On Comments and Gordon Ramsey

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The sky is falling

I have been agonizing here at RCB because the comments have fallen off. It was a great ride getting comments after months with hardly any. I was enjoying the attention and feeling good. I felt that it was proof that people liked me. Sigh! My reader count was up too. More people were stopping by and more were returning. I was feeling good about my effort. I concluded that what I was writing was interesting and people (some at least) were checking back to look for new content. My confidence was building. My enthusiasm growing but then it happened.

The word is out

The comments slowed. Where I had been getting five to ten comments (and replying happily to all), I was now getting one or two some of the time and zilch for the rest. “The worm has turned,” I thought. “They have found me out.” But wait a minute. Readers are up – both new and returning. They apparently just don’t feel moved to comment. What does this mean?

Ask Gordon Ramsey

Well, for an answer I turned to Gordon Ramsey, the famous TV chef. He has this show where he fixes bad restaurants. I remembered one episode where the restaurant owner was fixated on talking up his customers while they tried to chow down on his food. He wanted to know how they liked his restaurant. This guy was determined to get his customers response and when he didn’t get what he wanted he would drill down while the food got cold. Gordon took him aside. “What you care about,” he told the owner “is booked tables. You can’t count on what they tell you at the table unless you spill a tureen of hot soup on them, so leave them alone!” If you are a fan, you probably realize that I cleaned that quote up quite a bit for the family crowd but that is the essence of the advice.

Blogging! Restaurants!  What’s the dif?

I realized as I remembered the show that running a restaurant is a lot like blogging. You want people to like what they find well enough to come back. And then to come back again, and again. You don’t really care whether, or what, they comment about. If they comment, fine but the only thing that matters is that they come back. I was just like that insecure restaurant owner. I needed the positive reinforcement that a comment provided but could see that it wasn’t what was important.

I still like comments

Don’t get me wrong. Comments are good. I would love to be overwhelmed with them. It would be great if I could write the kind of posts that made my readers want to tell me something, engage with my position, challenge it or point me in a whole new direction but that is not what is happening. Either I don’t write that well or I just don’t write in a way that lets them engage.

Let the main thing be the main thing

So what really matters? I miss the direct attention that a comment gives but I can’t ignore the growing readership. Which would I prefer – daily exchanges with my buds or a growing body of readers that have more to do than take the time to comment? I think the answer is obvious.

So go ahead.  Don’t comment.

Gordon Ramsey is no blogger but he does run some successful restaurants and he know his business which is basically giving people what they want. The measure of that is not a survey of customers or an interview while they dine. It is simply whether they come back. So I am working myself over to being mellow about comments. They are gravy but they don’t really measure a successful blog. Don’t get me wrong. I still value any comment and appreciate the effort to contribute to a dialogue about the post. I love each and every comment and promise to respond but I am going to trust the stats to tell me how I am doing. So if you like the blog and you return because you find value, that is great. I love you all. Of course, if you feel compelled to comment, I wont complain either.

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{ 10 comments… add one }
  • Julius Kuhn-Regnier April 5, 2010, 12:23 pm

    I think comments are important. I mean there are certainly times when people don’t comment as much. I have now been away for a week and I started to see that there weren’t as many commenters as usual. I think in order to get comments you have to comment yourself don’t you think? That’s at least how I get most of my comments.
    .-= Julius Kuhn-Regnier´s last blog ..How to Become More Productive =-.

  • Ralph April 5, 2010, 12:40 pm

    Julius,
    You are very right. That is how I first got the flow of comments and slacking off in that area certainly contributes to the slowing.

  • Eleanor Edwards April 6, 2010, 6:16 am

    Speaking from my own perspective, I’m sensing that this is a busy time for a lot of people. Your readers are up so it’s not that folks aren’t coming here so maybe the lull in comments is more a reflection of people’s apparent lack of time?

    I know I tend to pop in and out as the demands upon my time vary. I don’t rely on an RSS reader so my reading habits are very much dictated by my memory and who I see as I’m out and about!

    BTW, I remember that episode with GR. What I didn’t realise was that his Kitchen Nightmares USA was actually screened in the US. I (wrongly!) assumed it was recorded for our British audiences.
    .-= Eleanor Edwards´s last blog ..#CharityTuesday: The Big Audio Challenge =-.

  • Ralph April 6, 2010, 6:37 am

    Heck, Eleanor,
    We didn’t know that only the USA had kitchen nightmares. I remember one in Spain. Maybe they mix it us for us colonials.
    .-= Ralph´s last blog ..On Comments and Gordon Ramsey =-.

  • rob sellen April 7, 2010, 7:30 pm

    Just leaving a comment, and to say, you got both with me, a reader and a commenter. 🙂
    .-= rob sellen´s last blog ..My first real month on WordPress =-.

    • Ralph April 8, 2010, 7:02 am

      And very happy to have you Rob.

      • rob sellen April 9, 2010, 3:06 pm

        Thanks… 🙂

        My only issue here is the sudden change in comments backgrounds, but then again, they stand out too 😉

        Odd at times reading white text on black, what’s said matters more though eh 😉

        I like it, nice blog 🙂
        .-= rob sellen´s last blog ..Commentluv, more than links, comments, traffic, and why you should use it =-.

        • Ralph April 9, 2010, 3:18 pm

          I guess the color is from the plugin. Maybe there is a better one. I can’t say I like the color either.

  • Hansi December 19, 2011, 7:30 am

    Sometimes I read someones post and really have nothing witty, cute nor intelligent to say. Doesn’t mean I didn’t like it, just means I had nothing to say.
    Hansi’s last Blog Post ..Bummer

    • Ralph December 19, 2011, 9:03 am

      Hansi,
      You at a loss for words? The mind boggles.

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