Two kinds of commenters?
It may seem a bit of a generalisation to say there are only two kinds of commenters, proactive and reactive, but if you take time to analyse how people engage on social media and blogs, you'll soon see what I mean.
Those who rush in like a bull in a china shop, and those shrinking violets who rarely say 'boo' to a goose (and, of course, all the others in between!).
While you're considering this, take a look at the infographic below:
And here's some code you could paste into your own posts (via the text mode) if you want to share this Infographic with your readers.
Outgoing or retiring?
Whether you're an extrovert or an introvert will have an affect on how you comment. After all, engaging online is similar to interacting elsewhere. Some find it an easy enough process, whereas for others it can be an ordeal which needs to overcome.
I reckon many would-be commenters are put off because they worry about what others may think about what they say. Those on the other side of the coin aren't bothered by public opinion, and if they are bursting to put their point across, they will do so, regardless of any reactions they get.
Commenting is a bit like displaying yourself to a wider audience. Some relish the chance to perform, and will do with gusto. The louder the noise they make, the better. Whereas their counterparts will stop first to see if anybody else has gone first (ie all those overwhelming extroverts) before attempting to contribute their penny's worth.
Seize the opportunity or wait for the correct time?
A proactive commenter likes to take control and do something. He finds it difficult to delay his response, just in case the urge disappears or he forgets what he wants to say. He takes full advantage of the spontaneity of commenting, and will eagerly pounce into an empty commenting box, because he knows being the first means he gets the upper hand above any other commenter.
A reactive commenter is quite content to wait in the shadows for the right moment. Let everybody else get what they have to say off their chests. There is always something which has been missed, or a point to suitably acknowledge. Biding her time means she will strike when the situation is ripe. She may even benefit from it once the blustering has calmed down.
Every blogger would love to have both proactive and reactive commenters within their readership. The former guarantees some comments at the beginning. The latter sets the world to rights once the dust has settled with reason and valid alternatives to any arguments.
Jump in without looking or analyse the situation first?
There are plenty of people who are either too time-poor, scatty or don't take commenting seriously. These kinds of commenters are more likely to throw anything at a post, just to make a noise. If the author is lucky, they may get a question; if unlucky, an irrelevant statement. Extroverted and proactive commenters will rarely stop to read the post properly before spouting forth their contribution.
This is a pity, because they could have something worth-while to share. They could benefit from delivering their expertise through their comment to help other readers, which raises their profile and reputation, and helps gain trust and loyalty for the blogger or social updater. Commenting shouldn't be done on the fly, but with due consideration and with a proper purpose in mind.
Introverted and reactive commenters benefit from being able to stand back and analyse what is in front of them. They take time to consider all sides of what people have said. Putting together a thoughtful and meaningful response will contribute more to the discussion. As a result these comments are more readable, interesting and a real crowd draw, encouraging more readers to join in.
Spammer or bona fide commenter?
Spammers may be considered more of a nuisance than as proactive commenters, but they have the same traits. However, the latter can save the day by keeping to the subject. They could offer something of value, and decline from peppering their comment with links. Comments are not a vehicle for self-promotion, and even an extrovert will have more sense than to abuse this.
It's not fair to say reactive commenters are better. Authors are really pleased to get a comment, from any proactive and reactive readers. Everyone is extremely welcome to contribute, and enthusiastic responses suitably counteracted by more measured replies makes a balanced and enjoyable commenting area.
So the next time you read a post, consider the complexities of proactive and reactive observations which all add to the rich tapestry of online content. And then decide which one you are, and allow the author to realise this from the contribution you give them!