I have started using CoComment based on your mention of it a while back. I admit that I really wasn't doing much commenting prior to that because I never remembered to go back and look. Having the comment threads in Google Reader with everything else makes it much easier for me to keep track of. I still don't do enough commenting, but I'm doing more now.So what do you feel you get by using MyBlogLog, Explode, or other tools? Do you feel that MyBlogLog really does help you understand your readers better, as they say it will?
And you know I love good questions (Continuing Thoughts on Questions, What Questions Should We be Asking?, Better Questions for Learning Professionals)...
So, thanks Christy.
Your question on MyBlogLog and Explode is somewhat challenging to answer because I'm using those tools and coComment with the goals of:
- Engaging in interesting conversations (with people) happening through blog posts and comments
- Finding interesting people (and their blogs)
- Engaging with these people over the course of time and sometimes establishing relationships outside of blog discussions, e.g., meeting at conferences, speaking on panels
The promise of MyBlogLog and Explode is that they will show me who else (who is a subscriber to these services) is visiting my blog so that I can find interesting people who may not necessarily be commentors or bloggers. I've found this moderately interesting, but so far, I've not really got much value. Instead, it's helped me realize that it's the discussion that engages me with other people. Simply knowing that they exist without discussion doesn't help me nearly as much. It does satisfy a bit of curiousity around "Who's visiting my blog?"
What's sorely lacking in the combination of these tools is full support for Blog Discussions. Blog discussions start on one blog with a post. Then discussion ensues via a combination of comments on the original post and via posts in other blogs. And, of course, these then get comments and even more blogs post are created that discuss the topic. The original post often points to some of the posts via trackbacks, but if you want to track this kind of network discussion so that you can see what's being written by different people via blog posts and comments, there's really no way.
Consider if you wanted to track the Five Things Meme as it worked it's way through the blogosphere. Theoretically, Meme Tracking should help you be able to track this meme. For example, you can certainly use Technorati to search for "Five Things Meme" to find a list of blog posts. You can subscribe to this search. And luckily the term is specific enough that you will likely see posts that mostly are discussing this Meme. Most discussion topics are not as well specified which makes it harder to even search. For example try searching for blog posts related to the most recent LCB Big Question - Supporting New Managers? Some authors link to the original post, some don't. Some use the same question text. Some don't. Basically it's hard to create an effective search against a particular topic.
Even assuming that we had a good way to find all the blog posts related to a particular thread of discussion, we would still have the problem of not having an effective way to track comments. While CoComment works well for a single post, it is somewhat flaky and there's no easy way to add all the posts involved in a thread. In other words, it needs a way to take the search results you get on a particular meme (thread) and track all the comments of those posts (or the ones you select).
While I'm at it, let me suggest that what I really would have wanted from MyBlogLog is to form a community based on continued participation in threads that I'm also looking at. Further, it should extract from my community what other people are reading and thus what I might be interested in also seeing. I believe these tools are headed this way, but they've got a ways to go.
Oh and one last thing - shouldn't I be able to get rankings and ratings of the articles being read / rated by my community that was established based on participation in my threads. We should have Digg, but only for the group of people that I've naturally become associated with because of similar interest in topics. I've read of tools that look to do this, but they each assume that we are willing to spend the time for form a community based on a model other than participation in threads.