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:
“Fine, I’ll Say It: Shyftr Crosses The Line”
“Should Fractured Feed Reader Comments Raise Blog Owners’ Ire?”
“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.]