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January 23, 2005

Comments

Jonathan Hardwick

I've found that blogs hit a tipping point sooner than wikis, for the simple reason that most people just don't want to be an editor. Everyone will read a web page, many will add comments to a blog page, but few people will add content to a wiki page (or even rarer, re-factor it).

The successful wikis that I blogged about all concentrate on mass-market products. If just 0.1% of their large user base is comfortable with wikis, that's still enough to create a vibrant wiki community. By contrast, a wiki about a product with a small user base is a sad and lonely thing. Better to start a blog for that, and wait until you've built up a user base and a good collection of commentors...

Jim Logan

To weigh in on the "no comments on Seth's Blog" topic...while there are no comments allowed, track backs are open.

There are pros to this approach – 1) by allowing track backs, Seth’s Blog benefits from the viral nature of blogs, expanding his audience by the number of readers on the referring blog. 2) His site is insulated to a degree from less desirable uses of comments; people can comment, just not on his site. The referring site has to deal with the “shock” comment, SPAM, etc.

Martin

David, I think that the difference between positive/negative outcome in discussion you mention often depends on a crucial, single factor: The writer.

Good writers have the ability to bring across messages (whether these be evangalism or defense against criticism) in a way which enthralls people. It's not about being conned by niceties, but about highlighting what needs to be highlighted, and effectively dealing with what needs not to be. Communicators like these are few and far between, and need to be carefully chosen. On the negative side, a bad communicator can without doubt make matters much worse.

David Burn

Tom,

Prohibiting comments does not mean one's blog will lose traffic. Seth is proof of that. Just as he is proof that a blog is not necessarily a revolutionary tool.

I can certainly understand why Seth chooses not to allow comments, for comments can be a time consuming black hole, with untold buckets of comment spam to fend off, libelous trolls and the general need to take an active roll in the discussion. But choosing to not participate, while certainly a valid choice, is a regressive, not progressive, move.

Martin mentions the fear corporate types face when they consider allowing comments. My thought is that a company with a solid service or product offering will have no problem standing up to criticism, fabricated or real. On the other hand, should the company have substantive issues, a blog with open comments could well be the kiss of death. Or it could be the very thing that turns the company around, as their issues (and how they deal with them) will be paraded for all--shareholders, staff and customers--to see.

Tom Asacker

Hi David,

I agree, so how do you explain Seth's blog. Isn't he the spokesperson for everything new in marketing?

David Burn

Comments are crucial in my view. Without them, it's a one-way street just like the marketing of old.

Tom Asacker

Another great insight. Thanks Jennifer and Hugh. Now, if you wouldn't mind, please help my understanding with answers to a few simple questions. First, where is the bus going? Because as we all know, the more of anything there is, the less that thing means. And also, with regards to Martin's post, what's your views on blog comments? Seth Godin doesn't allow them and it doesn't seem to hurt his popularity/traffic. Thanks in advance.

Martin

I agree with the tipping point, but tipping points are relative to who's on the see-saw.

I've been trying to sell blogging to a few more "conservative" clients, and the initial response is good because they've heard of it, and have realised that it has impact. However, commenting freaks a lot of people out. I think that, to us (bloggers and early adopters of most things), transparency is natural - traditional business on the other hand sometimes has a hard time swallowing the fact that they might get openly criticised... The first question I got asked recently was "What if my competitor takes me on in my comments?". My response was "You politely explain to them why they're wrong, and thank them for their input!".

Makes sense to me, but the client wasn't convinced :-)

hugh macleod

Hey, thanks for the post =)

Heh. Methinks the bus has already left.

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