12 May 2013

Passive Guy recently received an inquiry from the proprietor of a blog he enjoys. The question boiled down to, “How does The Passive Voice attract so many great comments and discussions?”

PG doesn’t really know the answer to that question.

He does know he is grateful for all of your comments. As he has said before, he believes the comments are the best part of this blog and continues to learn a great deal from them. This would be a really dull place if PG were the only one posting.

PG says thanks to all those who leave comments, whether they do so frequently or occasionally. Keep them coming.

PG's Thoughts (such as they are)

42 Comments to “Comments”

  1. The answer is simple—PG
    You’re often the first and best commentator of the posts you select, and your insights are informative.
    At least, I know that’s why I visit here every day. (that, and the snark)
    Keep up the good work!

  2. The comments here are indeed a cut above the norm. In fact, I usually find better comments here than I do on the original articles.

  3. The subject matter has a little something to do with it. People want to be heard, and your blog has given a voice to a group of people who especially want to be heard. That’s the obvious answer. But more than that, you appear the everyman and very personable in your writing, which makes you very approachable.

    I have turned quite a few people onto the blog, and the consensus among them seems to be they just plain like you and feel you’re someone who would have a cup of coffee with them.

  4. I think it’s partly the nature of your blog. You draw attention to interesting and provocative material — but because it’s not _your_ material, it doesn’t feel like bad manners to make comments.

    And as Donald says, you often make a great first comment.

    The other reason might be some sort of kismet of subject matter. I think you were talking about contracts and agents — giving useful and interesting information about law just when a bunch of other bloggers were raising interest in the subject.

    Finally…. there seems to be a community of thoughtful but irritated writers who follow Kris, Dean, Konrath and you, who are all primed to TALK about certain issues in publishing. And these are blogs run by people with real experience and credibilty on those issues.

    And while we’re here, we’ll talk about other things as well.

  5. The best posts on are the ones preceding detailed examination by PG.


  6. There’s a very special alchemy here, isn’t there? Hanging out at PG’s place is like attending an indie salon, but not at all an exclusive one–everyone’s welcome to put in their 2p. Not everyone speaks up all the time, but the presence and support of everyone here is part of the atmosphere.

    As to the snark, PG only aims it where it’s clearly deserved. He’s the gentlest of hosts, and he attracts the most amazing commenters (and me, too). I found PVB through via DWS/KKR, and I’m sure glad I did.

    • “Hanging out at PG’s place is like attending an indie salon, but not at all an exclusive one–everyone’s welcome to put in their 2p. Not everyone speaks up all the time, but the presence and support of everyone here is part of the atmosphere.”


  7. I find this blog is different and great to come to because it has this air of class and intellectual(ness/ity/ality)?? –wow just blew it there– that other blogs lack. The subject matter is right up my alley and there’s a nice mix of industry news, quotes that make me think about things I normally don’t, and commentary that help me see issues from other perspectives. Plus, there are bold people here who stand up for what they believe in and that’s super cool.

  8. You post such a wide variety of topics that it’s easy to find a reason to comment. Even when I don’t comment, I enjoy reading the posts.

    Keep it up, PG. You’re one of my favorites.

  9. Phoebe Matthews

    Also, there is no stupid capshaw to get past.

  10. Kathlena Contreras

    I also love this blog, and your comments, PG. I agree with Donald and Frenzy and Bridget that you provide a respectful yet honest and insightful atmosphere with your posts, and I think that sets the tone for commenters.

    I forget where I discovered your blog– I think I did a Google search for something and it came up. I’m so grateful I found it! I feel I find information and people here I can trust to be honest, people who are happy to share their experiences and knowledge– and that these people ARE knowledgeable and thoughtful. This is invaluable.

    And I can’t help being tickled by the great use of language here. But that’s because we’re writers, right? 🙂

  11. You’ve done a great job, PG, of inviting discussion from a smart, savvy crowd. I learn more from the comments than I do from the original articles sometimes, so of COURSE I want to be a part of it!

    Lurked for ages without commenting, but lately TPV has become part of my daily routine.

  12. I like the commentators here, PG.

    I had tried a hundred blogs, but they all stuck to saying the same politically correct BS. “Do this, don’t do this, agents don’t like that, you need to use social media, trust me” etc etc. When I came here, and people expressing their own opinions, instead of regurgitating the same stuff, it was like a breath of fresh air.

    This group follows the (unconsciously, as I’ve never seen anyone express it as such) “Your words, your responsibility”. That is, if you say something in a public forum, you better be prepared to back it up, either with real figures, or real experience, and not just “It is so coz I say it is so.”

    I don’t know any other place that attracts people like that; people who have the experience to back up their claims.

  13. Great minds run amok.

  14. just my .02

    I quit reading blogs and commenters who look for someone to trash, who make no argument, but rather rant at whomever their ‘dunce of the day’ is… There are literally millions of sites with literally millions of commenters working out their bad moods from a keyboard hourly. It is boring because it is repetitive and the language often ‘go blow’ or so and so is a body part related to elimination. I wouldnt read a novel or rant nor one of sarcasm. Mencken was the master as was Twain, they are the exceptions, but rarely are others even remotely near the original and sparkling language bars they set.

    I read here, and sometimes comment because of the many points of view presented in the articles you PG choose to run. It’s not a Johnny One Note operation.

    I particularly like PG’s commentary because it is often expands on actual real life legal issues which he makes in a reasoned way, not as a wishful or fatuous person.

    From so many commenters here, I dig that they are weird strange and wonderful– as is PG– and their respect for other commenters, kidding each other, complimenting each other, teaching each other… goes on the majority of the time.

    THat would be a community, rather than drive by commenters who drop off their latest pkg of steaming whatever. I have my own sufferings and serious challenges. I believe everyone is suffering about something. I find rant to be a spray of neosporin that evaporates soon. I find reasoned and in depth discussion to be braces for continuing to stand. And I’m serious about that. What goes into our eyes and hearts often is what comes back out. I would rather take in what I hope to return to the world to help.

    Again, just my .02. I dig the people here, the hearts they are carrying, the hard work they are striving to do. This place stands apart, it is like Cheers for the Wondrous, Weird and Strange souls who were long ago called ‘scribes’ which meant to not just create, but to fix in forms so that others could see, know, read, learn, too.

    Oddly the ancient scribes were put out of business in one sense by the printing press. But the work of writing by using our hands, an ancient ancient art of scribing, continues no matter what is invented. Including digital whatever. For that reason alone– perseverance– I find writers saintly… ok ok, muddy saints. Me too.

    Just .02

  15. I come to TPV for many reasons, chief among them the great comments/conversation. What I like best is that you rarely see an agenda being pushed here. Just great discussion that results in education.

    Everyone has gaps in their self-publishing knowledge; TPV fills the gaps. (with a healthy side of snark at no extra charge!) Who wouldn’t like that?

  16. Cuz it’s an interesting site? Cuz the comments are interesting? Cuz the discussions are always interesting? Cuz I learn loads? Doesn’t seem all that mysterious – plus it pretty much seems your agenda is to educate and that’s one of the best thing about you – you do have other best things…

    And what everyone else says!

  17. Also the jokes and riffing that sometimes goes on in the comments are uproariously funny!

    You’ve attracted a wonderful, witty, experienced menagerie of commenters here, PG, and I think your light but snarky hand on the reins and your generally calm, reasoned demeanor set the tone. 🙂

    • I tend to think you and the others who contribute comments deserve the credit, Anthea.

  18. My personal mantra is “don’t read the comments, Margaret.”

    Except at PV.

    The people here are *smart.*

    …and that’s not cock-a-hoop. (See what I did there?)

  19. I’m here–too often, PG–because I want to be part of the “in crowd” and it seems to congregate here on regular basis. 🙂

    Best blog ever. Period.

  20. Some thoughts about P.G.’s success.

    * This forum is needed. There are people who want to talk about the business side of writing, so they come here.
    * P.G. puts stuff up multiple times a day. Unlike blogs by DWS, Kris Rusch, J.A. Konrath. Post every day, & people will come back regularly. (One of the few tips I got about creating a successful blog years ago from a social network expert.)
    * There aren’t any kooks here. All it takes is one relentlessly pushing an oddball theory, & the viciousness that results will kill an online community whether or not the kook is dealt with. (I’ve seen it happen, & I hope none find this place.)
    * No one feels the need to suck up to anyone here. I’ve looked at enough agent’s blogs to see it colors too many of them: unpublished authors wanting to get on the right side of an agent in servile hope it will help them get their big break.

    This may not always be a cool blog to follow, but I’ll enjoy it now while it is.

    • Heartily agree with no pressure to suck up. The fact I can post a comment using my zany alter-ego and fear no judgment is proof enough for me.

    • I’d also add that the great majority of PV commenters are very respectful toward each other, even if they disagree on points of view. That, and many commenters bring a wealth of information, both researched and experienced. I know that I keep coming back because of the insight I glean from the comments.

      Also, we are all beautiful and smell great all the time. 😉

  21. I have spent quite a bit of time thinking about this since I found this place by accident. I have been involved in a lot of different types of communities on the ‘net. At one point I regularly followed well over 100 blogs. Here are the things that make this place work:

    1. Frequent updates – this is a lot more important than most people realize for creating community. It keeps the conversation from getting stuck or just dying.

    2. An experienced proprietor – this isn’t PG’s first ride on the merry-go-round and it shows. He has a deft touch for knowing when to wade into the comments and when to let the commenters find their own way. That is a lot harder than it looks.

    3. Filling an unmet need – successful communities exist because there is a need for one organized around a particular topic or cause.

    4. The right software, used appropriately – this type of blog is what WordPress does best. PG has all the settings tuned just right for his purpose. It’s mostly invisible to most folks here, but it is critical.

    • One thing I find fascinating about this site is that although it is strongly pro writer and this is the recurring theme, whenever the Borg mind threatens to take over (after Turow posts for example) and the pitchforks are sharpened and raised, all it takes is a post from one sensible agent or one decent publisher and everyone returns quite happily to discussion mode.

      I would also like to know what type of heavy duty troll deterrant PG is using.

  22. Let’s see-

    -Adult conversation
    -Wealth of knowledge
    -One of the few places you can be geeky and cool at the same time

    -Thanks to y’all, DH (one of the thousands of TPV lurkers) keeps asking, “When are we barbeque-ing reindeer, Khaleesi?”

  23. Ditto for everything said above. And I think it’s all generated from one elegant formula: PG himself. What he’s created here is just an extension of the independent, intelligent, witty, mature (but never old), well-spoken class act he is.

  24. 1) The frequency of the updates is perfect.

    2) The mix of topics is great. On any given day, TPV may post an innocuous little video, a (self?)publishing-related article to spark serious discussion, or my personal favorite, something that just needs a good ol’ fashioned beatdown.

    3) We do have members who lurk in the background and occasionally pop up with a great comment. We also have a great many members who post often, so we get to know each other to some degree. TPV feels more like a writer’s pub where everyone gets along … but not 100% of the time, because that would be wicked boring.

    4) PG is a great host. As William pointed out, he knows when to step in and when to step back.

    5) A wealth of experienced, knowledgeable writers. ‘Nuff said.

    6) Every member here seems to be ultimately invested in the same thing: what’s best for writers, whichever publishing avenue they’ve chosen to pursue. When someone (e.g. publisher, agent, guild prez) does a disservice to writers, it’s on.

    I reserve the right to add more reasons at a later time.

  25. I know why Passive Voice attracts so many great comments and discussions. It’s magic. Magic, I tell you. 🙂
    I’m grateful for all the comments, too. I have learned so much from them and from the first-hand experiences that you all so generously shared. Thank you.

  26. I like William’s list alot, I would echo it.

    I think the most important is #2 – PG runs the blog with a skilled but light touch, and he does this VERY WELL. It’s his combination of gravitas, humor and graciousness that makes this work so well.

    I come to the blog to be informed, and have good conversations, but also to see what PG is saying through the articles that he chooses – there’s an underlying context here that forms a relationship between PG and the commentors – they are discussing the articles with each other, but also with PG, if that makes sense.

    Another thing I think PG does well – the extent of freedom he allows the commentors, so that discussions become real and relevant. People feel free to speak their minds, even if they are saying things that are unpopular or harsh truths, or in conflict with other commentors. That creates an atmosphere where real debate can occur. Occasionally, like in the real world, people can get hurt here. When it happens, PG and other commentors will sometimes add a touch of softness, (and PG will usually step in if it gets personal) but overall the priority here is to engage in a rather rough and tumble unflinching clarity of thought and dedication to truth – which is very appealing and necessary.

    Writers are in the midst of a revolution, and I think indie writers need places to speak openly, to challenge the status quo, to knock down strawmen and fight for their freedom. This is a very good place for that. It serves a very valuable function, and I, for one, am extremely grateful for it.

    Oh, and I <3 the edit button. 🙂

    • Oh I would add – like William said, the multiple articles add freshness, but it’s also the variety of topics.

      Some articles inform, some spark an emotional response and others invite discussion.

      And then there are the videos, pictures and quotes.

      A smorgesboard with alittle something for everyone.

      Quite a website!

  27. Might I politely remind PGs happy blog readers that there is a donate button to the right hand side of this site. Just sayin’ 🙂

  28. I didn’t make the original post with any thought of fishing for compliments, but thanks for the kind words.

  29. I’m not sure anyone has said this yet, but it’s your good sense that appeals to me. Almost anyone can create a clearinghouse site. It’s the application of your views that makes the difference.

    And to the person who mentioned troll deterrents, a comment policy is always helpful. More good sense.

  30. A few more words from France, and perhaps other foreigners to the US or UK or Australia, or even non-native-English-speakers here might agree.

    I carry an education I didn’t even notice until I started questioning it. So do we all. And most of the time, I only start questioning myself when I have been questioned by circumstance or speech. Again, I don’t think it’s only me : if it ain’t broke…

    When I read and sometimes comment and generally enjoy TPV, I get plenty of occasions to think. More importantly, to think again, to think twice. Plenty of food for thought, and I’ve got a great appetite.

    I came with certain values and knowledge ; it did me a world of good to meet other values and more knowledge.

    PG is an incredibly generous host.

    I have grown a lot, reading your comments, and I thank you all.

    Besides, I have met some people who spoke so well, I had to try their novels. And I wasn’t disappointed. TPV also serves as a reading recommendation board, after a fashion.

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