March 29th, 2012, 1 Comment »
I try not to write these inward-looking, inside-baseball posts anymore, but I’ve been wondering about this one for a while. I know few people want to read blog posts about blogging, but throw me a bone.
Michael asks a question that I’ve been wondering about for a while: “should you close comments on older blog posts?”. This September, this blog will be ten years old (the site itself is a couple of years older). I’ve published roughly 5600 posts over that period. A handful of them remain–relative to the others–quite popular.
Why are they popular? Because they accidentally appear high in the results for related searches. For example, last year nearly 25,000 people searched for some variation of “worst baby name ever” and found this paltry post from 2005. It has 910 comments on it.
Lately, this longer piece about Freedom 55 Financial has attracted lots of comments. 5000 people visited it last year, and it’s up 286 comments, mostly of the highly incendiary variety. For search, the most popular post on my site remains this 2005 post about textual tattoos. Over its seven-year lifespan, nearly 750,000 people have viewed it, and 100 have commented.
Any site publisher or blogger has pages like this, where a long tail of visitors carries on and on and on. A page on Michael’s site, for example, has become host to a discussion of tax software. My favourite is probably this one where 101 commenters have shared their weird, creepy tales of sleep paralysis.
There’s over 40,000 comments in all. I wonder who has written more words on this site: me or all the commenters put together?
The deal I made with the Internet
When I started writing this site, what deal did I make with the Internet? When I say ‘the Internet’, I mean all the people who, in the ensuing decade, would visit and possibly comment on this site.
Did I, for example, guarantee that the information I published would remain timely and accurate? I hope not, because much of it is out of date and, in many cases, totally wrong. And some of the sites I linked to are gone. For very boring reasons, I’ve been revisiting some of the very oldest posts on this site. As part of that work, I’ve been sampling the links I’d published in 2002 and 2003. As of now, 48 of 74 old links are still live. Am I going to try to fix those other 26 links? Nope.
And what about the ad hoc communities that form around these unexpectedly evergreen blog posts? Advice is shared and debates rage without any input from me. Why wouldn’t I leave comments open?
The only reason might be comment spam. While Akismet does a fantastic job of killing 99% of spammy comments to this site. 99.93%, to be exact, which means that it’s handled about 2.2 million spammy comments since I installed it in 2006. That 0.07% still represents 10 or 15 spam comments that I have to manually remove every day. It’s less than five minutes of work, and not a burden at the moment.
Occasionally, a commenter thinks better of what they’ve written on this site, and emails and asks me to remove their messages. I’m usually happy to do this.
So, until I get busier or lazier, comments will remain open on all the blog posts on this site. Those ongoing discussions don’t particularly interest me, but nor do they feel like a burden.
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October 23rd, 2008, 4 Comments »
As bloggers know, old blog posts can continue to receive comments for the entire life of the blog. I don’t mind, because I often learn stuff from these late commenters, and I occasionally hear some fascinating (and creepy) stories. And sometimes you get hilarious comments like this one, complaining about ICBC:
DEAR READERS MY NMINIVAN GOT STOLEN ,IT WAS 1994 PLYMOUTH VOYJOR VERY NICELY KEPT LIKE COLLECTER CAR , BUT ICBC GAVE ME A VERY SOUR DEAL ,REASON RACIAL PREJUDICE . I HAVE BEEN PAYING FOR MY INSURACE SINCE BILL BENET BROUGHT ICBC , I DID COMPLAIN TO OMMBADS MAN OFFICE BUT NO AVAIL , IF SOME ONE CAN HELP ME PLEASE !TOTTLE LOSE DEPT WOMAN HAD SO Awe attitude . i know in icbc all workers are cousins , as this is just society ! may be too much !
I’m not sure what “Tottle lose dept woman had so” means, but it’s not good news.
4 Comments »
March 14th, 2008, 4 Comments »
I’ve been hearing plenty of noise among the Alpha Geeks this week about the sudden emergence of FriendFeed. It’s basically a way to aggregate all of your sundry feeds in one megafeed of stuff. I’ve noticed a flurry of new followers of my FriendFeed this week.
I first tried FriendFeed and wrote about it back in October, and here’s what I said:
Holy crap. Who in their right mind would want to see all of that in one place? It’s my stuff, and I don’t even want to see it.
I feel the same way today. I don’t need more stuff, I need less. I went on to remark on the one way I might make use of FriendFeed:
If FriendFeed or somebody else lays some clever filtering on top of my friendÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s mega-feeds. To start with, how about a filter that shows me everything my friends tag as Ã¢â‚¬ËœfordarrenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢, regardless of what service itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s in?
Louis Gray wrote a post boosting FriendFeed, and I think his essential point was this:
There are a definitely a wide number of sites out there that let you share all your activity in one place, or to track friends’ activity, but FriendFeed is the only one that lets you share items directly to the feed, elevate discussions through comments and show “likes” to highlight individual posts.
Later, he re-emphasizes the interactive aspects of this very simple service.
Comments Here, There and Everywhere
That may have some appeal, but there’s a downside: FriendFeed splits the conversation around a given chunk of content.
Louis’s post is a great example. Currently there are nine comments on his blog. However, there are two other, distinct comments on the aggregated link in FriendFeed. The FriendFeed readers don’t see the blog comments, and vice versa. It’s like the conversation is happening in two languages, and some people aren’t understanding the whole thing. I occasionally see a similar problem in blog posts imported into my Facebook profile.
The solution to this problem is simple in theory, but painful to implement. There needs to be an open comments protocol that all of these services buy into, so that, for example, a comment in Flickr can also appear in FriendFeed and a blog post displaying that photo.
In my experience, these cross-industry APIs and standards take a long time to hash out and agree upon. Then it takes even longer for the sundry stakeholders to bake into the next release of their software. If this already exists, I’m not aware of it.
In the meantime, FriendFeed just bifurcates the interaction that Louis espouses.
4 Comments »
March 30th, 2007, 9 Comments »
Last week, somewhere, I read about Commentful, a service that enables you to monitor blog posts for new comments. This comes in handy because I probably leave five comments a day on other people’s blogs, and if I want to see follow-ups, I either have to leave the windows open, or remember to check back. With its lightweight Firefox plug-in, Commentful seems to be solving this problem:
Commentful is a service that watches comments/follow-ups on Blog posts, Digg submissions, Flickr pictures, and many other types of content. When ever there is an update, such as a new follow-up or comment, Commentful notifies you instantly.
It’s not exactly feature-rich at the moment, but it does what it says on the box. On someone’s recommendation, I’d tried coComment about six months ago, but I had some technical issues with it (something about Flickr integration, if I recall correctly). coComment certainly does more than Commentful, but I’ll stick with the latter for the time being.
9 Comments »