Deciphering Anime Fandom: Reciprocity In Commenting

Ever once and awhile, from the usual known faces that visit my blog, I am also charmed and delighted to see new ones that comment. Most are fellow newbie bloggers while others are just plain commentators with the same love for all things anime, manga, and otherwise. And yes, they do in fact return. Thinking about this closely has lead me to question: Why or what is purpose for commenting? While it does seem to lend an interactive hand between the producer of content and the audience consuming it, I am sure their is much more to it than meets the eye.

Keeping my fellow bloggers in mind as both the producers of content and consumers of others, bonds are made relatively quickly based on not just content, yet also how the other responds. Or I would I like to think. When someone does comment with this dual functionally you hold, you feel compelled to do the same for them; whether you like the content or not; thus playing into the idea of reciprocity. In this case, reciprocity refers to a mutual exchange between blogger A for commenting and blogger B simply returns the favor in kind. Of course, if A likes B’s content and returns afterwards not feeling compelling for any other reason than interested in B’s content (and vice versa), then the reciprocity is balanced and still stands. It is just that simple…or is it? Because, let’s be realistic for a second, folks: 9 times out of 10 you are not going to exactly churn out interesting content. It is half the battle for most bloggers, but if you have people generally attracted to what you do, the same desired effect can be achieved through reciprocity as well as being active in the community. If you are confident you can churn out generally interesting content frequently without fail and ignore the aforementioned, allow me to congratulate you as a flawless human being. On the other hand, what is utter garbage to you could pique the curiosity of another, so this does have a few exceptions….

At any rate, reciprocity still does not quite explain why people bothering commenting at all regardless of what content is present. I do however have a general idea. In one respect, commenting with another blogger opens a channel of friendship and comradery; thus allowing you to spreading your name to other like-minded individuals that might enjoy what you do. Just like in daily life for work, school, etc – people increasingly form connections and build rapport in exchange for things like: recommendations, interviews, meet other individuals, and so on. Positive reciprocity between bloggers would look similar. Then again, their is a such thing as negative reciprocity, both sides in a mutual channel of understanding, yet only to solely try to exploit one another. Once again, this is something humans are well accustomed to by nature just like any other social creature. I see this less in blogging, but it does occur. However, between these two contrasting ideas, I solely believe (or like to at least) that people just comment to share their views and opinions on whatever comes to mind. Simple, yes, but does seem to be the most valid idea between any virtual settings or reality for that matter. Everyone has something to say.

Moving away from blogging for awhile into the area of forums, this idea could not be any farther from the truth. Looking at my usual stalked haunts of MAL, Biglobe, ANN, and various others; comments within threads are quite interesting to read just as the content brought forth by the original poster. Of course, the level of discussion is only as captivating as the people taking part; which makes it disheartening when the comments/debates turn into derogatory shouting matches or pointless banter to display superiority. For example: one thread I viewed about a certain anime poll seemed to be mostly filled to the rim of venomous or sardonic remarks between participants with little else of value to add. While a clash of views and opinions occurred, the reciprocity of anything meaningful said did not quite happen. However, a similar thread in another forum along the same lines did provide quite a rich exchange of opinions and also gave me window into the elements many fans look for in anime. Depending on the atmosphere (and if people are not being immature) forum activity and other hotspots are usual key places for good, wholesome debates and also finding something new while you are at it. Reciprocity at work through comments at its best.

Whether it be blogging, short tweets on Twitter, asking questions on social ask me sites, or even forum participation; anime will always have a social face rather than the usually one of solitude. While this still leaves a plethora of room open for debate of exactly why people comment and why they care if their opinion are heard, I believe choosing blogging to be my tool of choice was the right one. After all, I am asking questions; open-ended ones with multiple different ways to answer to receive the same in kind. This kind of reciprocity, to hear different opinions is what success means to me as a blogger and everything else is just a nice bonus. So with that said, how do you perceive commenting for both blogging and regular social sites? Why do you comment and care if yours is read? And how do you general perceive debates on the aforementioned sites? Kind and courteous? Respectful and well-mannered? Or just plain rude and spiteful?
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Minor Notations

  • This was way more condensed and also somewhat winded as I planned, but this is generally the start of my new editorial block Deciphering Anime Fandom. I will post these ever once and while; touching upon subject matter that weighs on my mind dealing with general anime fandom elements. I promise the next one will be shorter and more easier on the eyes, yet this topic has been in my query for months on end now.
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35 thoughts on “Deciphering Anime Fandom: Reciprocity In Commenting

  1. I have two basic perceptions of comments. The first is a way to start discussion, which is what I try to do with every comment I make. This is not always a great approach, though, because I often come off as a sort of lurker because I won’t make a comment if I can’t think of anything to say. This works negatively towards my second perception of comments, a way to let a writer know that someone took the time to read through everything they took the time to write. Any comment suits this purpose, so I’m always hesitant to discredit simple agreement-style comments.

    As for my thoughts about threads on a forum…I just see it as the way the Internet is. People saying whatever they want behind a cloak of anonymity…nothing more.

    • Both of those approaches aren’t that bad. Speaking personally, when I write, I usually aim to create some sort of dialogue between the commentor and myself. As long as the person said something meaningful and thought about it carefully before writing, I feel like it the post did its job. While your second perception is just as meaningful to me, the way the agreement is phrased lets me know with ounce of certainty if the person really cared for the content or just commented for the sake of it. I do have some difficulty to describe it, but sometimes if the person just comment for the sake of it, it just motivates me to try harder to make the content more worth reading.

      Well, what you can’t say in public saying it on the internet behind that cloak of anonymity is the only way some people will only do it. Of course, people take that idea to the extreme sometimes. I actually regret visiting some of the forums I have because of this =_=

      • Heh…I dunno if I’d approach it that way myself. It’s easy to think something along the lines of “this person took the time to comment, so if he makes it obvious he didn’t read the post, then I must need improvement.” While there are some people that are hesitant commenting (I think someone once told me they were afraid to blemish a popular blog with their opinion), I’m sure there are people who just don’t care, so you can’t read their actions so easily. No point in bending over backwards to appease them…they might not even care enough to realize any changes.

        I think I’ve just seen it so much that I no longer care…just sift through it to find the decent stuff. Or maybe bait it out of people if I’m feeling bored.

        • Well, not exactly that black and white about it, but more like “Maybe I could of did XXX or improved XXX for it to be more effective.” By no means I am trying to please everyone, however, I do want at the greatest amount of people to enjoy what they read. Even if I am doing it for myself, I have to remember that it is still can be publicly read, so might as well try better, even if the person doesn’t exactly come out and say it or make it know by commenting in a elusive manner. I get what you are saying, but I think my stubbornness makes me more head-strong than I need to be 😛

          Makes me apathetic after awhile though. Seeing people make the same ridiculous arguments that go nowhere. I would care less if I was not trying to figure out what the big deal was over.

  2. I guess it’s unavoidable that people bring their bad communication habits onto the internet. Just frustrates me that people don’t realize the advantage they have in seeing what they say written in front of them. And even more so when they can’t take the time to try and articulate a thought in words. It’s sometimes difficult, don’t get me wrong, but it’s not impossible. I’ve spent hours on a response to a comment (sometimes I feel very much obligated to think it through) just to make sure the proper intent is communicated.
    It’s understandable some people have problems with this, but at times, it seems they don’t give a care and just want to blurt out their existence to whomever is reading the thread.

    • Yeah, not impossible, but hardly ever is it avoidable. I don’t know what it is to be honest. Maybe a joy to say something you otherwise would not or just simply at a loss for words, but as you said, it is no excuse when you have the ability to see it. I often spend a few hours looking back to my old material and face palm a lot when I see all the mistakes made and missed chances I had to do better.

      Although, looking back to my 12th grade AP Lit class, I discovered sometimes when write something once, I am worried about making too many revisions over and over, thus losing originally what I wanted to say in the first place. I did that one or two papers, my teacher would tease me about, but still ended up being the best writer in the class coming from her. I still have that fear now, but sometimes changes made can be for the better. I have not mastered that though, since with creativity writing like this, I am more worried about length, something I never been insecure with.

  3. For me, it’s just a way for me to let know the blogger that I read his entries whether it be initially interesting or not, because I have a habit of reading everything even if it is not interesting initially because sometimes it gets interesting midway through the post.

    Sometimes I comment because I would like to know more about the topic or I have some questions or ask for some tips from pro gunpla builders, stuff like that:D

    I also agree with the last statement of marthaurion! Some people just want to establish their presence even if they are anonymous. XD But I am grateful with every comment I receive in my blog 😀

    • I found that to happen a lot to me, too. ^^

      Also I can agree when it comes to questions. I am adamantly interested in collecting figurines, but haven’t a clue to where to start, what to for, or anything like 😀

      And yeah, Marth did make a good point. You can pretty say what you want (to an extent) online, but sometimes, saying much of anything is hard. Nice to let people know you are their at least. I am very grateful when a lurker does reply and thank people like you for contributing something meaningful. Makes me feel good not necessarily because you commented, but because you cared to share something.

  4. (Apologizes. Doing it now as we speak and did not even realize it. I see what you mean :P)

    I have no problem with minor revisions, but I see what you are talking about. Making mistake after mistake is a key to improve, but sometimes if you make the same mistake time and time again (more often than usual), it is hard to call that much of an improvement. For me, learning the mistake is the hardest thing rather than learning from it. After performing in the same manner without being corrected (or correcting yourself when you can) it ends up becoming a hard habit to break. Still, no excuse for it though.

  5. Commenting can sometimes be difficult, depending on the content of the post. I know my posts can vary wildly between having a lot of comments and almost none depending on what I’m talking about. While I do think that there is some degree of commenting simply out of necessity or meeting others, I can at least clearly see that people comment more often when they have something to say.

    • Same here. Sometimes, a post on something no one has heard of generates some reaction, but other times, it does not. Likewise for something commonly know. I think it largely depends on who the audience is overtime. While people with the same interest might visit your site, you might also get one or two stray souls. They might stick around and say something or easily leave like the interested crowd. Also, the people with the same interest might not have a general opinion on what to say on the subject manner, even if it is closely related to the interferer. I might be far off base here, but that is another way I am choosing to look at it. However, it is like you say, if people have something to say and want to, they will.

  6. I comment for several one is as you mentioned reciprocation, this mostly applies to new people. I do it as a way to get to know them and their content when applicable.

    The second, the most common for me is because of genuine interest in the content. This comes from two things, one interest in the source material or two interest in what the author has to say. After all, what a friend has to say carries way more weight.

    If I don’t comment it comes down to two things, I don’t have anything worthwhile to say and I feel it is a disservice to just make some general throw away comment to the author. This mostly applies to blogs that go towards the serious discussion of topics. I feel that if I’m not going to contribute to the discussion I should just not leave a comment. The second reason is the obvious one, I find the content boring and uninteresting.

    • Meeting new people is also what I think is so useful about commenting. I am usually mutually interested in what content the person provides (whether I have extensive knowledge or not), but sticking around along enough helps me learn. I do not know if I could call other bloggers “friends” rather than “colleagues” or “acquaintances”, however, I usually do heed what they say. On the other hand, like you said, I just do not want to comment for the sake for it.

  7. Why do I comment? It helps me feel like I’m engaged. As I watch anime often I get something out of what I watch (good, bad or otherwise) and just simply want to talk to somebody about it. As to when, where, how and why, it’s usually just a factor of time and interest. If I feel like I have something to say that I think might be worth saying and I feel I have the time to say it right, then I’ll say something.

    On the other hand, over the years I’ve found that my active participation in a given venue declines steadily and often simply stops. I’ve been around for a while and I’ve had time to watch the “Net” grow from the early days, but I’m still amazed (and dismayed) at the hate and rancor many display when posting – it seems to matter not whether one is talking about marbles or manga. I simply get tired of it. MAL is a great example – there are a lot of people over there who’s post I enjoy reading and responding to – but as time has gone by since I joined I’ve become very reluctant to post simply because I’ve gotten tired of becoming a target for some troll.

    I kind of ended up here on WordPress by accident – if I hadn’t been curious to see what would happen when I offered to help a blogger I would not have joined. The blog didn’t work out but I’ve found a few people I like following so I’m sticking around as a reader and occasional commenter only.

    • I can understand that. I have very few people around me (that I know of) I can actually talk about stuff like this. There are a few, but sometimes you just want to speak to someone else, especially if you pick-up on something noteworthy.

      Like yourself, my participation also wavers, but it is mostly in part to time than the so called “trolls of the net”. I also hate trying to comment in such places like forums (since I know someone is waiting to start something), but if I have something to say and want to say it, I usually will – ignoring whatever retort might come. I simply go to places like that in the first place just to speak to others I might would not have the chance to otherwise and have fun, not argue. But, again, my time for both blogging and the like is quickly fading away.

      Joining a blogger (or two) in the past was what made me want to start one on my own. I am not sure when I will ditch this one, but I doubt it will be anytime soon, since I am starting to meet new people like yourself.

  8. It is a great way to interact with other bloggers and readers. In a way it would be selfish to expect others to read or comment if I don’t return the favour.

    I expect most of my comments to expand on what is written in the main text whether I agree or disagree. Sometimes I have written something completely irrelevant to the post, but is relevant to the topic. This is really just a way to expand something they missed or didn’t talk about in order to see what they thought of it.

    • True. I usually do not expect others to comment, but when the opportunity presents itself, I try to do likewise. Today, since I have time to do so, would be one of those days.

      Expanding the conversation is always a welcome thing. Sometimes when planning to tackle a specific subject, I know I always leave out something I had originally wanted to bring up or did not think of at all. Irrelevance vs relevance toward the post does not matter much, since I can often times see the gist of what the person is saying.

  9. I usually comment to share with a particular media I experienced. More often then not, it’s very, very rare to find real life anime fans here in Brunei, so internet is truly my only media to connect myself with all the anime fans out there. Finding one who even share the same favorite anime of mine is even better.

    Blogging is certainly a good choice for sharing your views. It’s your own blog, and what you post, what you want to share, is up to your own freedom, unlike anime community, which would be restricted in some way or the other.

    I find that most widely used infamous community forums like MAL always seem to garner flames one way or the other. It’s sad but I guess that’s a reality. When there’s 5000 people in a group, there’s bound to be one or two troublemaker one way or the other.

    • Wow, really? Maybe they are just hiding their loli’s from you 🙂

      Yeah, I agree. Posting what you want to post (or what you are most interested in) does seem drum up a lot of interest of its own in the anime blog-o-sphere. Makes for a endless stream of discussion when you think about it. The smaller communities do have their rules, so its understandable for the sake of orderly discussion.

      However, building onto your next point, the orderly discussion does seem to cause a lot of anomie so to speak. When things are too orderly and get stale, people create trouble as an alternative. Of course, in a group of that 5000, the one or two people causing the trouble are merely just using it as a pretext to make their own discussion. Not likely a good one, but anime communities like forums, do have their disadvantages just like forums.

      Thanks for commenting. Just gave a good idea to use later.

  10. I think of comments as a way to extend the discussion of the post, and I do comment in many blogs just because I like their content and only if the post makes me think of something to comment on.
    I do however follow so many blogs nowadays that I spend hours a week commenting…:D

    • Hours a week? Wow, your inbox/feed aggregator must be overflowing as fast as you can read depending on how many you follow and what you care to read.

      However, like previous mentioned, I do look commenting in the same light to an extent, but also do sometimes comment to newbies to reach out.

  11. Commenting is the easiest way for anyone who wants to write on other people’s blogs or sites. XD
    The reason for commenting, for me, is quite similar to the reason for blogging; to make my voice heard by the people with similar passion. Believe it or not, most of what I write in my blog or what I write in others are meaningless to my real-life acquaintances. So I have to blog and I have to comment. I know that the people reading and answering to me know what I am talking about. That makes me feel that I am not the only anime fan in the world (though I may be the only one in my city!)

    • Haha, you have an excellent point. ^_^

      Like mentioned, I can hear on that on not having many other people in daily life to share it with. Personally speaking, sometimes when I come up with something anime related, people generally response in the way I hoped for and know what I mean. However, getting into more “less than renown” subject manner that is related, people response less to it out of not knowing. I still feel similar to what you described, but not completely.

      Regardless, generating the discussion is what I see as important and helps me stay connected and interested longer in anime having others to share with it.

  12. Short and sweet answer, I’m happy people even care to comment on my site at all. Sure I do get visitors of all kinds but rarely do they bother saying anything. Ah well, as long as the numbers go up, I’ll keep on churning.

    • I try not look too much into my stats, since most of it is junk data and the occasional spammer trying to sell this or that or whatever crap than true lurkers. Although, like yourself, fortunate people care to at least say something on even the most trivial of post.

  13. I usually comment for two reasons: to keep in touch with other bloggers and to share my opinions. It doesn’t matter who you are, everyone likes to be heard, and everyone likes others to agree with them. That’s just how we are.

  14. I comment only if the blog’s author provides good incentive for discussions. I’ve heard from at least a handful of my readers that the reason why I don’t get comments is because my discussions are quite detailed; with no additional points to raise, they appear to stifle comments >.<

    • Being detailed isn’t bad. It adds to the conversation and could prompt people to bring up aspects the author could of missed. But usually, you are very precise and concise with the subject matter, so leave little to prode at. Either way, I still appreciate the comments and post as they do teach me to be little more through to express my point rather than making a post that I don’t put enough thought behind. And if can, try to comment if it adds anything of value to the conversation or try to better understand what the person is getting at.

      • One thing I’ve always wondered is whether or not the lack of comments signify complete agreement with my content. I’m always open to hearing what people think, and being detailed does not preclude being wrong, so it could mean that errors in my posts could go undetected if people don’t say anything 😛

              • I am thinking of doing something a little more controversial: I presently call it the “Terrible Anime Challenge”, where I watch something totally out of my scope of interest and see if I can’t find something good to say about it, or watch something that’s oft-discussed or even hyped and see if it lives up to its name. I’ve got a few titles in mind (e.g. Mirai Nikki, Koufuku Graffiti and Isshuukan Friends, to name a few), but I’ll encourage readers to submit their suggestions, too, Not sure how that’ll turn out, though.

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