Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Lurking About

Not cycling related but certainly blog related and something I feel needs to be said for all my fellow bloggers' out there.

Lurkers. Love 'em or hate 'em they are a fact of life, the naval fluff of the net - generally harmless* but serving no discernible purpose. We know you are there. We check our viewing stats and recognise the same IP addresses showing up again and again. Occasionally, you will meet a lurker in the flesh. The crossover from cyberspace to realspace can be a traumatic experience. They will make some comment that gives it away or someone else will tell you they read your blog. Some will be strange, some sad and lonely, some downright creepy but a fair few will just be nice, regular people. I met one of mine today. Luckily she falls very much into the latter category and it wasn't traumatic at all.
Lurkers are variously defined but essentially in the context of t'internet they read things on blogs/forums but never actually contribute anything. I actually like this slightly wider definition best:
A person who is just "there." Nobody really knows why, other than they show up and don't say a word. Possible reasons for this could be:
-They don't know what to say
-They are pretending to have friends
-They are trying to scare you
-They are there just to be seen with you, as if they have some kind of relationship with you.
Urban Dictionary: Lurker
Now, I've nothing personal against lurkers and this particular one is very nice. I know she isn't hanging around my blog pretending to be in some kind of relationship with me or kidding herself that we're best buddies and I'm quite sure she's not trying to scare me so it must be she doesn't know what to say. It's just when you take time to share your thoughts, experiences, feelings and adventures with people on a blog it's nice to get a little feedback every now and then. Not all the time but just on occasion. Consider it a bit like tipping the waiter for a free meal you've just been given!

And if this post doesn't get a reply or two I don't know what will!

*Clinical Review: Umbilical Lint ("BellyButton Fluff")


  1. Hi Middle Aged Cyclist,

    I thought I'd just send you a quick e-mail about your latest post. I really enjoy your blog, which I've been reading for some time, in conjunction with most of the London-based blogs linked to the Cycling Embassy of GB and further afield.

    Unfortunately, I find it impossible to comment on your blog (and a few of the others) which specify the 'Comment as' drop-down box. I've tried to do so, but IE just hangs up. Whether its my lack of online presence, or the firewall at our work, I don't know. I am reasonably tech-savvy, but the comment system on many blogs seems very unintuitive, which deters the ad-hoc nature of comments.

    Additionally, I subscribe to all 'my' blogs through Google reader, which puts me another layer away from the actual blogs I'm reading. I tend not to bother linking through to comments any more, unless the topic is something I really want to discuss. Our network is not so fast, so its a bit of a pain to navigate through to the actual comment sections sometimes.

    Perhaps this is something you might want to look at and discuss in another post? It would be a shame if you are not getting the feedback you want, due to difficulty with comments. I am grateful that you are out there with your blog and I am sure there are others like me who are lurking because we seem to have no choice.

    Keep up the good work mate!


    (This comment came by email and has been posted by The Middle Age Cyclist. It has not been edited except to shorten the commenters name. I will not be cheated of comments!)

  2. DonC

    You will have my email reply by now but thanks once again for your emailed comment.

    I had set my comments box to require some form of ID - simply because I like to know what to call someone when I reply to them. I have now set it to open replies so hopefully this barrier will not be there any more (cue onset of anonymous comments?).

    I do realise some will be reading my blog on smartphones or via a reader so will not have the easy ability to comment. I certainly don't expect everyone reading to comment on everything I write but it is nice to get some feedback occasionally.

    I'll try to keep up the good work.


  3. Thanks MAC!

    I think it might be Mark at ibikelondon who asks anonymous commenters to at least add some sort of moniker to the end of their comments. Perhaps thats the way to go..


  4. What an odd post.

    Bloggers themselves could be described as lurking on the internet, perhaps because they are strange, sad or lonely, downright creepy or just nice, regular people.

    I'm not impressed with the Urban Dictionary definition with its list of 4 speculations. A much more likely reason for regularly reading a blog without ever commenting - sorry, I mean lurking, might be that someone is interested in reading the content of a blog but not inclined to add a comment, just as someone might read a newspaper for years without ever writing to the letters page.

  5. Pete

    While it is very true Bloggers may be "...strange, sad or lonely, downright creepy or just nice, regular people" in the same vein as Lurkers, they surely cannot be considered to be lurking as they have contributed a blog post or two.

    The difference with a newspaper is that you pay for it, or read the adverts. The same with TV or radio. There is no requirement or expectation to contribute. I feel regular readers of blogs should at least be expected to throw the blogger an odd crumb of feeback in return for a viewing. I know I do with the blogs I read.

    Of course, it goes without saying I am a nice, regular person and not strange or sad or lonely or creepy at all IMHO. ;-)

  6. As the aforementioned Lurker, all I'm saying is, even the police give you the right to remain silent ;-)

  7. Anonymous

    "As the aforementioned Lurker, all I'm saying is, even the police give you the right to remain silent"

    Touché. Nice bumping into you over coffee ealier. See you soon.

  8. Well, I've never heard of internet 'lurkers' before, but I now know I'm one of them too.

    Not here of course, but I lurk on the Telegraph blogs, the Guardian's Comment is Free section and blogs, some football related blogs and on some downright loony UFO/apocalypse/paranormal/political ones too. It's informative and/or entertaining to read them but I feel no need to contribute.

    Of course, if I did, and happened to disagree with the majority opinion of others posting comments then I'd become a troll!

    So what's worse - a lurker or a troll?

  9. Pete


    No problem with a little difference of opinion with me. A Troll though is deliberately inflammatory and antagonistic so is therefore a very nasty thing indeed. A Lurker on the other hand is generaly harmless and I have no big problem with them. It's just I'm a social animal (despite being a blogger) and I crave a little interaction and reward. ;-)

    Cheers for now.

  10. I know what you mean. I have a regular visitor to my blog who ALWAYS arrives there by typing the full URL into a Russian search engine, and then obviously clicks the link.
    He or she never comments, and while I am flattered that they keep visiting my blog, I cannot for the life of me see what might be so appealing about my blog when you're living in Russia.
    Mine is a simple little blog about things in my neck of the woods. Occasionally I'll have a mini rant, but mostly I post nothing that could be considered fundamentally important.
    I'd LOVE to know why that person keeps visiting!

    As for your blog, well, I visit regularly because I enjoy reading about your escapades, and because you often inspire me with your cycle touring. Oh, and because I'm DEEPLY envious of your tourer!

    PS: You do know your blog feed still isn't working?

  11. PS: You do know your blog feed still isn't working?

    Is via my link William/Darrell, and with Google Reader :>/

    Bugger! Was enjoying lurking...LOL

  12. William

    You feel the same as me. It is just nice to be able to communicate with your regular readers every now and then.

    Glad you like the blog. I too like knowing what's happening around the country re cycling. You have introduced me to some nice family cycling routes around Plymouth I would love to tackle one day.

    As for The Travelmaster. I would be more than happy for you to have a ride if you are ever up this way. When I am coming down south (for family hol or south coast BCQs) I will let you know and maybe we could meet up?

    Thanks for letting me know about the blog feed. I am at a loss why you are having this problem. It seems OK on other sites. Perhaps delete my feed and put it in again?


    You will never be a Lurker!

  13. Never given this a second thought mate, I don't check my site stats too closely and if people do comment then I just check their URLS and spam most of them as that's what they are. I generally have a regular few commentaters who I "know" pretty well and that's it!

  14. love love love it!^^ can I share your post on my twitter?