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Blogging Archaeology 3 – Audiences and Comments

March 17, 2011

 

Logo by Colleen Morgan

Week three of the Blogging Archaeoology carnival organised by Colleen at Middle Savagery, and this week the question is about the comments on blogs and finding an audience.

I presented a paper on zooarchaeology on the internet last year (published earlier this year), in which I said that the comments area of blogs promotes informal academic discussion. In fact, this has very rarely happened to me – although it has always been very interesting when it does. Recently, a post on winkles attracted a completely tangential discussion about snails in buildings, which happens to be something I’m researching in the context of Iron Age and Viking sites in the Outer Hebrides anyway. I realise now that I should have made more of this short conversation, perhaps promoting it by copying it into a new post. Next time (this Blogging Archaeology discussion aside – it belongs to Middle Savagery) I attract comments I’ll try it. I’d be interested to know what the longest time span a blog comment conversation has run for amongst my fellow blog carnival travellers. I imagine they’re pretty short-lived, but it’d be nice if I’m wrong.

Most of my posts don’t attract comments though. Does that mean I’m failing? I don’t think so. I for one am not a prolific commenter, although there are a number of blogs whose feeds I make a point of checking daily and which I find very stimulating. My most popular post doesn’t have a single comment on it.

At Cardiff University we established some blogs to accompany some outreach projects, and found that they weren’t anything like as successful in terms of interaction with the groups we were working with as the facebook groups we also set up. Is there a slighty higher level of formality to blogs than facebook that might dissuade casual commenters?

I have no idea what audience I have in mind when I blog – is it the world at large, or a few fellow bloggers I know will read what I say? Although I’m sure the vast majority of visits to this blog are one-offs, of course I’m aware of a handful of people who are subscribers or repeat visitors, and if I’m honest a part of me does feel like I’m writing to them. Hello. Perhaps my background in more intimate blogging – LiveJournal – is to blame as I’m really used to the idea of the audience as friends. Having worried about that, I then worry that when I choose what to blog, I’m really imitating the form of the blogs I most admire. Which leads me to ask, how do other bloggers decide what warrants a post and what doesn’t? A couple of blogs linked to the right of this entry are quite rigidly themed but others, like mine, are wider ranging. Archaeology, human palaeoecology and the internet (I often wish I hadn’t picked that name) are pretty big places to go adventuring.

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