Does a blog matter if no-one replies?

strange little town image - wordpress

My young daughter keeps a WordPress blog. She calls it ‘My Pet Shop – A space to care for little ideas’ and it uses the ‘strange little town’ theme because it’s pink with strange little houses along the bottom. She adds photos, comments, recordings using Soundcloud and video. Her main focus at the moment is capturing evidence that goes towards Brownie badges. We have been photographing her feeding the cat a lot;-)

Her blog has no comments (other than occasional ones from me), no hits or traffic (other than from the family), and no subscribers. Why? Because it’s private and that is her choice.

My question is: does it matter?

I have had many conversations with teachers about blog traffic/comments/hits – and while this is an important indicator of impact, it isn’t the only one. I would hate to see teachers give up because the blog gets no comments.

My daughter gets huge enjoyment from capturing, archiving, recording and reviewing ideas for her blog, and we have rich conversations about it. That’s a different kind of impact…I guess I am arguing for us to take a broad view of why/how we use the technology. I have been part of several forum discussions recently in the VLN Groups site that articulate very clearly the benefits of blogging – and we can’t always measure that in traffic hits.

If a blog is shared with families – and there are no comments – is that a problem?

How else might it be making an impact – and how might we find out?

Now, back to that Animal World badge…;-)

16 thoughts on “Does a blog matter if no-one replies?

  1. Your blog post has reached someone it probably normally doesn’t: me. I clicked on the link because in this case, the topic of your tweet had a connection to me. I think this is how blogs also impact others, whether or not they are from direct traffic or live conversations sparked from a read. I’ll likely talk about this with someone tomorrow, yet they’ll never come to your post themselves.

    Running my own blog, I confess that views and replies do matter to me, but not to the extent that I’d give up if I got none. It’s a reflective practice also and there’s value there for me.

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    • Thanks for your comment, Tyson, and it matters to me, too:) Glad the post caught your eye. The importance of a connection to an audience is vital, as you say – and your point about reflective practice sits at the heart of the process too. Look forward to more conversations, I hope.

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  2. I am currently chronicling my son’s exploits via a blog which I hope he will begin to contribute to very soon (he’s only 6). The purpose is to share his growing and learning with family overseas. It has very little traffic and despite my best efforts in education his grandparents still struggle with commenting. But yet I still feel there is value in he and I sharing in this way. There is a life to look back upon right there online.
    I spoke to my Dad the other day and he was telling me how much he loves seeing his grandson whenever he likes via video, photos and blogging.

    I think traffic is important but should not necessarily be the end in and of itself. It is the content that should add value to the community, whether the community is just your daughter, only my family or the broader teaching community.

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    • Thanks for taking the time to comment, Simon, and I can relate to your story. Often our connection with our own content is key here, especially if we are sharing with family. It takes us back to the purpose for writing – and that can be for all kinds of reasons. In school, I would hope that students also get the benefit of that range of purposes and can see a point to blogging that goes beyond comment counting;)

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  3. Last year every one of my students had their own blog. They were private and their only audience was me. In this case the blog was a private dialogue rather than a public forum. Some students loved the direct connection to the teacher and the speedy responses. Some barely used their blog.
    This year all their blogs are public. They can still elect to keep any or all of their individual posts private on a post-by-post basis. It will be interesting to discover how many of them embrace the experience of sharing with a wider audience – and how many keep their entries restricted to an audience of one.

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    • Christopher – thanks for stopping by. I like the way your students are moving from private to public but also that you have designed this to be a choice, and that they are invited to engage with purpose and audience and what that means for each of them. In your case, do you think the success/impact of the writing be somehow different for each student – or is the learning outcome the same whether their work is private or public?

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      • My hope is that the students will define the use of their blogs and that it will evolve to meet their individual needs. This way I can learn about what their needs are and work in support of those.

        So far I’ve experienced that some like to use their (private) journals as a means of direct communication with me. Some used them to put down their thoughts. Some just for official work – and some barely touched them.

        To me this is all acceptable, I don’t have a particular requirement of them – but I am encouraging their use through one primary mechanism and that’s my commitment to swift responses when they do post to their journals.

        I think the experience of having an audience will really encourage some of them – just as it does me – but as you recognise, it’s important that they have choice there.

        I’m excited to see how it all goes, though!

        Chris

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  4. Writing (producing sound, video) blogs does have a life and purpose which is not counted by hits, replies and responses alone. I blog because it is a Process I enjoy. Like I enjoy writing, photography and video making. They are creative processes in their own right. Blogging simply allows to put all of these activities together in one place. If others view, comment, suggest that is the icing on the cake. Cheers,

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    • I can relate well to your comment, Barry, and thanks for your comment:-) – in some ways, your blog is the modern version of the old magazines or scrapbooks we might’ve created back in day. That creative or reflective process is not something that gets talked about much when we discuss blogging in schools but is surely integral to the writing process.

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  5. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this. Agree with Barry that blogging is more of a creative process and a way of sharing information than anything else. It’s nice when people stop by and comment, but I can’t say that it particularly bothers me if they don’t 🙂

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    • lol:-)..thanks for that, Sue, and it’s great to have your comments here in response to MY writing. I think I too would have happily put this out there, whether I thought I was going to get comments on not.

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  6. As a family we set up a blog when we moved to NZ from the UK as a way of letting people know what we were up to. It gets a few hits mainly from close family and friends, but then that was it’s purpose. I enjoyed posting to it and decided to set up a personal blog that I have kept private. I post occasionally when I feel I have something to reflect on – I guess it is just like when people keep a diary – they don’t usually let everyone see it. I also set up a blog for my professional reflections which I kept private for a long time. I enjoy writing and find that putting down my thoughts in writing helps me to organise them especially when life is so hectic. It has also helped me to be much more reflective about my teaching. I wasn’t confident that anybody could possibly be interested in what I had to say! More recently I have made my blog public after a fellow teacher read one of my posts and suggested that what I was writing was worthwhile sharing. Not many people have responded but it seems to get a reasonable amount of traffic. I guess what I am saying is that it doesn’t matter who reads or comments on a blog, it is the process of writing that is important me. Sure, I get a bit of a buzz when I get a response, but I wouldn’t stop writing if nobody read it!

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    • Your story is very similar to mine, Anne – I also have a range of spaces, both public and private and the act of writing to reflect is something that I relate to. You touch on a really interesting point – that of feeling we have something worthwhile to say – and conversations with other teachers suggest to me that this is a really common reason for not committing idea to a public forum.
      And yet we are so thirsty for professional stories of practice in education – because they help us reflect on our own practice, learn new ideas, compare and contrast… I would urge you to keep sharing, throw open those classroom walls and have the courage of your convictions…and I would love to see your blog…share the link? 🙂

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  7. Karen, I agree that we do need to take a broad view of how / why we use technology and to my way of thinking the key question to guide our selection must always about purpose. Tools need to be fit for purpose and great tools are multi-faceted. I like the flexibility of blogs to provide private and public reflection, and more importantly I like the fact that the user chooses this. Conversely, I enjoy reading your blog, it challenges my thinking and keeps me informed about what is happening in an extended network, however I seldom comment. This is my choice and does not lessen the impact that your blog post has on my thinking.
    So in a nut shell, to my way of thinking it comes down to the user. If the producer is happy to share their thoughts and ideas and the consumer finds value in the experience it is a win win. Comments provide feedback but the absence of comments does not diminish the experience.

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  8. Jo – what a great, balanced comment, and how lovely that you took the time to share your thoughts here. I value everyone’s readership, understanding that, as you say, peripheral participation (that fancy word for ‘lurking’;-) is just as valid and useful a mode of engagement.
    That flexibility of a technology is perhaps one reason why blogging has become so established globally – we can project on to it a whole range of purposes, as the comments above reflect – to ponder, muse, rage, create, share, curate…
    One of my favourite resources on education blogging is this one, from Anne Davis on Edublog Insights: http://anne.teachesme.com/2007/01/17/rationale-for-educational-blogging/…really captures that breadth you refer to, Jo:-)

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  9. Thanks for the link Karen, a pertinent article. I particularly liked the way the Anne Davis emphasised the importance of students student learning new skills and concepts, highlighting that ‘It is not just a matter of transferring classroom writing into digital spaces’

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Thank you for your comment. Much appreciated:-)

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