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tiger_spot
Why is it that when I post sad things or angry things or other whining, I get lots and lots of comments, but when I post happy things I get maybe one comment per post? This seems to be more or less the opposite of how I'm used to conversations working in meatspace (modulo the differences between a post-comment structure and a conversational structure).
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Because, if you post negative things, people want to comfort you, but if you post positive things, people figure they're not needed?

But then what causes the difference in in-person interactions?

::answers own question::

Perhaps in person, people perceive a need to keep the conversation going, so they'll respond to happy things as well because they feel obliged to respond to anything. And then LiveJournal doesn't produce that sense of must-keep-conversation-going, because it isn't a conversation yet, just a post.

I would rather be in more conversations on LJ, but the structure doesn't support them very well.

And yet, LJ is much more conversation-friendly than most other blog formats.

Less conversation friendly than Usenet.

How does it stack up to, say, Facebook?

I have no idea how Facebook works, so I can't compare there. My understanding is that most of the social networking sites have pretty rudimentary commenting and aren't meant for discussion.

I do note that certain blogs support very good conversations (Making Light, say) without altering the standard blog-comment structure much. What helps there is that (a) it's fairly easy to tell what you've read and what you haven't (also true of Usenet, for most newsreaders, but not true of LJ) and (b) people expect there to be a conversation going on, so they'll come back later and read the replies since their last visit (true of everywhere that has good conversations; could be true of certain communities on LJ, but certainly not true for my journal at this time).

The only thing LJ has over Making Light's one-line-of-comments-with-datestamps is the branching; while that lets conversations develop simultaneously along several lines instead of focusing on one main line, which is nice, I don't think it encourages conversation as such.

The thing that annoys me most about LJ comments is the way they automatically collapse at a certain point and can't be expanded, instead having to be broken off into tiny little threadlets and read one at a time. That's very hard to follow.

Mainly I think the cultural factors are why I don't find group conversation on LJ much; it's not expected, so people don't go back once they've made their first comment. Two-person conversations like this one do happen, because of comment notification e-mails, but as a rule conversations with more than two participants don't happen much.

If others are anything like me, they feel a certain friendship obligation to comfort an angry/sad friend, but if they're like me, they just tend to nod and smile when a friend is happy.

I was going to respond to this, but it wasn't sad, angry, or whining so... OKAY, OKAY, I WAS JOKING!

I think that in LJ, bad news triggers the "this is important" flag in people, so they respond so as not to be ignoring you. With good news, it's harder to respond in a way that doesn't sound, well, boring.

"That's wonderful news!" might work for something that's truly wonderful, but if you're posting about how your sprained ankle is finally recovered and you have full flexibility again, "that's wonderful news!" seems a bit overstated. A one-word reply like "coolness!" seems dorky. Worse, it might seem like an imposition; now you have to respond to my lame-ass response!

One reason LJ isn't more like a conversation is that people don't tend to line up all their friends in RL and walk past them, one by one, in a long, long, long line and listen to what they have to say before walking back to carry on a conversation with some of them... IME, at least.

With good news, it's harder to respond in a way that doesn't sound, well, boring.

There is that. I do the "Yay!" thing sometimes, and it is dorky, but so am I, so that works out all right.

Mostly I comment on things when (1) there is a question in the post or (2) I can be funny.

One reason LJ isn't more like a conversation is that people don't tend to line up all their friends in RL and walk past them, one by one, in a long, long, long line and listen to what they have to say before walking back to carry on a conversation with some of them

I don't actually read LJ like that. As I'm going down the line, I stop and leave comments when I have something to say (which isn't all that often), or at least open the post in another tab so I don't forget I meant to leave a comment. I also make heavy use of the "track this" button to watch for potential conversations sprouting later.

But those are all hacks to get around the fundamental non-conversationalness of the basic structure, and not particularly effective hacks at that.

Same thing with me - I think you're the only person who's commented on anything I've posted in the last month, actually. Not that I'm much better with commenting, I have to admit.

Hm, and that was about a ranty sort of post. Interesting.

Also, because the internet thrives on angst and bitterness.

Kind of like the tree of liberty being watered with the blood of patriots, eh?

No, that's not the whole internet; that's just Web 2.0.

Web 0.5, for example, thrived on blinking rainbow separator bars. And the little javascript widget that put scrolling text in the page title bar.

What about Under Construction .gifs? Which version was that?

Oh, I'd entirely forgotten about those! Those were definitely Web 0.5. And are a good justification for calling it Web 0.5, too; it clearly wasn't finished yet.

Wow, that one comment just took me back to high school. :)

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