Comments vs. a Little Green Icon

    December 13, 2005

Every time I turn around, there’s somebody telling me (and the rest of the world) that a blog isn’t a real blog unless commenting is turned on.

Blogs, these commenting advocates insist, are all about conversation and, they conclude, you can’t have a conversation without comments.

While I love comments-and would never consider turning them off on this blog-I don’t quite grasp the notion that the conversation is somehow inhibited without comments. Blogging godfather Dave Winer hasn’t offered comments on his blog for a long time, and has publicly dismissed the notion that a blog without comments isn’t a blog. In a 15-month-old article in the Online Journalism Review that dealt with blog spam, Winer suggested it’s painfully easy to comment on blogs that don’t support comments: Commenters should simply run their own blog if they want to comment.

To that end, Winer recently introduced a subtle new feature to his blog. The little green Technorati icon appears above the fold in the right-hand column. Click it; it takes you to the Technorati page showing all items that link to Winer’s blog. In other words, it’s just like reading the comments left on a comment-enabled blog. Today, Winer notes that the tag has been successful (aside from some “snarky” feedback).

One argument against the idea focuses on those who read, but don’t write, blogs. Where would they comment? Conceivably, I suppose, they could comment on the blogs that others have written and linked back to Winer. Better, if they think they have something to say, they can take two minutes and start a blog at one of the several free services available. But I like the idea enough that I’ll supplement the comments this blog gets with a little green icon of my own.

Shel Holtz is principal of Holtz Communication + Technology which focuses on helping organizations apply online communication capabilities to their strategic organizational communications.

As a professional communicator, Shel also writes the blog a shel of my former self.