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.