Whole Blog vs. Skim Blog

Mack Collier, as usual, put out a helpful post today on how to write great blog comments and rightfully so, I wrote a comment (hopefully a great one) – but after submitting my thoughts and reading again, I began thinking; the focal point of this post is not only on how to leave great comments, but to really read and understand what the author is writing about. Doing so helps you understand and provide further value in your own thoughts. But, what if, the problem lies there, with the readers. Not those who read the entire post but those who are…


To give a quick and superficial reading, scrutiny, or consideration; glance

Now don’t run away from here because I told you that you have a problem. You might not even fit this mold, though some probably will. It happens, to a lot of us. We have a ton on our plate and sitting down and spending 5 good minutes reading each and every post that catches our interest just isn’t in the cards for us. Where other times, we may just feel obligated to read a friend’s post and quickly comment to clear up your queue of blog posts. Whatever the reason may be, it ultimately creates an unhealthy reading habit and one that’s really unfair to yourself and the author.

We’re cutting ourselves short, from the content and information that the author has written to the comments and discussions that follow. While in the process, commenting on a piece that we really don’t have a full understanding of but yet still look to formulate our own thoughts, as if to say “hey, I’m staying current and reading every new blog post AND I’m commenting!”

OK, so I obviously don’t think it’s the greatest of practices. I understand we try to cram as much as we can into our content filled brains. There really are a TON of great posts being produced every single day and all we want is to try to catch a little nugget of information that we can take back to the desk…and it works – sometimes. Skimming allows you to get bits of value but far from what a focused, in-depth reading would bring.

What do we do though? Do we forgo any skimming because; if we don’t have time we just shouldn’t attempt to look like we know what we’re reading or should we put an emphasis on our reading and spend quality time towards it?

Oh, and feel free to tell us if you’re a skimmer, we won’t hold it against you!

Homepage Photo Credit: Robbie’s Photo Art

17 comments On Whole Blog vs. Skim Blog

  • Honest, I didn’t skim this entry. I didn’t skim because of the quality of your writing and care to detail. I do skim other blogs when the writing doesn’t engage me or when the topic is treated with a light hand.

  • Thankfully, I’m about as fast a reader as I am a skimmer. It’s one of those weird things that apparently works for me. Do I read every single blog post? No. But the ones that I comment on I DO actually read. I have a ton of blogs that I just skim through and don’t bother commenting on because I wouldn’t add anything of value…or just plain wasn’t interested in the subject matter.

  • :::raising my hand high in the air:::

    I’m definitely guilty of skimming. I read a ton throughout the day from my emails, to books, my feedreader, contracts and did I mention email? Yup, I skim through content in my feedreader. I often look for content that is resourceful and that I can share with my network. I read content from people I consider friends and colleagues and I comment where I can (if I have something relevant to say or something valuable to add to the conversation). Other times, I just wander on through have skimmed through a post.

    In this case, well, I did read your post. I did admit that I’m guilty of skimming through content at times in the pursuit of consuming more. But I do stop to write and share my thoughts every now and again. And I think that’s ok…right?

  • @Marsha – Now that’s way too kind! I’m glad I don’t get skimmed! =)

    @Stuart – Good example on focusing your reading and time on posts that you do comment on. I guess a lot of the time as bloggers, we’re able to decipher what we’re willing to read and what we can ‘pass’ on.

    @Ricardo – Thank you for admitting you have a problem, Ricardo. heh. We definitely read a lot throughout the day and are sometimes forced to pass on content or skim through it. If anything, I force myself to bookmark it for later reading if I know it’s a good read and can’t get to it at the moment. Would I be late to commenting? Sure. But I’d still be able to take in the content, on a deeper level, than I would have had I skimmed through it.

  • I tend to write whole blogs and read skim blogs. After reading this, I think I need to switch to entirely a the whole blog variety!

  • I’ve noticed that when I feel strongly enough to comment on a blog post that I have to read the post more closely. I can think of several times when I stopped writing my comment because I realized that I had skimmed the post too quickly and had missed an essential point.

    Its like when you teach somebody else. You’re move from passive to active and your own comprehension increases.

  • Hi, my name is Jeff Hurt & I’m a skimmer. [“Hi Jeff,” the crowd of anonymous skimmers says in unison.]

    On the serious side, I’m a fast reader and if the post doesn’t snag me in the first couple of paragraphs, I skim it or move to something else. Here’s a twist, why not write to both types of readers. Use headlines, bold, italics, bullets and numbering to emphasize your points. That way both whole readers and skimmers get the best of both worlds.

    We have a saying in our office: PDFR. People Don’t Freakin’ Read. As content and marketing creators, we try to write succinctly and use formatting to stress the important points. That seems to work for our audience because we’ve learned we aren’t going to change those devoted skim blog readers to whole blog readers overnight.

  • @Rebecca – Well, good to hear you’re changing your online diet heh.

    @Daniel – I can honestly say that I’ve also stopped writing a comment because I just didn’t give it my all in reading that particular post. Whether its cause of time or whatever, lackluster comments aren’t what I want to be known for and have been sure to stop myself at that point.

    @Jeff – You totally killed my post lol. Seriously, you make a fantastic point about catering your writing to both types of readers. Really a great strategy (that even I need to focus more on) on not only grabbing the attention of your community but those who just stop by on a whim, hoping to see something that’ll draw them in. Thanks for the reminder!

  • Loved your blog today and did actually *read* it, but I’m probably in general a skimmer, too. Unfortunately, there are too few good writers out there to bust out of the noise and make me want to read the whole thing. That doesn’t mean I don’t get good information out of a lot of blogs I skim. But I can tell you honestly that if the topic or the manner of delivery is not engaging enough, I don’t bother to comment and think it would be really unfair of me to do so…
    Which brings me to my actual point. Does anyone else have this shared pet peeve? Blog skimmers who comment! So many blog comment conversations get stilted and stupid when a skimmer suddenly shows up and misses the point. It creates the same kind of awkward silence that results when someone joins a heated real-life conversation, hears only part of it, and throws something in that’s totally off base. No quicker way to take the heat out of the dialogue than to have to bring someone up to speed. And it’s rude — especially in virtual space, where the “skimmer” could control themselves for half a minute and see where the conversation started and where was going before jumping in.
    I loved the comment posted here about “PDFR” — what a great way to sum up one of the most annoying things on the web. If you’re a skimmer, fine – get your info and go away. But if you’re going to join in the conversation, do everyone the courtesy of reading the entire thing.

  • Sonny, you make such a great point here. I find that, though I have a huge number of blogs I follow, I also don’t read the ‘whole’ of every post. If the headline or first paragraph doesn’t grab me, I skim those posts. However, there are certain blogs (those that are well-written, relevant, and interesting) that I take the time to read the whole of the entry and comment on. We’re all busy people and keeping up with the influx of information isn’t always easy.

    Just as I wouldn’t pile every single dish at a buffet onto my plate to eat, I have to manage how much information I want to take in. While I could briefly sample each thing with very small amounts, I’d rather have something truly satisfying at the meal’s end. The same goes for my reading.

    So, pick and choose, but if I’m going to comment on an entry, the comment should be made in context of the entire entry and, in order for it to be useful to myself, the author of the blog, and anyone else who reads it, the comment should be based on the entirety of that post.

  • Better headlines would help, in my opinion. I take the blogs in my reader pretty seriously but I will skim some blogs that I only follow for big news, like Mashable. I can’t read everything there. What do they post like 14 a day?
    I’ll also add that I am very serious about the way I comment and would like to add that I’ve seen great opportunities come my way based on leaving a thoughtful comment. So I would suggest looking at your comments as something that goes on your permanent record, and act accordingly. Every post does not require a comment.

  • Angels, you’ve hit it on the nose. I come from a newspaper background and I know the value of good headlines. You must be able to catch a reader by an engaging headline. Just like a billboard – which ideally shouldn’t be more than 7 words. There’s no reason to read a blog (or article) if you haven’t been pulled in from the start.

  • @April – Amen to your point about skimmers who comment. I’ve seen it happen, and as noted have stopped myself from doing so, on though-provoking posts but then the comment is one with little thought or thrown up there for the sake of link building. Sad practice either way and one that is really unfair to the author.

    @SaraKate – You summed it up perfectly. It not only needs to be engaging for you to jump in but if you are in that author’s realm, have the courtesy to provide something of value, not only to yourself, but the author and their readers.

    @Angela @Marsha – Good headlines definitely ties back into what Jeff was saying on catering your content for your readers, whether they’re whole blog readers or skimmers. We all learn everyday in the blogosphere and the more we write and the more we read, the more we grow in our own practices and understandings of how to truly engage our community.

    Angela makes a good mention about opportunities coming from comments. I think as companies become more engulfed in the new media world, part of their ‘due process’ when hiring someone or finding someone that would fit well within the company or for a project is a background check – and commenting is no different. BackType.com is a perfect example in being able to see what blogs a person comments on and how effective they are in their thoughts/ideas. Take a look if you haven’t been there already.

    GREAT thoughts and conversations here – you all are blowing me away!

  • This is slightly different, but I’ve noticed that sometimes people will reply to a post that’s linked on Twitter, based on the title alone. They won’t actually read the post, but will argue a stance based on the title. I had this happen today with someone on Twitter, and they kept bringing up points that I had addressed in the post (which they apparently didn’t read).

    And yes, you left a great comment Sonny, thanks 😉

  • Skimming has some similarities to reading ads, articles in a magazine, lots of stuff. As a copywriter I know that I better be short and to the point in some cases. I should also, at times, be witty, funny, or serious – whatever the situation calls for.

    But, when you write an article in say, a magazine, you’re headlines and sub heads better tell your reader what you are trying to tell them. For example, a skimmer is reading an article on 10 steps to becoming a better ball player. If it has an intro paragraph, plus a paragraph on each step, I bet skimmers only read the bold, 10 steps. They might skip the paragraph about each step unless they really need the description.

    The same scenario could apply to blogging. If it’s a really long post and has 10 steps, I might only read those 10, one line steps – not the paragraph under each one. Or I might pick and choose which steps I really need to read.

    Skimming is bound to happen sometimes, but if they are truly interested, maybe they’ll take the time to read the whole thing. If people are all skimmers, I might have a hard time gaining any readers… I tend to get long winded sometimes… and I just did it again… gotta work on that

    I think

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  • Excellent site, keep up the good work

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