Why blogging comments suck

The other day, Gary Shapiro, the guy who runs the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, dropped by and left a comment here. There were a few problems:

1. My commenting system caught his comment in moderation, so people didn’t see it posted until I took it out of moderation right now.
2. No one probably knows who Gary is and thinks he’s just another random commenter. Some comments ARE more important than others, but there’s really no way for me to point out Gary’s comment without doing a new blog post. Even then, if you happen only to see the post that Gary commented on you’d never know that Gary’s comment deserves more attention than the other 54 comments left there.

How do you fix this? Not easily. I wish there were a system where I could tell my readers when a comment came in that deserves a lot more attention than the others. Also, I wish we could see the social network of the people commenting (I’d love to have their Facebook, Twitter, FriendFeed networks show up linked into their comment somehow and also have warnings when people leave me comments that have a huge amount of social capital, like Gary does).

How did I know who Gary Shapiro was? I met Gary once and have heard him speak. His comment gives a hint at what he does, but his comment that he “runs the show” could be easily missed by an untrained eye.

Anyway, I’m interviewing Tim O’Reilly this afternoon (leave questions I should ask him here on this FriendFeed cluster) and I’ll definitely ask him about how we can improve our interaction systems on the web to better expose those who have real impact on all of our lives.

Thanks Gary for dropping by and defending trade shows and I’ll see you at CES.

122 thoughts on “Why blogging comments suck

  1. I've been used Disqus to secure my comment and to be interactive. It is also easy and fast to start using, whether you are a website owner or just a commenter.

  2. The issue is not, “Why blogging comments suck”. I’ve seen plenty of fine blog comment systems. If you were hosting the blog yourself and were capable of programming in PHP, you could hack out a comment rating plugin in a rather short period of time.

    Additionally, it’s not like you can’t edit important comments and add a small graphic or something.

    The headline should have been, “Why my blogging comments suck”

  3. The issue is not, “Why blogging comments suck”. I’ve seen plenty of fine blog comment systems. If you were hosting the blog yourself and were capable of programming in PHP, you could hack out a comment rating plugin in a rather short period of time.

    Additionally, it’s not like you can’t edit important comments and add a small graphic or something.

    The headline should have been, “Why my blogging comments suck”

  4. My question is how much information do you really need when someone leaves a comment? A comment’s worth is primarily based upon what the person says not who they are, I would think.

  5. My question is how much information do you really need when someone leaves a comment? A comment’s worth is primarily based upon what the person says not who they are, I would think.

  6. Sorry, Robert, but you’re way off here. The concept of “importance” is a value judgment. While content must be judged objectively (does it relate factual information), its *value* to any particular reader is determined by that reader answering two additional questions: (1) To whom does this information apply? (2) For what purpose?

    What you’re proposing is similar to saying “the sun is an important value.” Most would not argue on a geophysical scale. But to a specific reader (valuer), the question becomes… is the sun an important value in Kansas in August after it hasn’t rained for four months? Is it a value for someone with a home using solar energy? Obviously, each answer (and the intrinsic “importance” of the sun) would be different in these cases.

    Madoff was a very important man. I’m sure all of his comments would be highlighted as Priority One in a mechanism similar to what you propose… right up until everyone finds out he’s built his “importance” on sand.

  7. Sorry, Robert, but you’re way off here. The concept of “importance” is a value judgment. While content must be judged objectively (does it relate factual information), its *value* to any particular reader is determined by that reader answering two additional questions: (1) To whom does this information apply? (2) For what purpose?

    What you’re proposing is similar to saying “the sun is an important value.” Most would not argue on a geophysical scale. But to a specific reader (valuer), the question becomes… is the sun an important value in Kansas in August after it hasn’t rained for four months? Is it a value for someone with a home using solar energy? Obviously, each answer (and the intrinsic “importance” of the sun) would be different in these cases.

    Madoff was a very important man. I’m sure all of his comments would be highlighted as Priority One in a mechanism similar to what you propose… right up until everyone finds out he’s built his “importance” on sand.

  8. Why not implement a rating system for comments just like we rate other content? Then the highest rated (theoretically most intelligent) commenters will rise to the top as voted by all readers. Seems simple enough.

  9. Why not implement a rating system for comments just like we rate other content? Then the highest rated (theoretically most intelligent) commenters will rise to the top as voted by all readers. Seems simple enough.

  10. Robert,
    You said “Matt: sorry, being somebody does have some weight.”

    Who determines if you are indeed “somebody”?

    Why don’t you close your comments if they “suck” as you say.

    If what Gary had to say was so important, YOU make the determination on your blog and promote it as a post.

    Also, talk to WordPress and have them put a rating type of system in place where readers promote worthy coments to the top of the comment section and of course YOUR rating would have a larger weight in the promotion algorithm.

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