4 December 2011

Does leaving some points uncovered result in more comments?

Image courtesy - Bert Kaufmann of Flickr

While surfing on the internet I found two good bloggers say something that interested me very much because I couldn't believe it to be true. Darren Rowse and Blog Tyrant both say that one of the methods to get more comments on your blog is to say less in your posts.

They have argued that if you will exhaust the topic, say everything there is to say - then the reader will depart without commenting as there will be no questions to ask. The reader will get all his questions answered in the post itself.

The Blog Tyrant gives his real life example. He says:

I remember a few years ago on another blog I spent an entire day writing one big massive blog post that completely covered a certain fitness topic. I hit publish and sat back waiting for all the comments and questions to come in but nothing happened. No Tweets, no comments, crickets chirping. I sent my mate an email (he was a reader of the blog) and asked him what the deal was. He wrote back saying that it was so complete he had nothing left to say.
         - Source

But I was a bit skeptical. The Blog Tyrant has given us only one example. The result of one example is too small to be generalized.

Even Darren Rowse's name couldn't convince me. How is it that not being detailed is a good blogging strategy? So I thought to do a little research and I'm writing my findings here in this post.

To begin with I had two approaches to take.

Method one 

I could have practically tested the idea. This means I could have written a lot of detailed posts and an equal lot of not so detailed posts and would have compared the number of comments both these categories would have received.

Obviously if I would have taken this route of research then I would have have to wait for Write Region to get too many posts. Since I was eager to know the results soon hence I discarded this method.

Method two 

Search the internet for both detailed and non-detailed articles and see the comments each category was getting. This is the approach that I took.

Now, how do you define what are detailed and non-detailed articles?

Darren Rowse says:

While you don’t want to purposely leave too many things unsaid there is an art to writing open ended posts that leaves room for your readers to be experts also.

What is this art?

Take a look at the following two posts on ProBlogger written by Aman Basanti.

Why You Should Write 20 Posts Before You Launch Your Blog (100 comments)

The Secret to Explosive Blog Growth (95 comments)

At the time of writing of this article the former post had got 100 comments and the latter post got 95 comments. A careful reading of the posts and comments will reveal that the author missed out on some points which resulted in a larger commenting from readers.

I was a bit curious so I emailed Mr. Basanti, asking him his strategy of getting so many comments. He replied soon. I'm reproducing part of his email below.

Hi Syed,

You are right in concluding that I got a huge response - in terms of comments - because I left some questions unanswered. But I did not do it on purpose. I left out the bits of information by accident. Thought, it turned out to be a happy accident :)

Your timing was really good. I just submitted an article to Problogger on how to use this technique to generate a ton of comments. It should be published in the next couple of weeks.

[Email reproduced with the kind permission of Mr. Aman Basanti of Age of Marketing.]

Take a look at the blog Blog Tyrant

The author of the blog has said in a comment of this post that almost every post on his blog is non-detailed or "unfinished".

Although the Blog Tyrant says that he owns more than 100 blogs and is blogging since a couple of years, his Blog Tyrant blog is pretty new. Still he gets a lot of comments on his posts.

Now the number of examples are pretty large.  So I think the method works.


Take a look at these two posts from Aliventures.

Eight Secrets Which Writers Won't Tell You  (150 comments)
7 Habits of Serious Writers  (76 comments)

Both the articles are very well researched and contain very detailed information on the topic concerned.Yet both the posts have achieved too many comments. So does our theory fail here?

The simple answer is no. Why?

Well I re-write a sentence from the first paragraph of this post. "...one of the methods to get more comments on your blog is to say less in your posts."

This means that there are other methods too. These methods include (according to Mr. Rowse) things like interacting with comments, being humble, making it easy for readers to comment etc. Aliventures have used all these three strategies in the two posts that I mentioned.

So with this much of research I became convinced that leaving out on some points intentionally is indeed a good strategy to get more comments.

But this didn't end my inquisitiveness.

If you leave out on some points intentionally then why do readers stop and comment? Why don't they just go on to some other post or some other blog on the same topic?

Well the main reason is content. If your article is a well informative article with no spelling or grammar mistakes and your blog has a decent legible design then readers will stay.

Secondly a reader will not want to spend the time to go and search for another blog and search for another post on the same topic. It will be too time consuming.

Thirdly missing on some points looks attractive.

According to the psychologist Farouk Radwan:

...being mysterious forces people to think about you more often because the human mind always loves to fill the missing gaps.
           - Source

A researcher found that people quickly forget about resolved matters but always remember unfinished businesses.
          - Source

I got all my answers now.

I end this post with a quote of Oscar Wilde.

 "Are you very much in love with him?" he asked.
She did not answer for some time, but stood gazing at the landscape. "I wish I knew," she said at last.
He shook his head. "Knowledge would be fatal. It is the uncertainty that charms one. A mist makes things wonderful."
          - The Picture of Dorian Gray, Chapter 19.

Do you agree with this article or not? Let me know in the comments.
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