Blogs – The Emotional Description

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One topic that often comes up in conversations about blogging is how do you define a blog.

Answering the question invariably includes a description of the attributes a website must have in order for it to be a blog:

1. Reverse chronologically-ordered content, written by the author

2. Author’s personality/passion shining through in the posts

3. Commenting – the means for visitors to comment on the blog itself

4. Trackbacks (links to and from other blog posts)

5. Content distribution by RSS

It’s attribute #3, on commenting, about which a lot of people have different opinions. Many don’t agree at all that commenting is an essential element. Influencers like Seth Godin, for instance. Dave Winer, too.

I’ve always maintained that a blog without the ability for visitors to leave comments isn’t really a blog, given that a blog is all about openness of unfiltered expression and conversation. It takes more than one to have a conversation.

I’ve been thinking about this after reading Dave Winer’s post yesterday in which he defines the one true characteristic of a blog:

The unedited voice of a person.

That’s all. Nothing else is a requirement.

That’s a pretty good definition. If you think about it, the attributes I mentioned above are the technical description of a website that’s a blog (and see Dave Winer’s 2003 definition). What Dave is talking about is the emotional description.

I very much like this emotional description. But what about commenting?

Well, I’d look at it this way – comments are to conversations as blogs are to individual and unfiltered expression.

In other words, to have a conversation, you must have either comments on your blog itself or a related device that connects people’s expressions, those unfiltered/unedited voices. Trackbacks, for instance, which link and connect content on the web.

But to be a blog, a website doesn’t require on-site comments, just the unedited voice of the blogger.

I’d accept that view.


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Neville Hobson is the author of the popular NevilleHobson.com blog which focuses on business communication and technology.

Neville is currentlly the VP of New Marketing at Crayon. Visit Neville Hobson’s blog: NevilleHobson.com.

Blogs – The Emotional Description
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