On the schedules printed for distribution at BlogWorld, one session was missing: Are Bloggers Losing Control? The New World of Distributed Conversations & Comments. It was lead by Stowe Boyd, Ted Corman, Louis Grey, Greg Narain and Brian Solis.
For those who were at BlogWorld and missed it due to that, it was a really great session. And not just because I got to tease the guy next to me that the low attendance was actually his fault. You see, he’s brought in a personal size pizza and was eating lunch. I told him obviously the smell of food had made everyone who had attended the previous session decide to go eat rather than stick around.
At start time we had something like 5 people in there. A few more trickled in, then everyone who was on Twitter at the time was asked to start tweeting to get more people in there. I don’t know how many of the others who showed up were due to that, but the numbers were still far, far lower than any of the other sessions I attended.
No, I didn’t tweet it. No laptop computer and let’s just say my cell phone plan is old. I’ve never used it for texting of any sort. However, you can see what people did tweet during the session by searching Twitter for #add. Scroll down because they have been pushed down by other tweets tagged that way. And of course these will get pushed further down as the days go by.
OK, so the crowd was small. What HAPPENED during the session?
I know, I know. The small crowd doesn’t matter so much as the information, which was amazing. I have 3 pages of notes to go through on this one. Things did ramble a bit off to the side of the topic at times, but it was still great.
The news isn’t all bad, though. These comments can drive more traffic and increase your overall community of readers. Your work is being exposed to a wider range of people than just those who had already discovered your site, and they’re being introduced by people they trust: friends on these networks.
This is considered by some to be the transition from Blogging 1.0 to Blogging 2.0.
Blogging 2.0 means your users are going to comment where they’re most comfortable. People may see your blog as the conduit, rather than the destination.
One of the considerations they suggested is whether or not it’s a positive to go from considering web pages to web streams. The distribution of comments means there are more ways for people to discover what you’ve written, but it’s harder for you as the blog owner to discover what people are saying and to participate in the conversation.
Should you try to participate in all the conversations?
There are good points to trying to participate in as many of the conversations as you can. It becomes clear that you care, and you can deal with misunderstandings.
On the other hand, finding all these conversations is time consuming, as is keeping up with them. You do have to think about how much time you can afford to spend on this. Think about how you’re going to follow all the conversations that can go on about your site away from it. Do you really need to care about all of them? Think about if quality or quantity of relationships matters the most to you.
Backtype was suggested as one way to find the conversations. It allows you to follow individuals, as identified by their URL. It’s not perfect, but if you want to see what a particular person has been talking about online, it can find them across various blogs.
A very good point made was that this is very much an in-crowd phenomenon. So if you’re getting hit hard, congratulations! Your readers are taking up the new technology very quickly.
But if you aren’t seeing this, you should still be paying attention. Just think of how fast things can go from unusual to mainstream in the online world. How long do we have?
As for me, well, I rarely get a ton of comments so I really can’t say. Maybe I should blame distributed commenting just for fun.
Seriously, I won’t, because at this point it’s very much worth my while to keep building up my readership and the comments on this site. It does no one any good to pretend there’s no problem if there is one.
My suggestion, if you’re having a drop in comments, would be to check and see if distributed commenting is the problem. Use the tools mentioned. See what you can find out. You need to know if it’s a distributed commenting issue or something else going on. Assumptions are not your friend.
What options do we have?
A change like this wouldn’t be getting interesting without some tools to push things along. One such would be Disqus, a universal commenting system that has been around for close to a year.
The basic idea with Disqus is that they provide a universal way for visitors to comment on sites using their system. It works with WordPress, Blogger, Moveable Type and TypePad. You get threaded comments, and your blog joins a community of other blogs that have chosen to use Disqus. It also handles the spam for you.
Each of your post becomes its own forum, and Disqus allows you to sync your comments section to it.
For users, it’s having a single login and a reputation that can be built across several blogs that can be an advantage.
Judging by the comments about Disqus on StumbleUpon, lots of people love this system, a few HATE it. Always good to know what people think about a system before you consider working with it.
This and other systems are still very much in development, and the panel had some good points that you should consider. The big one is “who owns the data?” which should matter tremendously to anyone choosing to use an outside service for their comments.
They also pointed out that these are very early days. When the telephone was new, you had to be on the same system as the person you wanted to call, or you couldn’t reach them. When texting was new, you had to subscribe to the same service as the person you wanted to text. Judging by these examples, the panel expects something similar in time for distributed commenting.
As I said, I learned a lot in this session. This was the topic I knew the least about, so it was generally fascinating. Definitely my favorite session overall.Tags: blogworld, distributed comments