Saturday, July 21, 2007

Why Comment when you can start your own blog

Joel Spolsky suggests that if all anonymous posts disappeared from his site's discussion group the quality of the site would definitely go up. He quotes a post from blogging pioneer Dave Winer who as you know does not have comments on his blog. Winer has said:

The cool thing about blogs is that while they may be quiet, and it may be hard to find what you're looking for, at least you can say what you think without being shouted down. This makes it possible for unpopular ideas to be expressed. And if you know history, the most important ideas often are the unpopular ones.... That's what's important about blogs, not that people can comment on your ideas. As long as they can start their own blog, there will be no shortage of places to comment.

There is some truth in this, and fellow bloggers will attest to this: if you say something that is against the prevailing wisdom, something unpopular, you can be sure you will have at least one commenter who would bring you down bad. That in Dave Winer's, and Joel's book is an 'infringement on our freedom of expression'.

The tyranny of comments, if that is what you want to call this phenomenon. I fear this keeps many of us keep our views and ideas to ourselves, lest any self-important commenter comes around with his vitriol.

On a blog like Techcrunch, comments make the blog post much, much better and that is the strength of Techcrunch.

People like Seth Godin who use blogs to push their reputation as a marketer/author, don't bother putting comments.

The Iron Triangle of Rubel, Scoble and Arrington (of Techcrunch) are reduced to zilch if they did away with comments. For these A-listers and wannabes, comments are the currency of blog success.

For a small blog, like this one here , turning off comments would help, especially since few people comment anyway.

Then there is the problem of spam comments which are a strain to your resources.

Some mainstream media outfits such as The Guardian have made a virtue out of comments. Recently, The Guardian updated its Comments policy.

For newspapers hungry for web 2.0 flavors, comments are necessary.

As for people who love commenting, I humbly propose this: there are other benefits of starting a blog instead of commenting on, say an A-lister's blog:
Why must the A-lister have all the cake and eat it too? Sometimes, you can do the sharing thing on your blog for a change.

The downside is, who will read you blog in this case? Well, you can always reproduce your blog post as comment.

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At 4:49 PM , Blogger michael said...

Mind if I comment? ;-)

I know there are supposedly tens of millions of blogs out there now. But I wonder what percentage of the population have their own blog? That is, how easy is it to start your own blog?

Perhaps it's just an elite who can start their own blog. You have to have know-how, time, access, gumption, etc. When I think of the people up and down my street... probably 10% or less could realistically start their own blog.

That's one of the exciting aspects of our Front Porch Forum project. We're hosting 130 geographically contiguous neighborhood forums. In our neighborhood, better than 90% subscribe and half have posted in the past six months.

In a way, each neighborhood forum is a kind of group mini-blog. Little old ladies, non-tech savvy stay-at-home-parents, teens, etc... they all contribute to the conversation. They feel empowered to do so because it's truly easy (MUCH easier than starting their own blog) and it feels safe because it's just nearby neighbors.

I recently wrote more on this here.


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