It has been brought to my attention that the article I just posted, Fast & Efficient Commenting Tactics, has led at least one person to believe that I am only interested in getting comments and don't care at all about the photographers behind the picture. That accusation really hurts because if you know me at all, you know that I really love getting to know everyone who visits me. I developed a commenting strategy to speed up the mind-numbing process of getting to people's photostreams so I can get to the part I love, which is looking at my contact's pictures, appreciating them, and reading about each one, so that I can then write a nice comment. My comments often include links to picture references or more information on the web, and sometimes I include YouTube links for extra fun in the form of music and video! :) I don't always write long comments but if a particular picture has rocked my world, I will certainly let that person know! :D I really do care about everyone who leaves comments for me and I am very interested in their lives and how they see the world.
I'm really glad I got that letter though, because it brings up an important topic:
Ninja Commenting vs. Thoughtful Commenting
After you've been posting pictures for a while, leaving and receiving comments to and from contacts, you'll begin to see that there is a difference in the types of comments that people leave.
Ninja Commenters are people who visit as many people as they possibly can every day, leaving the very same general, one-or two word comment on every picture. I don't think these people even look at or care one bit about the picture they've slapped their comment on. Their point is only to generate a comment in return. These people go as far as to get commenting add-ons that will put a random comment from a group of pre-written comments into the commenting box at the press of a button. This helps to mask the fact that this person is ninja-commenting, but it's easy to identify these people because the comments are always generic and often make no sense in regards to the picture you posted. These people are not friends. They are parasites.
Thoughtful Commenters are people who take the time to look at a picture and think about it before writing a response, which might be long or short. They care about letting the photographer know how they feel. They are friends. Keep in mind that there are MANY, MANY thoughtful commenters out there who have very busy lives and not much time to spend writing long comments, so they will often leave one or two-word comments (and sometimes none at all, though they do look at and appreciate the image!). As well, not everybody speaks English and it's difficult and/or time-consuming to compose comments that reflect their opinion. Keep in mind that there is a world of difference between the ninja commenter and thoughtful commenter who leaves short comments. The succinct comment from the thoughtful commenter reflects the image posted and is not the same comment for every picture you post. They are letting you know that they saw and appreciated your picture but they only have time to leave a short comment. Finally, some people are quite shy or not comfortable about leaving a comment because it's very personal. These people usually write a personal email to let you know that they visit often and appreciate your photography but want you to know that writing comments is hard for them to do or something they just aren't comfortable with.
Remember that ipernity is a European site! It's very nice that so many non-English speakers take the time to write comments in English. This is such a gift when you realize how time-consuming it is to translate and write in another language. Every one of these comments is very touching to me, because I only know English, and when I think about what it takes to leave a comment in a non-native language, I'm amazed. Google Translate makes it easy to translate foreign-written comments, but the translation isn't always right. So, the fact that non-native visiters express their opinion in English is very impressive and wonderful. I admit that I often forget how spoiled I am to have English as a first language, and how lucky I am that people take the time to communicate in English when it isn't their native language.
Be A Good Friend, Not a Parasite
We take pictures because we are passionate about the world around us. We want to share what we see and photograph with the world, and sites like ipernity are a wonderful way to meet like-minded people. Sharing thoughtful comments with each other about our photography is a wonderful way to learn and grow. We can teach each other about our lives and the things we discover and what's important to us.
Leaving thoughtful comments is a way to connect with one another and to form a bond of friendship that will grow stronger through the weeks, months and years. On the other hand, ninja commenters are parasites that suck away our precious time and energy, feeding their unquenchable desire for more comments that mean nothing to them. They don't care about anyone but themselves and all they want is to have their comment and favorite counters go up. The sad thing is that none of it matters in the end, because they don't care about the more important part of being part of the ipernity community: FRIENDSHIP.