Why I Won’t Participate in Comment Swaps

Reflectiona fixing of the thoughts on something; careful consideration

This is not the post I meant to write. I intended to write one about what I’m leaving behind as I follow my new vision for TCFL, but this point about comment swaps became so lengthy as my first point, I thought it clearly needed its own post.

And I’m not trying to rip on comment swaps at all here, okay? I’m only sharing this because I think it could be interesting to share my perspective as someone who was a pioneer/mastermind of organized comment swaps – sort of my thoughts from creation to now. I have a lot of thoughts on this, so even though it’s not a categorically positive post, I’d like to think the honesty makes up for it.

When I originally created the #TeacupClub Club Meetings, my intention was good. My Twitter feed was littered daily with tweets from bloggers not getting comments and being discouraged, so I thought my little idea would help people. I mean, I felt the same way. I was discouraged and doubting if my content was worth anything. I figured if so many of us were creating great content but being brushed over, why not provide this hour where we could devote our time to engaging with content and discovering new blogs?

I wanted a sincere, genuine hour of engagement.

I’ve gotten so many wonderful, genuine, thought out comments from comment swaps, but I’ve also gotten quick, cheap, insincere comments. I never wanted to say that out loud because I didn’t want to seem ungrateful for a blog comment, but ya know what? I don’t care now. I’ve gotten a lot of lame comments. I’ve gotten comments that weren’t about engaging with my content – they were about trying to rack up one in return because some bloggers expect you to comment back no matter what they say.

I played into this myself for a while, but I quickly became unhappy. I started distancing myself from meetings even before I was unable to participate because of my schedule. I could have joined swaps with other communities on the weekends, but the less than stellar comments had already put me in a predicament.

I want to reply to every comment on my blog. I want my posts to read like I’m speaking, and I want readers to feel like they’ll get a response from me if they engage. I want to have conversations with people and hear them when they tell me what my words evoked in them.

The thoughtful comments I got, I wanted to reply to those. The lame ones with no substances, not really. But, like, I didn’t want to be mean by picking and choosing the comments worth replying to while leaving others unanswered.

I feel like there are some people reading this who are thinking I’m just being an ungrateful bitch and a negative Nancy, but let me put a face to this. There’s one comment in particular that sort of embodies my frustration.

In one meeting I shared a poetry post. My poetry posts are some of my favorite to get comments on because I get to see what parts of a poem are standing out to readers and what parts are lacking. It’s super helpful to me as a poet. On this particular post, one blogger, to make a short comment even shorter, said

“I don’t like poetry, but your blog is pretty.”

This comment haunts me. Every empty comment before and after it now reads the same way and it makes me mad. How can I appreciate that comment as much as a comment from someone who reads my posts and actually engages with them?

I mean, I got a comment from Lizzie Bee asking to collaborate with me, and I had so much anxiety about being backlogged numerous months with unreplied to comments, I couldn’t even reply to comment as stellar as hers.

I stopped replying to comments entirely because of it, and I hate that. That’s not the type of blogger or person I want to be.

I sat for a while and tried going back months and months to reply to comments, but it didn’t work. It took me too long to be relevant anymore. I’ve had to let go and accept I have this backlog of posts with comments I won’t be able to reply to.

I certainly get less comments now that I don’t participate in swaps, but honestly, the comments I do get make me so happy. They’re from people who are commenting because they want to. It’s sincere, genuine engagement, which is all I was ever looking for.

There’s no incentive or expectation, no strings attached.

I still feel guilty because I was insisting I had to reply to my comments in chronological order, so the comments I got near the end of 2017 are also unanswered. I’m just the worst.

I’m moving forward though. Not to be all New Year, New Me, but I’m not going to let my comments from comment swaps hold me back in 2018. It’s a monster of my own making. I made my bed, and now I have to lie in it.

Again, this is all my experience. I’m not trying to drag down the practice of comments swaps at all. I’ve made so many friends through them and gained honest readers. There are plenty of bloggers who have entirely positive experiences with comment swaps, and those aren’t degraded by my views. If you love comment swaps, keep participating! They can be really fun and draw new people to your blog.

They helped when I needed them, but that’s a chapter in my blog history I’m closing.