What do you do with a problem like conversation?

I've pondered several times giving up comments. Most recently in the last couple of days over the "breakthroughs are social" conversation which started on Terry Frazier's blog and has carried on through some posts of mine, a post from Flemming, and some comments by Flemming, and Chris and possibly other comments and posts I am not aware of.

Flemming sums up some of the difficulties inherent in blogversation:

There's a bit of a lack of a mechanism that ties these things together. A way of making blog postings and comments part of a conversation, even though it happens in several places. Could be simply a tag, I suppose, although you might easily get a lot of other things mixed into it, unless you make a very specific tag. And you'd have to count on that there's some service that picks up everything with that tag, which doesn't quite happen. Technorati will pick up posts on your front page and their tags, but is not going to pick up comments, and is not going to notice if you add new tags to older postings.

Comments are useful in that they are immediate. Certain things can only really be done in a comment, for example Phil Ringnalda responded to my prior anti-comment screed as follows:

I've got house guests this week, whose only reference for Charger is what puts electricity into their cellphones and laptops. If we're going to talk about how to get your Charger running without a three hour intro to what it is, why we're interested in it, and why you don't just replace it with a Lexus, we're going to have to do it in your backyard, not mine.

It seems that the issue here is that a post is often the context for a short response situated in a (potentially) complex situation. But I wonder is this really a problem?

I write a post about my Charger being bust and you respond on your blog with a link to my post and a comment about manifolds and sprockets and why Lexus is no better then isn't the required context available in the link. The link says "For more info, go here". If you're not interested you move on.

Phil was your problem that you don't want your backyard cluttered with your response about Chargers at all?

Then there are the technical problems: Comment spam, broken trackback, Technorati is unreliable, some people have no blog. Are these insurmountable? Flemming suggests a special type of link. I remember Steve Yost doing some work around this with QuickTopic. Then there is coComment which I tried briefly when it launched. It didn't make a big impression on me at the time. Does anyone use it?

One of the values of blogging for me is being able to have the kinds of conversations that I can't have at home (my cats always bring the conversation back to food) with people I don't meet day-to-day. I don't want to shut conversation down, that's not why I dislike comments, but to help it expand.

What are we to do?

22/06/2007 09:52 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments: