There’s a very interesting trend happening in the arena of micro-publishing. And it’s one that, I believe, is connected to the idea of Communities taking place at < 150 people: the death of the ‘Comments’ section on websites.
People don’t like to make comments on websites like they used to. Instead they make comments on their own website where they have a voice.
I’m not going to tell you that ‘blogging is a new phenomenom (no kidding?!). But what is new is that people aren’t just using them for their own original publishing, but are replacing the beloved ‘comments section’ of popular websites.
Think of it this way. Let’s say that there is a really interesting story on Slashdot about a subject close to your heart. You wish to contribute to the conversation taking place, but have not commented in the first 200-300 comments. You’re voice is generally lost among those already written. Not a terrible thing, but just the way it is. Who is heard among a mob? (I use slashdot only as an example of a mob. Webloggers are out scooping slashdot on a regular basis.)
What I’ve noticed is that people are choosing to have their conversations among themselves via weblog and have taken their conversation to a different level insuring their voice is heard. Among conversations between five to ten people each will make commentary from their own personal soapbox, their weblog instead of commenting in someone else’s space. They then link to the original source or topic of converstion instead. Normally people used to comment underneath a given piece in the originating website.
This is interesting because the idea of a comments section (like the one below) is quickly becoming old-school. Those who are regular weblog readers or writers will no doubt recognize that they too would rather comment to their own weblog’s audience on a given subject than comment to a noisy crowd. Sometimes rather than a small crowd as well.
While surfing through other’s weblogs you’ll often see a ‘blogroll’ or ‘blogodex’ which is a list of sites that the author of said weblog often reads. I see the O’Reilly Network Weblog listed more than not among my favorite author’s lists and yet almost never see comments from them on this site. They do however comment on their own weblogs about subjects written about here.
Others even specifically turn off the ability for others to comment on their weblogs. This isn’t from not getting comments as much as a “why bother?” decision.
Personally, I feel this is a case of the pendulum swinging all the way to the other side. From commenting within other sites to commenting within your own. Voices are heard just fine in conversations taking place in a moderately sized community and only become unruly when the number of participants climbs to the point of creating more noise than signal (150?).
So, get ready to implement “who is linking to this article” mechanisms to replace your comments section. It’s not like anyone is there anyway.
Care to comment on commenting? Post your weblog’s comment URL too!