Forrester research says that 25% of online adults in the U.S. are critics [source: Groundswell] – those who comment on, rank, or rate content. The question is: how do they comment?

In the case of this blog, comments don’t generally show up in the comments section of the blog itself. No. Instead, I get comments via e-mail, Twitter, or LinkedIn messages. Most of these are direct, so no one else sees them except me. No one else knows that people are commenting – just me. They are commenting behind the veil, where no one else can see their comment.

Sometimes people retweet my blog posts on Twitter. Which is great because it just spreads the word. Love that. At least they aren’t silent. They are contributing by sharing with their Twitter friends.

Early on I thought this behind-the-scenes-commenting had to do with the fact that so many of my early readers were people who know me well. They felt more comfortable having a direct and personal conversation with me. Heck, some of them just pick up the phone to talk about my posts.

But the other day I got a comment from someone in eastern Europe – on LinkedIn. I didn’t know her until now. She could have commented on this blog itself, but she sent me a direct message using LinkedIn. Indicative of so many others who aren’t comfortable commenting on the blog itself.

I love getting comments no matter how they come. And they come all the time. So, between that and our usage stats, I know I’ve got a merry band of regular readers. But, how do I measure? The old view of comment numbers and comment content analysis just doesn’t work here. It’s so inter-connected. Do the numbers validate the use of Twitter, or the use of LinkedIn? And where does the blog fit in?

The tools are now so integrated in the experience that it’s become very difficult to measure individual tools. Instead, we have to look at the overall user experience. The value and benefit from content may be gained through any of the channels, and the measurable responses may come through any of the channels.

It is a measurement conundrum.