Discussion: Are Blog Comments Truly “Social”?

Content, Social Media

Let’s talk “comments”, shall we?

I popped into the #blogchat tonight for the first time in a while. Partly trying to avoid work, and partly trying to avoid the Golden Globes, I realized that I was actually in front of my computer at a decent time to be able to follow along.

What came out of it was some (unknowingly) deep discussions that I think are worth talking about as we ‘content creators’ enter the New Year.

Blog comments are, as of recently, a hot topic as they have seemingly gone unchanged in WordPress for several iterations now.  With people taking discussions to Social channels such as Twitter or Facebook, some bloggers (and even larger sites) have experimented with turning off comments on their blogs.

So, I pose a question: are blog comments a form of Social Media?

Definition of Social Media

I didn’t have to go very far to find an answer. It turns out that Google itself does actually consider blogging as a valid form of social media:

Blogs are Public

So, your very own blog is, by Google’s standards at least, a social network. Which makes sense, if you think about it. You create content with the sole purpose of one of a couple of things:

  1. To sell something
  2. To pitch an idea or thought
  3. As a cathartic measure

Most of the time, a blogger will fall into one of the first two categories, but even people who blog for an intrinsic value – and not for money or to become a thought leader – are still putting their information out there into cyberspace.

The internet is not private. It’s not somewhere you can put something and then expect not to have anyone find it. Your content can be accessed… even with the most obscure domain, the most stringent privacy fiters, and nearly anything else short of password protecting your content.

Transitive Logic

Since we know:

  • Blogs are public
  • Comments are on Blogs

Then, due to the transitive law, we can surmise that blog comments are public – as long as they’re turned on, that is.

But are they truly ‘social’?

I think so, but ultimately I think that the answer depends on the community on the site in question.  If a tree falls in a forest, does it make a sound?  If a comment is on a blog, and no one interacts with it, is it truly social?

If you post a blog entry, and allow comments (or even better, encourage people to comment) then yes, Virginia, your blog is social! If on the other hand you prefer to comment via social channels like Twitter and Facebook… then no, they are not.

It ain’t easy being “pleasy”.

It’s hard to please everyone. There are some people who will absolutely love your content and will share it every time they see it on Twitter and Facebook, but they will absolutely never come to your site to leave a comment.  There are also people who will see the post on Twitter or Facebook and will drop in to comment every time (Thanks Mom!).  And there are hundreds of middle-grounds – people who will occasionally comment, people who comment when their passions are ignited, people who comment when you misspell a word – the list goes on and on.

There have been attempts to merge the blog comment and social comment worlds, but all have their drawbacks and setbacks. Whether it’s how it handles the comments, the ability to pull in from all of the various networks, or even how it stores the comments outside of your website – all blog commenting engines I’ve seen ultimately have features that you have to “settle” for.

So what do you think?

A few questions that I’d leave you with, tonight:

  • Do you comment on blogs? Have you recently?
  • Are there any websites doing a great job of merging social and blog comments into one stream?
  • Do you agree/disagree with the statements above? Why or why not?

Show your love by (you guessed it) leaving a comment below!