Sunday, March 7, 2010

Too many branches?

The calm after Cartola, 2010

Do you follow your comments or do you set those thoughts free and let them go on with their own lives without returning to check up on them? When you write a comment, do you subscribe or return to see if the blog author has responded to you? It is clearly a lot to juggle, for everyone involved.

Subscribing to a long list of blogs is akin to being one of those circus performers with the plates spinning atop poles. Some performers are more skilled than others, but at some point it is just too many plates, for any human being.

I am intrigued by many blog writers and gain heaps of inspiration by reading what they have taken the time to write, but as the number of good writers grows, it seems my capacity for any sort of ongoing conversation ceases to scale (healthily).

Many of these intriguing and inspirational blogs mention shops, restaurants, architects, designers, books, other blogs, music, films, videos, recipes, gallery exhibitions, artists, etc. that lead me to new tiny yet interesting branches that lead to other tiny branches and others and others. In addition, I'll often leave comments and subscribe to posts, and, well, I end up in a thick wood, branches everywhere. Scary branches surrounding me, Fighting Trees style, like those guarding the entry to the forest in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Too many branches, way too many branches.

Truthfully, I really do not like occupying my time or yours with such mundane thoughts. Part of me is thinking blah blah blah, let's talk about something a little more noteworthy. I'd like to get back to observing more gratifying items, writing, photographing--leaving you all with something more substantial.

But we really should go outside and feel the sunshine on our faces every now and again. So, what should we do? Should we come to terms with the fact that there are just too many conversations taking place at once? Is it more practical to have brief interactions?

author writes post > reader reads post
and writes comment > author reads comment > the end

As I consider all of the above and regroup, your answer to the following question will be very helpful to me.

When I respond to your comment with another comment is it just too much...unrealistic...not enough hours in a day...too many branches to follow?

Thank you for reading. Thank you for your time and patience.


  1. Hahaha! I like this philosophy. Sometimes it is best to just keep it simple. The blog world can suck you in and before you know it, you've frittered away hours.

  2. I wrestle with this every day.
    When I am on the puter to write a post it's sometimes feels as if I need to respond to everyone I know first.
    It's sad because on many levels it is a spill of words...and as mentioned too many conversations going on. I sometimes want to turn off the comments... then again I enjoy the comments and also like the interaction. I could really pull my hair out on this. I don't think I will ever find a much as I love blogging it feels like a neverending vortex...I'd rather be outside with my family.Good greif...

  3. I'd say it's time for some Spring cleaning.

  4. Ah hah - this is one of those things isn't it? You comes across a blog & think "ooh this is lovely" so bookmark, subscribe, whathaveyou...and before you know it your list has GROWN outta control like a rampant vine twisting all over the place. You try to control it but it snaps back & pulls you in.....and when you finally work your way out you realise half your life has ebbed away (OK half a day then). What to do? What to do indeed? Become ruthless perhaps? Hmmmm......

  5. Oh, Denise. I think about this all the time, and I actually taught an Intro. to Blogging class yesterday in Marin and we spoke a lot about comments.

    I don't have an answer for you b/c I struggle with the same thing. There are absolutely too many conversations taking place--too much information. That's not new to any of us though. I'm just like you: I'll read a few blogs I like and then all of a sudden I'm taken into new worlds of interior design and citrus growers. Interesting but all of a sudden two hours has zoomed on by.

    I always wonder, with so many people producing such great content and readers responding in often genuine (and sometimes not so genuine) ways, isn't there a better way to have this conversation? When you can't subscribe to comments, I often forget to check back to see if the author responded etc.

    I struggle, wondering if it is a waste of time. I am so grateful whenever anyone leaves a comment, but you also have to find a balance in between commenting, keeping up with comments etc. After all, it's spring and there's asparagus in the markets and walks to be taken. Right? Hope you're good. Happy Sunday.

  6. i read my comments but rarely comment back. and, really too often the comments don't require it. i do, through, try to visit all the bloggers that visit me. to thank them, sometimes to follow them, and explore places they recommend too.

    i'm glad i found you. and yes, i read 200+ people - so glad they don't all write on exactly the same day.

  7. These are some great questions. I'm with Char in that I read and appreciate all my comments, usually don't comment back, but do try to visit and sometimes follow those who visit me. There are times when I long for more conversation, but I struggle with the vortex thing as well. :-)

  8. It's true, there's a lot going on, and the longer we blog the more good people we find to connect with.

    I guess I read about 40 people whenever they post, and dip in and out of another 40 or so blogs, and comment when I have a comment to make rather than systematically comment. If I particularly want to reply to a comment, I'll do it on the commentator's own blog or via email.

    And your own advice to abandon it all sometimes for the sun on your face is crucial.

  9. I do try to visit everyone who's left me a comment and try to leave a note on their blog... And if I want to continue a conversation with someone or reply to a comment left on my blog, I tend to have that conversation privately - via email, if the person who left the comment has a public email.

    Otherwise, I take that as a sign that the person doesn't want to receive an email from me, and so I simply do not respond...

    On occasion, if the question involves something that others might want to know about, in my case, paint colors or other such sources, I'll comment on my own blog.

    The following time I visit a blog - like yours, for instance - I go back and read the previous posts' comments... because I know you generally reply in your comments section.

    I love your analogy of the many branches... The truth is, though, you have control over how many branches you let your little tree have - and therefore how much sunshine and clarity you allow


  10. I always love reading your thoughts :) After haveing blogged for nearly 2 years I have **almost** come to peace with commenting. I used to try to respond to comments by visiting their blog or with an email but frankly, there just isn't enough time. Then there was a sense of guilt for someone having taekn the time to comment with no response from me. Now I just do what I can and try to not feel badly if I can't comment everywhere I'd like to. You are right: there has to be a limit :)

  11. I like how you think. Often I've felt a little overwhelmed, so I try my best to simplify. Sometimes to make it a little more personalized or special I'll just simply email the person some thoughts instead of a comment. With comments I try to keep one rule of thumb which is to visit the blog of the person who commented on mine and return the favour. And sometimes I'll write an extra comment on my own blog to people. I hope all this makes sense! For what it's worth I have always felt that your comments are so very thoughtful. I really enjoy them.

  12. Hello Denise. I don't have a problem of answering everyone because quite simply I hardly have anyone reading my blog. And guess what? That is okay. I began this "thing" as a record of recipes and a journal of my life, as a release for me and an account for my kids. I actually get annoyed with people who leave a three word comment, because it makes me feel they simply want me to see their blog and they really haven't connected with me on any level. I have a couple of readers with whom I have created quite a bond and one comment from them means more to me than one hundred one liners. I am simply not interested in any advertisements on my blog or in monetizing in any way (another one of my bugs) - I like it to appear uncluttered and uninvaded. Bottom line. I have few branches and it suits me just fine. Your post has been most interesting.

  13. You write what I feel.

    I am overwhelmed at times trying to "keep up" and not ignore any person out there.. and when I refocus on what I am doing.. for the love of writing and taking photos.. everything is simple again. I have many times thought how I should take the comments button away. I wish I would have started out that way to tell you the truth.
    Thanks for this.

  14. This post isn't mundane at all, it's quite interesting and timely, actually! I try to respond to comments and visit other blogs because A. I'm so flattered and happy they visited mine and B. It's fun to interact with cool, creative people and get inspired.

    But sometimes it gets a bit much. My google reader has 200+ blog posts per day and I fight the urge to read all of them because I don't want to miss anything (generally, I skim the titles and then read the ones that really hook me). I wonder how some people have enough time in the day to post not one, not two, but three or four blog entries a day, and then read and comment on other blogs. Do they work? I have a full-time job, commute two hours, go to the gym most week days, read a book a week, make dinner with my boyfriend, and am happy if I post a few times a month, let alone a few times in one day.

    I'm exhausted just writing all that.

    Like I said, interesting post!

  15. Boy - comments! I have been blogging a few years now and many of my commenters are women whose blogs I read on a regular basis and I usually will leave a comment on their blogs just to let them know that I am connecting with them. I have email correspondence with many of my blog-friends.

    If I leave a comment on a new blog I discovered, I leave it because something in the blog inspires me. But I do not go back to check if the comment was answered. I don't really look for answers back...I just leave the comment to say "I like what you are thinking or doing or writing, or taking photos of....". Some weeks I am so busy, and it's hard to read blogs and leave comments. I used to feel really bad about it. Now I just shrug my shoulders and know that my blog friends who I have corresponded with for a few years will understand that sometimes life gets in the way and I happily admit to being a bad blogging friend during my very busy periods :)

  16. I don't usually go back; not very many authors respond in the comments. Unless I'm very curious, of course. And usually, for me, instead of responding in the comments, I go to the person's blog for a little visit.

    And as for all the extra branches, I've trimmed mine, cutting out blogs like "independent study" and keeping all the thoughts together at field | work. Keep it to one tree, anyway. xo

  17. That's such an interesting subject. I'm a new blogger, just 4 months, so maybe it's the excitement of it all but I do reply to every single comment I receive. And I visit their blogs to reciprocate.
    It is quite tiring though, the amount of blogs I follow, trying to keep up with everything and of course time-consuming.
    If you ever find the answer to this, let me know ;)

  18. How do you do it? you often write down what I am thinking! thank you. I am with you...
    I have not yet figured out how to tackle this whole following thing. I am more of a random person, so I'll check here and there and explore on a whim. I can't "organize" my spare time.

  19. this is a really interesting post. i find i rarely check back if i post a comment on someone's blog, b/c i don't need or expect an answer. A few exceptions are the bloggers that always seem to answer back, so I check back for those. I usually comment b/c i am moved by something, or just want to let them know I enjoyed their post, i don't have any expectations for them to visit me. I guess I don't think of commenting as a way to have a conversation. If it happens, that is nice, but I don't really want any expectations to make this process a less joyful one. I usually comment back on my own blog not out of duty, but because I feel so much affection and gladness that people reached out. Hope that made sense, I'm very rambly today.

  20. I still feel very new to blogging in general and this is something I have not yet figured out how to balance; I am glad to see I am good company!

  21. Roysie, Some days keeping it simple means one thing and the next day another. Today, after a long hiatus, it means my responding to all who took the time to comment here. Yes, I'll fritter away some time, but so be it. Thank you for reading.

    Camilla, I did turn off my comments once, maybe even twice, but I always seem to turn them back on. There have been some really helpful suggestions here. I loved how Tracy at Amuse-Bouche For Two decided to lay it on the line. Also, Elena Gold's "I don't really want any expectations to make this process a less joyful one". And Maria's (Vintage Simple) "The truth is, though, you have control over how many branches you let your little tree have - and therefore how much sunshine and clarity you allow" I hope you spent a little time outside with your family today. I took a really nice stroll with a friend. Progress!

    Tracy, Well said. You are such a wise woman!

    Elsa, Yes, it's those darn lovelies. It all seems a bit more manageable after a week away. I suggest this for everyone.

    Megan, Excellent perspective and way to prioritize! As long as we all remember our asparagus this spring, I believe life will seem a bit easier to manage.

    Char, You seem to have this all in order. Go Char!

    Jessica, For now, I will continue to comment on comments, crazy as it may seem. I enjoy it. I suppose it's like anything else. As time moves on and we continue to use these tools, we'll learn how to work around the vortex thing and our skills will improve. Right? This is how I'm comforting myself : )

    Mise, Working at anything systematically does seem a bit grim. I like your methods. I had the sun on my face today (with sunscreen) and it was fabulous!

    Maria, Thank you for such a thoughtful contribution. I am going to continue with my commenting on comments for now. It does take a lot of time, but I find it gratifying. It works for me. I'm so happy to know that you return to read my comments. Your "The truth is, though, you have control over how many branches you let your little tree have - and therefore how much sunshine and clarity you allow" is so accurate! I like the way you pointed out that, in the end, these decisions are mine. Yes. Time to prioritize.

    Rebekah, Exactly. It is that simple--"I just do what I can and try to not feel badly..." It seems you have a very healthy attitude.

  22. Alexandria, Thank you for reading and sharing your thoughts. It does all make sense. You are completely clear. I like that even though it's a bit stressful for you at times, you have it all very comfortably worked out. It matches the serenity in your images and writing.

    Mariana, I really liked reading about the way you view your blog. I wish my mom had kept a blog when I was younger. I'd love to go back and read it now. No ads for me either. Branches...I might need to prioritize and trim a few.

    Sarah, I so agree with you about focusing on the writing and photography--it does simplify the pursuit.

    Joanna, I think I was born with that "I don't want to miss anything" feeling, so I know precisely what you mean. That feeling is what got the younger me out of bed so early for adventures with my dad and some really wonderful solo mornings too. I'm still almost always curious, always tempted by new information and new possibilities. You are a busy woman and I'm honored that you chose to exhaust yourself in my comments section.

    Raina, I think you've got it right. Life certainly should get in the way, always.

    Molly, I think your one tree idea is a good one. I only have one tree, but still might need to do a little pruning. Thanks for reading.

    Magda, If you are here right now, peruse these comments--many wise words! Best of luck with your new blog endeavor.

    Amelia, You are the sweetest. I loved "I can't "organize" my spare time." I was just discussing this very thing with a friend today. Spare time is certainly best when freedom is a priority.

    Elena, Based on your comment, you probably won't be here reading this...but just in case. I didn't find you at all "rambly". I loved "I don't really want any expectations to make this process a less joyful one". Definitely something to strongly consider when making decisions.

    Krystyna, These seem to be issues many people find challenging. If you peruse these comments you'll find some confusion, but you'll also find some excellent perspectives on the topic. I'm hopeful.

  23. Well done, Denise, for your thoughtful follow-up. This was a particularly interesting post and set of comments.

  24. I would love to have in-depth conversations with the author of every blog I read and with everyone who leaves comments on my blog, but it's just not realistic for my life. I work full-time in addition to writing my blog so I have had to resign myself to doing the best job I can of responding to comments, but not beating myself up if I don't get to all of them every time!

  25. i do reply to each person, who leaves me a comment. i kind of love doing that. : )

  26. hi denise.
    well, i read all of my comments and often will reply if someone asks me a specific question. usually, i don't respond to every commenter though i tried that in my early days of blogging.

  27. I almost always comment on comments, because I feel like it's being a good host. Reciprocity is harder, because there's lots of clicking and reading involved, and sometimes I can't think of anything meaningful to say when I get there, so since I'm not one for platitudes and emoticons I end up not leaving one. Given that there are so damn many blogs now, I read the ones I like, and comment when I want to, and leave it at that.

    But if I leave a bunch over a period and never get one in return, that feels a bit rude. (And if you don't rush over to mine right away and leave me some effusive praise about my dinner, I'm going to cry myself to sleep.)

  28. I've gone back and forth and back and forth and back and forth over the five years that I've blogged.
    It's hard to strike a balance.
    You know-I kind of look at it this way; sometimes you give a gift and then you get a thank you note back and then maybe you meet that friend for lunch and then maybe she invites you out and maybe a friendship is formed. Sometimes you give a gift and the person just likes the gift and that is all.
    None of it is bad-just different. I guess what I am saying is-for me I blog and put it out there because I want to do it.
    If people like it-great-if they wanna comment-great! If not-no biggie. And if I comment-it's because I like the post-I don't expect anything in return.
    We all have other lives...
    I don't know...I am totally rambling.
    But yeah-I think we all think about this-you are not alone :)

  29. I love this post and the subsequent comments. I think about all of this, too. I think the way I've settled into some sort of balance is that I often go for several days without dipping into the blog pool. Then I come back refreshed. I don't expect anyone to read all of my posts or comment on all of them, just those that inspire them or get them riled up or thinking interesting thoughts. I always hope that they expect the same from me because there's no way I can keep up with all the blogs I genuinely--and in some cases, deeply--enjoy.

    The good news for me is that I've basically stopped reading magazines. The best blogs are better than most magazines.

    I also find that sometimes the contacts I make deepen and grow outside of blogging in emails and even real letters and parcels. A few souls have become trusted friends, which is far more than I ever expected from blogging.

    I'm so glad that you posted about this, and I'm so glad you found my blog so I could come here and get lost in whatever branches I discover through you!


  30. Gigi, Your process makes a lot of sense. I'm moving toward something similar. I don't want any of this to feel like a chore. I want to enjoy my reading and writing, thoughtfully. It is a rare occasion when I read a magazine and it might become even more rare. I tried a recipe from a magazine recently and it was a flop. This seems to happen much less with the wonderful food blogs I enjoy reading. Why bother with the ads and such when there are people sharing (blogging about) interesting thoughts, ideas, literature, recipes, art, etc? I treasure those special contacts I've made as well. Thank you for visiting and sharing your thoughts.