This is the nineteenth post in the Professional Development 2.0 series. If you have not already, I would encourage you to start with the first eighteen posts:
- Introduction to the New Professional Development
- Old and New
- What is a PLN?
- Parts of a New PLN
- What’s all that tweeting about?
- Why Twitter?
- Instant PLN!
- Investing in the Follower/Following Relationship
- Differentiating Development with the Educator’s PLN
- How Building a PLN Can Help Your Students
- What’s the Difference Between Social Media and Social Networking
- Introduction to Social Bookmarking
- How Social Bookmarking Works
- Characteristics of a Reflective Educator
- Writing to Grow – an Introduction to Blogging
- Why a Blog Instead of a Private Journal?
- Where to Start Blogging
- How to Find and Follow Great Blogs
Looking at the comments of any blog can show how vibrant its community of readers really are. Comments are the main avenue of communication between you and your audience. There are steps that you can take to foster a community where people comment and interact frequently, honestly, and naturally.
- Make time to comment on other people’s blogs. In so doing, you are fostering communication and supporting another blogger/educator. A side effect of supporting others in this fashion is that the author will often check out and comment on your blog. Furthermore, anyone reading that person’s post will be exposed to your site and may check it out as well. The community that you are trying to build is extended beyond just your own blog.
- Create an atmosphere that does not put your opinion above anyone else’s. It is your site, but you do not necessarily need to be the “expert” all the time. If you are the expert about what you are writing, then why do you need other people to contribute? Readers need to know that they can make a valuable contribution to the blog or they will not waste their time.
- Ask. There is a large difference in the amount and quality of comments when you ask people for help or for their opinion, and when you do not. I will often end my posts with a question because I really want to know what the people reading think. Do they agree or disagree? Why?
- Be polite. Ideally, your comments will not always agree with everything you say. Of course, validation is important and helpful, but if everyone agrees then what is really learned? What impact can be had if no one is moved outside of his comfort zone? So, the longer you blog, the higher the chance that someone with disagree with you. This is a good thing because we can learn through the process of disagreeing. In the event that a commenter is argumentative, try to be polite and positive.
- Moderate when necessary. I have never deleted or not published the comment of anyone on my blog. However, I did start getting a lot of spam, so I set my blog to not publish comments from people until I approve them. You may or may not need to do this. I did not want to subject my readers to the advertisement-driven spam, so I decided to enable moderation. You will have to judge what will work best for you and your readers.
The more you and your readers are able to interact, the more value everyone, including you, will be able to derive from your blog, so it is definitely worth it to try to create an environment where people comfortable to comment.