I realize this thread’s a bit old but I'm interested in the subject and, specifically, the 'sugarkane option'. I’d be interested to know if you decided on any specific tactic and whether you're willing to let us know what its results have been.
This seems to be the most sensible route. Why? Because it's the one I, as a user, prefer.
There's so much stuff out there that we tend to trawl the same seas for whatever it is we need to fill our nets. From the user end, I tend to use two methods.
So I'm selective and, using the latter method, I don't clog my inbox with more spam than that which is generated by most of the half-baked excuses serving as search engines.
This willingness to be alerted to new content does not, however, translate into comment on what is said in the linked article. More often than not, the article is a satisfactory summation of knowledge not yet properly assimilated. It therefore inspires no comment.
This is not to say it's a bad piece. As a rule, I return most frequently to sites generating articles eliciting little response. Why? Because they're saying what I want them to say or they're teaching me something new. They're not getting up my nose by being offensive or getting things wrong. Hence no comment on your recent SitePoint articles about themes. More than being on the button, they gave a valuable pointer to the broader discussions around related issues on these forums. What more could one ask for? The only possible comment was “Thank you very much.”
The alternative, forums, is a completely different medium. Unlike an article, which posits “what is”, the mouthings and soundings off of forum contributors allows one to construct one’s own reality and interpretation of it.
Forums seem to invite musings to reach an open, indeterminate conclusion. Articles, on the other hand, put forward hypotheses, conclusions, or a series of facts and, unless they are an exmple of the first or they raise further questions, they are generally – and particularly in a field such as search – closed ended.
So, a lack of comment is not an indication of reader disinterest. It might instead be a tacit signal to deliver more of the same.
It’s just a pity that there’s no clear distinction between those remaining silent because they appreciate a site’s content and those whose silence indicates they’ve moved on. Only the request for updates distinguishes the two and, even there, because of inertia, many do not cancel subscriptions to alerts.
This might well be the key to distinguishing those able to promote a site’s interests and those who merely appreciate it as another welcome stimulus to their already wired minds :).
It certainly seems well worth a try…