Posted by: E (The Third Glance) | February 25, 2012

Blog-Reading Confessions

I have a confession to make, and it’s kind of creepy, in an Aspie- perseveration type way. I’m addicted to (reading) blogs. Science blogs and blogs my (real-life) friends/acquaintances write are keeping make up a small fraction of my google reader, and most of the other blogs are Autism or other disability blogs. I follow a number of parenting blogs chronicling the lives of amazing kids with a wide range of disabilities (and spectacular abilities, as well), including (but not limited to) Cerebral Palsy, Downs Syndrome, Autism, life-limiting rare genetic disorders/diseases, and extreme prematurity. And I follow blogs of individuals with these identities and labels as well. Of course, the much of my google reader is devoted to those who share my own label, Autism, but it is certainly not the only thing I read and follow. Currently my google reader has over 100 feeds. Not every one of them updates every day (thank goodness!), or often at all, but I follow all of them, and I’m constantly adding more as I find more fantastic bloggers out there. I have a smart phone and a 40 minute bus commute each way from my apartment to my lab. It works out rather nicely, actually.

I’ve been lurking around the Blog-o-Sphere since summer 2010, reading, learning, and absorbing what people post. I love learning how other people think; parents and self-advocates, and individuals who identify as both or neither, all have unique perspectives that they bring to the internet. And quite honestly, I think it has helped me to understand other people’s experiences and reactions much better.

I have a rule for when I read and follow a blog (which I’ve only ever broken once in a very specific circumstance): every time I find a new blog, I sit down and read the whole archive. If you’ve ever had me come to your blog (though you might not have known), I’m the one who suddenly pops up hits on all of your oldest posts. Sometimes it takes me days or weeks, but I read the whole archive. Up until I started my own blog, and the number of blogs I was following jumped up considerably as I was introduced to a fantastic new bunch of bloggers whom I hadn’t encountered before, I could say that 100% of the blogs I follow, I have read the whole archive. That’s not true at the moment, but I’m working on it. Sure, I’ll read a single post that I’m linked to, but if I like the post, I will very likely read the whole blog, from beginning to present post. Then I’ll add it to my google reader.

Why do I read a blog’s entire archive? I do this, because I like to know people’s whole stories, and I like to know where they’re coming from. Why are their views the way they are? What prompts them to say what they said about that topic? I like to know where people are coming from. I like to know the history behind their thoughts and ideas. I like to know someone’s whole story (or at least, what they choose to present to the internet), not just the snippet that they present in a single post. I think it has to do with my penchant for gathering data: I don’t make decisions before I have as much data as possible, especially social decisions, which require lots of data and computational time.

Generally, I try not to leave a comment until I’ve read at least part of the archive, or lurked for months, because that way I have as much information as possible before engaging in social interaction (and hopefully, meaningful conversation). I’ve broken this rule a couple times recently, for the same reason I haven’t read every single new blog I’m now following’s archive. If I’ve commented recently on your blog, I am likely currently working on getting through your archive. I might’ve read it all, I might not have yet, but rest assured I most certainly will. But I like to read the whole story that people present.

And so, just over 2 months ago, I started my own blog. After a year and a half of lurking and reading other people’s thoughts, I decided that I would start adding more directly to the sphere. And so here I am. I forget, sometimes, that people don’t always read the whole blog archive when they come to a blog. They read the post they were linked to and then they leave. I forget that most people reading my writing won’t have read everything that I have written before. It’s a little like the Sally-Ann test* that is used to assess young children for Autism. I know what the older blog entries say, so I assume that everyone else does too, even though I know, consciously, that most people who stumble across this blog don’t have a clue what my history is. (This is sometimes why my posts get very long – I often feel like I need to fill in the gaps.) This is something I’m still grappling with – how to tell my story without being redundant, but while still providing enough details that it is coherent.**

What is your experience with reading and following blogs? When you come across a blog that you like, do you read the whole archive? Or do you just take one look, and then leave again? Or is it something in between? And if you’ve been lurking here, but haven’t wanted to leave a comment, I’d love to hear from you, too! 🙂


*Generally, I don’t cite Wikipedia (and *NEVER* in my academic work), but this was a good description, and since Wikipedia is good for a lot of general stuff, I figured it would be ok in this case.

** Also, on a related note, I’m currently creating a new page that will contain links to posts that I consider to be part of “my story” – those posts that, if you’re looking for a peek into my mind, musing from my past, or any other related ramblings, are the ones to read. Keep an eye out for it in the next few days/weeks.


  1. There is a blog that has existed since 2007. I read its entire archive from start to finish four times. Now, that’s obsessive. 🙂

    (I’m not recommending this blog to you because it’s in Russian.)

    If I read an entire archive of a blog it’s because I love the way it’s written and feel fascinated by the author. There are altogether 4 blogs that I have read in their entirety, even though I now follow (in Google Reader) over 600 blogs. Even though there are so many blogs around, good ones are not that easy to find.

    • That is fantastic! Also thank goodness for google reader. And the fact that I can organize things into folders. Notably, your blog is the one which I have made the exception of not attempting to read the whole archive. I made a concerted effort, but the rate at which you post exceeds my rate of catching up to an absurd degree that confuses my brain. One day I might try again, though. 🙂 Thanks for commenting!

  2. I admire your ability to get the big picture by reading the archive. I usually poke around a bit in the archive. But, because I say each and every word in my head, I read at the same speed as I talk. So I really have trouble keeping up with reading even the fresh posts and comments (in fact I can’t keep up!). I also find writing itself to be a long slow process. The net result is that I often intend to comment on people’s posts but can’t manage it. And I haven’t put a post on my own blog in a long time! 🙂

    • I’m hyperlexic, so I read very fast. That definitely helps. Thanks for stopping by and commenting 🙂

  3. I usually take a look at a few posts, the about me page, the topics listed, and get an overall feel of the person. I’m picky, but once I find a blog/person I like, I’m loyal. Interesting post ~ thanks

  4. It depends. Right now I’m following a grand total of four blogs. I follow all four because I like the writing in each, often for completely different reasons.

    Of those, I’ve read two in their entirety. I would be hard-pressed to read the other two in their entirety. One author publishes daily. The other has been writing for over ten years and is also a prolific writer. I could easily lose myself for months in reading them and still not finish.

    I have a hard time posting a comment until I have at least read a sizable portion of what they have written, however. It just feels a little rushed to comment without knowing more about them. Partly this is because I don’t want to inadvertently put my foot in my mouth if they’ve already written what I had to say in another post. Partly it’s because I tend to be a wallflower in real life. (The two are probably connected.)

    When I write an entry in my blog that requires knowledge of an earlier posting, rather than repeat what I wrote I’ll offer a quick summary and a link to the earlier post. That way the reader has enough information to continue, and the option of stopping to read the earlier post. It keeps things flowing.

    For what it’s worth, being addicted to reading good writing isn’t really creepy. It’s inquisitive.

    • Wow, only 4, and you read my blog? I feel super honored 🙂 Thanks for reading!

      • Thanks for writing! That’s where it all starts.

  5. I don’t think that’s creepy, I do the same, I like following most blogs about a subject and like reading the archive, it takes me some time to do it because I get tired reading so I haven’t read all the posts on the blogs I am following now.
    I also have problem commenting so I like to know the blogger before writing something.
    I used to use Google Reader but they changed and I couldn’t use it anymore so easily so I am using a new program that is combined with Google Reader.

    • Thanks for commenting 🙂 I just read your blog archive, you write beautifully and I love it! I’m so glad you stopped by here, because now I can read your blog too. 🙂

  6. Wow, this is really fascinating to me. I too consider myself to be a fairly prolific blog reader and I have a particular way of doing it, but almost opposite of you. I rarely read archives. If a post doesn’t stand on its own as a story or bit of information I usually assume its a blog written primarily for people who already know the blogger and don’t read. I rarely comment on the posts I do read because, particularly if I am really moved by what I read, it can take me days to sort out a coherent thought on it. By then I will have read and not commented on dozens more posts and it hardly seems worth going back. I have a few blogs that the person/family now feels like old friends but I’ve yet to leave a comment to acknowledge that I’m reading, which feels a little strange, but I think for myself as a blogger, I am fine with people taking whatever they need, however it works for them from my blog, even if I never know they are there.

    • It’s funny how bloggers we’ve never met and never really interacted with can feel like old friends, isn’t it? And I agree – I’m fine with people taking whatever they get out of whatever post they happen to read. But sometimes I wish I could give more. Or be clearer.

  7. I have a rule for when I read and follow a blog (which I’ve only ever broken once in a very specific circumstance): every time I find a new blog, I sit down and read the whole archive. If you’ve ever had me come to your blog (though you might not have known), I’m the one who suddenly pops up hits on all of your oldest posts.

    I do the same thing (not all at once though, but over a period of time). I don’t think it is creepy at all. Your reasons show interest in other people’s lives (especially challenged lives), thoroughness and communication perfectionism (you want to do your best to know what you talk about before engaging in communication). It would be creepy if you browsed the archives of personal blogs to find information you could use against people in court or if you were planning to abduct them.

    All the information and insights into other’s life stories that you gained from thoroughly sifting through blogs most likely help you now to write a good blog yourself. This is a good blog – the structure of the stories, relevance, blend of topics and honesty makes is engaging to read. It is somehow round – makes sense and everything ties up.

    Look at it this way:

    if you read a book you like, then you know you are likely to like other books of the same author. You would also like to learn more about the author; to understand the person’s mind and history better. The author will want you to do it too (understand, know their story); otherwise they wouldn’t be an author in the first place. So is there anything wrong with reading books the author has written in the past? Of course not! Authors want you to read all their books! (generally. Of course there are exceptions.)

    Same with blogs. The newest posts always features on the first page and are promoted in feeds e.t.c. However, it doesn’t mean there is anything wrong with reading the old posts and engage in discussions about ‘old’ topics. Why would it?

    I can say for myself that I am happy when I get comments on an old post (rarely happens). It allows me to revisit a topic I have spent time on and since gained more experience with and is sort of return on investment on work I did earlier. I think most blog authors see it the same way. Reading and commenting on old posts creates value for the blog authors.

    • Thanks, Mados! You make some really great points. And yes, I definitely have learned a lot about how people think and work, and I’ve gotten some great advice about how to interact with others by reading blogs. And old posts are lots of fun too. I definitely get excited when I see comments on older posts. Ok, let’s be honest here, I get excited when I see comments, period.

      Thanks for your thoughtful comment 🙂

      • You are most welcome. Thank you for taking up inspiring topics that make me think:-)

      • Ok, let’s be honest here, I get excited when I see comments, period.

        Ha ha… I don’t know of any bloggers who don’t get thrilled about comments.

        Maybe there arebloggers who think comments are a nuisance… but hopefully they are sufficiently tech savvy to disable the comment function then.

  8. […] When you start following a blog, do you read its entire archive? […]

  9. I don’t normally read the whole archive – especially if they’re old. I just read the most recent posts before I decide whether to put it in my reader. I pretty much only read Aspie or writing blogs, so I generally feel like I can have meaningful interaction pretty quickly (those are both strong areas of interest for me). I haven’t ventured into new worlds through blogs yet.

    When I love a blog, I will eventually get around to reading the whole thing.

  10. I used to read everything posted by the 70+ bloggers I followed at the time, and comment on most, and write my own blog every day, but eventually realised (doh) it had become yet another obsession, and was affecting the rest of life. So I had to break the habit. Which was painful.

    Like you, I delight in the individual stories – so much more interesting and real than generic-news feeds. I also love to know the back story, and wish I had time just to read and read; but I don’t :o( so I usually just dip in and out as I can. I’ve done some lurking here, for sure, and currently have a number of your posts bookmarked, waiting until I have more than five minutes to concentrate on them.

  11. I have only ever read one blog’s entire archive (it was I thought it was funny at first but then they stopped updated regularly and I got out of the habit and haven’t checked it since 2010).

    I am quite new to the autism blogosphere and am so happy that there’s all these stories and resources at our fingertips, which wasn’t the case when my son was diagnosed five years ago.

    If you’re interested in yet another blog – mine has only been up for a few weeks, so there’s not a lot of archive to read through!

    Best Regards

    • Thanks for stopping by! I’ll trade you – I just took a look at your blog and it looks fantastic. 🙂 I’m looking forward to adding it to my google reader.

  12. I am relatively new to reading other people’s blogs and even newer to the idea of commenting on them. It has only been within the past few weeks, maybe a month that I’ve started following half a dozen blogs daily, this being one of them. A couple of them, such as this one, I have read every single post, watched any and all videos included and gone to the links posted. So I guess you could say I’m thorough once committed. But some of them I will read the most recent entry, then go back for a month or two, if still intrigued, I’ll start at the very beginning, if the blog has been around for awhile, then it’s harder just because of the vast number of posts, but I like seeing if there’s been movement, a change in perceptions, a kind of evolution, if there hasn’t I usually stop and am not as interested, but if there has, then that in and of itself is interesting.
    When I began my own blog now almost exactly two years ago, I didn’t know how to find any of the blogs I now read and many of them didn’t exist. The blogs I follow now are by autistic adults or community blogs like Wrong Planet because my own focus has changed dramatically.
    Commenting on blogs is a whole other discussion. I love receiving comments on my blog and try to always answer any that feel like they’d be open to a reply, but I am incredibly shy about leaving them on other people’s blogs. I haven’t left many comments, less than a dozen all told, but a few times I later wished I could delete them as they seemed irrelevant on further reflection or I worried that they were overly effusive and maybe too “emotional.” Also when I didn’t receive a comment back it was like walking into a strangers home, even though they’d left the door open, shouting out a friendly “hello!” only to find no one was home, or if they were, they weren’t interested in saying hello back and that always furthers my shyness about initiating the first metaphoric “hello!”
    E. – I just want to add that both my husband, Richard (who is not as bashful about leaving comments on your blog) and I love what you write and what you have to say. So I’m going to go out on a limb (and fear I will be perceived as overly effusive and emotional) BUT I read your posts and am overwhelmed with gratitude that you are writing, posting, commenting. You have such a lovely way of conveying not only what is on and in your mind, but your past, too. Posts such as the Word post is just one of many you’ve written, which are quite literally changing my life. Your life is changing mine. How beautiful is that?

    • Hi Ariane,
      Thank you so much for stopping by to comment! I totally understand that “once I’ve started, I’m committed” feeling. I’m honored that you left a comment here. I try to respond to most of the comments I get, but I will admit, I haven’t done the greatest job of it. I read every single one with eagerness, and am always so grateful when something I have written has struck a chord with someone enough for them to feel comfortable leaving a comment. So thank you. 🙂
      I definitely agree with you that the first comment is always the hardest. It’s funny how, after a few comments and interactions, and having read an entire blog’s archive, how you almost feel like you know the person personally.
      And the internet is an amazing thing – blogs and people writing their personal experiences that are public and out there to share, can change how people think about the world. I know my life was changed when I started reading blogs as well. 🙂 Welcome to my blog, and thank you so much for coming out of the woodwork to comment. I’m so glad you did. 🙂

  13. One last comment, I have definitely become obsessive about reading blogs. There is no way around it, it has become an obsession, pure and simple. Okay. That’s it.

  14. I poke around in the archives when I read a post I like. If I really feel connected to multiple posts, I tend to go back and digest archived posts a couple at a time. I’ve never attempted to do it in chronological order, however. Though I can see why that would really give a full picture. Yours is one that I’m poking around in and trying to read catch up. Your posts are fresh and insightful. I tend to be really picky what I’m reading in blogs, as so much of it ends up reading like a daily diary – something that doesn’t appeal to me quite as much.

    • Makes sense – though I am also fascinated by daily diary-like posts – really gives insight into how people think on a day-to-day basis. I also made the little “posts I’m most proud of” page in the hopes of making it easy for people who prefer to just poke around at a few posts to pick some of the better ones. Thanks for commenting! 🙂

  15. I am right now reading through your archives (in chronological order)! There are some blogs that I like enough to read all of (or at least a lot of). Then there are other blogs that I might only read a few posts here and there if others link to something in particular on their site. If I don’t go back to read more, it doesn’t necessarily mean I don’t like them, just that I’m not ready to add another blogger to my list of ones I follow, usually due to lack of time. I don’t really understand how to use RSS thingies … if there isn’t a way to subscribe to something by email then that means I may need to just keep the address in my head.

    I’ve now subscribed to your blog by email. So once I’ve caught up, I’ll probably be back from time to see your new posts as well!

    • Welcome! Thanks for leaving a comment! 🙂 I finally figured out google reader a little while ago (thank goodness, because I used to try to visit 20+ blogs from memory! That never worked terribly well…) And thanks for the honor of reading my archive! I hope you find things you like in there. 🙂 Cheers!

  16. Your blog is the firts one where the archive looked interesting enough to read. I ‘m still working my way through it. My Aspie son is 17 and diagnosed only 5 months ago. Understanding your world helps me understand his. Thank u!

    • Thanks! I see my blog as more of a collection of essays than an actual blog. I’m not sure if it started out that way or if it just became that way, but for whatever reason, that’s how it is. 🙂

  17. I am that way, too. I am reading your whole blog through and through for my own scientific purposes… as it is part of my doctorate degree work!

    • Wow, my blog is useful in your doctorate work? cool. Also thanks for all your comments! I have read them all, but not sure if I will be able to respond to all of them. But thank you 🙂

  18. Blogs is a new age thing for qualitative research (as it has evolved from studies of diaries back in the day). Since I am an aspie, it does make sense for me to try to specialize in it in occupational therapy.

  19. Hello E.,
    I am only commenting here (without totally and completely devouring your blog archives before commenting) because I have been pouring over your blog this evening and nearly everything that I have read is screaming “me too!”. And I haven’t experienced that sort of ability to relate in such a long time – I’ve been a bit giddy about it to be perfectly honest. I absolutely love your “excuse me, my autism is showing” entry as well as the entries about your childhood (such similarities, although I started a little bit later, but by sixth grade was the primary dinner-maker and housekeeper and so on). And really I could go on but I’m not going to. And also hello from another bouncy, overly sensitive to noise, very enthusiastic, phd science student! Oh, yeah, with the whole autism dealio, too. Phew.
    Anyway, over the next few days I’m going to continue reading and getting lost in your blog. I find this confession fantastic because I don’t know anyone else who reads blogs and something about there being another person in the universe who peers into others’ worlds like I like to do is quite fantastic to me. That is all.
    With care,

    • Hi Katrina! Thanks so much for your comment 🙂 You really made me happy today. All the best,

  20. I also like to read the whole archive! But depending on how long the blog has been around, and how much the person posts, reading the whole thing is not always feasable.

    I really *want* to read the whole thing, but there are already not enough hours in a day to do all the things I want to do, so I’ve been trying to curb my obsessive tendencies into something more manageable. It’s really hard for me to not read the whole thing, but I’m getting better at it.

    Right now I’m working my way through your “Posts I’m proud of”. I want to read at least all of those. In the absence of a page like that, I might read the intro and the 30-50 latests posts, depending on how long the posts are, and whether it’s easy reading or something that takes a lot of time and focus.

    • Aww well thanks 🙂 I’m glad to have a wonderful new reader!

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