On Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, this blog received between 100-120 visits per day. For me, this is exciting. Even better: My most recent post about the VA primary produced an avalanche of comments and has fueled some stimulating (and ongoing) dialog between Richmonders. However, rather than simply rejoicing in increased traffic and the stimulating exchange of ideas, I tend to focus on the voices who are not present and pine for their participation (is that you?). Maybe, my inner busybody just wants to know who's reading. Yeah, I know, yall have jobs and can't contribute to every site you peruse. I'm the same way. But, what if you had no choice? What if you had to pledge to leave a thoughtful comment every time you entered a blog or at least leave a rating for the quality/utility of the content?
Welcome to my fantasy: A comments mandatory blog.
When I first saw the debate sparked by Preston Yancy about certain bloggers refusing comments on their sites (overflowing with raw opinions to make you cry, unlike the caramelized variety), my reaction was that it's a matter of prerogative or personal property. A person's soapbox is his/her castle. Nuff said. Don't like it. Don't read it. However, after laboring over a few posts, receiving minimal feedback, and not feeling content in the act of creation alone, I'm wondering if there is any way to maximize feedback, debate, and discussion. I mean, there is no subscription fee for any of the RVABlogs that I'm aware of. So, how do any of us know if our blog is legitimately popular, an utter disappointment, or a service to the community? Disallowing comments may be the ticket to an insider job under a likewise undemocratic despot, but what about those of us who prefer two-way (or multi-directional) communication? Or better yet, there's something to be said for just standing back and letting better informed readers fill in the blanks. (JB, I know you can take that ribbing)
Unlike Ebay, where sellers/buyers are critiqued through a reputation system, Craigslist users generally operate on trust in humanity (counterbalanced by a profit motive), despite a high level of vulnerability. Is that what we have to accept as bloggers: that our sentiments are likely to garner minimal unmeasurable returns in the exchange? The democratic system of voting empowers us only so often. Shouldn't we consider it our obligation to weigh in early and often whenever a public forum is made available? Are you all not as compulsive about this as I am? Okay, some of you are and I wish you'd cease and desist, but attention getting behavior is a double-edged sword, ain't it?
Opinions are like... blogs. Everyone's got one. Well, almost.
In reality, blogger traffic in Richmond is really unrepresentative of the City's population. And then there's the hard to pin down "unique" visitor factor, which further diminishes our relevance. I mean, does anyone read blogs besides bloggers? I'm beginning to wonder. Can you expect a fellow blogger to chime in on your post if they've already got their own soapbox?
Personally, I'm in no position to turn the mandatory comments blog into a reality. I don't even know how to install the appropriate widgets that would make this site more user friendly. If I had a listing of all of the restaurants mentioned on this site, I'd probably be motivated to get back to the frugal food-blogging idea that gave birth to the RVA Foodie pseudonym and grow that list of eateries.
WILL WORK FOR COMMENTS
Okay, before I trail off into mumbling, I'd like to point out that my unique invention: Grilled Ramen has been the biggest attraction to this site to date (thanks to consistent international traffic from a feature on "the Official Ramen Homepage."). However, I have not quit my job to retire to the Bahamas thanks to revenues from my tender-crisp creation (cuz there are none to speak of). In fact, as of today, I've only attracted 11 comments to that post, and two of them were my own. Using the How much is your blog worth tool, it turns out that Caramelized Opinions is worth $9,597.18. I have no idea what that figure means (how many packages of ramen is that anyway?), or where I might go to cash in, but I'd actually trade every penny of that potential in exchange for your two cents. That's right. I want to virtually lift every voice in Richmond through this site's many comment sections.
Has there ever been a more earnest post than this one? I'm sure that I've left numerous openings for your criticism, included confounding contradictions, and maybe inspired a few laughs. But, I did it all for the comments. Kid gloves are called for here. But, if your hackles aren't all the way up, maybe there's something worth saying in response. You make the call. But remember, if you have 10 thoughts, give one thought, and comment 'til it hurts.
ps: The comment Nazi says, "No blog for you!"