Comments or Discussions?
We had a dinner party the other night and seated to my left was a person who had been involved in writing one of the most popular blogs on the web for several years. That blog did not have comments initially and then launched a 'velvet rope' approach to comments where you had to get approved to leave a comment. The idea was sort of like TED. You supposedly increase the quality of the discussion if you keep the riff raff out. Guess what? It didn't really work. It never does. The "riff raff" is always the source of the best discussions.
The next day I was talking to the founder of a popular blogging service about comments. He pointed out that many comment threads are filled with garbage like LOL, 'you are an idiot', or worse.
He pointed to the comments here at avc and noted how good they were. He called them 'discussions'.
First, I agree with him. The comments here at avc are the best thing about this blog. You all make this blog what it is and I totally appreciate it.
Back to the dinner party. On my right was our long time friend Helene. She's totally into the presidential race this year and noted that she finds the political discussions on this blog quite good. She's not much for the geek stuff that goes on here but she's really enjoying our political debates
I pointed out to both of my dinner partners that I try to weigh in on the discussion as much as I can and they thought that had a lot to do with the overall quality of discussions.
I am not sure about that. First, until I moved to disqus and got the ability to reply to comments via blackberry, I wasn't much of a presence in the comments here and they were certainly just as good for the first four years as they have been recently.
But I do think the blogger needs to be active in the comments. Arrington is. Winer is Scoble is. Jarvis is. And the comments at all of those blogs are pretty good.
I think that blog comments (or call them discussions) are fantastic and are often lost behind the main page. On many of the best blogs, the responses to the posts are where the action at, including this one.