Thursday, January 7, 2010

Commenting is a continuous function

Remember the quote by Mark Twain: “Writing gives me an excuse to think.”? Posting to our blog does just that – it gives each of us the chance to think out loud. But it takes courage to risk exposing our ideas to others. We all want to believe that our thoughts count; that our ideas are valued. Even worse than having our ideas criticized or ridiculed is to have them ignored. That is why commenting is such an important part of the blogging process.

A blog post should not be a static monologue destined to dangle alone in cyberspace. Rather, a blog post is intended to be the opening round in a learning conversation. It should be the start of an ongoing exchange of ideas. As such, a blog post should end with a thought-provoking question, prompting the reader to carry on the conversation. The dialogue is then continued through the comments left below each post.

There is an art to commenting well. Consider the following examples of empty comments:

Good idea.
I agree with what you said.
Great job here.

These are dead-end comments that do not add to the discussion. An artful comment should demonstrate thoughtful reading of the post. It should promote deeper thinking. A well-crafted comment should build upon the ideas written by the blogger. Here are some comment starters that continue the thread of the discussion:

I understood what you said about…..but am still not clear on….
I thought about….differently; my thought was…
I still have a question….
I was wondering…
This made me think about…
Another thing to consider is…

To support the learning of other readers, your comment could include a link that clarifies or elaborates on the idea of the post. You could insert an image to illustrate the idea. You could embed a video that demonstrates the idea. Through your comment the blogger should know that his/her voice has been heard.

Recognize too that your words can also be of harm to others, intentionally or unintentionally. Always begin your comment with an “absolute value” statement. Be specific when giving praise. This creates a sense of believability in the comment. Critique gently by choosing your words carefully. If you want to point out an error or omission, it should be done in a respectful way. If you disagree with an idea, present your alternative politely. Comment on the writing, never the writer.

Blogging is a dynamic dialogue in which ideas are exchanged, thinking is stimulated, and participation is encouraged. Make your comment a conduit through which the learning conversation can continue. By doing so, WE ALL LEARN.

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