Who Owns This Conversation, Part Two

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Two weekends ago, the blogosphere’s latest “bitchmeme” (group dialogue on a single topic, often kicked off by one blogger’s rant) centered around this question:

“Is it okay for content aggregators to fragment a blog’s conversation by allowing comments that do not flow back to the original post? Is such a practice stealing?”

I won’t rehash the whole discussion here, but here’s a few of the central posts, in addition to mine:

Tony Hung:
Fine, I’ll Say It: Shyftr Crosses The Line

Louis Gray:
Should Fractured Feed Reader Comments Raise Blog Owners’ Ire?

Robert Scoble:
Era of Blogger’s Control is Over

The general view that emerged was that bloggers should get over it, and learn to live in a world where they are not in control of where the conversation flows. While I agree with that, if someone could figure out a way to allow comments to flow back from the various aggregators, that would be a good thing.

Enter Plaxo and Disqus, who have just launched a working solution to that very problem. In a post on the Plaxo blog, Joseph Smarr, who seems to show up wherever there’s a meaty open Social Web problem to be solved, describes the situation:

“Plaxo’s mantra is always to ‘give our users control,’ so naturally we’re in favor of letting blog authors share their feed inside Pulse and providing a way for comments generated inside Pulse to flow back to the original blog. The problem is, there’s no standard way of programmatically interacting with the comment system on an arbitrary blog. So while it’s never been our aim to “trap comments” inside Pulse, there hasn’t been a good way to set them free. Until now.”

The solution is a mechanism whereby bloggers who use the Disqus “smart comment system” can indicate that to Plaxo when they’re hooking up their blog to their lifestream in Pulse. When they do, any comments made on their posts within Pulse get posted out to their actual blog. The result is the best of both worlds: larger audience, via exposure within Pulse; but with all comments enriching the discussion on the original post.

This is a great example of evolving beyond the “walled garden” model of social networking.

Now, if we could get WordPress to allow this feature on their hosted solution (so that I could enable it here.) Please, WordPress!

UPDATE: Here’s the official post on the Disqus blog, talking about the strategic context and the enabling API.

UPDATE: A nice piece on the topic by Mashable’s Mark “Rizz’n” Hopkins.

[Reminder/disclosure: I head up marketing at Plaxo.]

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5 thoughts on “Who Owns This Conversation, Part Two

  1. […] John McCrea has a great blog post up about this, appropriately titled Who Owns This Conversation, Part Two. It’s the continuation of an ongoing discussion, but it’s now heading in the right […]

  2. scott says:

    > Plaxo’s mantra is always to ‘give our users control’ […]

    I believe content creators should retain ownership and control of their submissions. If you sign up for Disqus’ service as a commenter (not as a publisher/blog owner) what rights do you have?

    For example, say you post a comment to a blog which has its comment system hosted by Disqus. When that blog shuts down do posts to that blog disappear from your Disqus comment archive? If a blogger decides that your comment was not worthy and deletes it can you still retrieve what *you, the user* submitted to Disqus? What if others had replied to your comment before the deletion?

    When you find out the answers to these questions I’d be interested in how this solution fits with the Plaxo mantra from the perspective of a Plaxo user who would like to leverage Disqus to manage their comments submitted to various blogs.

  3. “you post a comment to a blog which has its comment system hosted by Disqus. When that blog shuts down do posts to that blog disappear from your Disqus comment archive?”

    I don’t think so UNTIL the blog owner decides to delete his old blog comments from DISQUS itself.

    “If a blogger decides that your comment was not worthy and deletes it can you still retrieve what *you, the user* submitted to Disqus?”

    Yes. Your dashboard have a tab for “Removed” or deleted comments.

    “What if others had replied to your comment before the deletion?”

    No problem at all. The deleted comment will be marked as “Comment Removed” but all replies to that comment will still be shown, in its original threaded form.

    – Disclosure: I do not work for DISQUS, I’m just a user, 2-weeks old if I’m not mistaken :p And I still have to integrate it on my Plaxo, just found out about this today ^_^

  4. bank says:

    As a blogger, I am a content creator. I don’t want my content stolen, or reposted without attribution or under somebody else’s name. But I am also a huge advocate of RSS and continuing to adapt where the conversation is being held.

  5. Gabby says:

    Disqus, in my opinion is the future of commenting. It simplifies that work of the webmaster and makes everything much much simpler.

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