If you're an old hand at reading and commenting on blogs, please feel free to ignore this post. If, however, you are new to blogs or still struggling to understand the ins and outs of blog reading, you might find some helpful information here. This post is a response to several questions I've had from readers recently.
Subscribing to and Following Blogs
Here's what I know on the subject.
1. Email subscriptions: If a blog has a button on the sidebar for email subscription, you can sign up to receive the blog in your email inbox. Every time the blogger adds a post to the blog, you'll receive an email of it, though there is often a lag time before the email is generated. Emails of Simplicity, for instance, go out sometime around 1:00 or 2:00 a.m. Eastern Time, regardless of what time I post them.
To sign up, type your email address in the box provided and follow instructions. You will be sent a verification email. This is to keep someone else from signing you up for blogs when you don't want them to. Unfortunately, spam filters on email programs sometimes filter these verification emails to a junk email folder, so make sure you verify your subscriptions!
Email subscribing is extremely convenient if you read a few blogs, but if you subscribe to LOTS of blogs, a blog reader site is much more convenient.
2. Blog Reader Accounts: Google Reader, a free blog reader, is my preferred method for subscribing to blogs. Because I read so many, it saves tons of time for me to see a list of all my subscriptions at a glance. Blogs with new content show in bold type, so I only have to click on those to read the content. If I want to comment, all I have to do is click on the post title and a new window opens with the blog post in it. To start a Google Reader account, click here and follow the prompts.
There are other readers out there in cyberspace, but I've never used them. If you have a favorite other than Google Reader, please share it in the comments!
3. Following in Google: Sadly, I can't answer questions about this one because I don't do it, though I did make it available to readers since so many people prefer it. Perhaps someone can comment about how this works? Pretty please?
Yoona asked if she would get the blog in email now that she's a follower, but I don't think so. Can anyone answer that for her?
4. Bookmarking: You can always simply bookmark blogs to your Favorites in Explorer or whatever web browser you use. This gets cumbersome and time-consuming if you read a lot of blogs, though, because you have no idea if the blog has new content when you click. Of course, I post almost every day (sometimes twice a day!) but most bloggers don't.
All bloggers love getting comments (well, nice comments, not troll comments!). Sometimes, readers get a little confused about commenting or are afraid to try. Here are some tips on commenting.
1. If you are on the actual website of a blog (not reading the feed in an email or reader), click on the comment button and follow the prompts to leave a comment. Don't be afraid to click the comment button multiple times if your comment doesn't "take" right away. There's some glitch in Blogger that causes this annoying thing to happen, but just keep clicking. A blogger would rather get a double-posted comment (we can easily fix that) than no comment at all.
A Note about Leaving an Email Address: PLEASE leave an email address when you comment, especially if you ask a question. Your email address will not show publicly but it will show on the comment email I receive. I prefer answering questions directly. It's faster for me if I have an email to reply to, and you don't have to hunt for my answer in the comments or hope I answer in the next blog post (I often forget about answering by the time I do the next post!).
If you comment under a Google account profile, I should get your email address automatically when your comment lands in my in-box. If you comment as Anonymous or leave off your email, there's no reply address on the comment email I receive, so I can't answer you directly.
2. Subscribing via email allows you to comment in two ways. First, you can simply reply to the blog email. This is a private communication (well, as private as email allows!). This is nice because the blogger then has your email address and can reply to your questions directly. Second, you can click on the email's link to the blog post and comment publicly on the blog. For drawings and give-aways, you usually must comment directly on the blog to have your entry count.
This will be important the week of March 20th on Simplicity. *wink*
Email Comments versus Blog Comments
Email comments are nice for asking a blogger questions, simply because it's so easy for us to reply directly to you. When I get several of the same questions, I'll consider doing a public answer, but usually, email is the best way to handle questions.
Email is also a great way to share stuff with a blogger that isn't really appropriate for a public comment. (For instance, just yesterday, I got an emailed prayer request from a reader, and feel quite honored to have her think to ask me...but it doesn't relate to stamping at all.)
The strength of email commenting is also its weakness. It is private, which means other readers aren't benefitting from any insights you share.
Blog Comments are part of what we English majors call public discourse. Bloggers adore sparking public discourse. The idea that lots of people can share their ideas and insights in comments and help others is part of what drew me to blogging in the first place. There are several posts on Simplicity in which the comments are FAR more helpful than my blathering, and those are my favorite posts!
I hope this helps clarify some of your questions about subscribing and commenting. I also hope it increases your comfort with leaving comments and asking questions. Don't be shy!