do make an attempt to comment regularly on my regular blogs that I read.

But, I can understand a private blog -- I had one for a while, accessible for friends and family only because I posted pictures of my DD and DH on it. Those aren't for general consumption.

Still, I think the decision should be made from the beginning as to whether you want a public or private blog. Throwing a virtual temper tantrum is just silly.

windycindy said...

I am usually not a lurker, unless I happen upon a blog that just isn't me at all! Thanks,Cindi

Judy Thomas said...

I'm a closet lurker too. I comment when I have something to say, but a lot of times, I don't. RE: comments on my blog. Sure, it's nice when people leave comments, but I would rather them visit and go away than not to come at all.

I have a blog buddy who will sometimes put up private posts. You have to be on his list to be able to read those, but it's because they deal with things he wants only closer people to know about.

I agree, though, to go private just because you don't want lurkers is dumb. Besides, who's to say they don't lurk once they sign in to view the blog?

Diane Craver said...

Several have told me they visit without leaving comments and that's fine with me. I'm happy they visit. I don't always leave comments because I enjoy visiting lot of blogs and it's too time-consuming to leave a comment on each one.

Recently, I visited a new author's blog and you have to get a password before you can leave a comment. I definitely like the blogs where it isn't a hassle to leave comments.

A private blog would be nice for relatives.