Commenting on Blogs

Mark Bernstein recently complained that the right place to comment on a blog post was by private email or by linking from your own blog, not via the blog’s comment mechanism. I still agree with this view, although my belief has been greatly tempered by own experiences.    (LOS)

Several months ago, I turned off comments on my blogs because of spam. I miss them dearly. I’ve got enough of an active readership that folks blog about my blog entries, but I miss the quick-hit comments, which either contained nuggets of useful information or expressed humor, and which often came from non-bloggers. I still get these kinds of comments over email, but the numbers have decreased dramatically, and I keep having to ask permission to publish them. Blog comments have this just-right affordance that isn’t adequately met any other way.    (LOT)

All of this is consistent with Clay Shirky‘s theory on how blogs avoid the tragedy of the commons. (Since I’ve been giving Clay so much link love these past few days, it’s worth noting that, “Group as User: Flaming and the Design of Social Software” is my favorite of his essays.) Clay writes:    (LOU)

Weblogs are relatively flame-free because they provide little communal space. In economic parlance, weblogs solve the tragedy of the commons through enclosure, the subdividing and privatizing of common space.    (LOV)

Every bit of the weblog world is operated by a particular blogger or group of bloggers, who can set their own policy for accepting comments, including having no comments at all, deleting comments from anonymous or unfriendly visitors, and so on. Furthermore, comments are almost universally displayed away from the main page, greatly limiting their readership. Weblog readers are also spared the need for a bozo filter. Because the mailing list pattern of ‘everyone sees everything’ has never been in effect in the weblog world, there is no way for anyone to hijack existing audiences to gain attention.    (LOW) recently asked whether comments should be a requirement for blogs. My answer is definitively no. The distinguishing feature that makes blogs unique are the use of links for commenting. In this sense, Permalinks are more of a defining characteristic than comment sections are, because they are what enable this blogs-as-conversation capability.    (LOX)

That said, I’m anxious to turn my blog comments back on, which will happen once I upgrade my blog software. (Soon, I swear.)    (LOY)

WikiSym 2006 Program

The WikiSym 2006 program is set. Guess who’s keynoting (with Doug Engelbart). That’s right, I’ll be talking Wiki philosophy and showing off some HyperScope goodness. I’ll also be moderating an interactive session on the Future of Wikis, featuring the other WikiSym keynoters (Ward Cunningham, Angela Beesley, Mark Bernstein) and the illustrious Sunir Shah.    (KY0)

I got back from Wikimania late last night with much news to report, and I’m really looking forward to WikiSym in two weeks. I was originally skeptical about having two Wiki conferences in a month, but now, I’m looking forward to continuing some of the conversations we had this past weekend as well as seeing many other core members of the Wiki community. Plus, the program looks fantastic and there will be an Open Space component as well, organized by Ted Ernst and facilitated by Gerard Muller.    (KY1)

To top it all off, it’ll be in Odense, Denmark. I’ll be in Copenhagen from August 17-20, so if you’d like to meet up earlier, drop me a line. Thomas Madsen Mygdal, the creator of Reboot, has graciously offered to organize a meetup. More on that as details come.    (KY2)