31 Day Comment Challenge Activities

This is the official page for the daily activities of the challenge. We will list the activities a few days ahead and then post each one daily at The Bamboo Project. If you have ideas for challenge activities, please post those on the Activities page here.

Day 1: Do a Commenting Self-Audit

One of the goals of the 31 Day Comment Challenge is for us to improve our commenting skills and draw more people into blog conversations. So to kick off the 31 days of activities we're going to start with a commenting self-audit. You can use this to get a better picture of your blog commenting skills and strategies.

For this activity, do the following:

1. Answer the following questions:
  • How often do you comment on other blogs during a typical week?
  • Do you track your blog comments? How? What do you do with your tracking?
  • Do you tend to comment at the same blogs or do you try to comment on at least one new blog per week?

2. Now review Gina Trapani's Guide to Blog Comments and ask yourself how well you're doing in each of the different areas. Are there any specific areas where you think you need to do some work? What do you want to do to address these issues?

If you'd like, it would be great if you blogged about your comment audit to share what you've learned about yourself and your commenting behaviors. Be sure to tag your post with "comment08."

Day 2: Comment on a Blog You've Never Commented on Before

Many of us can get into the habit of commenting at the same blogs. But part of extending the conversation is bringing new people into it. Today's task is simple. Leave a comment on a blog where you've never commented before. If you're feeling particularly ambitious, do this at a few blogs. You may want to blog about the experience on your own blog. If you do, be sure to tag it with "comment08"

Day 3: Sign up for a Comment Tracking Service

Leaving a single comment on a blog and then moving on isn't necessarily the best way to engage in a conversation or use blog commenting for learning. It's more of a one-way, once-and-done approach that doesn't take full advantage of what commenting can do for you. To really engage in conversations through blog commenting, you need to develop some effective strategies for managing the comments you make on other blogs. A comment tracking service is a great solution.

While there are several you can choose from, one of the best tools to use is coComment. Sue Waters has written an excellent post with instructions and pictures on how to sign up and manage your comments using coComment. Once your account has been set up, you will then be able to follow your commenting activities through your RSS feed, making it much simpler for you to keep track of all your comments.

Your task for the day is to sign up for coComment or another comment tracking service. Be sure to add your comment feeds to your reader. And if you blog about your experience, add the "comment08" tag to your post.

Day 4: Ask a Question in a Blog Comment

One of the most powerful conversation starters is to ask a question. While many of us ask questions in our own blog posts, we may not tend to ask questions when we comment on other blogs. Yet this can be one of the best ways to engage the blogger and other commenters in further discussion.

Your task for today (courtesy of Christy Tucker ) is ask an open-ended question in a comment. Suggests Christy, "Aim for something open-ended and thought-provoking. Think 'How does using such-and-such tool help you engage in conversations online?' rather than 'What tool do you use to track comments?'" Then see what happens. Does the blogger respond? What about other commenters? If you'd like, blog about the experience, being sure to tag your post with the "comment08" tag.

Day 5: Comment on a Blog Post You Don't Agree With

Most of us have a tendency to comment when we come across a blog post with which we agree. The blogger says something that makes us want to shout "Me too!" and we're motivated to leave a comment. But what happens when we read a post with which we don't agree? What do we do then?

For today's challenge, you're going to find a blog post where you don't agree with the author and leave a comment. It might be that you just disagree with a segment of the post--that's fine. The goal of your commenting today will be to bring up your point of disagreement in your comment.
For some people, the challenge will be finding posts with which they don't agree. If this is the case, try using Technorati to find blogs on a political topic--these are usually great sources of potential conflict. You might also want to consider expanding your blog reading horizons because to learn, you need blogs in your reader that regularly challenge your thinking.

If you want to peruse some suggestions on how to disagree appropriately, check out the comments section (how appropriate!) for this post on 10 Rules for Blog Debates. Some great ideas for both commenters and bloggers, as well as a good example of how the commenting can become better and meatier than the original post.

As an add-on reflection activity, consider blogging on some of these questions. Don't forget to tag your post with "comment08".

  • What happened as a result of you disagreeing with the blogger? How did they respond? How did you respond?

  • What do you usually do if you find a post with which you disagree? Do you comment publicly? Email the blogger? Or do you just move on?

  • If you comment, typically how do you engage the blogger? Do you ask questions to better understand his/her position? Do you make statements to explain your position? Do you track comments so that you can return to continue the conversation?

  • If you're a blogger, how do you feel if people post comments where they disagree with you? How do you handle these?

Day 6: Engage another Commenter in Discussion

Often, the "conversations" on a blog occur between a commenter and the blogger. That is, commenters will read and respond to a post, addressing their responses to the blogger. Conversations can become richer, though, if we also respond to other commenters. This means that we have to also start reading the previous comments on a post, something many commenters admit they don't do.

For today's task, courtesy of Bill Ferriter, you are going to engage another commenter in conversation. Find a post where other people have commented before you and then respond to something one of the commenters has said. The netiquette for doing this is to address your post "@blog commenter" (inserting the person's name where I've referred to "blog commenter") so the commenter knows you're referring to him/her. If you'd like, respond to more than one commenter. Also consider this advice from Bill:
Begin by quoting some part of the comment that you are responding to help other listeners know what it is that has caught your attention. Then, explain your own thinking in a few short sentences. Elaboration is important when you’re trying to make a point. Finally, finish your comment with a question that other listeners can reply to.

Questions help to keep digital conversations going!

When responding to another reader, don’t be afraid to disagree with something that they have said. Challenging the thinking of another reader will help them to reconsider their own thinking—and will force you to explain yours! Just be sure to disagree agreeably—impolite people are rarely influential.

If your thinking gets challenged by another reader in a blog conversation, don’t be offended. Listen to your peers, consider their positions and decide whether or not you agree with them. You might discover that they’ve got good ideas you hadn’t thought about. Either way, be sure to respond—let your challengers know how their ideas have influenced you.

Be sure to track your comment so you can see whether or not the person responds to you. Observe what happens. How does the blogger respond? How does the commenter respond? If you blog about the experience, be sure to use the "comment08" tag on your post.

Day 7: Reflect on What You've Learned so Far

We're on Day 7 of the comment challenge and it's time to take a little break to see what you've learned. So far you've audited your own commenting behavior, commented on a new blog, installed a blog tracking service, asked a question in a comment, commented on a post you didn't agree with and responded to another commenter on a blog post.

For today's task, I want you to come up with three lessons you've learned from your experiences so far. Consider what you've learned about yourself as a commenter, what you've learned about the act of commenting, and how you think your recent commenting activities have impacted you as commenter and a blogger. These don't have to be major sweeping lessons. They can be as simple as "I've learned that I don't comment as often as I'd like." The point is to reflect on what you've been doing in the past week and to consider how you want to use this information to improve your conversational abilities in the blogosphere. If you blog your lessons, be sure to tag them with the "comment08" tag.

Day 8: Comment on a blog outside of your niche

With limited time in a day and many things to do, we can get into the habit of commenting only on blogs that are related to our niche or specific interests. But this can create a sort of echo chamber effect where we don't read and engage with information that may challenge our beliefs or our ideas. We then fall into the trap of homophily where we are engaging primarily with people who think and believe what we do.

In today's challenge, you're going to find and comment on a blog that is outside of your normal interest areas. If you're not sure where to start, go to the Technorati Topic Directory and click around some of the topic areas you wouldn't normally read. Follow the links to some blogs and find a post to comment on. You might want to check out several blogs and conversations to get an idea of how comment sections in other niches differ from the niches you usually operate in. For example, how do the commenters and blogger interact? How do commenters interact with other commenters? What's the "tone" of those interactions and how do they differ (if at all) from the commenting you usually see.

The blogosphere is vast and there are different cultures of participation that develop in different niches. See what you can learn from these different bloggers and how they engage with their communities. If you blog about what you learn, tag it with the "comment08" tag.

Day 9: Should We Be Commenting on Blogs?

Now that we've spent several days trying to build up conversations through blog comments, I'm going to challenge you a little with a question--should we be using the commenting capacity to generate conversations between bloggers, or should we be interacting through our blog posts?

Check out this article and the many references to bloggers who think that comments should be disabled on blogs. Read through those posts and consider whether or not you think it's better to build community through comments or through conversations occurring across blogs--or maybe a combination of both. What, to your mind, is the purpose of comments on blogs and are we better served by encouraging people to respond to ideas on our blogs or over on their own blogs? Then write a post on your reflections. Be sure to tag it with "comment08."

Day 10: Do a Comment Audit on Your Own Blog

So far in the challenge, we've been focusing on making comments. But most of us are also bloggers and we need to consider what we're doing to invite conversations on our own blogs. Are we doing all that we can to build a sense of community that invites people to leave us comments?

For today's task, review this post on 6 Reasons People Aren't Commenting on Your Blog. Then audit your blog to see if you're falling into any of these traps. If you're feeling particularly brave, ask a fellow blogger or even your readers to give you feedback on how well you're doing at making people feel welcome to leave comments on your blog. Then reflect on what you've learned and try to address any of the issues you identify. Be sure to tag your post with "comment08."

Day 11: Write a Blog Comment Policy

As a blogger, you're responsible for the overall tone of your blog and the comments that are left there. Like a party host, you create a particular kind of atmosphere on your blog and when it comes to commenting, having a comment policy is the best way for you to establish commenting ground rules.

In this activity, you're going to write a comment policy for your blog. If you have one already, you're going to review it and make any revisions you think are necessary after reviewing some of the following articles and thinking through what you've learned from your own experiences as a commenter.

Blog about your experience in developing a comment policy, along with a link to your policy so we can see samples. If you find policies on other blogs that you like, share those, too. Be sure to tag your post with "comment08."

Day 12: Make Sure Your Blog Technology is "Comment Friendly"

For the past few days, we've been looking at how to make your blog more "comment-friendly" by doing an audit of your blog for how it invites comments and by developing a comment policy. In today's activity, you'll be looking at how the technology on your blog may or may not be inviting comments. Check out this post about some of the difficulties Silvia has seen in trying to leave comments at other blogs and make sure that your blog isn't having these problems. Also review Sue Waters' post on the matter. Then see what you can do to address any of these issues on your own blog. If you'd like, blog about what you discover, being sure to tag with "comment08."

Day 13: Write a Blog Post Using Comments

From what I've seen so far, during the past two weeks, most of us have expanded our commenting awareness in some amazing ways. We've discovered new blogs and are interacting more than we might have in the past, which is one of the great things that happens when we become more intentional about building community through commenting.

One thing I've noticed in reviewing people's blogs is that many of us use our blogs for reflection and learning. Often we do this by responding to a blog post written by another blogger. But we can also do this based on comments.

For today's task, we're going to write a blog post that responds to comments. This can be a post that summarizes or reflects on comments we've received on our own blogs. I did a version of that here where I wrote a post that summarized reader suggestions for starting a career in a nonprofit. And here's an example of a post I wrote responding to several comments I received related to a series I wrote on scarcity and abundance thinking. You could also write a post responding to a comment or comments you read at another blog.

This is a great way to keep conversations going because often people's thoughts can get lost in the comments, but by you elevating them to a blog post, they get more attention and discussion. They also encourage you to reflect more deeply on the comments you receive--maybe allowing you to identify some trends in comments or to challenge something in your thought patterns.

After you write your post, be sure to tag it with "comment08."

Day 14: Turn Your Blog Over to Your Readers

Yesterday you wrote a post reflecting on comments you received on your own blog or that you read elsewhere. Today you're going to turn your blog over to your readers and ask them to write a post through the comment section. This is something that Chris Brogan does frequently. He'll ask a question in a post and then have his readers respond in comments. Take a look at this post to see what I mean. According to Chris, this usually results in a better post than he could have written himself.

The best way to do this is to come up with a compelling question that people want to respond to. It might be to ask for people's ideas on how to handle a particular situation. Or you could ask about their favorite tools or their favorite blogs related to a particular topic. Just come up with something that people tend to have an opinion on and then put it out there. Be sure to tag it with "comment08."

THEN. . . go find a few other Comment Challenge Participants and comment on their blogs to help them build their posts. Remember, this is all about community.

Day 15: Give a Comment Award

At Scott McLeod's suggestion, for today's task, you're going to give out a "Comment Award" to your favorite commenter (or commenters), recognizing them for their contributions to conversation in the blogosphere. You decide the parameters for your award--is it the quality of their comments? Or the questions they ask? Sometimes we value commenters because they challenge us to think or because they can be counted on to create community with other commenters. Whatever your reasons for making the award, today's your day to recognize the commenters you love the most. Check out Scott's blog for a Fantastic Commenter badge. Be sure to tag your post with "comment08." If you're not currently blogging, consider emailing a commenter you enjoy on someone else's blog. We all like some recognition!

Day 16: Go Back and Catch Up on Something

We're here at a little over the halfway point in our 31 Day Comment Challenge and from what I can see, a lot of us are feeling a little behind. Worse, a lot of you are totally stressing about it, too! Don't put so much pressure on yourselves, people--this should be fun!

Today's challenge should make the perfectionists feel a little better. Your task is to go back through the previous 15 days, find an activity you didn't do yet, and go do it. That's all. Very simple. If you blog about it, remember to tag your post with "comment08."

If you're an overachiever who's managed to keep up with every day's activity, then consider today a day of rest. We're heading into the second half of the Challenge, so now may be a good time to take a little break.

Day 17: Five in Five

You should be nice and relaxed after yesterday, so today we're going to do something fun. Sue Waters pointed me to a cool little activity on Tony Tallent's blog called "Five in Five." The idea is challenge yourself to do 5 comments in 5 minutes, although no scrimping on quality by doing something easy like "I like this post" on five different blogs. This is harder than it sounds because if you're going to read 5 posts and leave reasonably thoughtful comments on each, it will probably take you longer than 5 minutes (Tony ended up taking 28 minutes to comment on 8 posts). The premise is fun, though.

Once you've done it, be sure to blog about what happened and to tag your post with "comment08"

Day 18: Analyze the Comments on Your Own Blog

Today's activity is from Christy Tucker.In this task, you will conduct another self-audit on your blog. This time, the focus is on which posts generate conversations. If you can determine what made those past posts good conversation starters, maybe you can incorporate those features into future posts.
  • Which of your posts have generated the most comments?
  • Which has generated the best conversation? (The last question is about quantity; this one is about quality.)
  • Are there any patterns to the commenting on your own blog? Do certain types of posts generate more comments than others?
  • If you do see a pattern or commonality between posts that generate good comments, what can you do to increase those qualities in other posts?

After you write your post, be sure to tag it with "comment08."

Day 19: Respond to a Commenter on Your Own Blog

This activity is courtesy of Sue Waters who says:

If readers have made time to comment on your posts, you should always make sure to respond back (ideally to each reader) in the comments on that post. This is very important for building your blog's community as it demonstrates that you value your readers and their input.

Commenting back also increases community interaction. Look at how Lee is interacting with her readers on “What Posts Stimulate Readers To Comment?” and while you are there make sure you leave your thoughts on what makes readers comment.

If you blog about this, be sure to tag it with "comment08."

Day 20: Three Links Out

Here's another activity from Christy Tucker.

This task is based an idea by Dave Ferguson that he calls "Three Links Out" or "Three Clicks Out." It's a way to find and explore blogs that aren't as familiar to you.
  1. Go to one of the blogs you regularly read and follow a link to another blog. This link could be in the blogroll or in a post.
  2. From that blog, follow a second link to a new blog.
  3. From that location, follow a third link to somewhere new.

Once you follow your third link, find a post and comment on it. If you aren't happy with where you ended up, repeat the process until you find something that inspires a comment.

If you blog about this experience, remember to tag it with "comment08."

Day 21: Make a Recommendation

In our blog posts, we'll often recommend another blog, a post or a resource that we've read, but we may not always do that in comments. For today's task, courtesy of Shelley Krause, you're going to make a recommendation for a resource in a blog comment. This can be a link to another blog or post or a link to a book, video, etc. Be sure to indicate why you're making the recommendation.

If you blog about this experience, remember to tag it with "comment08."

Day 22: Highlight a Favorite Comment

For today's activity, you're going to review comments you've previously received on your blog and highlight one or two of them in a post, explaining WHY you liked the comment(s). Were they thought-provoking? Did they ask a great question? Did they encourage you at a time when you needed it? Be sure to link back to your commenter's blog if they have one. Remember to tag your post with "comment08."

Day 23: What Makes a Great Comment?

Today's task was suggested by Carolyn Foote and builds on yesterday's analysis of your favorite comment(s). You're going to write a post that describes the feature and characteristics of a great comment. If you were teaching someone to be a fabulous commenter, what tips would you give them? Remember to tag your post with "comment08."

Day 24: Comment on a Blog Written in a Foreign Language

Today's activity was suggested by both Sue Waters and Silvia Tolisano. Their idea is that we comment on a blog post in another language. For some of us, this may mean dusting off our foreign language skills from high school or college. If you're like me, you'll need something a little more heavy duty to figure this out. Sue suggests trying Google's Translator, which should allow you to both read a blog post as well as translate your comment into the proper language.

To find an appropriate blog, try translation a keyword into the language you want to search for--for example, if you want to find a Spanish-language blog that discusses education, search for the keyword "educacion" in Technorati or Google Blog Search. Then copy and paste the post text into Google Translator, which should give you a reasonable idea of what the post says. You can then write your response and translate it into the other language. You might want to mention that you're using Google Translator for this purpose because your comment won't be perfectly translated. If you blog about the experience, be sure to use the "comment08" tag.

Day 25: Take a Break!

On Day 16, you had the chance to go back and catch up on something. Today, I don't even want you to do that. Consider today a day of total rest. No pressure to comment. No reason to do anything on your computer at all if you don't want to. Just relax. We'll be here when you get back.

Day 26: Exploring Other Ways to Comment

As many of us have discovered during the Challenge, written comments can sometimes be misconstrued or make it difficult for us to get our point across. Multimedia commenting, though, can address some of these issues. Today's task comes from Silvia Tolisano who asks us to think about other ways to comment on blogs. For example, Kate Foy and others have been playing around with video commenting using Seesmic. Here's a sample of how it looks. You could also use audio for comments, as this teacher did (although she recorded files and emailed them to her students). Although I haven't used it, Snapvine looks like it might be a decent option for doing this.

For today's task, explore how you might use multimedia for a richer commenting experience. Consider whether or not you think multimedia is a better option and how it might impact learning. You may even want to try out some multimedia commenting. Be sure to tag your blog post with "comment08."

Day 27: What Do You Communicate About Your Personal Brand Through Commenting?

Online personal branding is becoming a big deal. The more active we are on the web, the more we communicate about who we are and what we do. Many of us may have considered that our blogs are a way of communicating about our "brand," but what about the comments we leave? Dauwd Miracle recounts an experience he had with comments as a form of personal branding. Take a look at his post and then write a post about what you think you may be communicating about your personal brand through your comments. For bonus points, think about some of the other commenters you've encountered during the Challenge and write about about what you think their personal brand is based on their commenting behaviors. Remember to tag your post with "comment08."

Day 28: What's Your Blog Commenting Strategy?

Yesterday we looked at how commenting can help us build our personal brand. Today, I want you to check out this article by Caroline Middlebrook on developing a blog commenting strategy. Do you think it's important to take a more strategic view of commenting and to have a plan for how you want to incorporate commenting into your overall online behavior? If so, what is your blog commenting strategy? Remember to tag your post with "comment08."

Day 29: Write a Commenting Guide for Students

Most of the Challenge participants work in some kind of learning and education capacity, so today's task from Silvia Tolisano is geared toward helping your students be better commenters. Silvia suggests writing an age-appropriate guide to commenting. What goes into it is up to you. How you communicate it is up to you. You may want to play around with audio or video. You might want to try using VoiceThread. You could also make writing the guide a collaborative process using a wiki or by having students reply in comments to a series of questions. If you decide to write the guide yourself, share it in a blog post. If you decide to use a more collaborative approach, describe how you'd do it in a blog post. Remember to tag your post with "comment08."

Day 30: How Can You Use What You've Learned about Commenting to Change Your Teaching Practices?

Now that we're winding down in the Comment Challenge, it's time for some reflection. For today's task, I want you to consider what you've learned about the give and take of commenting and how it might apply in a classroom. What lessons did you learn about what it means to "speak up" through comments that is applicable to working with students? What did you learn about how to deal with things like dissent, asking questions, communication, etc. through this process that might influence your teaching practices, either on or off-line? Remember to tag your post with "comment08."

Day 31: What Were Your Top 5 Lessons from the Comment Challenge?

We've finally done it! We've reached the end of the 31 Days of the Comment Challenge! It's been a long, crazy month with a lot of activity and (hopefully) a lot of learning. For your final task, I want you to reflect on what you've learned in the last 31 days. What did you personally gain from the Challenge? What did you gain professionally? Is this something you'd do again? If so, why? If not, why not? Share with us your Top 5 Comment Challenge Lessons and what you think you'll do differently now that you've been through the past 31 days.

Thank you to everyone who participated in the Challenge and for all your wonderful posts and comments. This has been a great month, during which I know I've met a lot of new people and learned some really valuable lessons. Thanks for all of your contributions!