This week’s #blogchat focused on engagement – comments got all the cred.
I suppose we shouldn’t be surprised – comments are great. They exist on your platform, they’re relatively long-form compared to some other reactions (like tweets and Facebook comments), but it felt like the really big, high caliber blog engagement actions were missing.
What happened to blog reactions?
In the hey-days of LiveJournal, one of the biggest signs a conversation was – well, big – would be when someone on your friends list actually entered a post in direct reaction to something you wrote. Not just a comment-length “check this out” notice, but a full on essay-length journal entry eviscerating, deconstructing, or otherwise responding to what you wrote.
It was fairly commonplace, at one point, to follow chains of journal entries ten or fifteen layers deep before finding the initial instigator. Does that happen any more? Not so much.
We’re worried about spam. Not just comment spam – trackback spam.
The same way comments have become a great place for less-than-ethical linking, trackbacks to unwary bloggers have turned into the vogue Den of Thieves to be avoided at all costs. We want social reactions, comments, and shares more than we want other bloggers linking to our specific articles – we want them linking to our domains, which are evergreen, rather than individual articles which are timely and may grow stale over time as information changes.
But is this how we build community? It’s mechanistic, pragmatic, and unsustainable – it furthers no conversation, and encourages blind authority over the communion of conversation.
In our rush for personal authority, we seem to be losing some of our community.
We all want to be the instigator – to get the comments. Yet we all talk about contributing to community and furthering the conversation already in action at the same time – what better way to do that than to react to something in a thought-out, constructive way? We need to remember that adding to a conversation assumes that you don’t have to be the origin of that conversation. Starting new work all the time is like perpetually saying hi. And that gets video-game-esque really fast.
Give yourself some leeway to pick up where someone else left off now and again – and not in the way you pick up where an author left off for a book review. The instigators will probably want to converse with you a little more, if you’re really thorough in adding to their conversations – and your regular readers might find a new resource or two in the mix as well.
What say you? Bonus points if you continue this on your platform instead of mine.
Image by Nigel Howe.