Blog Comments Aren’t Dead, But They Are Transforming

lolcat_blog_comments[1] I found an interesting post through Jesse Stay on Friendfeed this morning, pointing to a post by a fellow named Brandon Mendelson entitled “An End to Blog Comments.”

According to the New York Daily News, which is the only paper from New York City worth reading, Elizabeth Edwards is trolling Rielle Hunter in blog comment sections on posts related to her. Rielle was John Edwards mistress whom he fathered a love child with.

When trolling becomes the past time of mainstream celebrities and folks in the political realm, it’s time to reconsider why this feature is offered in the first place.

He goes on to say that just about any metric you use to measure your success online is useless.  RSS is BS because most people don’t use it. Social Network Followers are pointless unless they come back to your site and “convert.” Blog Comments are bunk because less than 1% of your audience will participate in conversation.

In fact, Brandon narrows all of social media down to two things that absolutely matter, rendering all other metrics useless:

The only two measurements of any website’s success are:

1) Unique traffic

2) Conversion.

And I’m not talking, “Did they click on the link?” I’m talking, “They clicked on the link, bought the item if there was one, and told their friends about it.”

I have a hard time believing that to be any sort of a definitive answer, but that’s mostly because I have a knee-jerk reaction to anyone telling me that their idea of success on the web is the only viable idea there is.

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Beyond the emotional reaction and into what matters (the facts), it’s important to remember that blogs (and the Web, for that matter) emerged as a form of communication, and not as a broadcast tool. The puzzlement I feel over fellows like Brandon that seem to have a narrow view of what the web is reminds me of the confusion I feel every time I go to Seth Godin’s blog and realize that there are no comment forms.

Social Media, blogs, and the majority of the web now is a giant spectrum of conversation. We are in what I call the Golden Age of Social Media, and there are a variety of ways to have a conversation, and one important element of that is blog comments.

Brandon, in his post, sees all commentors by the stereotypes: the Super Fan, the Dick and the Spammer.

We here at SiliconANGLE see a lot more stereotypes.  We see folks looking to further our education on a topic. We see the grammar nazi.  We see those looking to entertain (want to see entertaining comments? Check out the post by Kevin Nalty from Friday – the comments are priceless). We see, as Robin noted in Brandon’s comments section, people posting questions about programming and other technical issues.

Comments and conversation are both evolving.  Louis Gray chimed in on this conversation, saying “…people are finding other places and ways to hold conversations – be it on FriendFeed, Facebook and Twitter, for example. I appreciate all discussion that does take place, wherever it is and hope people find value.”

In news blogging, and many other forms of editorial content, comments are where the truth gets distilled.  Do comments need improvement?  Definitely so.  This is a topic we talked about quite extensively during the whole Sidewiki debacle (here, here and here).

We should focus on how to improve comments, rather than doing away with them.  Many folks are focusing on this right now (as are we in our SA Labs), including Disqus, Google and JS-Kit.

About Mark 'Rizzn' Hopkins

Mark “Rizzn” Hopkins is the Founding Editor of SiliconANGLE, as well as the creator of and Executive Producer for theCUBE. He’s a Bitcoin early adopter, as well as a blogging, podcasting and social media pioneer. Prior the founding of SiliconANGLE, Hopkins worked as Associate Editor at Mashable during its formative years. Prior to his career in startups and media, he worked as a developer for large corporations like Nokia, IBM, Apple and Cox Communications. Hopkins lives in Dallas, Texas with his wife and two children.