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Weblog comments: just say broken.

A while back I blocked comments from this blog. They're back on now (due to popular demand ;)

Why no comments?

The idea was to get people to use track/ping back instead which such a cool, albeit latent, technology.

It's so much more interesting to boldly go somewhere else to read someone else's bold thoughts, than read them here. You can poke about their site for other interesting thoughts, whereas there's not much here I haven't thought of already. Much more potential for serendipity, lo!, and all that interconnected goodstuff.

I'd say trackback has the potential to turn the web inside out in short order. It lets you browse the web backways, from origin to referrer, which is altogether a fun thing. Only Forward is getting tired after a decade. And if the links are enriched, you have the potential to take centralized search and consign it to the sidelines, or more accurately, distribute and parallelize the processing of inbound links to pages across the entire web instead of a privately held super cluster.

Speculation aside, there is a real usability problem with weblog comments in that I'm damned if I can remember where I comment. Comments in weblogs are feature fallout from that other medium - well known, well branded web fora where lots of people come to together to chew the fat. Most of us are not likely to forget where the TSS or /. is, even if we want to to. However I do forget where I left comments in not well known, unbranded, but equally interesting if not more so ornery weblogs. And worse, I know I'll forget, so I don't bother most of the time. If I really want to chew the fat, I do it here, because I won't (probably) forget where my own blog is. Sometimes I add a comment saying 'I said stuff over here' (here). But I hate doing that because there an etiquette vibe thing - nothing definite just a feeling many bloggers are sensitive about comment stickiness.

Otherwise I'm in the hands of lady luck and the aggregators. This is why I often prefix a post with the authors name, not trying to wine and dine mind you, just broadcasting in the hope they'll see it up and read it. I've even considered hacking FOAF or blog URLS into categories. I am without a doubt a desparate man.

So if comments are not going away soon, damn you all, there's a bunch of work, thinking and opportunity to make them usable. For example it couldn't be that hard to keep a store of what posts you commented in a client, that way you could go back to see if anyone flamed you. Maybe some client already does this, but anyone who says hacking web/feed clients is a Dead Zone is nuts. They're nowhere near good enough yet :)


August 8, 2003 06:29 PM

Comments

Marjolein Katsma
(August 17, 2003 04:33 PM #)

"The idea was to get people to use track/ping back instead which such a cool, albeit latent, technology.

It's so much more interesting to boldly go somewhere else to read someone else's bold thoughts..."

Well, yes, interesting - if you're interested only in getting comments from bloggers, not from readers - and lettng your readers see only comments from other bloggers. But why suppose anyone reading your blog and wanting to comment occasionally has her/himself a blog? There are far more readers than there are bloggers.

I think limiting comments to only bloggers would make things far *less* interesting.

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