Comment fragmentation is a hot topic in the blogosphere right now. There are tons of discussions on it. If you search on the topic you can see that every blogger has an opinion on it. There are tons of blog posts written on it. Today even Seesmic is being accused of hijacking threads of comments. I myself have commented a bit fragmented, here and there ;-) , so I thought it would be a good time now to provide you with my 2cts on the topic.
Many people seem to have a problem with comment fragmentation. I am going to try and avoid SEO debates on this. Not my thing really although I can understand and appreciate that being important to some bloggers. If we forget any SEO implications most bloggers seem to want to be able to track an entire conversation, preferably in one place. Most would like it on their blog, but if that doesn’t work then there are all kinds of tools around that will help you (or the toolmaker) to centralise it at another place. Friendfeed, Disqus, IntenseDebate, they are all at it.
While the idea of being able to track and follow a conversation that you might have started sounds good, I personally believe that centralising discussion is not a good thing. Conversations are by definition not bounded by time or space. They happen here and there, now and then. It is an illusion to think we can centralize discussions. One of my Friendfeed comments in one of such discussions was:
I just left a comment somewhere, can’t remember. And I saw a guy in an elevator and talked to him about it, my wife is in, and I think I might have dropped the subject somewhere at this party I was at last night, although I can’t remember if I was actually there or not. O yeah, and I just placed this comment here too. What is this fracturing all about, not a big deal obviously ;-)
While I ended it with a ;-) I did mean everything I said. At the very same time I’m writing this blog post I know there are people out there thinking the same or opposing thing. Writing it down or keeping it to themselves. Talking about it with others or installing software in order to try and get a grip on it.
You may provide an argument following this line “I wrote a post on a subject and I’m interested to follow and interact in the discussion that it started”. I get the part of wanting to be able to know and participate. It is fun, provides insight and helps our self esteem move up a notch or two.
“Did I just start that amazing conversation? Oh wait, is Robert Scoble paying attention to it, wow. ;-) )”
Be honest, we all love that.
It’s even better if all of this conversation would take place on the original site, the place where the author published his blog post.
But social media technology and services have ensured that the conversation can take place anywhere. That’s the power of social media. It isn’t about media, content or distribution. It is about being able to interact anywhere we want. Web 1.0 and even 2.0 are about building destination sites. Concentrating traffic and users in one place, preferably with walled gardens. Social media is our great escape. It helps us to move away from destinations. It helps the user and the conversation to be set free. It enables what I call the user centric web. The web where the user, and not the destination is important.
Would I love to be able to track conversations I might have started? Sure. Would I love it when people would comment more on my blog than at other places. You bet. But some things should not be forced into central destinations. And conversation or comments are on that list. They need to be set free. They need to scatter around this wonderful universe. One giant conversation. Who cares if we can’t follow it from beginning to end. The great thing about it is, we can always start a new one!
Can we please have more fragmentation!