One of the failings of blogging, especially its use for education, is how unsupportive it is to dialogue. Yes, there are comments, but once I leave a comment somewhere, it is a crap shoot whether I ever get back there to see any further dialogue or rebuts or agreement. Fire and forget, most of the time. Sometimes I’ll post a question and check back later, but mostly I don’t and mostly I just plain forget. I also don’t look at posts later on to see if what the author said was BS and spoken-to in the comments. I have to take posts largely at face value. How often have I posted on a Bruce Schneier topic that tends to have plenty of feedback, only to never look back at that particular comment thread again?
Forums promote repeated dialogue until a topic has run its course and slowly melts back down the priority list, replaced with newer topics. A regular reader/contributer can, in this way, watch discussions she may be interested in until they naturally conclude. Mailing lists are similar. IRC is somewhat the same way, as interaction and discussion occur right away. While those that idle don’t typically re-read old logs, at least discussions at the moment have some give and take.
Running one’s own blog is a bit of an exception, as here I tend to be able to see each and every comment posted, and thus have my full run of any dialogue. But how can one really capture this for readers? Email notifications on comment replies help, but only when one has already commented on a post. Anything not commented on gets no continuation. In that case, it behooves me to comment on every post on those blogs. Setting up an RSS feed for comments is another nice thing. Ha.ckers.org does this, but I have to admit there is no real kind way to present them. New comments on old posts get thrown into the middle of new comments on new posts, which really muddies the waters of trying to follow any sort of continuity. But for anyone who diligently reads the feeds, this can be an effective, if jarringly annoying, way to keep up. The author can re-post the articles based on comments and responses, but this just perpetuates the cycle until no comments are left (or all the readers have left!).
So what is one to do? Well, slowly I’ve been moving back into IRC and I want to get back into forums as well. Blogs have their high points, but unless one is a real fan of a particular blog and sticks around a lot, RSS feeds are just best suited to scatter-shot news posts and catching the latest releases in podcasts or tools than for real educational dialogue.
I think this is also why I maintain my blogs more like personal journals (and I prefer the term journal to blog), where the only real reader I’m looking to keep informed is me. Letting out my own ideas, thoughts, and otherwise documenting my own life and knowledge. *shrug*
6 thoughts on “a failing of blogging”
I like your journal/site.. I hope you’re not giving up on it already are you?
I’ve added the “Recent Comments” to the left sidebar on my site to help get people who come back see what others wrote, and also added the “Comments RSS” feed as well. I agree with you on how a lot of blog comments are `fire and forget` and there’s not much dialogue after the initial comment and author reply.
i’ve seen the “how do i keep track of comment threads i’m interested in” complaint about blogs before – i had the same problem… the answer (the client-side answer, that is, the one that doesn’t rely on the blog owner to do anything) is comment aggregation, although at present there aren’t a lot of options out there right now… i’m currently using http://co.mments.com but i’m always on the lookout for something better…
I’m not going anywhere any time soon. 🙂 I’d post here even if this were private and no one even *could* see it.
Kurt, I know. I’ve wanted to comment on some of your posts before, but I will tell you I get frustrated quickly (personal pet peeve) when I can’t either post without logging in or logging in quickly. That’s just me, though, not you or your site. And I know I’ve seen your mentions that you don’t much need people to comment, as these are your thoughts and damn the rest. 🙂 I agree, and that’s why my personal site doesn’t allow comments at all. I don’t need people commenting on my life and thoughts. If they truly want to, there’s an email listed.
Someday I’m sure I’ll comment, as your posts tend to ellicit responses, either a fist pump in agreement or some strongly felt objections. And yes, that’s a good thing!
i know what you mean about the frustration with jumping through hoops to comment (assuming it’s even an option)… that’s one of the reasons i finally broke down and enabled comments on my blog… i figured if it pissed me off and made me less likely to stick around other blogs it was probably doing the same thing to people reading my blog…
I get frustrated quickly (personal pet peeve) when I can’t either post without logging in or logging in quickly.
I hear ya on that.. There were numerous times I’ve wanted to comment on other blogs, but just said “f- it” after having to register before commenting (sometimes having to await moderation, WTF?!).
Well said. I have a tendency to agree with you… and have often struggled with how this all works.
I’m not sure if you read our efforts, but we have recently launched the Catalyst Community (well, we’re launching it this week), and the goal is to have a forum that connects the audiences of many security bloggers and podcasters together….
That way, if someone shares a valuable idea on a blog or podcast, the community has one place to go to comment on it. Like you, I think forums are useful to hash out a topic until it’s either solved or at an impasse.
In our community, at that point, the Trusted Catalyst group would (hopefuly) champion the issue as a project and eventually take the results of the forum discussion, clean it up a bit, perhaps add to it or follow through, and then post it to a public wiki we’re launching in a few months.
Hopefully this will be a successful attempt to connect passionate professionals together and foster healthy and needed dialogue.
I welcome you to participate and join us (and to help us figure out how to be more effective).
Michael | Security Catalyst
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