Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Are Blog Comments Really Comments?

Blogging: You Need To Pay Attention To Your Comments

The above is an interesting blog entry by Ron Miller on the site Social Media 101. Yes, those are my comments left on the entry - I like to leave comments there, because Ron, Julie and the other writers use the comment section to interact with their readers.

This brings me to my titular question. My answer is yes....and no. One blog comment left alone is simply that, a comment. But one blog comment answered by someone else, and seen by dozens (or more) of others can start a conversation, whether it be in the comments section, or via email, or even offline conversation (hey, it could happen)

Yet there are many blogs, both famous and unknown that do not have comment sections. Seth Godin, for instance, has no comment area on his blog, and hasn't since about 2006. I'm sure there are many reasons to why, but I cannot leave him a comment or message to find out about it, because he has no comments. He knows that people will talk about him regardless of the ability to leave a useful, or more than likely a useless snarky comment. He's not controversial, he's not anything really all that special - but he knows how to get people to talk, without having to do much. He wants people talking ABOUT him, he doesnt wan't to talk WITH them.

Some others prefer to use email, or ask you to use Twitter to contact them to leave your comments. That's cool, because you know that it is at least seen, rather than just approved by a random computer program that goes off when comments are made on a website. It's also a great use of social media...well, not so much the email part, but its still neat. But that limits social media, simply because the responses are either individual, or are lost in the mad shuffle of a heavily followed/follower count Twitter account.

I must admit, I've considered turning off comments several times. I love hearing what people have to say about anything I've written, and to constantly stare at the zeros gets daunting after a while. But then someone comes along and leaves me a comment and 99% of the time, it is a useful comment, whether it be critical, appreciative, or what have you. Could I still have that interaction without a comment section? I have no idea...that's why I keep it up.

For an example of how comment sections can take off and spur conversation, go back to LiveJournal (yes, they're still around, and you know you have an account, don't lie) and look at many of the communities, or even some of the individual journals. Many of those have entire conversations carried out in the comment threads, and many of the branch out into completely different topics. Will it happen every time? Shit, no. Can you predict when? Well, kinda, I guess if you know your readers well enough, but more than likely you have no idea that the post you are about to make about what happened at work today will turn into a discussion about what frog looks the coolest or something.

Are blog comments really comments? Literally, yes. But we all know how wrong literal translation can be.

What do you think?

Thanks for reading!!

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