To Comment or to Blog

November 20, 2003

in Blogging

Jim asks an interesting question. To comment or to blog. Comments or Trackbacks. It’s an ongoing question. Like Jim I know of no guidelines.

For that matter, why, or perhaps when, would you choose to post a comment instead of making an entry in your own blog? The technologies are opening up more choices; are there any emerging guidelines or practices to direct my choices.
McGee’s Musings

There are both social and technical factors . For example It may depend on whether you know the blogger and how you envision the relationship developing. It is also dependent on the owner and systems behind the target comment or trackback blog.

Comments as an Introductory Tool:Comments are a good way to introduce yourself and leave a link to your blog, provide a contact e-mail and interest or a point of view.

Comment Non Blog related:
The comment is placed by a blogger on another blog in preference to blogging it on his own. This may reflect business vs personal views, lack of “theme” consistency etc.

Comments for Speed: I was here, saw your post etc. This is also dependent on whether or not the blogger is visiting the site or simply using a newsreader. From a newsreader it may be more efficient to just link and blog a brief note. Assuming the other persons site has a trackback facility I assume they will be notified.

Trackbacks broaden the conversation. Thus I’m sharing more social capital and potentially driving more of my readers to your site by bringing the “weight” of my blog to your blog. If it is something I’m interested in or feel that it would usefully extend the conversation then “Blog n Ping” is the way to go.

TrackBacks in the Comment Pool: Assuming trackbacks are integrated into comments then anyone reading the additional posting later can identify those “blogs” that have also taken up the conversation. This may also be seen in Technorati’s link cosmos. I know of no evidence to suggest that a trackback vs a comment is any better at driving traffic back to my site. For the most part trackbacks are limited to the first 40 words. Thus a well thought out comment may actually be better than a clipped trackback at generating interest in what I have to say and write. And perhaps that is the key.

On a blog that regularly get 20 or most comments —- commenting at the top of the list (first and early) may be better than a long blog and clipped trackback. With such a site the best angle is probably place the comment early, prepare a draft blog post and then post it later when you can see the 30 comments it received. Now your post provides the contextual “extra” that only a reader of that particular site could receive. I don’t know where you would find the time to be so devious — still.

There are at least two problems with this anecdotal analysis.
Visit Behavior: From my site data, actual reads of my main blog page are outnumbered 10 to 1 by unique hits to my newsreader which is split 55% Extracts vs 45% Full Post. So questions? What’s the impact of my full feed on drawing people to my site? Would I get more comments if I just stuck with extracts? Do I get more trackbacks as a result of providing a full feed?

Other Trackback Strategies: If my blog was pinged today it is registered on my home page right column. However, it it doesn’t track to any particular entry then it is a marketing ping. Dependent on how I value the post depends on the content I was pinged on. This ping could have just as easily been the dreaded comment spam. So far I haven’t heard much on trackback spam. (Googled!) It may be just over the horizon.

What would help!
Smarter Comment systems: I noted in “Comments Debate” that I’d like to post a comment and have it copied to my site. Be nice if when posting a comment I could check a box that e-mails it with my comment content to by e-mail address!

More on Blogs vs Forums: There was an earlier debate on Blogs vs Forums. It’s remains an important considering the role of comments and our perspective.

Forget the distinction. This really all goes back to the beginning. Comments, Trackbacks and Pings should be combined. When related to a post and individual archive on this site they are. In other words why make a big deal out of it?

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