Sue Waters Blog

Finishing My Homework as The Comment Challenge Comes To An End

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30 days has September, April, June and November. Today is 31st May which means the Comment Challenge is coming to an end. Trouble is I’m still trying hard to complete my homework and would love your help!

Could you please share your “Top 5 lessons you learned from the Comment Challenge” — from anyone regardless of if you participated in the daily challenges.

Day 19: Respond to a Commenter On Your Own Blog

Responding back to comments on your own blog posts demonstrates you value your readers’ input and encourages further conversation leading to increased learning. How Tony Karrer responds back to comments on his Reframing Conference Social Tool Participation post is an excellent example of its benefits.

Day 20: Three Links Out

This task was based on Dave Ferguson “three links out” method to explore blogs that aren’t as familiar to you and hopefully on the third link a post that you want to comment on. Dave included his example of following the link from Cammy Bean post to Cathy Moore post ended at Tom Kuhlmann. Dave says “Often three links out will take me to unexpected places, like the surprisingly engrossing conversation you can have with the right stranger during a long flight”.

I’m sure Dave will understand when I say I decided not to do this task. My blog subscription is high already plus I visit blogs “new to me” and comment on them on a weekly basis. Definitely a great way to explore and find blogs if wanting to increase your blog subscriptions.

Day 21: Make a Recommendation

As Michele says “we’ll often recommend another blog, a post or a resource that we’ve read in our blog posts but we may not always do that in comments”. A common reason why people don’t recommend is they aren’t sure of how to add the link.

It’s easy when writing a blog post to add a link because you can use your visual editor but for comments to helps if you understand how to write the HTML code for the link.

Here is how you write the HTML code to add a link in a comment:

<a href=”http://theedublogger.edublogs.org/”>Welcome to the Edublogger</a> produces Welcome to the Edublogger. Most blogging platforms allow you to use HTML code to insert links (TypePad maybe is the exception?)

Day 22: Highlight a Favorite Comment

Just as I couldn’t give an award (for Day 15 task) to one or a few of my commenters I can’t highlight a favorite comment. I’m grateful whenever anyone takes the time to comment because each comment inspires me in different ways.

Day 23: What Makes a Great Comment?

Once again I’m just happy when someone does take the time to write a comment — that in itself makes a great comment. However Ken Allan’s 10 points for writing a great comment and Kirsti Dyer’s Thoughts on Being a Great Blog Commenter for Day 23 do provide some excellent tips. I’m also looking forward to reading Miss W. students thoughts on what makes a great comment.

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

I suggested this task because I have several readers that English is not their main language. As English bloggers we don’t realise we are being very English centric; expecting others to read our blogs in English while not reading their blogs written in other languages.

Fortunately Google translator is expanding languages translated so am now able to read

Day 25: Take a Break!

:)

Day 26: Exploring Other Ways to Comment

I confess! I cheated on my homework!

Our task was to consider whether or not you think multimedia is a better option and how it might impact learning. I already had my own views on video and audio commenting but wanted to hear a range of thoughts so I asked my twitter network for their input. Here are their thoughts:

For

  1. Benefits those whose typing ability is limited but speaking ability isn’t – Lisa Parisi
  2. Video comments are fun to do. Audio not so much – Kathryn Greenhill

Against

  1. Bandwidth takes longer to get and absorb comment – Gary Barber
  2. Written very fast on uptake of comment. Easier to reply to written comments- Gary Barber
  3. Text of what you say isn’t indexable/searchable thus findable – Kathryn Greenhill
  4. Not every one has the hardware – James Kingsley

Video comments were popular during the Comment Challenge and you can check out participants thoughts on video commenting on these posts:

  1. Kate Foy’s Words and/or Moving Pictures
  2. Greg Schwartz’s New Feature Video Commenting
  3. Kevin’s Comment Challenge Video

What I liked about the video comments was it gave me greater insight into each person.

I also really loved:

  1. Kevin’s Comment Challenge as a SketchCast
  2. Claire Thompson’s Enough Texty Already (a reflection of what the Comment Challenge has meant to her using SketchCast)

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

Personal branding made some Challenge participants feel uncomfortable which lead to a great conversation about branding, online identity and voice. I’m very conscious of the need of personal branding and having a recognisable online identity.

Developing our own unique identity is an important part of being online which we don’t always appreciate when we first start setting up our online accounts. Personal connection is really important for interacting online. The better others can visualize you as a real person the more likely they will be to want connect and network with you. Tips for creating online identity are covered in my Is Your Photo Avatar Making You Look OLD? post.

My tips for creating online identity when commenting are:

1. Have one online identity across all accounts

Using one online identity makes it easier for others to connect and relate to you. When starting out we often feel nervous about using our own identity but it is much easier to relate to real names. My username was originally dswaters — which is rather meaningless and if a person wanted to respond they had to work out who I was (and what gender). My solution has been to:

  1. Set my Edublogs account to my preferred name i.e. Sue Waters
  2. Use NAME/URL option, if available, when submitting my comments on blogger blogs
  3. When NAME/URL option isn’t an option on a blogger blog I sign the bottom of my comment with Sue Waters, add my blog name below and have edited my blogger profile to link to my blog.

2. Ensure consistent voice in writing posts and commenting

“Voice” is the emotions, imaginary and feelings we convey mainly in the text we write. Blogging is about creating our own unique, authentic voices that distinguishes us as who we are and what we stand for. We do need to be very careful with our voice because:

  1. The visual image people have of us will depend on the level/types of interactions and whether it is based solely on text
  2. Written text can easily be misinterpreted (as can what we don’t say can be misinterpreted). For example what we think as humor may be wrongly interpreted.

When you write comments remember to make sure your voice is consistent with how you post. Try not to let yourself down by saying something inappropriate in a comment that you wouldn’t say in a blog post.

Challenge we face is over time our readers build a picture of who we are and what they believe we stand for. This a gradual process that happens as a result of them interacting with our blogs. When we write comments on other people blogs — the blogger and their readers don’t necessarily have that image already created so it is easier for them to make erroneous decisions on who you are based on your comments.

Day 28: What’s Your Blog Commenting Strategy?

Okay this task made me feel uncomfortable. I don’t like to think of commenting as a strategy rather a very important part of my daily routine for two main reasons:

  1. It’s an important part of my personal learning; my learning is enhanced by reading other people’s post and interacting through commenting.
  2. Over the years people have supported and mentored me so I like to pay this back by supporting others especially new bloggers.

I comment when:

  1. I agree and want to extend
  2. I disagree and want to share my opinion
  3. I want to support a blogger (especially a new blogger) but try to do it in a way that extends the conversation
  4. I want to thank a blogger when they link to my posts

Day 29: Write a Commenting Guide for Students

Since challenge participants have worked hard of creating Commenting Guides for students I decided that I would tackling this task by listing their resources for others to check out:

  1. Kirsti D. Dyer Commenting Guide for Online students (College and Graduate) based on her Six C’s on Being a Great Blog Commenter combined with her current Discussion Board Guide and Grading Rubric.
  2. Kevin shared Youth Radio Blog Netiquette developed by Gail Desler which has some great suggestions for writing comments. He also highlighted Paul Allison hyperlinked document to use as a template which allows students to get a feel for commenting.
  3. Ines Pinto explains how she has talking to her students about the “concept of brand” and how shocked they were to realise what they share online in their youth can impact their adult life. She’s considering inviting some ex-students to talk her current students in the form of a series of recorded interviews. From this the students could work collaborately to create their own Commenting Guidelines.
  4. Ken Allan created Homer 8 Comment Tips and U Comment 5 Ways — I think the younger students will really love Ken’s guides (especially Homer) .
  5. Dani’s Commenting Guide for College Students – Dani’s a librarian and archivist at an academic library.
  6. Sue Wyatt’s created an online survey for her students using Google Documents so the students can share their ideas on comments and what makes good ones. She plans to use the results from her survey to create her Commenting Guide for Students.

FINAL THOUGHTS

It’s almost a wrap :( . And would like to complete my final post by sharing your “Top 5 lessons you learned from the Comment Challenge” — from anyone regardless of if you participated in the daily challenges.

And if you’re enjoying this blog, please consider Subscribing for free!

Author: Sue Waters

Edublogs Support Manager @suewaters on Twitter

14 Comments

  1. When I talked about three links out, increasing my subscriptions wasn’t even imagining the possibility of thinking about considering whether to cross my mind. I’d have to know how many I had, and I’d have to believe I knew how to attract more.

    I can’t speak for anyone else, but I easily fall into habits — some of them bad, most neutral, few good. Good habits for me require more conscious effort.

    So when I find I’m only reading the same blogs or sites, regardless of quality, I know I’m getting a bit too comfy or running low on curiosity.

    There’s nothing magical about three links, but clicking three means you end up at the four link in the chain, and by then you and Toto are at least not in the same part of Kansas.

    I don’t have five top lessons, but I do have a few notions:

    “Think and do.” In other words, even with a brief comment, preview it. Many sites don’t have preview buttons, which I think is unfortunate. If I’ve got a few things to say and there’s no preview, I’ll sometimes write my comment in a text editor so I can look at the whole thing.

    “Assume good faith.” This is one of Wikipedia’s edit guidelines, and makes a lot of sense. The online world’s a reasonably safe place to be hyperbolic, snarky, scathing, or bellicose. When I find myself strongly reaction to what I read, that’s the “reptilian brain” light flashing on my mental dashboard.

  2. Sue,
    I’ll share with you my
    Top Five Lessons:

    1 – The use of several web2.0 tools.

    2 – A more acute sense of duty, of commitment towards others and the joy that comes with it.

    3 – A greater awareness of rights and duties implied in the exposure and building of our on-line identity.

    4 – A growing sense of responsibility concerning on line possible issues for young students and more effective knowledge to counteract.

    5 – The most subtle lesson, the most hard to express: the lesson on humanity that irradiates from such wonderful posts I’ve been honored to freely read and friendly comment.
    Ines Pinto

  3. Pingback: Wrapping Up the Comment Challenge | My Journey into the World of Elementary Tech

  4. First,
    Thanks again, Sue for this challenge with your great group of collaborators, and for adding your voice to discussions on my blog.
    I’m wondering about the next challenge and how that can happen? I like the idea of a photo a day with text for sharing….I know there’s one already on Flickr but it’s been going on for awhile. I think I need something fresher. I began working on this on my blog…

    Now to your call for reflections:
    I think that I can write about the experience as a whole rather than the pieces.
    I loved the list of participants you offered us and the daily tasks to focus our challenge. It was great too to have task models to charge us up and once I began to make connections with participants, I could build on ideas.
    So, I had lots of write: I had my posts, I had posts on participant blogs to read and then comment. So lots of sharing and writing. Perfect.
    I think a lot of thinking a reflecting on where I am in this blogging world.
    I worked from my own comment past and fresh experiences.
    I added lots of new bloggers to my Google Reader and expanded my community.
    I created a page invitation to new visitors to my blog.
    I worked hard on writing deeper comments and responding directly to commenters who found their way to my blog.
    I began to ask questions to building on beginning conversations.
    Wow, I’ve done a lot.
    It was great Sue, really great.
    I’m sure there’s more to say, but I am off to march in the Israeli Day parade in NYC.
    Bonnie
    BTW, with your edublog hat on: I’m having trouble uploading photos onto my blog. That’s something that recently happened. Seems like I’m missing some insert photo options.
    I’ve been using my Flickr/Flock shortcut.

  5. Sue, the summary of my 5 learnings go like this:
    1. Great people are blogging
    2. I can contribute through my blogging
    3. I can comment
    4. Comments build relationships
    5. people comment on my blog
    …and a bonus
    6. I enjoyed being involved

    More comprehensive discussion on my blog. Thanks for your participation and encouragement during the challenge – it’s been a hoot!

  6. My five lessons learned from 31CC:

    1. Taking a step back and looking at your blog with the eyes of a visitor from time to time is an important reflective stance. This allows you to consider how welcoming and inviting you are to other people. All too often, we have tunnel vision about our world. By examining it from another angle, we may make improvements.

    2. When visiting another blog, try to not to blast through. Read the post carefully and then engage in conversation. Leave a comment of more than three words, if you can. Let the writer know you read and thought about their post.

    3. Find some system, any system, for returning to the conversation. It is great that we post a comment but not so great that we don’t always go back to see where the thread has gone. Your (my) voice remains critical to the discussion even after you (me) have gone.

    4. There are more communities of writers/teachers/educators out there than one can imagine and yet, even in such a large world, there are many areas of overlap. I loved running into folks here and there, and learning more about them.

    5. Be thoughtful in what you write. You don’t always have to agree or disagree, but a thoughtful comment goes a long way to opening up a dialogue.

    Thanks
    – Kevin

  7. @Dave I really thought your three links out method is an excellent way of people locating new blogs to read. My problem is that I already read a lot of blogs, which provides me with great variety, due to my role on The Edublogger.

    I also often write my comments using NotePad especially if I want to review the post as I write it makes the whole process easier.

    @Ines I agree there was a great sense of community during the Challenge and it was lovely to interact with each other. From my experience with the 31 Day Project last year you will see these interactions will continue (if people choose it to be). It’s also good to know it is just beginning with so many great ideas for working together.

    @Bonnie Glad you enjoyed the Challenge and tried hard to support all participants. The 365 (365) Flickr project has been very successful but you have to be very committed with one photo per day. Photo Fridays sound really good — but one problem I have is I struggle with words. Language doesn’t come easy to me. Could people like me combine quotes with great photos rather than write own words? But we would also have to think about if we use other peoples photos on Flickr that people make sure they include the attribution for the original source of the photo and the quote.

    Also pleased to hear how much you have gained from the Comment Challenge. Its funny how daily tasks work well for some people but don’t for others. Yet ultimately everyone gained because those that didn’t do the daily tasks gained information from those that did.

    With my Edublogs hat on – Are you using the Embed media buttons at the top of the Visual Editor (right hand side?). Also you need to make sure that you’re using the latest 9.0.124 version of Flash. You can grab it here: http://www.adobe.com/go/getflashplayer
    After you do, you need to clear out your browser’s file and cookie cache, and log out of your computer. That should now make the Flash Uploader that runs the photos work.

    @Colin Your 4th point “Comments build relationships” is absolutely correct and probably an aspect that we haven’t emphasized enough. I’ve checked out your more detailed discussion on your blog. I really loved “#6. That being involved in this activity has helped strengthen me as a blogger and developed my understanding of the possibilities of ‘the blog’ in education. I’m now much better situated to provide informed advice and recommendations on social media in my work context and elsewhere.” That was one of my goals of the Challenge so I’m glad to know it helped you.

    @Kevin I have to ask this after following the link from Gail’s blog to your article. Is 500 blogs correct? You are so right there are so many amazing people out there — so many that we can’t imagine. I think you really model the whole concept of thoughtful in what you write — when you don’t agree you explain it nicely in a way to clarify why you don’t agree.

  8. Kia Ora Sue.

    I am still coming down to earth after doing my 31 or so days (as I’m sure everyone else is who participated like me). I didn’t find this blog until the near end of the Challenge – believe it or not!

    Thank you for all you’ve done for us.

    It must have been a thrill to see how it all took off, and I’m sure it wouldn’t have been without frustrations for you at times. You have amazing NRG!

    A work colleague asked me recently about online courses in elearning with a special emphasis in ICT. Could you recommend any (is this appropriate?) She is looking for quals as well as learning for herself.

    Ka kite

  9. Kia Ora Sue – here’s mine 5 days late :-(

    * Learning to use the software. CoComment and Google Reader were the software I chose in the beginning. I was impressed with what they did and glad I’d taken the time to find out on advice from Michele Martin on RSS and Sue Waters on comment tracker and how to install them and use them. When I found out what the reader and the comment tracker could do for me I was stoked!

    * Creating my blog. I feel proud that this was something I chose to do for myself, before it became obvious during the challenge that it was really a necessary thing to have, at least as necessary as the other freebie software. That’s another payoff – all the software was free! (Scottish people are resourceful, not skinflintish – they simply say why part with money when you don’t need to).

    * Learning blog etiquette and protocol. I knew a thing or two about the etiquette (not unlike netiquette) but it was good to confirm what I knew.

    * I learnt a strategy for commenting, most of which I worked out for myself. The application of a few available tools like Word and Notepad in executing that strategy was easy to work out.

    * I learnt that you’re never too old to learn new tricks. I had my ##th birthday during the challenge. I thought that it would test the old neurons. I wasn’t wrong, but I feel that they would have been tested the same way had I done the challenge 45 years ago, provided of course we had computers, Internet and the software in those days.

    The nearest thing I operated to a computer when I was 18 years old was a traditional Facit pinwheel calculator, which was an entirely mechanical device that could afford answers to 13 decimal places. You’d to be able to operate all its handles with unerring accuracy or it turned to mush, quite literally.

    Ka kite

  10. Thanks again Sue,
    Your suggestion for my photo uploading issue did the trick.
    Photo Friday is now up and running and sure I think it’s fine to use your own text or a quote that fits.
    Thanks for the inspiration.
    Can you pass it along?
    http://www.flickr.com/groups/photofridays/

  11. I enrolled for the challenge but to my great disappointment was unable to continue with it due to some clash with IE and co-comment. However, I have watched it from afar via blogs of people who I tend to follow and have enjoyed reading their posts. I thought that it was great that a section was devoted to students as well and would have loved for my students to have joined in.
    For me, it has reinforced the vital place of comments in blogging and the need to constantly follow any follow up comments to enable rich conversations to continue.
    By the way, how did you get the ‘notify me of follow up comments via email’ on the bottom of your comments. I would like to add that feature

  12. @Ken Sorry for a slow response :( Happy to have supported every one (to the best of my ability). It has been a pleasure watching you take off with your blogging and knowing that your participation in the Challenge encouraged you to become a blogger. I’m based in Australia so not sure of any elearning ICT courses in New Zealand. Worth you asking Sarah Stewart.

    Realising the true potential of tools like GReader and comment tracking tools is so empowering; makes the whole process much more efficient. Definitely never too old to learn new tricks (wish I could just convince some of my work colleagues of this).

    @Bonnie Glad the photo uploader is now working for you. Good to see that photo Fridays is going strong.

    @Murcha I wonder? Were you running iGoogle, Diigo and Cocomment with IE? My issues were that Diigo was causing the problems. The notify me by email is a setting in our blog dashboard that we can tick.

  13. Tēnā koe Sue!

    I always thought that asynchronous chat allowed late replies – that’s what makes it so convenient. ;-)

    Thanks for the info – I’ll follow it up.

    Ka kite

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