Skim readers: why they aren't good commenters | The Commenting Club
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What happens to skim readers who comment?

skim readers

I know there are a lot of time-poor people in the world, especially those who resort to becoming skim readers. But couldn't some of them actually be considered lazy?

There seems to be an adverse reaction to actually doing anything. And if there is an automated alternative, they flock to it like bees to a honey-pot.

One of these lazy attributes is not reading posts properly. The main practice seems to skim read a post to get the gist first. Then if this grabs you, then either bookmark it for later (crazy because then it will never get read) or go through it a bit more thoroughly with a cup of coffee.

However, this doesn't help with your commenting skills. This infographic explains why:

what happens to skim readers who comment

It's obvious they haven't read it

The trouble is, if you haven't read something properly, you won't have understood its true meaning. Gleaning or skimming over the words to get the gist may be suitable for a large reading list, but this cannot be classified as actual reading.

If you are going to make a proper effort to comment on a post, you need to fully comprehend what it was about. How else are you going to make a considered judgement about the subject? You need to be fully absorbed for it to make an adequate impression.

Skim readers who comment stand out like sore thumbs. It's obvious they haven't read the post. Their comments tend to be scrappy, ineffectual and even worthless.

They misunderstand the main point

How can you write a reasonable response if you don't understand what the post is about? There are so many readers who do this. And we're not even talking about the spammers!

All that is needed is a little bit of effort to slow down when you read. Take time to consider the main purpose of the post. Can you relate to it? Is it relevant to you? Does it answer your questions? What value can you obtain from this?

Skim readers' comments show they haven't understood the main point. They write irrelevant, inappropriate and unsuitable contributions that go off at a tangent or skirt around the edges.

They don't mention anything relevant

Relevance in commenting is vital. Not only is it polite and considerate to the post's author to acknowledge it correctly, it shows a full understanding of the subject (see the point above).

The kind of commenters that rattle on about a totally different subject are usually deemed as spammers. If they haven't been caught by the moderators, they are usually given short shrift by the blog's owners.

How can skim readers write a relevant post if they haven't read it properly? You run the risk of looking pretty stupid if your comment is published, and it shows you don't care what you write about.

They have nothing particular to say

There are so many commenters that say nothing in their posts. It's probably a combination of laziness, lack of imagination, not understanding and not having a proper relationship with the blogger in question.

It is also a factor of not having enough time, an affliction many skim readers suffer from. Not only do they read the post properly, they apply the same thought-patterns to writing their comments.

However, the act of writing any old thing can backfire. Commenting is not a method of just responding for the sake of it. If you want your comment to make an impression, you need to stop and spend more time putting it together.

They cannot relate themselves to the post

A good commenter will write a scintillating contribution because it is a good read. A writer should immerse themselves within the subject, and find a way of relating themselves to it and to their readers.

Having an affinity with the post, the author, the readers and the subject is advanced stuff for commenters, but even the act of thinking about it can make a difference. What can you offer the other readers? How do you relate to the author and the point they're trying to make?

Skim readers will never become good story tellers because they don't have time for reading stories. This leaves a huge hole in their communication skills. Good orators are so because they tell stories people love to hear. And this skill can also be transferred to writing comments.

They fail to learn anything from the post

Many people read blog posts to improve their knowledge. The act of reading is a means to obtaining information to fulfil a purpose, solve a problem or answer a question.

Skim readers will never achieve this, unless they ply this tactic to find the most relevant posts for their reading list. Glancing through a post at record speeds means vital content may be missed, glossed over and meanings lost.

Fast reading is not as clever as it is made out to be. How can you understand anything when it whizzes past your eyes? And how can this be transferred to a meaningful comment to show your appreciation to the author? Does your brain really retain the knowledge it craves in this way?

They make the wrong assumptions

This comes from not fully understanding the content that has been just skim read. And a lack of comprehension, especially for busy skim readers, is compensated by making assumptions to fill in the gaps.

This can get you into hot water. Never, ever, make assumptions before finding out the true facts. If it backfires, and ultimately it will, you can look ridiculous and lose a lot of face. Why take the risk?

Not reading information to retain it properly is a worthless pursuit. Why bother reading the post in the first place? If you haven't the good grace to make a reasonable effort, this will show up in your comments.

The result is an appalling comment

Of course it is! There are so many examples of appalling comments littered around the blogosphere. And I wonder how many of these were written by skim readers?

It's a good idea to avoid being seen as a spammer. Spam comments show all the attributes of skim readers' comments, even if they are not meant to be so. Rushing this job just to get something into the comment box, without forethought or consideration, does have its consequences.

Bad commenting practices do not help anyone. You will never receive the benefits commenting can bring you. Which will cause you to consider it a waste of time, when actually it is a valuable opportunity to promote yourself throughout the web.

Are you one of these skim readers?

I really hope not. OK, I'm guilty of skim reading myself, but then I do it to glean whether a post is suitable for my needs, or worth reading in the first place. But the I make a decision to go back to read it properly.

But I would never let the practice of skim reading get in the way of my commenting. It's always a good idea to schedule some adequate time to concentrate on commenting, so you always make a good job of it.

Can you find examples of skim readers' comments and show us? This post would certainly be improved if you could share these within the comments below...

Please leave a comment, we would love to hear from you!


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  • Sarah Arrow says:

    Hi Alice, an interesting read. I’m failing to understand how it’s the problem of the commenter if they can’t relate to the post. That’s hardly the fault of the commenter. Yes, you have touched upon the responsibility of the writer to make their content relatable, but it’s not all on the commenter.
    Michel Thomas, the great linguist, would say that someone who fails to learn is failed by the teacher. I didn’t agree until he taught me rather good Spanish in 6 days. It’s easy for the teacher to blame the student without accepting their part in the process. I’m assuming this is for business content btw (don’t know if acronyms make me a spammer but I’m prepared to take the risk), because recipes and other content niches would make this hypothesis invalid. Did you like how I threw in hypothesis to balance out the acronym 😉
    And that leads to the other gap that’s missed. Old friends and/or established community commenting and carrying on a conversation across multiple platforms, with blog commenting being one of them.

    • Hi Sarah, you have a good point – not all posts are instantly understandable. That would depend upon the quality of writing and the method of conveying the intended message. If a skim reader is unable to fathom out the subject within a couple of seconds, ideally they should not bother to comment.

      Your second point about carrying on a conversation across different platforms, this would result in another kind of commenting. Social media commenting tends to be more disjointed because the moderation barrier is removed. It works better with skim readers and those with short attention spans. Responses are short and incomplete because the participants know they will be able to fulfil their conversation requirements almost instantly. Unfortunately this is not suitable for blog commenting.

  • Kim says:

    OMG! I feel like you just channeled my English lesson from yesterday’s summer school… BUT I am guilty, as charged! I so often bookmark posts to go back and dig in more thoroughly, but life happens. I need to get a better focus and write more specific feedback to the author. Signed up for your 7-day challenge! (PS – “Fairy Blog Mother” – lol! Thank you!

    • Wow, Kim, thank you for signing up to the 7 day challenge. Let me know what you think of it once you’ve finished.

      We’re all guilty of not commenting enough, and merely bookmarking a post ‘for later’. I dread to think how many I have in my Pocket account.

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