Is the term Lurkers a bad word?

lurker

Another name for lurker

I’ve been noticing a lot of bloggers encouraging their “lurkers” to come out of the closet and leave comments.

For those of you who may not know, lurkers are defined as people who visit blogs and don’t interact by leaving comments.

I don’t like this term.

Perhaps I’m old-fashioned, but I still remember when a lurker was described as a person who waited and watched from a hidden place. It conveys the idea of a person watching someone through a window at night. It’s a scary term for me.

I prefer to call these people “visitors.”

Post a comment – it’s your choice

I hope the visitors who stop by my blog will enjoy what they read and then choose whether or not they want to leave their calling card by posting a comment. If they choose not to, that’s okay with me. I still welcome them…as Visitors.

I can’t help but wonder why some bloggers push their visitors to leave comments. What’s wrong with someone just visiting, without commenting?

Don’t get me wrong, I love getting comments on my blog and responding to them. I understand why bloggers enjoy receiving comments. It’s an opportunity to connect with their readers and get a sense of what they are thinking and how the post impacted them.

But I also believe that readers should have a choice of leaving a comment or remaining invisible. If a reader wants to use a service offered by a blogger, there are other ways to make contact. Comment sections provide an option for readers to express their thoughts about a post, if they choose to.

Therefore, I challenge bloggers to consider these questions:

What are we saying about our “visitors” when we use the term “lurkers?”

What are our reasons for wanting our “visitors” to leave comments?

What role do blog stats play into our need for our “visitors” to leave comments?

28 comments on “Is the term Lurkers a bad word?

  1. Daphne says:

    Hi Sara, I don’t mind the term myself, but now that you’ve raised it I’m aware that some readers may not like it either, and I’ll refrain from using it. Thanks for highlighting this.

    Daphnes last blog post..Do You Have A Personal Creed?

  2. Sara says:

    Daphne — I appreciate your comment. I think the term is really common in the blogging community, but for people outside of it who visit a site, it might seem odd! Thanks for sharing :~)

  3. I completely get what you’re saying about the term “lurker,” but I don’t think there’s anything wrong with encouraging people to comment. Most people I’ve talked to in person, who say they’ve never left a comment on a blog before, tell me they really want to, but they feel a bit shy and nervous about it. They like being encouraged, and feeling like they’re thoughts are valued.

    I think the overwhelming response to my post Friday, “Becoming (slightly) more than a face in the crowd” is proof that lots of people are eager to speak up and share. I took the pressure off, I think, by telling people they didn’t need to come up with something witty or profound, I explained why I thought it was important to be known, and I gave them an out–I said it was perfectly fine to continue reading without speaking up, if that’s what they need right now.

    Kristin T. (@kt_writes)s last blog post..Becoming (slightly) more than a face in the crowd

  4. Sara says:

    @ Kristin — I read your post and I think you did a very good job of encouraging people to share themselves with you and giving them an out. I also enjoyed the people who did speak up.

    I think what I have difficulty with is the term “lurkers” and the people who try to force their visitors to leave comments. I’ve been to some these sites and I don’t like the way they try to makes me feel guilty for choosing not to comment.

    However, you didn’t use guilt. Instead,you INVITED your unseen readers to share and you let them choose whether or not to join in the conversation :~)

  5. I agree with you completely, visitors, for God’s sake. People have a right to like or hate our posts, to comment or not to comment. So do not even have the time.

    And we have the right, even the duty to moderate, when somebody is being offensive.

    Do I love comments? Yes, but that’s no reason to think visitors are a second class

    Miguel de Luiss last blog post..Fat Runners Club

  6. Henie says:

    Hi Sara..

    First time here and nice to meet you! :~)

    Since I am a novice blogger, I have never heard the term “lurker” used in this manner. Now that you’ve mentioned it, I suppose it makes a lot of sense.

    Comments are always a wonderful thing especially when there is mutual exchange of ideas and dialogue.

    I also know that I have a lot of readers who don’t leave comments as well and I’m ok with that too.

    I’ve come to realize that not everyone will mutually connect at all levels…some I’m sure could care less about my work…and then there are others who truly feel enlivened by my thoughts and words and to them I say thank you from the bottom of my heart!

    Thank you, Sara, for sharing your thoughts on this. Now I know! :~)

    Henies last blog post..Backyard Splendor

  7. Jay says:

    I am one of those people that usually request comments a lot of new bloggers may not bother leaving comments because they are used to the “big ” blogs where comments are either turned off or the bloggers are too busy to respond. I think the comments really creates a community, and for me that is priceless.

  8. Davina says:

    Hi Sara. As I was reading this the second time I have to admit that I think there is a lot of ego motivation behind wanting comments and counting comments. I’m not saying this is true of everyone.

    I also think that because blogging is so personal we fool ourselves into believing that we don’t really care if we don’t have a lot of comments or traffic. That way we can hold our heads high and keep blogging. We don’t want to see or believe what this might mean about our success as a blogger. But, it’s really killing us inside because we invest a lot of our time, energy, and spirit into our blogs.

    Davinas last blog post..Take This To Heart

  9. Sara says:

    @ Miguel — Thanks for sharing. What you said about time is so true. I do my best to keep up with blogs I follow. I love leaving comments myself, but it challenging time wise :~)

    @ Henie — Welcome!!! I love your site and I’m pleased you’re sharing a comment. When you said, “Comments are always a wonderful thing especially when there is mutual exchange of ideas and dialogue” you expressed what comments are supposed to be about. They ARE important, but I believe it’s good for bloggers to consider the reasons they request visitors to leave comments. :~)

    @ Jay — I really debated about this post because, like you, a lot of blogger ASK their visitors to share in the discussion. This post is directed more to the ones who seeking to just raise their stats and who use guilt as incentive to get comments from their visitors. Thanks for sharing your thoughts :~)

  10. Sara says:

    @ Davina — Excellent points. I love getting comments partly for the sharing and partly for the ego…I mean we all want to know people like what we write.

    I just happen to believe that we’re also writing to the people who choose to stop by and not comment. I have difficulty when a blogger gets pushy about this type of visitor. In some of these cases, I think the ego rush becomes more important than the interaction.

    And it works both ways. Your excellent post about turning comments off offered another challenging thought for bloggers…what if you don’t seek comments at all? Here’s the link for Davina’s post, http://www.shadesofcrimson.com/2009/02/26/benefits-turning-off-comments-blogging/

    All of this is all food for thought and I think pondering these things is important to those of us who choose to blog. Thanks for sharing :~)

  11. Julie says:

    Oh, Sara, I agree with everything you’ve said. “Lurker” is very negative. Urging comments is pushy, and when the urging is done over and over, I always wonder why all the force. It’s almost as unpleasant as the writer not responding to commenters’ comments. I wonder what’s behind that, too. Maybe some people really need the buzz (insecure about something?) and others are extra shy (perfectly understandable). The bottom line is everyone has a preference for their own blog, and I remind myself of that when I encounter either scenario. …and then I give them some more time. If I’m too uncomfortable with either, then I ultimately stop visiting. By the way, sometimes I visit and don’t comment. When that happens, it’s because I’ve nothing extra to add. And I don’t think that makes me a “lurker” (ugh, dislike that word!), but a friend just walking by her neighbor’s place to wave a nice “hi! how are ya!”…

    Julies last blog post..The Gift

  12. For me I write to get a message out, if the reader wants to have a conversation that is awesome. But if they don’t want to comment I am still happy because they read and received the message. And for that I am thankful 🙂
    Giovanna Garcia
    Imperfect Action is better than No Action

    Giovanna Garcias last blog post..What is LOVE? According to Children!?

  13. Davina says:

    Hi Sara. I know what you mean. Are some of them truthfully wanting to connect with the invisible readers or just count them? Thanks for the link to my comment post. As I mentioned over there I love getting comments. The blog would be empty without them. Like a room with no furniture… just lots of echos. I’ve seen bloggers turn off comments for specific reasons, but I wouldn’t stick around if they were turned off indefinitely.

    Davinas last blog post..Take This To Heart

  14. Sara says:

    @ Julie — Thanks for agreeing with me about the term “lurkers.” I cringe every time I say it! I think you make a good point when you said that sometimes you read a post, but don’t leave a comment because you don’t have anything to add.

    As bloggers,I think we expect our regular readers to always leave comments, but sometimes they’re busy or, as you said, they don’t anything to add. We have to be careful about putting our ego in the comment box.

    @ Giovanna — I’m pretty certain that your message will touch the people it needs to touch. I think that’s the way the universe works. I like to think that every time we write something, there’s a reader out there who gets it.

    @ Davina — I agree totally with what you said about comments and I love your words, “The blog would be empty without them. Like a room with no furniture… just lots of echos.” I think it’s important for us to invite comments and seek to get a dialogue started…just not push people to speak up before they are ready:~)

  15. Mark says:

    You make a good point. Lurker does carry a negative connotation with it and visitor is a more appropriate term. I love comments, I also love knowing that many people visit and if they choose not to comment that is okay with me. Sometimes people don’t have time to comment or they simply have nothing to add. I welcome all visitors!

    Marks last blog post..Healing Is An Inside Job

  16. Tony Single says:

    I’m going to be absolutely honest here… I love comments – it’s part of why I blog. I love to leave comments on other people’s blogs and I love to receive them. I admit that blogging wouldn’t even be half the fun if I felt like I was only amusing myself. No comments on my blog makes me feel like I’m doing something terribly self indulgent and pointless. I’m not just a voice needing self expression, but I’m also an ear that’s listening out for the self expression of others – whether that be through comments on my blog or through their own blogs. I guess that is just the way I roll. 🙂

    Tony Singles last blog post..I’m Slowing Down… [Trottersville #114]

  17. FupDuckTV says:

    I don’t mind the term lurker, but I prefer “stalker” specially when I at the mall.

    At my blog, I don’t mind lurkers. I just want to know what my readers think of what I’ve written. Most of my blogs are obscure and challenge normal concepts.

    Sara, if you don’t mind I’ll keep stalking your blog. But I’ll come out and post from time to time. You are on my daily-reads.

    FupDuckTVs last blog post..Mustache March

  18. Christine says:

    Hi Sara!

    I was discussing a similar topic on a forum recently and I basically said that I know at first it might feel disappointing if you get no or very few comments. I kinda used to feel that way. But now I just keep an eye on Feedburner and my number of subscribers. Also Google Analytics for my traffic. If those stats are telling me more and more people are coming to my blog I am happy. Sure, it’s great to have the conversation that comments facilitate, but the truth is not everyone likes to comment–many of them just enjoy reading the posts.

    The blogs that get tons and tons of comments on most of their posts are few and far between. I’d say if you are seeing traffic and or other results you are looking for then don’t be too upset with low numbers of comments.

    Of course all of us bloggers appreciate having them, but I also think it may be an ego issue when people are pushing so hard for commenters to come out of the shadows.

    Christines last blog post..Recession Marketing: Communicating Value is Even More Crucial Now

  19. Sunny Jamiel says:

    Sara,

    I wouldn’t call them lurkers too. like you said, “I also believe that readers should have a choice of leaving a comment or remaining invisible.”

  20. Sara says:

    @ Mark — I agree with you about having visitors. I love the exchange and hearing what my visitors have to say about a post. Often the comments give me a fresh perspective at something I’ve written. Thank you for sharing your thoughts :~)

    @ Tony — I’m glad you’re honest and I agree you about comments. I love getting them, learning from them, and commenting back. On the other hand, I feel differently about getting no comments…only because for ages that was the case. If you go back through my archives, you will see quite a few posts with a zero by comments.

    Sure, I hated not getting comments, but I still needed to write. It may sound crazy, but I always felt I was speaking to someone, even if I didn’t have a comment to prove it. By the way, I like the way you roll. Your comments always make me think as do your writings. Thanks for sharing :~)

    @ FupDuckTV — You always make me laugh and you can stalk me as long as you want…just keeping making me laugh! I like what you write…keep at it :~)

    @ Christine — You make an excellent point. If you follow the stats, you can assess your traffic without needing to push for comments. I like your words, “I’d say if you are seeing traffic and or other results you are looking for then don’t be too upset with low numbers of comments.” I hope other bloggers will take them to heart :~)

    @ Sunny — Welcome and thanks for sharing your thoughts. By the way, I like your avatar…it’s cool! I appreciate your comment :~)

  21. Thanks for this post. I have to admit to catching my ego wanting to tell other people occasionally “my blog really does get a lot more visitors than the number of comments would suggest.” I have to watch that carefully, and it does give me an opportunity to take a look at why I would have the need to say that and where I have room to grow.

    Chris Edgar | Purpose Power Coachings last blog post..Is There Such A Thing As “Boring” Work?

  22. Sara says:

    @ Chris — Thanks for your honesty. I felt the same way at times. While I choose not to use them, services like Google Analytics will give you an idea of how many visitors you have. Keep in mind, something like 90% of the people who read a post do not leave a comment. I appreciate your comment :~)

  23. Yeah, AWStats is my drug of choice. 🙂

    Chris Edgar | Purpose Power Coachings last blog post..Is There Such A Thing As “Boring” Work?

  24. Interesting point you bring up. I often see people in person who I would never have guessed read my blog and tell me “I really love your blog!” They never leave comments. I think there are some people who like to comment and others who don’t necessarily need or want the community but desire the info.

    There was a time when I felt like Chris, but then I asked who cares. I have a message to share and I’d rather have quality over quantity any day. Read my blog, comment or not, and I thank you and appreciate you just the same. No names necessary!

  25. Sara says:

    @ Chris — Thanks for the recommendation. I’ll have to check out AWStats. Also, thank you for stopping and sharing :~)

    @ Stacey — Personally, I highly recommend your blog and enjoy reading it, as well as leaving comments on it, but there are times when I stop by, indulge in some of Stacey wisdom without a comment…thanks for making this okay.

    I also agree with you that quality over quantity if preferred, even if I have to deal with my whiny ego :~)

  26. Henie says:

    Hi Sara!

    I absolutely agree with Chris on AWStats! It is quite a comprehensive report broken down into months/weeks/days/hours…you will love it! :~)

    Henies last blog post..The Lure

  27. Ribbon says:

    Yep I agree that the word “lurker” doesn’t sound friendly and nor do the people that use it intend it to be.
    My interpretation is that people who use the term genuinely believe that people who visit and don’t comment are “lurkers” and they’re not happy for that.

    That ‘s the one of the lovely things about blogland… there are no rules except the ones you impose on yourself.

    Best wishes Ribbon 🙂

    • Sara says:

      @ Ribbon — You’re closing line sums it up very well, That ’s the one of the lovely things about blogland… there are no rules except the ones you impose on yourself.” As bloggers, we have to determine our own dos and don’ts. Thank you for sharing your thoughts :~)

Comments are closed.