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Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Types of Blog Discussions

I've been involved with several different groups of people who are having different kinds of discussions that happen among bloggers. The most common models of blog discussions seem to have turned into a few patterns:
  • Organic Blog Discussions - someone posts something interesting, lots of bloggers post on the topic, distributed discussion ensues.
  • Blog Tag Memes - Someone posts a question and "Tags" five people to give their response. See Five Things Meme as an example.
  • Blog Hub - A central blog provides a place where the topic is raised and comments are collected and bloggers post. See Supporting New Managers and What Would You Do to Support New Managers? as an example.
  • Discussion Group Hub - questions/topics are raised via the discussion group and can go out into the blog world to get a more diverse audience - which is now happening with a group such as LinkedIn Bloggers.

There are other forms of interplay in the blog world such as Blog Carnivals but these are more link sharing or aggregating than really aimed at discussion.

The most natural of these for the blogosphere would definitely be Organic Blog Discussions and Blog Tag Memes that allow the conversation to grow naturally. Obviously, there are issues with natural forms:

  • Rich Organic Blog Discussions are somewhat rare and the chances definitely increase with the size of the audience - and the interest level in the topic.
  • Pick-up of the topic is more likely with the Blog Tag Meme approach because particular individuals are solicited via links into the discussion.
  • It's hard to follow the discussion as it spreads through the web of blogs.
  • It's especially hard to follow comments across different bloggers blogs.
  • You lose track of the discussion quickly and thus, many discussions flame out very quickly.

Clearly there is a need for better tools to track discussions as they move through the blogosphere in organic forms. There is some support via Meme Tracking and comment tracking tools like coComment.

The use of hubs (a Blog Hub or a Discussion Group Hub) helps to gather a critical mass of discussion participants and provides a better vehicle for tracking the discussion. Of course, this is much less natural and requires personal/group initiative and consensus to make it happen.

I've personally been playing with different forms and I'm still not sure I know what will make sense in which cases. Certainly I've come to understand the importance of tools like MyBlogLog, Explode, CoComment, Meme Trackers, etc. to help bloggers and blog readers to form community around a network discussion. At the same time, these tools are in their infancy as is our understanding of network conversations.

See also:

1 comment:

Christy Tucker said...

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?