Poll: Commenting

Comment, comment, commentA few minutes after I found the Exponent website for the first time, I sent in my first guest post. Now it seems that I am always commenting when I am not posting. But not everyone likes to hear the sound of their own voice (or rather, the sound of their own keyboard) as much as I do. Our stats show that we have many more people lurking about our website besides those who type comments. My fellow frequent commenters, why do you enjoy commenting at the Exponent blog?  Silent lurkers, if any of you would be willing to break pattern and leave a comment just this once, could you tell us why you prefer to read without commenting?

April Young Bennett

April Young Bennett is the author of the Ask a Suffragist book series and host of the Religious Feminism Podcast. Learn more about April at aprilyoungb.com.

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50 Responses

  1. Autumn says:

    Too shy….

  2. Megan says:

    I’ll break cover.

    I comment rarely because of two things.

    First, it’s that same-old ‘I came late to the party and don’t want to crash’ thing. You guys have a lovely dialogue here that I enjoy thoroughly, but it always feels presumptive to leap in and start talking too – it’s rude to interrupt, you know? It’s social anxiety only for the digital world.

    Second, since I resigned from the church I feel odd about commenting in a forum that is mostly made up of members – not that I feel unwelcome, just that this is your house and I don’t want to barge in and make you listen to my stuff. I feel it’s really important for me to listen and learn rather than to leap in with my opinion.

    I think the second point is interesting because I find it influences me a lot in the online places I frequent. I believe strongly in the need for (reasonably) safe havens online and I try hard to learn the parameters and the cultural mores of a group before I barge in. You guys are wonderfully open and generous, so it isn’t really the feeling that I would not be welcome here that’s holding me back… it’s that other part, the part where (however little we like it) there is for many of us a rather sharp divide between the current members and the former members. We have all had bad experiences navigating this divide and, I think, have learned that on both sides there are people who will feel that because of where you live along that boundary line your opinion is either relevant or not.

    Does that make sense? I hope it’s clear that I’m not saying that the wonderful, warm and intelligent women of Exponent are somehow excluding the input and opinions of former members – FAR from it! It’s that broader experience makes me wary, aware that my status as a resigned person, an outsider, automatically discounts my opinion in the minds of some folks, and that creates a complicated little knot of concern etc (see digital social anxiety above!) that leads to, well, a feeling that it would be better (easier) to just be a lurking reader.

    • Diane says:


      Don’t feel shy about joining in the conversation(even if you have resigned from church) because I’m not a member anymore myself and I frequently comment because it helps me to work out residual feelings I may have about a particular topic.

      In addition, just because you left doesn’t mean you don’t have a right to have your voice herd.

    • marta says:

      Megan, i lurk on your blog.

      • Megan says:

        Hi Marta!

        Yipes… better write that post I’ve been meaning to post then…

        Diane – thank you!

        addendum: maybe I should have added point 3 which is that I seem incapable of saying ANYTHING briefly!

    • Janna says:

      Hi Megan – Many of readers of Exponent II and the blog are no longer members. We’ve even had people who have never been members of the church attend the retreat because they just like us 🙂

  3. Amber says:

    Honestly? All the writers and commenters are brilliant. Like Megan, I have digital social anxiety and don’t want all of you to think poorly of me because I can’t articulate myself well or cannot cite outside sources.

    • Whitney says:

      This is me, too. Often I feel like I don’t really have anything to add because the author & commenters have really said everything I was thinking (nice to find like-minded people, though!). And I tend to feel a lot of anxiety about having to sound brilliant and come up with the exact right thing to say (I acknowledge this is probably unusual for the internet).

  4. Carrie Ann says:

    I usually read on my phone and thumb typing is annoying. Thank you for all you do. I have so much love in my heart for this, and similar blogs.

  5. Diane says:

    I find the Exponent site a lot more welcoming to people of differing views than other Mormon web sites and that’s why I participate.

    It can be difficult at times because I know I don’t always articulate my view points very well, but I guess that’s the price we pay in a digital age.

  6. Maureen says:

    I used to comment a lot, it was therapeutic. I tend to be wordy, and I get a bit self conscious about that. Social anxiety, my own insecurities, and life just get in the way. I want to be strong enough to go back to how I used to contribute. Right now I can’t.

  7. Keri Brooks says:

    I guess I would call myself somewhere between an infrequent and semi-frequent commenter. I go through phases. I read a lot of blogs (both Bloggernacle and ones that relate to my profession), so I don’t always have time to comment, and when I do have the time, someone has often already said what I was going to say.

  8. alex w. says:

    I’m somewhere between “rarely” and “frequently.” It just depends on if something comes to mind, my mood, etc. 🙂

  9. It comes down to two things for me. First of all, my reaction usually goes something like this: “That’s interesting.” I know. Lame that I can’t come up with something better than that.

    The other reason is that I read zillions of blogs from a reader and if I opened all of them to leave comments, I wouldn’t have enough time to make a living. 🙂

  10. Biobrit says:

    I don’t comment often because I have a hard time expressing myself through the written word. I struggle with writing and end up feeling stupid that I can’t express myself eloquently and beautifully. This is also the reason I don’t comment on other blogs. However, I am trying to be better because I realize that I can’t improve without more practice.

  11. Sherry says:

    I too read several mormon blogs and am still a member, altho a “less active” one for a multitude of reasons. I comment if the topic has deep meaning to me AND I’m always hoping to strike up a dialogue with a sister who has had similar experiences to me – hasn’t happened yet. So mostly I read and ponder…

  12. Lyn says:

    It would appear that the “non-commenters” have a lot in common: social anxiety, google reader, and nothing “interesting” to add. Mine is probably more on the social anxiety side – the women here are awesome, I just don’t know how to break in. I do have a similar issue in real life !!

    • Miss Rissa says:

      Agreed! Although lately I have been making an effort both online and IRL to speak up. I will add that of all the mormon/feminist blogs I follow, I feel the safest commenting on The Exponent. There is some good, safe dialogue going on here.

  13. Moonlight says:

    I rarely comment because often something similar to what I have to say has been posted or I am simply too lazy to fill out all the information at the bottom before I can leave a comment.

  14. EmilyCC says:

    I get nervous, and I have to revise and revise and revise my comments. Sometimes, I just don’t have time, but I find I get faster when I do it more often.

  15. Robin V says:

    As others have suggested, I read a lot of blogs, and can’t comment on all. Often, someone has already posted comments similar to what I would offer, and I don’t like to lamely offer “me too!”

    In addition, I’ve only recently started following this blog, and I like to get a feeling of the lay of the land before I participate significantly.

    Finally, I think most people are busy, and I hate to offer a comment unless it really is going to add something of value – so if I’m going to comment, I think twice, and then I usually don’t after all…

  16. Caroline says:

    I comment rather frequently (though I’ve slowed down in the last few months with the birth of baby 3) but I too have some anxiety about doing it. I don’t always feel like I have smart things to say, but I do want the authors to know that I am reading and appreciating their efforts. As a perma here myself, I know how much that means to an author. 🙂

  17. Mhana says:

    I comment because I like it when people comment on my blog, because I love writing, and because I am super happy to have found this community. What I like about Exponent (and this is not to scare the previous commenters who are not mormon anymore and feel they can’t say anything) okay caveat in place what I like about the Exponent is I feel like it is a place to be a believing, practicing, generally happy Mormon who has concerns or issues. I feel like I can come here and speak and listen and share without feeling angry or upset or bitter. My life has quite enough of that without seeking it online. This is an uplifting place to be, and I appreciate it.

    I first found you through the RS lessons which were wonderful and so helpful to me when that was my calling.

  18. marta says:

    i own a t-shirt which says, “help, i’m talking and i can’t shut up” because people deserve fair warning, but y’all can’t see it when i’m typing at my keyboard in my dark corner, so i try to restrain myself unless i feel very strongly about something. or i have something kinda funny to add…

  19. Angie says:

    I’m pretty self-conscious and worry about what people will think of me after my posts, so I rarely comment. Also, most of the time someone else has already articulated my thoughts in the comments better than I could anyway, so I feel my comments would be redundant.

  20. Deborah says:

    Wow, I loved reading through these comments — hi, lurkers! Thanks for dropping cover for a few minutes. I know that the women who run this site (including me) try really hard to create a vibrant but safe community for talking about faith, faith journeys, and feminism. S0 *no pressure* to comment — I lurk on dozens of sites without ever saying a word — but if you do decide to test the waters a bit more . . . please know that posters are so excited for comments that we never judge the “brilliance” of a remark. Heck, “Nice post” is enough to make me smile (full discloser: we occasionally judge comments by people feel the need to call us to repentance for not toeing their particular line in the sand . . . )

  21. Libby says:

    Honestly, this is one of the few venues in which I feel I *don’t* have to keep my mouth shut. Though I’m working on that. I wore a “Choose the Left” t-shirt to a RS presidency meeting and nobody said a word….

  22. kamschron says:

    I almost never comment here because comments from men seem out of place.

    • amelia says:


      If you have something to contribute to the conversation, please do. While we’re not real happy with “mansplaining” (e.g., men coming along to tell us how things are, which they know because they are men), it’s wonderful to get thoughtful comments and perspectives from men. I think I can pretty safely say that the permas here are seeking gender equity and the best way to do that is to invite anyone to comment who has something to contribute, regardless of their sex and/or gender identity.

    • Stella says:

      Men are very welcome to comment….as long as they don’t spread on the patriarchy too thickly and expect us to get in line. We would welcome your perspective! Always!

    • I’ve actually found this to be a good place for communication, even being male. I think the trick is to try and stick with what you know and believe, and not get into telling others what they should know and believe.

      Even if it’s a simple “That makes sense, I can agree with that”, it’s a good boost to the posters (and commenters) no matter what gender they come from. Diversity of perspective is a very good thing.

  23. April says:

    I am pleasantly surprised that so many usual non-commenters humored me and responded to my question. Such a pleasure to meet you! Like Deborah said, you don’t need to feel obligated to comment. Silent readers are welcome. Just know that if you ever want to comment you are all welcome to.

  24. Annie B. says:

    I go in phases of commenting frequently or infrequently. At first I was just fascinated that this blog existed and soaked it in. Then I found I had things to say here and there, and whether they were helpful to anyone else or not, it felt wonderful just to have a place to say them, and it was extremely helpful for me to be able to read others thoughts, and articulate my own in writing, since when i speak I’m often tongue tied and take a full 30 seconds to compose a sentence or think of the right word, and by that time, whoever I’m talking to has moved on. I think commenting here and reading other’s posts and comments actually helps me to be able to articulate myself in everyday speaking situations and speak up when appropriate.

    From the time I found this blog I’ve ranged from an inactive member, a member that doesn’t want to be a member anymore, to now considering myself an unconventional member. And accordingly there have been times I’ve felt comfortable posting comments, and other times where I wasn’t so sure if I belonged. I was raised LDS, married in the temple, and currently serve in the nursery in my ward without attending any other meetings, while my husband and kids attend all the meetings. I don’t have the conviction that the LDS church is what it claims to be. I’m open to it’s truthfulness, and I’ve found many of the principles it teaches to be true, but I haven’t received a witness that it is, in it’s entirety. When I was younger I hoped it was all true, but after studying the history, I don’t hope that anymore. When I was younger I thought that temple ceremonies would help me understand the principles that didn’t seem right to me, but they just brought up more that didn’t seem right. The LDS church is still is a big part of my life, and I believe it will continue to be, so I soak up the positive things, the principles I agree with, and don’t force myself to accept the things that I’ve found to be untrue. Because I now consider my relationship with God to be independent from my loyalty to the LDS church organization, and my personal worthiness to be independent from it as well, I feel much more confident in speaking up about principles in the church that have effected me negatively, or that I’ve found to be wrong, whether here on this blog, or in church settings. It’s still much easier with the former than the latter though.

  25. Rachel says:

    I have been commenting a lot on older posts as of late, because I am just discovering them for the first time, and am often so happy, amazed, inspired and challenged by what I find.

    Other times, it can be nervous making to comment, for a lot of the same reasons others have mentioned: levels of anxiety, not feeling like my comment is the smartest, or most perfect. Plus, I get a little nervous to extend myself on the internet, because it is both permanent and ephemeral in a strange way.

    BUT: I remember that as a poster, I love comments. Any comment. So sometimes I just want the original poster to know: I read what you wrote. I liked what you wrote. (Even if I don’t have anything more to add.)

  26. Bethany says:

    Excellent question, and one I’ve asked myself many times as I’ve come here and to fMh for support. I really want to join in the community but I find that I’m still so angry and mixed up and new to Mormon feminism and cognitive dissonance that I have a difficult time expressing myself without sounding like an idiot. Often I love to read others just to understand how I can put what I’m feeling into words. So often I read a post or comment and think “Wow. That’s how I feel, but I never quite knew how to say it.”

  27. Creatrix says:

    I’ve commented a few times before, but, honestly I get a little bit depressed when no one acknowledges that I made a comment. I really crave some kind of interaction between the members of the blog, and feel like I don’t get it here, even though I enjoy the posts. People seem a little more responsive at FMH, for me. That site also seems to be better at attracting people who are interested in following the link to my personal blog. Anyway, the best Mormon Feminist blog for responsive posting is Daughters of Mormonism. Sybil responds to everyone, every time. Love her.

  28. Q says:

    I hardly ever comment on blog posts anywhere, but I’d feel especially out of place doing it here, because I’m coming to the topics under discussion from a very different place. I’m not Mormon, never have been, and have no interest in joining the Mormon (or any) church. I’m not religious, or even “spiritual”, but I read every blog post here nonetheless. I think it’s fascinating on the level of human experience, and I admire you all for being willing to share your story.

    • Deborah says:

      So curious: How did you find us? 🙂

      • Q says:

        I can’t remember exactly. I think there might’ve either been a link from an article on Slate(?) a few months back, or a link to a blog that had a link to this site.

    • amelia says:

      Color me curious, too. 🙂

      Also, I think you should comment if you feel moved to, Q (though of course you’re welcome to lurk w/o commenting). Sometimes an outside perspective sheds new light on a problem or a story. I know it’s been enormously helpful to me to have outside perspectives, especially when I’m struggling to make sense of something.

  29. Rita says:

    I’m more of a lurker but comment occasionally. I enjoy reading here but don’t usually feel I have anything worthwhile to add. Perhaps a ‘like’ button would be helpful!

  30. Emily U says:

    When I first found the bloggernacle I commented a lot. Now, much less so.

    My commenting is inversely correlated to how busy I am at work. I pretty much only read blogs when I have a lull at work – at home I’m ruled by my kids, and they do not have lulls. Even when they sleep they still demand prep-work!

    But I comment the most here – you guys are my favorite community!

  31. East River Lady says:

    I was a lurker until recently, but I decided to break from the ordinary and become more involved. I’m an avid reader, but just never felt “qualified” or “intelligent” enough to comment on such wonderful and thought provoking posts. I still feel that way, but hopefully that will go away soon as I participate more. Such a welcoming community. Thanks for being here.

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