In more genteel days, there was a custom known as “Paying a call”, wherein ladies of a certain social stature would travel around the town in the afternoons, stopping in to “call on” their various acquaintances. Calls had a very strict structure; jackets and gloves were left on, umbrella was not handed over to the butler. This signified the call would not last long, as a caller generally only stayed fifteen minutes or so. A lady would designate one day a week (sometimes two) when she was “At home” to receive her callers. (There are lots more calling customs, and they’re pretty interesting, but I’m not going to describe them all, because that’s not the point.)
Sometimes a lady would be at home, but not “at home”. Sometimes a lady would be getting ready to go out of town. Sometimes a lady would genuinely have been called away.
In all of those cases, a card was left. A calling card. A small, business-card sized piece of card, on which was printed the lady’s full name. (Actually, three cards were often left–two of the woman’s, and one of her husband’s. The lady’s were for the lady and gentleman of the house, her husband’s only for the gentleman.) Often, one corner of the card was bent down to convey a message–“I am leaving”, “I have returned”, etc.
But the cards were left. Because it was a way of building and maintaining a social network.
It was also a courtesy. If someone had a party, you called the next day, often just leaving a card (in fact, towards the end of the custom, many ladies simply hired someone to distribute their cards for them.) If someone did something nice for you, you left a card. If you were new in town, you waited patiently, hoping someone would call on you so you could pay them a return call and thus begin building up a network of friends.
We still have this custom online. Only instead of cards, we trade blog comments.
Which brings me to the point of my post today. When people take the time to comment on your blog, you should respond if possible. There are one or two blogs I’ve stopped reading because the blogger never acknowledges comments–and we’re not talking about somebody like Miss Snark who gets dozens of comments, we’re talking about someone just starting out in the blog world. When only one or two people are responding, you can answer them. And you should. Otherwise they start to feel used and ignored.
Also, if you’ve posted a link to your blog in your signature in a forum, and it specifically asks people to comment on your blog? If somebody does, you should comment back. You’ve asked them to begin network with you. You owe them something in return. Likewise, if you’re asking people how to get people to comment on your blog, and someone explains to you about commenting back, and then comments…the link is right there. Click on it. Say hi to them. To refuse to do so is to rudely ignore your social obligations. It’s to announce to everyone involved that you are a taker, not a giver.
I’m not talking about people like EE or Miss S, or any of the blogging agents I’ve come across and/or linked to. For many of them, to comment everyone back would not only take a huge amount of time, but might encourage relationships which may be rather awkward. Imagine having to reject someone whose blog you regularly visit. Do you keep commenting after? Maybe they hate you. It would be odd, so those people are excused.
But there is no excuse for most people to ask for other people’s time, to read and comment on their blogs, and then not repay the visit. It’s rude, and it makes me mad.
I may not comment on some people’s blogs as often as they do on mine, but I do try. And of course some of you I consider friends to the point where we don’t need to keep track of who’s commenting where and when, right?
But in general…oooh it bugs me.