When I’m happy, my blog posts get lots of comments. When I’m grumpy, there are no comments at all. I’ve been tracking this hypothesis over the last weeks, and it appears to be foolproof: the correlation between my mood and the number of comments is absolute.

Obviously there must be a difference in the way I write when I’m happy compared to when I’m grumpy. I can’t see it myself, though, and I’m not sure I can quite stomach the thought of doing a thorough analysis.

I’d love to hear from others though: does the same axiom hold for your moods, blog posts and comments?

24 thoughts on “moods and comments

  1. Jon

    Maybe a “mood indicator” ala iMood should be implemented in your blog?

  2. torill

    One day when you’re in the mood, I’ll give you the “correlations between mood and style in Jill/txt” lecture. But it requires red wine and dark chocolate, essential props for this kind of analysis. Alternatively a public setting and 30 minutes just before they close and throw us out.

  3. Jill

    Uhoh, looks like Torill’s seen right through me. I guess that’s why she always knows when to ring me and ask how I’m doing…

    And you’re right Torill, today’s probably not the day 😉

    iMood indicator? Oh, but isn’t subtlety more interesting? Anyway, it seems everyone can tell my mood without the icon given noone dares leave a comment when I’m grouchy…

    Thanks for your braveness, both of you!

  4. John G

    So is this a happy post or a grumpy post?

  5. Jill

    Well, based on the number of comments in the last day or so, I’d say grumpy. Though perhaps this particular post is, well, if not cheerful, then at least interested and curious?

    I went had a look at iMood, and actually discovered I have an old unused account there. In November 2001 I was feeling ambitious. Today I feel (if the iMood thing works):

  6. Lisa


    You’re forgetting the mood of your readers, Jill.

    I for instance, sometimes just feel stupid in the face of a topic I know little about.

    Then there’s dyspepsic–hard to write a good comment when one is dyspepsic….

  7. boynton

    Lately I have suspected there may be a correlation between a positive energy/spirit behind the blog and the response. But this doesn’t seem to apply in general, judging by the market for snark out there?

  8. fivecats

    I tend to agree. However, so few people read my blog and even fewer comment on the entries that I’ve developed completely different expectations of it.

    Most entries take a long time to produce, but with the all-but-nonexistant feedback to them I’m simply writing for myself and now don’t have much of an expectation of comments.

    Still, when I get one it’s great.

  9. jon

    When you speak to me, I answer.

  10. Liz

    Jill, you’re probably getting comments here now because you engaged us in a conversation about our behavior. We’re all very self-interested, I think. 🙂

    (btw, fivecats, LiveJournal makes it difficult to post a comment. Non-LJ users are required to comment as “anonymous” users and warned that their comments will be screened. I suspect that has a lot to do with the dearth of comments you receive.)

  11. mcb

    I’ve noticed that people seem to comment for frequently on posts that doesn’t have a link, for some reason, (unless the link is a particularly silly or fun one). But I know this isn’t true for everyone.

  12. chuck

    I also wonder if there isn’t some kind of commenting critical mass, where comments tend to multiply. Once people see a good conversation going, they want to become involved. Like Lisa, I always find your blog interesting and insightful, but sometimes feel too reserved to comment, especially if the post is on a topic I don’t really know much about.

  13. Robert

    I find the opposite — but that’s probably due to my argumentative blogging style.

  14. Jill

    Wow, look at all these comments! Cool! OK, so let’s summarise here:

    • Positive energy seems to encourage comments.
    • Asking questions about readers gets answers.
    • Similarly, posts about something readers know about get answers.
    • The system matters. Livejournal’s may be off-putting.
    • Linkless posts may generate more comments. (Perhaps because they’re more likely to be opinions that people can disagree with or engage with? Or questions, like this post was?)
    • Once a post has N comments, people are more likely to join the party.
    • It’s not that the writer’s being happy increases comments, it’s that the comments increase the writer’s happiness (but I’m not convinced: yes, I like comments, just as I love conversations, but I reckon I’m grumpy before I don’t get comments).

    I agree with most of these – I wonder if anyone’s written the manual on blogs and comments yet?

  15. fivecats

    A few extras that I’ve thought of:

    * Comments tend to flow faster/better from friends than from strangers.

    * Comments depend on the Reader’s comfort level with blogs/posting and/or proximity to the blogger. Again, friends help, but I have numerous friends who claim to read my blog but simply don’t post comments. They prefer to speak to me in person about things I’ve written.

    * Comments depend on the topic. I’ve gotten more comments on my very brief blog on the new Harry Potter book than I have on anything else.

    * Comments depend on the postings. The difference here isn’t so much the topic, but what/how the subject matter is presented. I read several people’s blogs simply because they’re very talented writers who present a well-crafted blog. Another Live Journal blog, MyLastSigh posts great photographs which always spark a variety of commnets from many different people.

    The other thing I’ve noticed is that you appear to be simply discussing Quantity and not Quality. While I always welcome comments, the best ones are the comments that extend the blog entry into an ongoing conversation.


    p.s. To clarify the LiveJournal issue that Liz raised: Live Journal users can log into the Comments section and have their comments identified as coming from their LJ account, complete with their LJ icon. Non-LJ people do, indeed, have to post their comments as “Anonymous.” Those comments are NOT listed in the Comments section of blog entries unless the owner of the blog Approves the anonymous comment. (In this way LJ does appear to be promoting a very closed community, which is a shame. With over half a million active accounts on LJ those are a lot of potential conversations to be left out of.)

  16. fivecats

    One additional reason for comments: although less used, I have seen instances where Commentor X leaves a message for Commentor Y in Z’s blog. (See the message Liz left for me in her comment above)

  17. Jill

    Oh yes, the friends leaving comments thing – I have *blog* friends who leave comments here – Liz and Lisa and Fivecats and Jon, for instance, I’ve never met any of them but read their blogs and we comment each other. Then I have flesh friends who NEVER leave comments, but who sometimes talk with me about stuff I’ve written. Until recently this included Mum and Auntie Joan but they’ve started occassionally commenting now. I have flesh + blog friends who rarely leave comments (Lisbeth and Jesper and Gonzalo and so on) and so basically there seems to be no pattern except that some people like leaving comments and others don’t.

    Hey, if you hate leaving comments, could you leave an ANONYMOUS comment and tell us why?

    Quality vs quantity: yes, absolutely.

  18. Auntie Joan

    I think one is more likely to leave a comment on a happy mood blog than a grumpy mood blog for the same reason people keep clear of each other when one of them is in a grumpy mood. I miss your mother’s comments of late Jill. It’s nice to feel that sisters are keeping an eye on offspring in a round about way. Like fivecats says X can be in touch with Y through another’s blog even though my dear sister and I are in touch all the time by ESP! ! .

  19. Jill

    Ooh, hi Auntie Joan! I think you’re right, it’s just more tempting to engage with happy people than grumps… Today the sun’s out (finally!), I’ve finished grading my last student papers, the uni is buying me a nice new computer while I’m on holiday, I’ve been having good conversations with good friends and I’m in an excellent mood!

  20. fivecats

    “flesh + blog friends” which I read as a subtle re-wording of “flesh and blood friends.”

    Flesh and blog, indeed. (That was my smile for the morning)

  21. Auntie Joan

    It seems we too must communicate by mental telepathy Jill. As I turned on my gorgeous new iMac just now I thought “I wonder if Jill has a new computer ” Spooky! . It was most likely those Good Mood vibes coming through.

  22. Molly

    The “good mood” feelings are contagious. I love to read all you write. 5999688@skytel.com

  23. Corinna

    may I ask you, what commentor are you using?
    In thanks,

  24. Jill

    The commenting system is built in to Moveable Type.

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