The Changing Face of Comments

It’s been over six years that I’ve been writing on Technosailor.com. It has gone through many evolutions of themes, plugin uses, writing styles, writers, etc. The latest, if you haven’t noticed, was a move to subdomain technosailor.com as technosailor.com in an effort to rebrand under my name.

In the last two years, this site has become less abouot frequent writing and more about in depth writing. Most of the articles you have seen in the last two years have been solid articles that are well-written and in the 500-1000 word range.

Photo by wickked on Flickr

It’s become less of a blog and more of a column that you might see in a journal or newspaper. That is by design as it adds to the authority of this site. During this time, I have toyed with turning off comments completely which would certainly remove this site from the blog category. I’d actually be okay with that since I do blog in other spots. This site does not need to be a blog as that is only a word.

I find it interesting today that John Gruber of Daring Fireball happens to be talking about this issue (again…. it happens enough). A lot of people don’t like John. But no one can argue that the hard work he has put into his site over the years is something that he doesn’t have to share with anyone else.

Now that DF has achieved a modicum of popularity, however, what I tend to get instead aren’t queries or complaints about the lack of comments, but rather demands that I add them — demands from entitled people who see that I’ve built something very nice that draws much attention, and who believe they have a right to share in it.

The reality is most of my “conversation” happens elsewhere. Most of the time, reader engagement with my content comes in the form of retweets and not comments. And when I do get comments, they tend to be distracting. Who really needs that?

Comments, at least on popular websites, aren’t conversations. They’re cacophonous shouting matches. DF is a curated conversation, to be sure, but that’s the whole premise.

Indeed. Look no farther than the comments on any article on TechCrunch.

In short, I’m about to do what I should have done months ago. Maybe not immediately. It might take a few weeks before I pull the trigger. But I’ll be shutting off comments here. Of course, I have blogs elsewhere with comments, but sometimes not as focused as here on Technosailor.com. For instance, my personal blog is aaronbrazell.com and my mobile blog is at technosailor.wordpress.com. Comments will stay open there.

Blogging and Facilitating Conversation

A few weeks ago, I spoke on a panel at WordCamp Dallas where we discussed the concept of business and blogging. Three years ago, this would be breaking all precedents of marketing and PR, but slowly companies have figured out that the best way to cultivate a loyal customer base in the age of social media is via transparency.

Direct2Dell demonstrates a company that has figured out that conversation with customers is a valuable trust and brand builder. Sun Microsystems CEO Jonathon Schwarz successfully blogs in an ongoing conversation with Sun customers. Zappos Shoes is fanatical about their communication.

These are just a handful of corporate blogs that exist today. It’s increasingly difficult to find companies that do not have blogs and those companies would likely tell you that they don’t regret it one bit.

The old style of marketing and communications said that there were such things as “internal memos” where a company could say or do something internally and pretty much ignore what happened outside and chalk things up to being “internal”.

Realistically, though, the conversation about a company’s brand and reputation is going to happen anyway. Simply ignoring it doesn’t make it go away. Facilitating that conversation in such a way that builds trust and confidence in the brand is crucial.

Today, it is ever more impossible for companies to not be “out there” and be successful. Podcasting and video are great new media tools to put a human, approachbale face on a company. The next key , of course, is to actually be approachable.