Tag Archives: bitchmeme

Who Owns This Conversation, Part Two


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.]

Tagged , , , ,

Who Owns This Conversation?


A debate is erupting in the blogosphere about whether it’s okay or not for comments on blogposts (or other user generated content) to be splintered off in various RSS readers or social media aggregators, such as Shyfter or FriendFeed or any of a number of other services that enable users to project their lifestreams into them.

This is indeed an interesting discussion, as we are just now on the cusp of the Social Web, a complex ecosystem with as-yet undefined rules. Their will be identity providers (OpenID providers, such as Yahoo!, AOL, Clickpass, and some day, Microsoft), online identity consolidators (i.e. Google Social Graph API and Plaxo public profiles), portable social graph providers (hmmmm, stay tuned), and myriad feed aggregators (seems like a new one every week; first Plaxo Pulse, last summer, and now in recent weeks: FriendFeed, Iminta, SocialThing, etc.).

There is a real tension here: Comments out on the anonymous web tend toward the sophomoric; whereas comments inside circles with identity bring out the best in people. Right now, in the absence of the full-blown open Social Web, we see various experiments underway that try to bridge that gap. In the process, it appears that comment threads are being “stolen.” I don’t think anyone is really trying to make a big play based on hijacking the comment thread.

There’s a bunch of interesting problems to be worked on here, and I expect rapid progress.

Here’s the posts from the debate so far: Louis Gray, Matthew Ingram, and not to be missed, Deep Jive Interests.

Update: Robert Scoble has jumped into this “bitchmeme” saying the “Era of blogger’s control is over.” I agree that bloggers should embrace the organic spread of their influence through the conversation fragments across the web, but also think we tool providers can apply some smarts to the problem to stitch some of this stuff back together.

Tagged , , , ,
%d bloggers like this: