What Is Conversational Blogging?

What is conversational blogging?  MSN has a few relevent pages, Google does too, but the answer doesn’t seem very clear.  I’m going to propose a definition.  Feel free to track-back or comment to add your 2 cents…

Conversational blogging is the act of publishing or reading blog entries in a way that groups related posts into a coherent dialogue.

There are several mechanisms that people use to build conversations in the blogosphere. 

  • Comments are the simplist, and often the easiest method.  It keeps all the relevent info in one place, and anyone who visits the post page can easily find the dialogue.  Comment spam, and all the things that fight comment spam (CAPTCHA, Moderation, etc.) detract from the usefulness of comments for dialogue.

  • Referrers are dead in my opinion.  Publishing referrers is just spam-bait.

  • Trackbacks may be the best we have for current technology.  Spam is still a problem, but automated checking and blacklists seem to be holding back the tide.

  • Tags.  Tags can be used to follow almost anything, and if they are specific enough, they can limit their results to a single conversation.

  • Search.  The various blog searches have ways to subscribe to “who links to this or that” feeds, or you can follow conversations by tailoring your searches properly.

How could it be better?  From a user perspective, when I’m reading feeds and find an interesting entry that might have an good conversation surrounding it, I’d love to be able to click something and set a “follow this conversation” flag.  My feed reader should then give me some good way to visualize a threaded representation of all the chunks of information that relate to that specific entry.  Comments, links, trackbacks, whatever, I’d want it all to be available in an organized manner.  Let me un-follow the conversation later if I lose interest, but otherwise, bring me the new bits as they appear on the web, and provide some context for how they fit in to the dialogue.

This is a feed reader problem, but it’s gonna need a great search back-end, and a well thought-out UI on the front.



3 thoughts on “What Is Conversational Blogging?”

  1. Hi, Rick.
    Your idea of a souped-up feed reader that would make it simpler to follow blog conversations really got my gears going. I posted a few thoughts on this theme over at my blog, "The Right Conversation."
    See: Cool Idea: Following blog Conversations Via a Feed Reader
    I’d appreciate it if you’d chime in on any further thoughts on this approach.
    – Amy Gahran

  2. I’d buy that for a dollar.
    I’m not sure whether threading would work necessarily, but chronological ordering with a reference to where each post came from might be enough for a start. Just having a list of comments that you can expand out from a post heading in a feed reader with some indication of how many unread comments there are when hidden would be a welcome addition.

  3. A similar problem interests me in spreading technical
    information. Suppose someone has asked online for help connecting to a
    printer, and someone provides a brief tutorial. It might require some
    knowledge of networking, which could be provided by other people in
    other documents. And while you’re at it, perhaps you need some
    background in fonts, which is yet somewhere else. To make it really
    complicated, different people come with different knowledge and
    therefore should take different paths through the various
    documents. Being in the field of technical information, I worry about
    this a lot and would like to see better organization.

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