Blogging’s missing piece

One core mechanic lacking in modern blogging: knowing who is reading your work.

With an email newsletter, the writer has reasonable confidence their work is delivered to a known audience. With a blog, the best the writer has are comments and Twitter, both which are totally broken.

There should be better tools for the writer to publish to a specific audience (say, <50 people), for the audience to receive the work through their preferred means (e.g. email at the end of the day vs. RSS), and for both to engage in a productive dialogue that evolves over time.

Oh, and one more important piece: a “Start Here” point of entry for those new to the conversation, so they can painlessly get up to speed. 

Welcome Back to the Village

Strava is a social network, but you can pay for premium features. When someone asks me, “Is paying Strava worth it? What premium features do you like?” I answer, “I could care less about the premium features. I need Strava to exist.”

While the value that Strava the social network provides me is undeniable, Strava creates another construct. The humans who choose to be there are bound together by a shared purpose that I see each time I ride my bike. I often stop at the side of the road and get off my bike for a quick drink or bite. As other bikers pass, it is normal for total strangers to stop their ride and ask, “Hey are you ok?”

See, Strava built a village.

Michael Lopp – Rands in Repose

More ideas for “unsucking” commenting

A post on Xark! today discusses why newspaper website comments suck and what might be done to “unsuck” them. The synthesis of why they suck is that newspapers don’t allocate enough time or staff resources to participating in the conversation and, when they do, newspapers take the wrong approach to community management. In short, there is generally a lot of room for improvement.

Upgrading newsroom culture is one part of it, I believe, but the right tools have to be in place first so that participants in this new culture shift doesn’t run into barriers of frustration. I think strides can be made on both the frontend and backend of a news organization website. As a part of the user experience, comments shouldn’t require user registration but rather should be able to “sign in” with Facebook Connect or OpenID, or leave a comment with an email address to be verified once. If someone wants to add information to the discussion anonymously, I think that should be a submission form separate from the comment thread. The web is a global commons where news organizations should be facilitating intelligent conversations.

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