The evolution of a blogger’s ego

I started blogging three years ago this month.  It was a fantastic environment where you had your own “bully pulpit” … a place where you were in charge, you had the mic, and you could say whatever you wanted.

I soon learned that bloggers had quite the ego.  They used their bully pulpit to talk about boring stuff (that we were supposed to be interested in) as well as though leadership or subject matter expert stuff.  Bloggers had enough rope to hang themselves with – and some did.  Others became fantastically popular (Seth, Guy, Michael, Chris Brogan), and even internet celebrities.

One of the most empowering, ego-feeding things for a blogger is the comments – or, NUMBER of comments.  When someone leaves a comment on your blog it means (a) you have readers (aside from your momma), and (b) you touched someone intellectually to the point they wanted to weigh in.

Getting comments on a blog fed a blogger’s ego like Golden Coral feeds a hungry boy scout.  There are even bragging rights associated with getting comments.

Read a blog that doesn’t get comments?  You might just be the only reader of that blog.  Obviously, a blog with a few comments (if there are consistently a few), or dozens, or hundreds, or even tens of thousands, really validated the blogger.

And fed their ego.

Fast forward a bit and we come to the evolution, or perhaps the problem (if your ego is tied to your comments): the introduction of other social platforms where discussion can happen.

For example, three years ago I might have written a thought-provoking post and gotten 15 comments on the blog post – my ego is fed, I’m validated, and everyone knows I’m a force to be reckoned with.

Today, however, it’s different.  I write a blog post, and tweet a link to my Twitter followers.  I get NO comments on the blog.

But my tweet gets RT’d 6 times.

And 4 people reply to my tweet with their thoughts.

And 7 people comment on my “status” on Facebook, since my Tweets become my Facebook Status.

There are two problems with this scenerio:

The first problem is artificial… it isn’t really a problem, although it crushes the blogger’s ego.  If you get no comments on the blog, you start to look like a chump… right?  What happened to all of those validating comments?  Maybe you should QUIT BLOGGING?

You might have heard that blogs are dying (they aren’t!)… I think people who see the conversation go elsewhere wonder why they still blog and are somehow convincing themselves they should follow the discussion (as it travels through various platforms), as opposed to continue to initiate the discussion (on their blog).  I think this is a shortsighted mistake.

The second problem is what really irks me.  It is that someone who reads my blog post WILL NOT get the benefit of the wisdom of the crowd.

I try and write my blog posts from my perspective, and always wonder what other smarter folks would say – either agreeing or disagreeing – I don’t care their position, but I do want to get a well-rounded discussion.

It’s no one’s fault, but when people respond a little bit here (Twitter) and a little bit there (Facebook), and even in Facebook they respond on the Wall and/or the Notes section, the conversation is fragmented, and NO ONE can follow it, except me.

It makes me sad that the wisdom of the crowd gets lost amongst the platforms, and no one else can get the value of the conversation.

Are blogs dying?  No.  But there is an interesting evolution of where and how the conversation happens…. and this is an evolution that hasn’t been fun to watch 🙁

17 thoughts on “The evolution of a blogger’s ego

  1. Lisa Solomon

    I was going to RT your tweet, but then I thought twice about it . . . .

    There are a number of WordPress plugins that display Twitter references to a post in the post’s comments section. Using one of those plugins is one way to bring the disparate strand of the conversations together back at “home base.”

  2. Miranda

    I’ve noticed this as well. I kind of wish that more people would leave comments also. A lot of my posts end up with RTs, but only 0-2 comments. While it doesn’t really crush my ego, I’ve noticed that one or two people comment regularly. And sometimes this just means that their “wisdom” is the only other viewpoint. Which makes for a pretty poor discussion. I think Lisa offers a good solution, though.

  3. Al Doyle

    You’re offering a very thought-provoking insight in the groundswell of two-way Internet conversation. My hope is that this stimulates both thought and creativity on “how to keep the conversation going.”

  4. Usman Akram

    i tried lot but couldn’t get myself into blogging yet (still thinking), u can say i m a lazy.

    but what u said is really true even if i don’t blog but still if i can getdiscussions at one place for a post, they will be better. As u said, now most of the comments and ratings go to social bookmarking sites like delicious, digg, redit and social networks, tracking them all is just way hard (As Lisa suggested is an excelent option, i will add to that we might be able to do that with other sites as well but using RSS (as twitter lets u get realtime results using RSSS) to any discussion and showing them in our posts), there should be something to be done, as everything is moving toward semantic web and real time search engines, we might be able to aggregate those discussions in some way (sorry, can’t say how but i am still thinking, there must be someway)

  5. demetrius

    Google Wave is supposed to change the entire social networking landscape. By contacting all the pieces together, Google is supposed to be a “one stop social networking shop”. Perhaps it will alleviate a lot of the segmentation (Twitter, Facebook, Blogs) you mention.

  6. Usman Akram

    yes i am really exited about new stuff in HTML 5, in browser Apps (Just look at those chrome experiments) and most of all Wave Federation Protocol, it certainly will change the way we do things, the way ppl connect, more over they way machines should connect (as they say WEB 3.0, instead of just going ofter tags n keyword 😉 0

  7. Chris Brogan...

    In a way, you buried the lead here. I’d say that you’ve got a great point about how conversations disperse to the far corners these days. However, as you started it as a piece about egos, then went into how you don’t get comments, and how that impacts one’s ego, with that frame I can say that I feel for you. Not getting comments stinks.

    I pour my heart out into my blog all the time. I find that some of my posts get traction and others don’t. Hell, I wrote a 5 word post the other day and got more comments than the one that took me an hour to write.

    I feel for you. But it comes out. Sometimes.

  8. Brenda Young

    Depending on the site, I still see a lot of discussion and interaction. I think sometimes when I read a post I don’t have anything to add but, if I think it’s worth sharing, I will add it as a post on Twitter.

    The problem is that a few years ago, we only had blogs to go and discuss things. I have found that people will respond to a Tweet or FB comment anywhere I “hang out” on the Internet and the conversation can start one place and jump around from site to site.

    I’ve been sending blog and Twitter feeds to several readers, but that can be overwhelmning. I recently started to investigate using Yahoo! Pipes to collect and filter information. Do you think this is a viable option for bloggers?

    p.s., Love your posts even when I don’t comment.

  9. Allan

    Great insight Jason. This is interesting especially from the standpoint of big bloggers who are deliberately staying off Twitter or other channels, folks like Seth. Interested in why you think blogging will stay relevant.

  10. demetrius

    I think it’s just about finding and keeping passion about what you everyday.

    You have loyal readers and followers (I’m definitely one of them). The Internet is just ever evolving.

    From AOL – Friendster – Myspace – Facebook – Twitter , people follow each other to share, discuss, learn and create.

    Personally, I think it’s exciting thinking about possibilities of what this medium will become! BUT, it can be daunting, so I understand how you feel.

    Also, it’s all about CONTENT (as evident from this blog posting! Always good stuff!!)!

    You have a following Jason. You pour your heart into your business, there are no doubts about it!

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  12. Lit

    I agree the conversation is fragmented and does not allow following commenters to build on previous comments.

    At the end of the day, the blog’s feedback does reach the author which is crucial about a blog. What might lack is the tools that would enable all comments to appear into your blog (like the first commenter has suggested).

    Plus, the other side of the equation is that when you consider the fact that we as humans want things cognitively easier for us, tweets and facebook wall posts seem like friendlier options to pass comments than to pass intellectual discussions (although some academic faculty may consider doing that).

    And, reading all the comments posted on a blog post for the average reader seems like a huge tradeoff. The tradeoff is that I can read more blog posts by skipping the comments section of one blog and read other blogs than I can spend my time reading one blog and it’s comments.

    I suppose you will find some people who will comment and care about reading all the comments because that specific blog post has struck a chord with them and they choose to be involved even more in the discussion.

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  14. Princess Clark-Wendel

    Blogs are not dying, but surely our need for “what’s hot” now is seen currently in our tweets and on Facebook.

    When the flavor of the day was Myspace, people flocked there. I guess, bloggers, as well as internetpreneurs must do as the people do and go where they are to get their messages spread among the masses. I just hope truly interested parties get the real message and not the ones that have been sifted across networks and changed exhibiting a differently meaning and purpose.

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