Break the Ice

Our blogs are platforms from which we share our experiences, opinions, and views with the online world. This week’s writing…

Our blogs are platforms from which we share our experiences, opinions, and views with the online world. This week’s writing challenge is designed to help you connect with other bloggers who care about the same things you do.

Lots of you have said you’re really interested in building your readership and connecting with other bloggers, and our recent posts on commenting to build community have been popular. This week’s challenge, slightly unorthodox, follows up on that: we want you to explore and comment.

This week, find five blogs you’ve never read before, and leave substantive comments on each of them. Many of you have blogrolls of your regular reads and subscribe to blogs you love, which is great. Now step outside that circle, and see if you can broaden it.

To start, block off some time to fall down the rabbit hole of the blogosphere (for those of you in the U.S., this could be a good activity for your post-Thanksgiving tryptophan stupor). Head to the Reader and start exploring new topics. Maybe you write about health issues and normally visit other health and wellness blogs, but you secretly really love B-horror movies — poke around “Movies,” “Horror,” or “Pop Culture.” Are you an armchair political pundit? Check out some blogs from the other side of the spectrum. When you find a site you like, explore its blogroll and take a look at its regular commenters.

Then, when you read a post that speaks to you, say something. Not “Great post!” or “I disagree!” but something that adds to the conversation that blogger is trying to cultivate. (Insulting or belittling comments do not add to the conversation; this challenge is not a license to ignore manners and civility.) Your comment might:

  • Ask for clarification of a point you didn’t quite understand.
  • Introduce another post or piece of information on the topic and explore how it fits with the blogger’s take.
  • Share a personal experience you’ve had related to the topic.

Taking the time to do this is a bit of a leap of faith — there’s no way of knowing what will result. You could create a new friendship or gain a new reader. You might be inspired to write a post of your own, or find yourself caught up in a fascinating back-and-forth with other commenters. You might also watch your comments fall into a void, never to garner a response. But no comment ventured, no comment gained!

Since you won’t be leaving comments with links to your posts and there won’t be any pingbacks, we’re going on the honor system here. However, we’d love if you followed up on this exercise with a post about the experience; if you do write one, feel free to drop a link here and use the DPchallenge tag so we can find you.

Now go forth and opine!

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  1. I took a similar plunge earlier this week by finally starting a twitter account and finding other bloggers on that social network. I added a few readers to my blog just from that one move. I imagine trying out your suggested technique of reaching out to bloggers beyond my normal content would work even better. Thanks for the great tip! You truly get out of blogging what you put into it. And it’s all super rewarding!


      1. Isn’t that funny? I was resistant to join twitter for years – and I’m in marketing! – If only I discovered it sooner, haha. Glad you’re finding it just as addicting and fruitful! 🙂


  2. Thank you Michelle! I’m glad you are recommending this approach as it is something I do already and have found it to be a wonderful way to learn about other topics and meet other bloggers. I will venture out and try using the reader this time and see how it goes. 🙂
    Happy Thanksgiving week to all!


  3. I took a blogging course last year, and this was a big topic in the course – a topicthat probably never would have occurred to me as a way to not only network, but to hone your own blogging skills and, like you said, be inspired to write a new post after someone else’s work has gotten your wheels turning.. I’ve written a few posts that began as a thoughtful comment in response to someone else’s piece. I love this unorthodox challenge.


  4. I’m so stoked to engage with bloggers outside my comfort zone!

    P.S. Feel free to checkout and comment on my blog:

    *In addition to blogging about my sartorial inspirations ranging from personal outfits to pop culture; I’m a senior at Harvard University by day and a style blogger by night!


      1. Thanks so much for your comment! I try not to make it a ‘college fashion blog’ since I don’t dress like many of my friends or college kids (I try to be myself) lol! But I’m so glad you enjoy my outfit posts! xoxo!


  5. that’s a great idea. I’m going to do that today! I’m just starting out on here (haven’t written that many posts) so I would love to explore other blogs but also for people to come out and visit mine and comment and make suggestions! see you all out there!


  6. You know what might be cool? If people leave their blog links here in the comments with maybe a blurb about what it’s all about. That would be a fun way to discover some new blogs. Mine is a ‘dreamer’ blog…I write about travel a lot, and about my life as a big hippie living in So Cal.

    I can’t wait to go check out some of your blogs!


    1. Not a bad shout, that.

      It’s nothing if not flippant. Some of the humour might be a bit raw but it’s all in the worst possible taste, so that’s alright.

      I write mainly about film and tv, some books, anything really. The whole thing is an exercise in creative writing, but I prefer to be even more pretentious (and vague) than that and say it’s a series of interpretations of the meanings of stuff.

      Highlights include: Star Wars recast, 50 Shades dominating an innocent into reading it, Sam Rockwell’s biography, Sorkin’s attempts to influence US politics in The Newsroom, a mash-up of famous passages of literature and my desire to be the word ‘was’.

      And Many More!!!!

      As they say.


  7. I’ll check out some blogs here, good idea Justacallgirl.
    Simply put Im a beauty loving, bargain hunting, deal loving mum of 2 from Ireland. Come check me out. I’ve a post here on our recent Childrens referendem and my experience of being in state care, lot of debate here in Ireland over the whole thing. Would love some more opinions x


  8. people please visit my blog…i am looking forward to ur comments……coz i am looking for fresh friends and active bloggers:))


  9. I have started to put new blogs I discover on my Facebook fan page…since I can’t write posts about them…since my blog is fiction 🙂
    -Emmerson (Odette’s writer)


  10. I love that “Take a Leap of Faith” well here goes. I am 67 and do this for fun with the possibility of helping another. I do not do this for profit. I have been writing blogs for years. Mostly, about volunteering and how I helped to change other people’s lives but here is the kicker as important how it has changed my life; forever with 50 years of volunteering from the US to Mexico, Belize and now Thailand.

    Now here is the problem. I am doing the “Camino de Santiago” walk from France to Spain it’s only 484-miles. So far, that’s no big story. I have my own blog all about my trip, so I decided to put the story on another blog, and it has turned into an almost riot. Not because I am doing the walk, but I am doing it with no money. I hope to finish it in 30-60 days. I will not ask anyone for money but will hopefully find people who will share some of their food with me. I will be camping out during my journey.

    The issue is it has had over 7,600 reads and over 130 comments, most of them highly criticizing me, some so bad that the administrator had to put a lock on it. Not because of what I said but what others are saying. I have made some additional comments but never against any of the statements made about me. Some of the readers feel I am taking advantage of the people doing the walk and the people of Spain.

    I am doing this to try to overcome my fear of asking someone “Will you help me?” I also want to prove that even today, people will still help another in need. I am donating all the money I would have spent on the walk to help my friend in Kenya, who is starting an orphanage. Additionally, I have a group that has been following me for years who has offered to donate one penny or more per mile that I walk to the kids in the orphanage.

    So my question is, when they unlock this blog, should I defend myself on just let the comments go unanswered? Jim


    1. I am just baffled anyone would send a comment criticizing you on anything. This is your choice and it s a healthy thing for you to do , its not hurting anyone and the end result is you helping another. I commend you. You know some people may look up Jainism…..did you know the Buddha himself spent his young adult hood following other wise men learning and surviving off the generosity of others. Not to mention you are giving others a chance to GIVE something to another person. But Christmas in all its Materialism is okay???? I’m confused!! Jim keep fighting the good fight and ignore the individuals who are not supportive. There will always be those for and against you for what ever reason. I say just FOLLOW YOUR HEART for I have always believed that is the conduit by which we can listen to God.


      1. Thanks for your suggestions, your right about other people who enjoy criticizing others. I just, don’t go there ….anymore. I like what you said about Buddha, he was a teacher not a God. He went from having everything to have nothing and back to have everything, not material things but a spiritual life which gave him all the answers to become a giver not a taker. I just watched a video on PBS about his life challenges. You can watch it with a click. I also agree with you your heart is never wrong, now; my head could be another story!


    2. Some people have more time than brains. Good on you for doing the Camino de Santiago. A 65 year old friend of mine did it as well. As for doing it without money, I think you are in good company – didn’t pilgrims do exactly the same thing? As for your blog, can you not set the comments to be moderated? I would just not approve the nasty ones. Keep it positive I say!


      1. Thanks Diane, I like your words…more time than brains, so true! I am from the US but doing volunteer work in Thailand and the people, here would never even consider being so harsh to another human. Just one of the lessons I have learned. Even the orphans who I teach have taught me so much about life. I came as a teacher and became the student.

        As far as my blog I have no problem with comments. The other blog where I posted my story is where the problem is. The monitor has closed it down because it turned into such a heated debate. I agree with him.


    3. I would encourage you to respectfully restate your position and reasoning – and move on with your life and your plan, realizing that some people will never capture or appreciate another’s vision, while others will enthusiastically spur you on. Your critics may not understand that we are blessed by the measure in which we get to bless others. You are offering others an opportunity to be blessed! And you’re offering yourself an opportunity to be thankful you don’t have a critical & judgmental spirit while yours is being led to fulfill a mission. Put on your sandals of peace as you journey.


      1. Thanks for your kind words. I thought about the sandals but am going to have to stick with my hiking boots. lol. You are right about my critics not understanding my walk. I watched the movie “THE WAY’ which was my inspiration to take this journey. Everyone takes this 484-mile for one reason, but they all end up with a different experience; that is what intrigues me. My quest is to give back what lessons I may learn.


    4. Never give up. Their comment is not a reflection of you. It’s a reflection of their poor thoughts that one should feel sorry. Keep on walking and hopefully will be able to see read your journey for i will be right behind you, next year. Keep calm, carry one, eyes on the road. Cheers.


      1. Thanks for your support. I am excited that you are going on the same journey. The “not knowing” what to expect is part of the fun of this! Yes, I will try to keep calm and keep my eyes and heart on the road exploring the beauty nature has to offer. My first step will be June 1st 2013. Hope to finish in 30-60 days. It’s no race for me.


  11. I’ve not read this blog before, or many others for that matter. I really love blogging. As soon as I got an iPhone I became addicted to it and have written about a whole load of topics that have been flying around in my mind waiting to be released. More recently I’ve been honing in on digital entrepreneurship as my online business, TimeMaps, has started to find its legs- after a lot of trial and error.

    Recently however, I asked a question. It was inspired by Elon Musk and his space adventures. His 4 projects have become $50billion businesses and he claims that he doesnt try and make money, he tries to aolve big problems.

    I am held aloft by making it easy to put a context around peoples lives. Why are they here and why is the world like it is. I want to know what the big picture goals are from others in the bloggosphere. So I thought I’d try and engage a few. I came to your website and found this post. Well done for starting this!

    If anyone is interested in sharing their big ideas or dreams that charge their short term decisions, please come to my blog at



  12. I definitely must try this! I’ve been away from WordPress for so long, and just now stumbled upon my old blog again. This will be the perfect way for me to get back into the swing of things!


  13. I always love activities that make me step out of My comfort zone. Its the only way we can develop our minds and broaden our horizon. Thank you Michelle for this challenge.


  14. How funny. I read this challenge and thought: what a great idea! So, it seemed easy enough to start clicking on some of the bloggers who are commenting here. As I did so, I found some great blogs and then realized that I’ve visited many of them before! 🙂 I still enjoyed the exercise and will continue in search of more new blogs to visit.


  15. I think that this is a fantastic idea…I am in the middle of trying to figure out which blog I am going to stick with..I am also deciding if I want to switch to WP pro..I am sooo new with the whole blogging thing but I am trying to get my feet firmly planted on the ground!


  16. I like to spend my lunch hour perusing various blogs. There are so many out there, it’s an endless wander and I get lost in other people’s thoughts. I love not only the casualness in blogs but also the thought that goes into so many posts. Blogging has become a cathartic hobby for me. To write my thoughts and tell my stories, it’s just great. I look forward to reading and commenting on other blogs too!


    1. I know what you mean! Countless thought and ideas that are offered through other people’s imaginations. As a result, we can wonder and create our on inspiration through these numerous ideas.


  17. I just started up a new blog here. I have used several blog platforms but the one that I am completely new to is Word Press. I just hope to find inspiration and connections here on this site!


  18. Interesting idea about leap of faith – I always find writing and reading as being in another world, another dimension – swimming in mental orbits.
    I write about everything, so my blog is not about anything in particular – I believe life is random and so is my writing..
    On the same note, I’d like to explore what others write about, what are their perceptions,thoughts and experiences.
    It is time time to leap! Happy reading, happy exploring to all.


  19. I just started out a while ago, stopped for a while and now I’m back. I’m a bit all over the place which I know is not healthy for a successful blog according to some, but until I figure it out, it is what it is… still changing the themes a bit and will probably continue to do so as long as I blog because I find it hard to settle on one particular thing. There’s too many wonderful options out there…’s my blog


    1. I’ve just started on here but I feel similarly. I want to write about anything and everything. I have decided to do just that and through writing, I will hopefully find a focus on accident.


      1. same here. I don’t really have any direction nor do I really want one. I don’t want to be ‘stuck’ to one idea.


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