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Lurkers – What would make you show your face?


I am very pleased with the number of people who visit my blog each day, but only a tiny proportion ever comment on it. I’m very grateful to those that take the time to comment, but often wonder about those who don’t.

I realise that a large percentage just come via google to read about a single book, and I understand why they wouldn’t be interesting in commenting, but there also must be a large number who follow the blog and don’t show their face.

Do you ever lurk on blogs? I follow 173 blogs and I have to admit that I do not comment on all of them. Some are funny and always seem to have 50+ humorous comments by the time I get there. I don’t feel I can match their quality, so I just enjoy reading them. Some are technical (I don’t even understand some of the comments!), so although I sometimes thank them for providing information, I often just lurk. Then there are a lot of book blogs where I probably don’t comment very often. This is probably because they are reading a different genre of book to me (eg. science fiction) so I normally just skim them in case they have a useful blogging post. Is it wrong to lurk?, Should you at least let the blogger know you are there and appreciate their writing?

Was there a period of time when you first started blogging where you read without commenting? If so, what was it that made you decide to comment for the first time? I started commenting on blogs almost as soon as I discovered them. As soon as I found blogs covering the books I loved I was away!

I’d love to hear your comments on this, and whether you think there is anything we can do to get those lurkers out of the woodwork?

Are you a lurker on this blog? If so, why don’t you comment?

What do you think I could do to encourage lurkers to show their faces?

I look forward to hearing all your thoughts!

58 replies on “Lurkers – What would make you show your face?”

oh, the lurkers. i also wonder about them, and question my posts and reviews because a good number of people stop by but only a handful post. i don’t lurk on any blogs because i like to support other bloggers, and comments are the currency of the blogging world.

i will admit that if a post has 100+ comments that i might not say anything that day…but i will pop back another day and add my 2 cents. i always try to comment on book reviews because in my experience they tend to get fewer comments than other posts.

great topic–i’m sure it will generate lots of interesting thoughts!

I used to be subscribed to more than 200 blogs. A few month ago, I deleted most of them and now I only have about 30 books blogs. I only get a chance to check blogs in the morning, about thirty minutes. So I don’t have tons of time for commenting. I come out of my “lurking” to comment if I have something to say.

I don’t think there is anything wrong with reading without commenting. I know people do it on my site all the time, since I don’t get tons of comments but according to Analytics I do get more than 200 visitors a day. I’m OK with that. I just don’t have time to comment more, and I can understand others being in the same boat!

All that said, I’m gradually adding more blogs back to my reader. I’ll never feel caught up…

Nat – You’re making me feel bad for not going back to comment another day now! I’ll make sure if anyone, however technical, writes a post I enjoy I will make my presence known on their blog at some point!

Rebecca – I deleted a few blogs when I switched across to google reader last week. I felt that if I hadn’t been interested enough to comment in the past couple of months then it probably wasn’t worth reading them. I’m also creating folders to monitor my interest in the blog. As you say time is limited, so is best used wisely. I think I will do another blog cull soon, but I don’t think it will be as drastic as down to 30.

I’m honoured to be among your 30! I have to admit to doing a fair amount of lurking on your blog, as I haven’t read a lot of the books you mention I don’t feel I have a lot to add. I do read everything you write though. Thank you for commenting!

Are you a lurker on this blog? If so, why don’t you comment?

I’m thinking this question is a tough one for the lurkers to answer, since they are lurkers! It’s kinda meta.

I think a lot of it comes down to time. If I have someone in my google reader, I read their blog, but I can’t comment on every one, just the posts that call out to me. And I don’t want to cut back, yet. I might miss something.
If I run across a post and I want to comment, but don’t have time, I’ll star it. Then maybe on the weekend I’ll go back and look at my starred posts and comment when I have more time.

Jackie, I just counted, and I actual have about 50 books blogs now….if people comment on my site I revisit their blog and so I guess I’ve added people back in the past three month. I feel bad cutting people out, but like you said, if I haven’t found an interesting post from them in a month, maybe they aren’t my style?

I don’t comment as much as I’d like, but it’s all a matter of time, like raidergirl3 says.

I’m a lurker sometimes; I only just recently discovered your blog so I’ve been lurking here, although I think I commented the other day. I follow a truly ridiculous number of book blogs – more than 200 – and I don’t have time to comment on everyone’s every post. I comment when posts interest me and hope that eventually the comments spread out so that everyone gets some love. Generally I don’t comment on books I haven’t read and have no interest in, or if the post is more than a day old and has a ton of comments already. Otherwise, I do my best!

Jackie, great question! I’ve often wondered how I can get more people commenting, but so far, I haven’t figured anything out! 😉 I guess for me, it comes down to a combination of what people have already mentioned – if a post already has tons of comments and discussion seems done, then I feel less inclined to add my own two cents. As you said, because I largely visit book blogs, sometimes people write reviews of books that just aren’t really my cup of tea or the review they write just doesn’t inspire me to say anything in turn – I suppose I could cull these blogs from my reader, but it’s easy enough to read through (or skip! eep!), and you never know when something interesting might arise.

I guess I really try to leave a “quality” comment whenever I do write one, and so this limits the number of places I can comment and that incite me to comment! A lot of people simply write things like “Great post!” and that’s nice, but it doesn’t do much to get a discussion going or let the person know what you liked… I tend to think comments like that are more a favor for the commenter – getting a link to their own site out there! 😉 Like Rebecca says, almost everyone who comments on my site I will visit their site in turn (in a lot of cases, this is how I’ve found many of my regular daily stops), so maybe it’s for the best I don’t have 200+ people commenting on my posts… 😉

Oh, I forgot one other thing – I really like it when bloggers respond to the comments on their sites. I don’t expect a personal email, but it’s nice to have your comment acknowledged. I make sure I respond to everybody who comments on my site, for every post, because I really do value people’s thoughts and inputs and want them to know it. Of course, I have no idea if people come back to see that I’ve responded, but I like to do it anyhow!

I think before I got more used to blogs and commenting I was internet shy. Commenting was the same for me as going to a new place and not knowing anyone. I hang back. I had to get brave! Sometimes I still feel a little bit of that when I am commenting on a new blog.

Now it’s time that is usually a factor or sometimes a really well-written review leaves me nothing much to say besides “Nicole wuz here!”, and sometimes I will do that so that a review or will have comments and sometimes I just feel silly like I am not really offering up anything good.

Well I am a big mouth, so I started commenting as soon as I started blogging. And I am almost compulsive to leave comments on a majority of the blogs I follow. I like them to know I am here and I’m interested. (If I see 50 comments, I may not leave more…they don’t really need them at that point!) I know I have a large number of lurkers…once in awhile, one will pop up and say something, and I get pretty excited about that. One thing that you do well, Jackie, is ask questions at the end of your post. I can’t ignore questions! But if that doesn’t drag them out, then maybe they are just shy and would prefer to read only. I am just happy they visit!

Steph, subscribe to comments helps with that! I often come back when I read a follow up comment via the emails that come to me….as evidence by my third comment on this post! (Of course, if you don’t subscribe to comments on this blog, you may not see this….)

raidergirl3 –

Are you a lurker on this blog? If so, why don’t you comment?

I’m thinking this question is a tough one for the lurkers to answer, since they are lurkers! It’s kinda meta.

I know – I was trying to trick them into responding!!! It doesn’t seem to have worked so far!!!

Rebecca – I know what you mean – almost all of the posts from my favourite blogs seem to interest me, but there are some that haven’t produced anything good since the one post that persuaded me to sign up in the first place. I am always randomly finding new blogs, and so I don’t have time for those that don’t seem to blog about things that interest me.

I love the subsrcibe to comments option too! It really does help to generate a discussion, which is often the best thing about the best thing about blogging.

Meghan – I’ve spotted you a few times before, so you haven’t been lurking here for a while! I’m pleased you’ve found me and it is great that you spread the love! Keep up the good work!

Steph – I agree that you always leave quality comments! You are so good at leaving comments that interest me. I do try, but often I can’t think of anything to add to the conversation – leaving questions at the end of a blog post really helps me to leave good comments, but I think it is sometimes nice just to let the blogger know you’ve been there if you can’t think of anything constructive to say. It all comes down to the amount of free time you have really.

Nicole – It is interesting to hear that you still fear commenting on new blogs. Have you ever had a bad experience on a blog? I have seen that some get a bit bitchy, but they tend to be the YA blogs which I don’t normally read. They do get a bit cliquey sometimes and new comers get shot down. All the book bloggers I’ve commented on have been very welcoming. If I find any abusive beahviour I will unsubsribe straight away.

Sandy – I love it when lurkers pop up – especially when they leave a really thoughtful comment on an older post.

I don’t think of you as having a big mouth!!! I’d love to meet you in real life to see if you do though lol!! I love the fact that I can rely on you to comment here all the time. Sometimes you’re the only one to some some love to my more obscure book reviews!

Rebecca – Sorry you’ve just got six emails in a row from me!! Sometimes there are downsides to subscribing to comments!

I think lurkers feel they do not they anything worthy (or smart) to add to the discussion, and that they are insecure to show themselves. Some lurkers might be just so busy that they just lurk and hop from blog to blog. Almost half of the blog traffic to mine is very transient, averaging about 15 seconds to 1 minute. Consider there are zillions of blogs, 1 minute is very generous! Ha!

Since I have discovered your blog, I have always left a comment to posts that I find very relevant to my readings. Some of the posts have transmuted into books in my reading pile. I like the way bloggers leave open-ended comments to continue the discussion thread for a piece of literary work. isn’t this what the book blogging should be? Thank you Jackie for all your thoughtful posts and comments. 🙂

Matthew – Thank you for your comments – it is great that you like it here.

I agree that comments are very important, and a good discussion in the comments section is what makes some blogs so interesting. A lot of the time it is the comments that finally persuade me to purchase a book. I think it was your mentioning of Master and Margarita several times in the comment section of your blog that pushed me into buying it-a decision I do not regret!

PS. I think I mess up some people’s statistics, because if they don’t have the ‘subscribe to comments’ option available on their blog I will often leave their blog open in a tab on my computer, so I can read all the follow up comments. This means that when they look at their statistics they will find someone has been on their blog for 12 hours!!

Candy – I don’t either, but if they read every day it would be nice to know who they are and if they have any good book recommendations!!

I’ve only just discovered the blog – I promise I’ll try not be to be a lurker,but a commenter! Blog already included in RSS reader – let the commenting commence!

I often lurk especially on booksites blogs. For an analogy I will use my feelings about cooking blogs my other go to blog sites–stay with me it all will fall together ( I hope). On the cooking blogs I check out I do comment (when I have the time!) when I’ve tried the recipe and/or altered something and it works great– in order to let others know (analogy if I read another book by the same author). However, I never want to say I tried your recipe and it so didn’t work or it was awful. Also, I find the comments really to be repetitive on the cooking blogs– this looks yummy or what a pretty picture. I don’t want to repeat what someone else has already said. Reading blogs seem the same way. If I haven’t read the book or anything by that author I do not feel I have anything to add. Also I notice no one ever disagrees as well–which I just mentioned I don’t like do either:) Does everyone really love all the books just like does everyone really love all the recipes on a site. It would be a learning experience to know why a recipe failed for someone or why someone didn’t like a book and relevant to someone who cooks or thinks the same way. Respectful disagreement can be a good thing–but again you don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings (so I think the opposite comments and views are sometimes not posted). I often wish there was more discussion of the plot or nuances of the book as well–but again plot spoilers for some (however I am okay with this personally). FYI: I am so happy that I have found book blogs. I love book blogs because I often can find unique books I wouldn’t have thought to read. I also like that the books are not always the new releases but some older books and classics. And I like that the books are not reviewed by so-called book experts but regular folks just like me! I never viewed my lack of leaving comments to be taken as I don’t care about the site or never considered that the creator of the blog site would like anything left just to know I was there! I thought that more comments would just be more work to go through or reply to. I just wasn’t looking at it from the other perspective. But since I am usually looking for a new author or book to read I feel the best I could do is;Your review made me add this to my tbr list. Thanks. Which by the way many of your reviews I have added to my tbr list as a result of — and THANKS!

I would and should comment more but at the end of the day it comes down to time. I am stretched at the moment and I just about manage to keep up my own blog, read a certain amount and comment here and there. I don’t want to cut back on the blogs I read to spend more time composing and typing comments. What I do try to do is make sure I comment everywhere I go at least occasionally. But I don’t feel comfortable commenting when I can add nothing new to what has already been said. I’m not adding much now, but given the subject, I could hardly remain silent. Maybe we should all make an effort to write the kind of post that asks for an opinion or a recommendation one in a while to tempt lurkers out. Looking at my stats I certainly have my fair share

I confess that I’m a lurker sometimes. The reason is that I follow too many blogs do be able to comment on every post. But I do enjoy reading them all. There are also a couple of blogs where I don’t comment because I feel intimidated/inadequate, and I worry I would annoy the blogger with my dumb and pointless comments. I’m not sure if this shows, but I can be horribly insecure. I do try to make an effort to comment, though. I appreciate every comment I get, and it seems reasonable to assume that others feel the same.

Susi – Thank you for commenting for the first time! I look forward to reading all your comments in the future!

Beth – I’m not that chatty in real life, but the anonimity of blogging means that I don’t have a problem with saying what I like, whenever I feel like it.

Heidi – Thank you so much for de-lurking! It is so good to hear an honest opinion of why you don’t comment. As you’ve possibly noticed I do not love every book I read. I give honest opinions of them all. See my review for Home here!!

I am also not afraid to disagree with other bloggers. See here:

I think most book bloggers realise that people have different reading tastes, and do not take offence if you disagree with them in a constructive way. Lizzy and I have very different tastes in reading, but I always enjoy reading her reviews, as she notices things I don’t pick up on.

I would love to hear your thoughts on some of the books I’ve read. It would be great to get a bit of discussion going. Feel free to disagree with what I write or let me know that you’ve loved a book I’ve recommended. I look forward to hearing more from you in the future!

Jane – I don’t consider you to be a lurker. I know who you are and you do seem to comment fairly regularly. I probably comment about the same number of times on your blog. We seem to read different books a lot of the time, but whenever our choices converge we always seem to comment. I’m happy with the way things are, so don’t feel guilty about not commenting enough.

Nymeth – You’ve never come across as insecure to me. I don’t think any questions are dumb or pointless. If you don’t know the answer then there are probably lots of other people who don’t know either. Ask away!

I have totally noticed your honest reviews! That’s why yours is one of the blogs I lurk around (laugh). I also want bloggers to know I really admire how much work they put into their blogs and appreciate not only the effort but the bravery to put themselves out there! I know I would not be so brave. For instance I was so worried as soon as I posted that I would offend someone, be misunderstood or that I was just totally babbling on incessantly making no sense. I am sure other lurkers are also just as shy but also just as appreciative!

I was a lurker for a few months before I started commenting on blogs.
I came across blogging by chance when I was looking for a Justine Picardie book online. I found her blog and thought it was great that she had this whole blog about bibliotherapy going, I really enjoyed reading it. I wanted to comment but was very intimidated by the fact that I had to sign up for something (a google account or something similar) in order to do that, because I wasn’t really sure what I was signing up for, to be honest. That put me off commenting for ages and I’m sure it must do with other people, too.
I carried on reading though and began following the commenters to their blogs. Eventually I had a little group of favourites that I looked forward to reading each day. I probably did this for at least six months before I took a chance and signed up for a google account in order to leave a comment. So perhaps there are many lurkers out there who just don’t want to sign up for something like a google account because they don’t know what they are signing up for.

I’m a lurker at times too. Sometimes, I just don’t have anything to comment and I don’t want to write anything just for the sake of commenting (I worry it might end up sounding silly, haha). But that doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy reading their blogs, I do! I just wish I’ve some more extra time to do all the visiting and commenting! 😛

I am totally guilty of lurking. I follow a ton of blogs but am not so good at commenting, unfortunately. My big thing is that I don’t usually feel like I have something important to say. If I have something to say, I’ll comment, but otherwise I pretty much just read posts and “lurk”. 🙂

No. My experiences have always been positive. I just think it’s a function of my personality that translates into commenting. I don’t think I am shy by any means, but I think I can have a natural reserve in new/unfamiliar situations. Just getting the lay of the land.

Wow! Way to get people to comment!

I have to admit that I was a lurker until recently. It all changed when i started my own blog and finally understood the importance of commenting. Now I can’t stop!

I’m not technically a lurker – I’ve commented before, but thought I’d put my two cents in. I’m like you – I read a ton of blogs through Google Reader, but don’t always click through to comment. When I do click through, if there are already dozens of comments, I often don’t bother. I admit, I comment more often on blogs where the blogger responds to comments. There have been times when I have left a long, well thought out comment (or so I thought), and one that seems to call for a response, and yet it doesn’t receive one. That can sometimes be frustrating, especially since I like the conversation side of blogging, the back and forth.

Heidi – You’re not babbling and you are making a lot of sense!! I don’t feel especially brave for putting out honest reviews, but am aware that a lot of people aren’t as critical as me. They tend to get a lot more free books from publishers than me, but I don’t mind as my TBR pile is big enough already!!

Kim – I don’t like signing up for things either. You don’t have to sign up for anything to post on this blog, although the first time you comment it has to be approved by me. I have been put off commenting on some blogs for this reason, but they tend to be a lot more specialist in content.

Melody – A bit of extra time would be great! Have fun with the extra commenting!

Heather – I do try to set aside a bit of time for commenting but I probably saw about 100 posts today and only commented on 10 – 15, so I guess I’m lurking on the others.

Nicole – It is great to hear that your experiences have always been positive. Bloggers are generally nice people!

JT Oldfield – I know! I’m impressed! I didn’t realise people would comment this much. I think this has just become my most commented on post ever.

Carrie – I don’t class you as a lurker either. As with Fleur Fisher I know who you are, which books you love and comment about the same amount on your blog as you do on mine.

I know what you mean about being disappointed when a blogger doesn’t respond to your comments. I always try to respond to everyone, but sometimes I have written very detailed comments on other blogs with questions in and then been ignored. That is quite frustrating, especially when I really do want to know the answer!

I can’t help but comment on posts about lurkers. I feel guilty otherwise! I did delete a large amount of blogs from my google reader the other day so that I had more time to focus on blogs that are consistently interesting to me and I’m hoping that will mean me leaving more comments in the future!

Michelle – Thank you for not deleting me! Rebecca commented about deleting blogs earlier. I’ve decided to sort my blogs into folders. One for favourites – which I will read the moment I see their post. One for the blogs that haven’t inspired me to post in the last month – if they fail to interest me in the next month I will delete them, and one for the rest. I think deletion is the only way to create more time for the blogs you really do love. Thanks for commenting!

I am a big lurker, I have around 150 blogs in my reader (only book blogs) and I comment on only say 50 of them.
Most of the times I have nothing to add to the discussion or the post. Sometimes there are way too many comments so I don’t think I can add anything new to it. But I always almost comment on those who comment on my blog.

I don’t know what you can do to bring out the lurkers. I have many more subscribers and visitors than the number of comments I get.

If a blog post is not my thing I don’t leave a comment. 😛

I have to admit there are a lot of times that I leave comments w/out even reading the post. I just scanned them or read the title, they usually give me the idea on what to comment. Yes it’s not really good and I try not to do that as much as I can.

And I just noticed there are also a lot of people who do that. You know, some times you get comments saying…Nice blog, Nice post, or John Does was here…those kind of people they just wanted you to visit their blog back.


I just discovered your blog but I’m a pretty good commenter for most of the blogs I follow regularly. I do take a “visit every few days and comment on the post that grabs me the most” approach though as time is such a factor. I’ve also had to be pretty brutal in adding blogs to my “read regularly” list. If I don’t find something I want to comment on in 3 or 4 visits, I’ll usually “drop” the blog as I probably don’t have enough interest in what they are writing about anyway. And I agree with you .. some book blogs just don’t fit my interests so I tend to skip them and eventually “unfollow.” Too many good blogs, not enough time!

I’ve always found book blogs to be the hardest to comment on. If I haven’t read a book that someone just reviewed, what am I supposed to say? “This looks good” doesn’t exactly insight conversation. And I’m more liking to comment on a review when I disagree with what’s said. That starts conversations.

I have a tendency to lurk mostly because I (used to) read blogs on my phone and computer at school, which makes commenting difficult, especially since blogger and wordpress are blocked at my school. Sometimes I also just can’t think of anything to say other than “good review” or “I agree.”

I’m trying to clean out my Google Reader, especially since I follow 200+ blogs and leaving comments on every single one would take more time than I have.

As you know, I am not a ´real lurker´ here. But I leave most comments on blogs or posts about crime fiction because that is what I know something about. I do try to comment on other blogs I like from time to time because I know how much I appreciate hearing from the people who read my blog.

One of the ´tricks´ I use now and then is adding a discussion question to some of my reviews. In that way I get much more response than for the usual review posts.

hi, My name is Care and I’m a book blog lurker. It doesn’t bother me when I see lots of hits but few comments; I do have some blogs I visit and count as must-comment-no-matter-what and others I love but just can’t visit all the time and rarely comment! I think I have too many favorites – don’t we all? 🙂

Thank you for all the comments. I cannot believe I have nearly 50 comments on this post now. That exceeds my previous record by a long way. I am feeling so happy now! Thank you everyone!!

J.T., no. I’ve been a lurker here (and there) for a while. I think occasionally I comment, but often I’m just reading about what Jackie’s read and thought, and I don’t have anything useful to add.

JT – I’m sure that once a post has got a certain number of comments there reaches a stage where people feel there is nothing more to add.

Jeanne – Thank you for reading my posts. I’m sure there are lots of useful things you could add, but I realise that time is short and as long as you enjoy reading my blog that is all that really matters to me. Thank you for commenting.

52 comments by the time I got here via Matt’s blog (A Guy’s Moleskine Diary)! Everyone delurked for you I guess! This is my first visit here. I’m like Matt, I visit blogs via the links I have posted on my blog. I don’t look at the stats on my blog so I have no idea if anyone is lurking or not. I figure a max of about 5-10 people read my blog regularily. If that’s true then that is fantastic! I definitely lurk on occasion – mostly this is due to time constraints. I have time to read/skim but no time to comment. I’m a bit of luddite you see – internet at work only so work really should take precendence. 🙂 This was a great post.

Heather – Thank you for commenting for the first time! I’ve subscribed to your blog now and look forward to reading all your future posts!

I bookmark stuff, sometimes come back, sometimes don’t. I have people who had read my older blog for years, and never said a word. I think it just comes down to some people are shy, even online. Love your blog though!

I tend to leave comments a lot but not on everything I read. Sooner or later if I’m reading a blog I’ll raise my virtual hand and make myself known! 🙂
As far as my own blog, I don’t mind that not everyone who reads leaves comments. Of course I’d love to hear more from my readers and I love it when someone says they are commenting for the first time.

michealsean – thank you for commeting on my blog for the first time, and thanks for the compliment! I’m off to have a look round your blog now!

Marie – Thanks for raising your virtual hand! I love first time commenters too!

I’ve been meaning to comment on this post for weeks (yes, I’m behind…again), and now I really wish I could read everyone’s comments. Why don’t you do a summary post! 😛 Just kidding (although I’d read it!).

There is only one blog that I lurk on, but that’s because it’s a cake decorating blog and I just like to look at the pictures and wish I could be so creative. Otherwise, if you’re in my google reader I comment on your blog as much as I can (find the time for). Time is short enough that I can’t add more reading if it isn’t going to be community building.

But I have wondered about lurkers A LOT. I don’t have a ton of “followers” but I’d say 75% of them have NEVER left a comment. I think, what’s the point of following? I’m not that interesting! 🙂 Plus, book bloggers are too friendly not to leave a comment saying hey!

Sorry for the ramble–I ramble when I’m trying to catch up on blogreading.

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