8.15.2006

On Buried Comments

The architecture of most blogging packages is such that the older the post the more buried it becomes (by newer posts). Instead of surfacing content, as other organization structures do, bringing old and new content to a front page and giving both equal prominence, blogs bury, cover over, and push aside the past.

And not only do older posts sift down deeper and deeper into the archive box, but so do the comments attached to those boxed-up posts. This gets particularly weird when someone comments on an old post, as I learned Boodge did yesterday to something I posted in the distant past: July 7th. Since you almost certainly missed what Boodge said, I'll post it here. Boodge writes:

And average Americans think they have it tough, try being a skateboarder. Honestly, we don't even look at those signs, we don't care we're going to skate your shit wheter you like it or not. Of course we go to jail for "criminal trespassing," but hey it's all about for the love of skating! Sk8 or Die!

# posted by the boodge : 11:27 AM

but you wouldn't know it because that comment is nowhere even close to this front page.

Now, not all interfaces work like blogger.com. For instance, the basic templates over at motime.com list "most recent comments" in the sidebar, so you can see new comments no matter the post they're attached to. Yes, motime is cool, and it's not only because it is run by the Howard, PongoManiac.

Diverging now from the whole blogs-bury-content thing, here are some things I think and have noticed about comments on blogs:
  • a lot of people see the number of comments a post receives as a barometer of that post's quality and importance. This is evidenced pretty clearly by a post by Jim that I was first alerted to by Jenny. Jim writes: "The odd thing, though, is that sometimes things I design to be provocative fall like lead, and then something innocuous generates multiple comments." Multiple comments seems to indicate a post that is good-and-important (in what Jim says), whereas few comments seems to mark the un-provocative.

  • (but I think that) the number of comments a post receives is an inadequate barometer of the importance or quality of that post

  • the comment section of most blogs can be a place where topical direction shifts in cool ways (from the original post), and I like it when this happens, but also where flame-wars erupt and posts get hijacked

  • when I used to blog without a comments function on my blog, I'd periodically get emails saying "You stink! I wish I could comment on this blog!"—leading me to conclude that having the ability to comment is part of why readers read (or said another way: readers like to read stuff by blogging authors who position themselves as open to comments/commentary)

  • comment etiquette seems to increasingly be that blog authors need to acknowledge comments in the comments; this is convenient given comment-counting-culture

  • comment strings like this one can become as much as or more interesting than the original post, truly expanding "the text" in blog.discourse

3 comments:

  1. I was going to take my comment, and post it one word at a time in different comments, but the very thought exhausted me.

    I think you're right that comment numbers are a pretty inadequate barometer, but I say that as someone who typically doesn't get a lot of comments, so maybe I'm just biased. It depends a lot on community mood, on the personality of the blogger, on whether conversations happen there regularly, etc. Aggregation is also a factor. I often only visit blogs (as opposed to reading them in BL) when I want to leave a comment, which is only occasionally, or when I know that conversations are likely.

    cgb

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  2. I like your list of what comment-build-up depends on. BL in the way you describe it is a sort of scope through which we see blogs, but given the interface I increasingly think of what I read through/on BL as the blog itself.

    Anyway, thanks for the comment. It really counts! :)

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  3. When one does not read blogs regularly, like me, you can miss posts you might comment on, and you will certainly miss comments. I like motime's comment/sidebar feature, and I like blogs that list the titles of the last ten posts or so in a sidebar as well. It still means burying a bunch of stuff, but for someone who generally reads blogs only once or twice a week, it lets me know what I've missed.

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