If our blogging is to be more than shouting into the void, we have to write good comments. But that's hard to do. If commenters have a low prior that they'll receive a response, they might not bother to write a comment in the first place, producing a negative feedback loop.
One simple solution is an Oath of Reply.
At the end of your post or comment, make a realistic promise stating when and how much you will respond to those who reply to you. You can make one Oath of Reply to your general audience, and separate oaths to specific commenters. You can also update and increase the specificity of your oaths as you go along. Keeping them accurate is even more important than keeping them.
For example, you might make vows like these:
I’m interested in spending at least X hours, with an option for more, having a longer conversation with you on this. Let me know if you're interested.
You have good ideas, and I can promise to participate in at least a few more back-and-forths on this if you're still engaged.
I will probably respond once if you comment, but I'm unlikely to respond more than once unless it's exceptionally intriguing.
Oaths of Reply are entirely voluntary. You do not need to make one. You don't have to make a big one. If you don't make an Oath of Reply, nobody can pressure you to do so, or complain if you don't respond. This is opt-in, not opt-out.
Oaths of Reply also come with an assumption of good faith and self-care. Rudeness and the intervening of life circumstances are grounds to modify or break the oath. Furthermore, it's very hard to predict the future beyond a few months. So an Oath of Reply lasts for no more than three months unless it is explicitly refreshed. This should be a universal understanding if somebody makes an Oath of Reply.
However, it is obligatory to state explicitly that you are modifying your oath. After all, the function of the Oath of Reply is to set accurate prior expectations about the likelihood of receiving a reply. If you honestly can't uphold it, then the best thing you can do to preserve the sanctity and power of the oath is to say so explicitly. That way, the other person can interpret your modification as altering their prior expectations about you, rather than their priors about the oath.
When you break your Oath of Reply without an explicit statement, only then have you truly become an oathbreaker.
For this post, my Oath of Reply is to respond to top-level comments at least once through August 2021. I will likely pursue longer-form discussions. If commenters provide especially helpful feedback, I'll note it here along with an acknowledgement.
Thanks to Adam Zerner, who motivated me to write these ideas down.