My thoughts on comments were cause for some debate in certain circles. I’m not the only one grappling with this issue.
I managed to lure Dunstan out of his self-imposed exile long enough for him to point to some ideas he had for a more heavily moderated commenting system where only useful additions appear with a post. This is somewhat along the lines of the BBC’s website where occasionally feedback is solicited but it’s more along the lines of letters to the editor: comments enter a queue and only representative selections are published.
For a very interesting take on the comments question, I highly recommend listening to this interview with David Sifry posted on the Podleaders podcast. Responding to the question of whether Technorati has any plans to begin indexing comments, he points out that whereas blog posts have a certain level of accountability, comments are more like the (often anonymous) throwaway remarks that polluted Usenet and chat rooms, preventing those technologies from scaling past a certain point:
One of the reasons I think blogging is very different from bulletin boards or chat rooms is that it fundamentally enforces a level of accountability.
I find that that level accountability tends to create, or enforce, a certain amount of thoughtfulness… a willingness to think twice before someone says nasty things.
The problem I have with many commenting systems on blogs [is that they] do not enforce any level of accountability.
That’s exactly what I was getting at in my original post when I said:
The best online conversations I’ve seen have been blog to blog: somebody posts something on their blog; somebody else feels compelled to respond on their own blog. The quality of such a response is nearly always better than a comment on the originating blog for the simple reason that people care more about what appears on their own site than on someone else’s.
Then the tricky bit is tracking those conversations. And that’s where services like Technorati come in.