The Problem is not the Authors its the Readers

Kyle Reed // @kylereed

Blame is a fun thing to be able to throw around.
The blame game is played every day in America. Normally when something goes wrong the first solution is not to find a fix, instead we look for who to blame. Where do we see this the most in America? Government, they demonstrate the task of finding someone to blame for a slumping economy, or a failed health care reform.

Instead of playing the blame game, we could all benefit from playing the solution game.

There has been a consistent conversation going on regarding blogs and stats. How much value do you put in stats? What makes you a “successful” blogger? Do you have more value if you have more readers?

These questions are asked by a lot of people but it seems the answers are not as black and white as we would like.

There really is not a set way to blog nor is there a set way to measure the value of a blog. Sure you can use all kinds of analytic tools (stat managers), but does that really mean that you are providing value to your readers? One thing that I have consistently went back and forth on in how much merit I put in my stats. I can get pretty caught up in how many page views I am getting. It can be even worse when I start to compare my stats with other blogs that get triple the amount of visitors and stats. I have been working on moving away from being stat driven and into being comment driven.

Still though we continue to want to get back to numbers. How many people clicked the links, how many retweets, how many RSS subscribers, etc…it gets overwhelming. I was even looking at a site yesterday that said it searched thousands of christian blogs daily to bring you the best articles. When I went through the site to see what they deemed the “best” blog post they ranked them by how many times the post had been retweeted on twitter. I struggle with this. Mainly because it seems that we are placing more value on how much people click links then actually partake in conversation.

I do not want to go back and rehash a great conversation that we all had on Tyler Brauns blog Man of Depravity over this subject. Please go there and check out some great conversation. But what I do want to do is ask a simple question, Because I think some if not most of the blame is in hands of the readers and not the authors. It seems (myself included) that we skip over a chance to have a conversation because no one else is there having the conversation. I have seen several times on big name christian blogs people commenting just to comment because of the author. They comment on some dumb stuff. When there is a great post written about life and its struggles on a little known blog that on a good day gets 100 page views. I just wonder….where does the value sit?

In how high your stats are….or….in the amount of value you are adding to the conversation?

I have my thoughts on this and want to start to share them in the comment section below and engage in some conversation.But I do think that this is a conversation worth having t get down to some answers on where we are putting value in the blogging world.

What do you think?


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Kyle Reed

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I create websites, conversations, and ideas. Advocate for the 20 somethings. Looking to connect everyone to a mentor. Married to my best friend, Ginny. I like my coffee black and my dog Jack. I currently live in Nashville and work at Sony Music/Provident in Nashville
  • Ben

    Intriguing little topic here Kyle. I guess I have two views because I many times have the same feelings as you. First, I have to analyze myself and wonder why I am comparing myself to other bloggers. It kinda creates a “chip on my shoulder” attitude that I am writing something superior and everyone should be reading it, when it may not be superior at all.

    For instance, I am a huge Misty Edwards fan, she is a worship leader from IHOP and has written some incredible music. I shared one of her songs on Youtube with someone the other day and they were like, “I have heard better.” I was like, “what!” total deflation, haha. What I thought was the best music ever, didn't resonate with them at all.

    Many times our feelings of why others get the fanfare and we don't come from our own insecurities based on past experiences with people and being rejected by others who never thought our ideas or opinions mattered much. In the end that is an US problem, not a THEM problem.

    I would agree that people make dumb comments. Not to point out Jon Acuff's blog but if you look at most of the comments there, few have substance. I wonder if comments would have increased substance if bloggers took a Lifehacker approach, they don't allow you to be a commenter unless you are adding to the conversation. On Jon's blog, many people just put “great post” or something sappy; they don't explain why his blog was good, how it affected them or how they might use it to make a different choice in life. To me, that is just annoying.

    You have to keep on doing what you do, write what you feel the Lord is pressing you to write and depend on the fact that if one person reads it and is changed, then they are changed. Beyond that, readership is really out of our control. Sometimes, one post will be what changes the direction of your blog, like Hugh Grant going on the Tonight Show did for Jay Leno. After Grant appeared, Jay was the number one late night show for the rest of his first tenure there.

    Good thoughts bud.

    • @kylelreed

      It really is subjective to what you like. I think you are exactly right. I have done that with post before. Thinking that I wrote a really good post only to find that I was the only one who thought that. Or like you said, shared music and thought others would love it only to find that it is okay.

      I think there needs to be some filter to comments, or at least we need to provide each other with a filter as to what we are saying. is it adding value? Are we just writing to say something or are we really trying to add to the conversation? Good stuff

      • Ben

        Another idea that I doubt would ever get off the ground is to make a website with a community of bloggers that simply don't have the numbers. Have a collaboration of bloggers on one site which could expose everyone to something bigger and not just do it on your own.

        You and I are really into mentoring and putting our blog posts we have many similarities and differences, why wouldn't people want to collaborate together in creating a network that way instead of individual communities. I don't know, just a thought that I had.

        • @kylelreed

          Well, 8bit is doing that.
          Through all of these blogs:

          Each blogs has a network of writers and followers. The direction is to move more into that.
          Is that what you are talking about.

          • Ben

            Absolutely or what Think Differently does. I have always wanted to create a blog with honest thinkers that can challenge culture as we know it but also speak to a young adult generation that has a lot of questions but are finding few answers.

            I am focused on certain micro topics within the greater umbrella of that but to have a blog like that, I don't know. Probably wishful thinking on my part. =)

            • @kylelreed

              well you can always become a contributor on the mentor me site. Always looking for more. And I would hope that the mentor me site and this one is pushing in conversation

  • Tom

    I'm pretty much sold on the fact that there are always going to be people that comment on big blogs simply to drive traffic to their own. They lay off the serious posts because it actually takes time to think about, write about, and share their honest opinion on the post. They are into blogging for the wrong reason.

    So I err on the side of conversation and discussion that happens on a site. I'd much rather have five people constantly commenting, sharing, and discussing on my posts than having 100 one sentence statements. Truth be told, stats don't mean much to me. Comments are my measurement.

    Of course, there are just times where Reader gets back logged, I declare bankruptucy, and mark all as read. Sure, I'm missing some posts that I could've contributed on but if I don't have the time, I can't lose sleep over it.

    • @kylelreed

      I have been the guy that comments with a one sentence, I have been the guy that has taken a lot of time to comment, and I have been the guy that gets upset because no one is commenting. It is a varied emotion for me. There are times where I could care less about stats, then I go back and get annoyed because I worked on something and no one is seeing it.

      Tricky little thing, but having 5 dedicated readers and commenters that add value to the conversation is priceless.

    • bondChristian

      Tricky… I hear what you're saying, but if I'm honest, I'd rather get 100, one sentence comments than five in-depth comments. That might not be the attitude to have, but it's the way I think right now.

      • @kylelreed

        I can completely understand. And I appreciate your honesty. I go back and forth, at times I want the 100 comments, probably because I put some stock in how many people comment. But I do think that after getting this consistently I start to look for more substance then abundance of comments.

  • Shellie Kubicki

    As a reader (although I do write rarely), I think my mood dictates what interests me for a particular day. Yes, I'm using the hormonal excuse! I don't always read every blog I follow all the way through. I'm not a great debater and that certainly isn't my reason for commenting. You and Tyler have that vein of conversation through comments. Healthy connections. Via the www! Who knew??? It is & isn't about numbers. It is about what makes that connection for me today. What topic or what conversation speaks to what I'm feeling or in the mood for!

    • @kylelreed

      that makes sense shellie, and I would never call you moody.

      I do think that you are right. There are topics that peak my interest and lead me to read and then comment. Here is what I wonder though, if that is the case for most readers of blogs (and I think it is) then doesn't that put the responsibility on the readers to add value to blogs? That could be confusing, because if someone writes a crappy post on something that makes no sense then how are you suppose to comment? But, if there is a relevant post about grace and only 400 people read that post but only 4 people comment does that mean it was a good post or it was a post that a lot of people “might” have read but found no value in?

      • Shellie Kubicki

        I see what you're saying. I don't keep up with stats. I guess it's because I'm still in the “experimental” blogging stage. It's lasted about 15 months!! That would be kind of a downer if that many people glanced and only a few commented. But, those few may be the ones who needed to get something out of their heads. That describes a 12 step meeting, too. Sometimes you can have 30 people at a 1 hour meeting & only 3 people share. Lot of dead air. Some are ok with that dead air. Others? Not so much. But, if something I said helps just 1 of those 30 people have an “ah-ha” moment, then God put me there to open my mouth that day.

        And that gives me another thought. I don't know if I would be doing this kind of “sharing” if I wasn't an addict in recovery. I have learned to listen to my feelings. And share them. Openly. That's not easy for everyone. This kind of forum has become part of my recovery. It is cathartic. And I feel it helps me grow as the person God meant for me to become.

        • @kylelreed

          Very interesting connection there to recovery. You are right, it does take a lot to share feelings and even more to think reflectively on what you are feeling and thinking.

          I am with you, if people or one person can be influenced it makes it worth it. I thin that is where the value is in a blog, the conversation and the chance of leading to change.

  • bondChristian

    I started blogging in '08. After a couple months, I realized that the only readers I had were my friends. I took a break in summer, '09.

    When I came back, I decided to take a different approach. Instead of getting upset that only my friends were reading and commenting and interacting, I decided to just start making friends with everyone. Even if nothing “amazing looking” happens, I've still created a lifetime of investment in friends.

    You can't lose that way.

    -Marshall Jones Jr.

    • @kylelreed

      Funny thing is, most of my friends that I have pre-blog do not comment or really read (that I know of) most of the people that read and comment have been made through blogs and twitter. I think that is pretty interesting.

      • bondChristian

        Yeah, definitely. I should have put what I said better. Most of the people who know me offline don't read what I write online, too. I'm with you there.

        But the ones who read my blog (and interact) are the friends I knew online who were and are online all the time and who I interacted with before blogging and would interact with whether or not I was blogging.

        So instead of being the guy who's trying to get random people to read his blog, I've tried to become the guy who makes friends online. That's more fun and more rewarding anyway… because most people appreciate friends, whether they want to read another blog or not.

        I totally didn't make that very clear in my first comment.

        -Marshall Jones Jr.

        • @kylelreed

          I understand. And I am with you, I have enjoyed making friends online through twitter and the blogging world.

  • bondChristian

    When I scrolled back to the top of this post, I remembered something I wanted to say. The title reminded me: “The problem is not the author – it's the readers.”

    Everyone wants to an author (myself included). But not many of us want to be the readers. It's been a challenge for me over the past few months really honing in on what it means to be a good reader.

    I always say, “If you want to give, get – and if you want to be interesting, be interested.” If you want readers, why not try becoming the perfect reader (which includes interacting and applying) for someone else.

    Like I said, it's definitely not something I always want to do. But I think it is something I should be doing.

    Anyone else have any thoughts on this?

    -Marshall Jones Jr.

    • @kylelreed

      Well said, you have to be a listener before you can be a talker. I think that is definitely true.