In December, I had a 2 week break from work (hooray!) which also meant a 2 week break from blogging (not that I am the most regular of bloggers during regular work days...). It also largely meant a break in blog reading. I checked up on some of my favorites, but I didn't read any professional blogs, and I didn't read most blogs that take longer than 5 minutes to read an entry. When I did dash online for a few minutes, I started thinking about being a good blog reader, which I think might be a prerequisite for being a good blog writer.
I'm not the most effective user of RSS or other blog feeds, because I get a little bit obsessed with "checking off" feeds as "already read" whether I read them or not. Also, most of my favorite blogs include pictures, which the feeds don't show, so I'd just as soon check the actual blog as read a feed. Still, I think a blog reader needs to be able to dip into and out of conversations, unless they are only going to focus on one or two blogs. Like the news, blogs change frequently, and it's not always worthwhile to go back and catch up on all missed entries (although sometimes it is; Doug Johnson published an excellent series on library budgeting that I missed during December).
What really baffles me is how to comment effectively. I often think of comments as I read a blog entry, but the best comments I've read are those that take part in the conversation of other commenters--which means you have to take the time to read those comments instead of just throwing your idea up on the wall and leaving. This significantly increases time needed to participate in a blog community, especially if there's a lot of conversation around a post.
Do any of you have suggestions on how you managing your blog reading and commenting time? How does it affect your own blogging?