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Voiceless Visitors

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I came across “Ode to the voiceless visitor” during last week’s Slice of Life Story Challenge. Riss Leung posted it over at L.I.T. Ladies. It resonated with me since I often wonder why some of the things I write receive a lot of hits, but very few comments. Ruth and I have talked about this at length since the amount of visits TWT gets is vastly larger than the amount of comments we receive. Riss’s poem seeks to rationalize why this happens.

Here’s the ode she wrote, which she has given me permission to repost here.

Ode to the voiceless visitor

This is an ode to the voiceless visitor, the ones who look but don’t reply,

They never tell you what it was that intrigued them, or even that they had stopped by.

They love to come to ponder your ideas, or to simply observe your style,

Some get what they want and leave, others linger for a longer while.

It’s not uncommon to be a voiceless visitor; research says that it’s 9 in 10!

That’s people who read your writing and leave without lifting their pen.

We love to know how we affect people and which things they like to read,

This is an ode to the voiceless visitor- hopefully a dying breed!

I, too, have been guilty of perusing blog posts and not commenting on them. It happens to me when I’m in a rush… just coming for the information I needed and then leaving. However, as someone who’s been blogging for over five years, I know that comments fuel me as a writer so I try to make the time to comment when I visit a blog. In addition, commenting helps to forge relationships between the writer and the reader, bringing the two together in a world where they may never come face-to-face.

How about you? What makes you want to leave a comment when you read a blog post?

Stacey Shubitz View All

Literacy Consultant. Author. Former 4th and 5th Grade Classroom Teacher.

38 thoughts on “Voiceless Visitors Leave a comment

  1. Wow, love the poem and the topic! As a reader, there’s just no way I can comment on all the blogs I read. Many blogs I read just for information and enjoyment, as if I were reading the newspaper or a professional development book. Usually I leave a comment if I feel like I have a relationship with the blogger — like many of my “favorite” slicers. I always leave comments for people who leave me comments, although some of them write so frequently that there’s still no way I can comment on all of their posts! However, as a blogger, I know how much comments fuel me and inspire me to keep writing. It drives me crazy to look at my stats and see how many people visited without leaving a comment! I wonder what they thought, if they liked what they said, if they thought it was worth reading. I’m trying to leave more comments on other teaching blogs (besides slicers) but it just feels like there are so many. Also, sometimes I just feel I don’t have anything worthy to add. I think instead of giving up because I can’t comment on all the blogs all the time, I should just concentrate on trying to always comment on posts that have really made me think or given me new ideas.

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    • Jennifer,
      What’s interesting about the number of visitors vs the the number of comments is that I’ll often have people make a verbal comment about something I wrote rather than posting a comment. Drives me crazy but at least I know that readers are thinking about what I’m writing. That’s heartening.

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  2. I too have been a voiceless visitor to many a blog. I am new to blogging/commenting this year and vow to share my voice more often. I am more likely to comment when I make a personal or professional connection to the writing or idea. I participated in the March Slice of Life Writing Challenge for the first time this year and the comments from other writer’s really inspired me to write more. Hopefully my future comments will inspire other writer’s to keep sharing. Thank you so much for sharing this poem!

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  3. I know how the comments I have received have helped me, and I have tried to comment on posts that “speak to me” in some way.I haven’t found many that did NOT speak to me. Sometimes I have felt I was repeating what others have said, but that’s often good for the writer to hear. Thanks for sharing this thoughtful and thought-provoking post.

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    • Hi fireflytrails,
      I think it’s OK if your comments are similar to those of other readers. Invariably everyone who comments will have a slightly different take on the post and it helps the blogger continue to think about the topic she or he has blogged about.

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  4. This is such a powerful post to raise the awareness of what comments do for the writer. I will try to keep this in mind as I get ready to click the back button and I have not said anything. Just say something. I will try. Thanks for the nudge.

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  5. I just wrote about this in a post I did last night. It wasn’t until I started blogging and joined the SOL community that I actively started commenting. I still don’t do it all of the time, but a much higher percentage than zero (which is nearly what it was prior to this). When I don’t, what are the reasons? Time. Skimming. (Oh, that goes back to time.) Sometimes I feel like I don’t have anything worthwhile to say.

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  6. This sure has me thinking! I do not always leave comments – sometimes because I do not have something “witty to add and sometimes because the “time” I would need to respond to all I read is just not available to me! I definitely do write when something “moves me” or “makes me stop and think!”
    I don’t want to become someone who responds just to get people to come by their own blog; however, I do agree that comments fuel ALL of our writing. I guess it is a fine line between writing because we have something to add and writing to fuel our own egos!

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  7. Wow – I think every thought I’ve ever had about reading and writing a blog and being or not being a voiceless visitor is written above. One thing I find is that even though a commenter might not have anything new to add to the discussion or might not find something in my writing that resonates, by leaving a comment it is a footprint to their writing I can follow. I know that for some people that is the only reason they comment – and is probabloy not a great reason – but it makes for an easy search engine.

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  8. I like to comment when I feel that I have something to add to the conversation. Sometimes I read the comments that have already been made, and I can’t think of anything new to say. I suppose a simple thank you would be better than nothing, though. Thanks for the encouragement. I know I certainly do like even the simple little comments.

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  9. I found this community during the Slice challenge. Although I didn’t complete all 30 days, I posted sporadically, I did enjoy the beginnings of blogging! I have tried to post when I have time. I am selfishly leaving this comment begging for your votes! Please click below to read my blog and then please take a second to vote. I would REALLY appreciate it!! It’s all for the sake of creating readers! 🙂

    http://workingovertime-gina.blogspot.com/2012/04/please-vote.html

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  10. Online writing is (2 months) new to me so I am working this all out. Comments were an unexpected bonus of doing the SOLC in March. Amazing to me that my writing would spur anyone to comment. Even if it didn’t the stats told me someone was reading and that has been satisfying. Discovering that I had something to say and formatting a way to say it has been the biggest reward. Commenting on what someone writes, comes in many ways I think, some seen by the author and others not. Maybe giving the reader the freedom to choose the way authenticates the process.

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  11. Stacey,
    Such a thought-provoking poem and post. As so often happens when I visit your blog, your words and the comments that follow give a gentle nudge. I would say I am 50-50 on responding at the blogs I visit. For the most part I bookmark or follow the blogs that I read on a regular basis. If I am a voiceless visitor, I will likely leave a comment on a post in the near future. Thanks for the nudge. ~ Theresa

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  12. I’m especially likely to leave a comment if I think it can get a conversation going. I love to comment on blogs where I know I can “hear” back if the original poster responds to MY comment. That’s one of the reasons I love Disqus. If I leave a comment on a site that uses that format, I’ll get an email if anyone responds to my comment.

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  13. Interesting ode, and it’s something I wonder about, too. The number of hits I get just does not correspond to the number of comments. I know how long it takes to write a blog post – the kind of thinking that goes into crafting what one wants to say takes time. I appreciate it when a reader says something – even if is just “thanks for this post!” – and I always leave a comment for that reason. Plus, as Linda has already shared, the teacher in me knows how much my kids love having comments to read, and how left out they feel when something they’ve shared goes unnoticed, uncommented upon. Besides, it feels nice to leave something behind after reading a post – it doesn’t have to be wise, or meaningful…just a thank you will suffice…right??!!

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  14. A post has to resonate with me in some way. If it stirs a reaction, I comment. It’s not fair to the writer for me to leave a comment with no meaning. You have a lot of comments today because you made us think about something in a new way. Posing a question helps to inspire comments as well. The whole mystery of the voiceless reader is part of why we write, I think. Somehow, someway we may reach someone out there in the great cyber world who wants to listen to our song, but even if we don’t, we keep singing.

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    • Hi Margaret,
      You make a good point about not leaving a comment just for the sake of leaving a comment, otherwise it’s meaningless to the original poster. I’ve experienced that a couple of times on my blog. However, I can’t say that I prefer no comments to a simple comment. What a dilemma! Nevertheless, I am going to try to find something in all the blogs I read that merits leaving a comment. This goal may merit a post on my blog in the near future :-).

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    • @margaretsmn: I see what you’re saying about wanting to leave a meaningful comment. Sometimes, when I’m not sure my comment will add much to the discussion, I just leave a simple comment saying thanks for that I agree.
      Your comment reminds me of the dilemmas many students face. Sometimes they’re afraid to speak up wondering if their thoughts will add something to the dialogue. I think thoughtful, albeit short, comments and remarks always have something to add.

      To everyone who has commented on this post so far: Thanks for joining in the dialogue about voiceless visitors!

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  15. I comment about 1/2 the time when I read. I always intend to leave a comment, and sometimes I actually return to do so, but usually I’m just rushing through things. I’m writing this as I eat a hastily made PB&J sandwich over the sink. See the pattern here?

    I have to admit that sometimes I don’t comment because I disagree with something the writer has presented, and in the same way that I wouldn’t insult a host, I don’t feel it’s my place to contradict someone on their own blog. I’ve stumbled upon posts that were too religious for me, or too regressive towards women, and I’ve read them and kept going. I feel I’m being courteous when I read and leave, but maybe I’m just being cowardly…?

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  16. What a great poem! I have, admittedly, often been the voicesless visitor. Often it is when I am tired or the post just doesn’t grad ahold of me in some way. However, as a new blogger, I know how important it is to get the feedback from your audience. I am trying more to be the visitor who comments when I read a post, but there are still times I revert to my voicelessness. I guess it takes a while to get into the habit.

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  17. I, too, do not always leave comments. I am trying to amend my ways! I will echo Judy C., above – I have been writing many more comments since I participated in the writing challenge, having really benefitted from comments on my posts.

    My blog’s primary audience are parents of my students plus early childhood educators. I have long wanted it to be a dialogue; I have had some success with educators leaving valuable comments but I hear nothing from families. I think this poem is delightful…and makes me think that I should try to write something honest yet light, like this, on my blog page, to encourage comments. I need to be more forthright with folks, letting them know I cherish their comments.

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  18. Thanks for this gentle reminder to not just visit, but to leave comments. I have found that I am more apt to leave comments when the writer has spoken to me. Since I’m not in the teaching profession, I find some of the posts to be “out of my realm”, thus just visiting and not commenting. Sometimes I am so overwhelmed with emotion from the post that I can’t comment at that time and then go back later to leave a comment. I have been trying harder to leave comments since I wrote in the month long challenge and know how much those comments mean to me.

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  19. I am part of the dying breed. I was once more of a “voiceless visitor” and have evolved I would say into someone more willing to comment. I can relate to Deb, there are days I am just tired, but I will try to keep the tab open and go back later. I think I appreciate the connection of the writer and reader, as you said, and that has helped me become more comfortable commenting.

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  20. Loved this Ode to the Voiceless Visitor. I’ve only been a blogger for a month but can totally relate. I check out my stats and ask myself if I’m providing the right content. Is anyone benefiting from my rants? Did I spell something wrong, use incorrect punctuation, ramble about needless story facts? And since my blog is more for teens I ask myself, how do I connect with them? But in the end, I enjoy it so I have to believe it’s helping and in time will make a difference in someone’s life. (Phew, I’m windy today. Ha!)
    Great post!

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  21. I really appreciate the The Ode to the Voiceless Visitor. I am new to blogging. I started with the SOL challenge this past March. I was amazed about the feelings I had when I got a response. It gave me confidence and inspiration. In addition reading other blogs gave me new ideas for my own writing. I feel guilty about not responding to what I have read so my solution with time being a factor I limit the amount of posts I read and respond to them.

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  22. Time is usually the key factor. I am not the quickest in on-spot thinking. Sometimes I just don’t know how to respond. Sometimes someone else has left a perfect comment and I don’t want to repeat. For years I was the voiceless visitor. I am pretty good at SOL posts and comment on most of the posts I read. In the rest of the blogsphere I have become better but still don’t comment on every post I read. I appreciate the voiceless visitors. If they liked, they will be back, and may be after a month or a year they will leave a comment.

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    • Terje,
      Good point about the voiceless visitor: if she or he liked what they read, they’ll be back. And, sometimes it’s important to remember that “voiceless student”, ie quiet student, in our class. In our push to get kids talking, we may forget that some learn best by listening and assimilating, then applying their learning in quiet ways. Could this be the “voiceless visitor”, as well?

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  23. I too must confess that I have been that voiceless visitor at times. I am usually visiting late at night, with iuntentions of revisiting later when I have more time to comment. Sometimes it is even a fear of not sounding articulate.
    Love your blog and all the thoughts and feelings it inspires!

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    • Hi Bev, so I’m going to comment on a comment. I agree that sometimes I don’t leave a comment because I’m afraid of not sounding smart or articulate. But, I think we’ve got to get over that. I think of what my response would be if my students said something like this to me: give it a try, have a go, you are so smart!

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  24. Once in awhile, I am that voiceless visitor. If I’m tired and just reading…sometimes what is written just doesn’t resonate with me and I can’t find the words…mostly though, I try to comment because I know how much comments mean to me and I try to give that to the people who write the posts I read.

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  25. Usually I leave a comment on a blog when something moves me in the post, like it did with this one. However, more often than not, this decision is influenced by how much time I have to write a comment. At the same time, I agree that, as a blogger, I want people to interact with me via my posts. When I look at my stats I notice that people visit my page every day – certainly not as often as those that visit TWT 🙂 – and rarely leave a message. In fact, that is one of the advantages of participating in the SOL – you get people reading and commenting on your posts. And, of course not everyone does SOL or anything remotely similar. So, I will recommit to leaving a comment whenever I visit someone’s site. I see it as an important contribution to the conversation.

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  26. Great poem that responds well to this. I wonder, too, & sometimes get hits in the oddest places, old, old posts. You know me well enough, Stacey, that I can hardly not comment. Even if I don’t agree with what the person is saying, I usually say that too in the form of what I hope is a conversation. It does take time, but I know how important the comments are, from my teaching I think. Students need response & it was a big part of my classroom, both from me and from peers. Thanks for bringing this up, Stacey.

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  27. I think about this often as a new blogger. I wonder what people are taking away. I am fueled by read comments as well. I realize that I comment when a blog hits home, I find information I am looking for or a new idea. I don’t comment when I scan a blog and it is not what I am looking for at the moment. It may be well written, and interesting but going in a different direction from my current thinking so I move on to find the information I am seeking else where. Time is usually the factor – I am scanning blogs as I build teaching ideas for the week – only once in a while do I have time to sit and read blogs for fun and then have the time and space to comment. An interesting issue!

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  28. Connections or questions are what fuel my desire to leave a comment. Probably because I want my comment to have meaning or purpose.

    You pose an interesting question that has me thinking.

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  29. Wow, I never really thought about it this way, but I will make more of an effort to leave a comment. Sometimes I think it’s just time…I usually make a comment if I feel a connection self to text connection first…those are usually the ones that inspire me to leave a comment. Then, sometimes I read posts and need to think about them and come back to them later…or jot a note about them in by writing notebook…just some quick thoughts…I will be thinking more about this…

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