Sun Aug 22 2010

Dear Dave: I have the facts and I'm voting no

Dave Winer posted his proposal for a new kind of blog commenting system. Dave is a smart guy, and I’ve had the pleasure of exchanging ideas with him several times during my stay at the Techcrunch HQ back in 2005 and 2006. This proposal, however, doesn’t seem like the typical Dave Winer - mainly because it’s, well, not so great. So as a bit of a nod to one of the final lines of his post (“If you want to rebut a post, then you can create your own blog and post your rebuttal there.”), here are my comments on Dave’s proposal.

In short, Dave defends that there should be a 24h commenting period where comments would be visible only to their author so that they could be updated until the time was up. When that period ends, all comments are then turned visible, and commenting functionality is closed.>“I know some people think that blogs are conversations, but I don’t. I think they’re publications. And I think the role of comments is to add value to the posts. If you want to rebut a post, then you can create your own blog and post your rebuttal there”

As I alluded to on Twitter, I see many holes with this proposal - the main one being the removal of conversation from blogging. Now the irony here is that as Dave says in his own post, was one of the first blogs with comments. Blogging is about conversation indeed, Dave. Anyone who’s n ot having a bad day will tell you as much. I realize the frustration of the flaming and the burden of comment moderation you must go through, but I see that as acceptable. I’ll go as far as saying it is the price to pay for a great discussion and readership.

But I digress. The second greatest hole in Dave’s proposal is the lack of realization that people have no time. People have no time to remember checking on a post 24 hours later just to read what others had to say. By the time the 24 hour commenting period is up, a hundred (or a hundred thousand) other insightful posts will have been written on the blogosphere.

The way I see things, if blog comments were exclusively meant to add to the idea of the original post as Dave suggests (and I’m not necessarily saying they’re not - but exploring this would be a totally different post), you could go as far as letting people actually contribute information to the original post. But then you’d be talking about a wiki.

So let’s keep things simple. Blogging is about discussion and conversation. If a blog post is about exploring a point of view (like Dave’s is and mine is too), blog comments exist to dissect the thoughts, point out the flaws and add value (not 24 hours later when everyone will be looking at something else, but at any time).

Feel free to comment on this blog post.