Thoughts on blog comments & Dan Ariely

26 May

This post is inspired by reading Dan Ariely’s The Upside of Irrationality (which I just finished, a review will be coming soon). I actually wrote this post (as opposed to just thinking about it, but never getting around to it) because it ties in (albeit loosely) with today’s Armchair BEA theme, which is Nurturing Book Blogger relationships.

I’m pretty sure I’m not the only blogger that really, really loves comments.  A post that actually gets them makes me smile all day and feel blogging with worthwhile for a little longer.

Reading Dan Ariely’s The Upside of Irationality, I realized we bloggers are not alone in wanting acknowledgement.

He describes an experiment that he (and some colleagues) performed.  In essence, the participants were all given pages of meaningless busywork to do.  They were paid a small amount per page.  This amount decreased with each successive page.  The subjects could continue with the task until it was no longer worthwhile to them.

The subjects were divided into 3 groups.  For the first, each page was acknowledged with a smile, and the experimenter glanced at the page before putting it into a stack.  For the second group, the pages were simply stacked, no acknowledgement at all.  For the third group, the experimenter simply took the page and fed it directly to a shredder.

For me, the first condition models getting comments on a blog post.  The second models getting hits but no comments, and the third is the post that simply goes unread.

It should come as no surprise that in the experiment, the first group continued with the task the longest, and the third the shortest length of time.   The surprise is that the middle group, where the work was simply stacked, had almost the same results as the group where the work was shredded.

I’ll freely admit that the cases in the study don’t map cleanly to my blogging example, but it’s close enough to cause me to think that my desire for some simple acknowledgement isn’t unusual.  I’m going to try to be better about commenting on other blogs from this point on.  Will you join me?


Posted by on May 26, 2011 in blogging


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13 responses to “Thoughts on blog comments & Dan Ariely

  1. Teresa

    May 26, 2011 at 11:07 am

    I think it is so interesting how we all share the desire for comments yet none of us feel like we get enough of them. I’m with you in making a concerted effort to comment on more posts.

  2. Jackie

    May 26, 2011 at 11:23 am

    I think it is important to leave a comment since you as a blogger took the time to write a post.
    I have this book on my TBR list. i really enjoyed his other book, PREDICTABLY IRRATIONAL.

  3. Marce

    May 26, 2011 at 11:54 am

    Interesting experiment. I now have in my mind how many comments per post make me very happy and how many I am ok with.

    It is disheartning at times when there are no comments to posts you really give lots of thought to.

    I do try my best to be a good commenter.

  4. Ruth Helfinstein

    May 26, 2011 at 12:01 pm

    That’s so true! Being acknowledged makes a difference in keeping us going! I enjoyed both of Dan Ariely’s books. How fun to find such a meaningful connection to write about!

    I’ll try to keep that in mind – I tend to lurk on blogs and not comment, but maybe this will help me offer encouragement more often 🙂

  5. Fourth Musketeer

    May 26, 2011 at 12:10 pm

    Thanks for your post on this topic–I love getting comments, too, and sometimes due to general life business I don’t comment as much on other people’s blogs as I would like. We all love to get them but sometimes it’s hard to take the time the other way around!

  6. Sue Jackson

    May 26, 2011 at 4:24 pm

    I agree completely, Laura. I think it is an innate human desire to want to be acknowledged and recognized. Back when I worked for a big corporation, I often noticed how important recognition was (and how seldom it was given!).

    As for blogs, of course I love comments, too! And I always try to leave some sort of meaningful comment – I figure if I took the time to read the post, I should let the author know.

    Great topic of discussion!


  7. Sniffly Kitty

    May 26, 2011 at 6:23 pm

    It definitely it nice when people comment on a post ^.^ I hope you are enjoying armchair BEA~~

    I’m also liking the psychology in this post ^.^ I think your example maps very well to blogging actually. I think it’s part of the reason why so many new bloggers drop out so quickly. The lack of comments is quite discouraging, and it is quite hard to get past that.

  8. AlisonCanRead

    May 26, 2011 at 9:16 pm

    Interesting post. I definitely love comments. And it is one of the main reasons I keep blogging. Knowing that other people appreciate (or at least appear to do so) is really inspiring.

  9. Chrisbookarama

    May 27, 2011 at 4:32 am

    That was an interesting tie in to your topic. Everyone likes comments even if they say they don’t. It’s a nice feeling to see comments on a review I worked hard on and a little sad when there’s none.

  10. Rebecca Rasmussen

    May 27, 2011 at 7:36 am

    This is very interesting! I really try to comment whenever I can, so my wonderful blogger friends know how much I value what they say, but life gets in the way sometimes, too 🙂 XOOXOX

  11. bookmagic

    May 28, 2011 at 7:24 am

    I agree, it’s hard to keep doing something like blogging when you feel no one is there reading. Comments always make me smile.

  12. 1linerjokes

    May 28, 2011 at 7:40 am

    More and more I only visit places online where I can leave comments. Also places that make it convenient to leave comments i.e. without lots of unnecessary registration of personal details or login passwords to remember.

  13. Lisa Munley

    May 29, 2011 at 8:42 am

    I’m just here to acknowledge you. 😉 That study sounds fascinating!


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