The Life and Death of Blog Comments

Pearls Before Swine comic strip - These bloggers are an angry bunch 

When blogging hit its heyday, it was all about “the conversation.” Everyone was supposed to start blogs in order to start conversations with people. In fact, it was often debated if a blog was really a blog if someone turned off their comments.

When Seth Godin eliminated comments from his blog back in 2006, one of the reasons he cited was “it takes way too much of my time to even think about them, never mind curate them.” Hugh MacLeod said in a random notes on blogging post on his Gapingvoid blog that “If a blog doesn’t allow comments, then yes, it’s still a blog. People who say otherwise are just getting in touch with their ‘Inner Idealistic Wanker.'”

I’ve always been of the mind that a blog must allow comments, although I moderate them on mine – which is something else that many people frown upon. I do it not because I’m afraid of negative comments (I’d welcome them actually, since it would mean I’d elicted some sort of response), but rather because I’m simply trying to keep all the pharma spam off the site believing that if one gets through, 100 will follow quickly behind it.

With the birth of Twitter, many began to wonder Is Twitter Killing Blog Comments? The conversations certainly seem to be shifting away from one focused location on a blog. When I share a link to one of my blog posts on Facebook, almost all of the comments on it remain in Facebook. And, I recently posted something that I thought a particular friend on Twitter might have a comment regarding, so I DM’d them to see what they thought. The answer came back as a direct message, too.

I didn’t specify that I wanted the response in the form of a blog comment (seemed too forward for my style), but as a blogger themselves I thought they might lean that direction. But, no, we are all inclined to take the easiest path to responding, which is generally right where we read something – no extra clicks required.

So with all this worry about The Death of the Blog Comment, it was nice recently to see a post from HubSpot talking about not only the benefits of commenting on blogs, but also giving tips on how to do it constructively. Perhaps there is still a life for blog comments and the news of their death is being greatly exaggerated.

I know I’m going to try to make myself take a little more time and follow the HubSpot tips for adding a “helpful presence in the blogosphere” by commenting on other’s blog posts.

Facebook: Does it Help or Hurt Your Job Search?

That was the question posed in a social media LinkedIn group recently by a soon-to-be college graduate and I was one of the first to answer with this:

In my personal opinion, it’s all about how you use your page and what is posted on it.

If your updates and photos are primarily about keggers, hooking up and skipping classes, then it’s not going to benefit your job search and you should keep it private. However, if you’re posting links to blog posts you’ve written on topics related to your particular career field, or seen attending events by professional associations/clubs and other such activities that indicate you’re serious about your chosen profession, then it can help.

Also remain mindful of what your friends might post for you – don’t let yourself be photographed in situations you wouldn’t want a potential employer (or your mom?) to see.

Many other great comments soon followed in the thread of discussion.

One young job-seeker shared how she felt embarrased when an interviewer commented on how many friends she had in Facebook and what photos she had posted. It doesn’t sound like the friends and photos themselves were embarrasing, but the interviewee was taken aback by the fact that her personal life was being discussed in an interview. Laws are different around the world, but I know from the human resources training I received when I was a hiring manager at a past job that here in the U.S. there are many personal questions employers cannot legally ask a job applicant.

Which was a point another commenter made, when she said “employers are getting up to speed and grappling with a host of legal issues around monitoring potential employee or employee social networking activity.” A social media practitioner herself, she noted that she keeps her own Facebook privacy settings at maximum, but points people to other public spaces where they can evaluate her expertise.

 Someone chimed in with the human resource perspective, too. She said, “Is what you do on your own time your own business? If only… While many employers and HR folks are completely conflicted about how to make the best and most legal use of information contained via sites like Facebook, they worry constantly about hiring people who leave potential clues about bad behavior. Will the gun lover be violent at work? Will the party girl damage our reputation with clients? Will the guy who took a mental health day on Wednesday turn out to be a slacker?”

With that in mind, she considers how all her Facebook comments might be viewed by consulting clients or prospective employers. “That makes Facebook much less fun, but being employed is a beautiful thing,” she added.
Social Networks
 But, my favorite comment of all was “The best thing you can do is create your own personal information policies about your social networks and stick to them.”

This is something I think I’ve been doing, although not in as formal of a way as might be good.  It felt awkward recently when I tried to redirect someone’s friend request in Facebook over to a connection in LinkedIn intsead. You see, for me, my personal information policy has been about different requirements for entry to the different networks.

Twitter

My largest is on Twitter, where the bar to entry is pretty low. I expect that everything I say there is extremly public and my two main criteria for following someone are 1) do i find them interesting and/or 2) have they started a conversation with me there?

Facebook

For Facebook, I need to have known you somewhere else first, although that is not limited to meeting in real life. Maybe we went to school together or maybe we’ve been Twitter friends for a long time. Either way, I have to have more of a connection to you to be friends on Facebook than to follow you on Twitter.

LinkedIn

And, then there’s LinkedIn, where the whole conversation that prompted this post took place. This network I reserve for old-fashioned career networking. It is filled with people I’ve actually worked with, some I’ve worked with indirectly, some are vendors, and some I may have only met at conferences or on a plane. But no matter how we met, we met first somewhere outside of LinkedIn and they are someone that I think may be useful to my career somewhere down the road. 

What about you? Do you have similar personal policies for managing your social networks?

Image credit (click through to see some more great conversation around the designer’s “thinking I’ve been doing lately about the ecosystem of social networks and the problem of managing it all and of keeping the personal separate from the professional.”): http://www.flickr.com/photos/joepemberton/ / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

The 3D Web Is Still Coming. Don’t Be Caught Catching Up.

I’ve had two tabs open in my browser for a while now with two very interesting articles both related to virtual worlds. I wanted to do more than just tweet a link to them. I thought I’d Amplify them, but the topics are so similar they didn’t really make sense to do as two and there’s no way to combine them there. So, instead, I’m relying on that old technology of blogging <wink> to let me share these interesting articles. 

Time to put together a well-educated opinion on either has not materialized, however. So, I’ll just share a few highlights that really caught my interest.

Business on OpenSim

The killer app for OpenSim is as a platform for virtual meetings. Virtual meetings are somewhere between face-to-face meetings and Web conferences, and allow for more interaction and immersion for the attendees.

Virtual meetings also allow for complete creativity with regard to the setting. Meetings can be held in copies of traditional conference rooms or offices, or on a beach on a tropical island, or a virtual museum, or inside a giant human cell. Attendees can sit on a chair and listen to a presentation, or walk around through exhibits or presentation panels, or interact with the virtual environment.

OpenSim can be an effective replacement for Second Life or other virtual worlds when the potential attendees are  new to virtual worlds. After all, if they have to learn how to use a platform from scratch, they might as well start out on OpenSim and allow the enterprise running the meeting to enjoy greater control at a lower cost than other virtual world platforms.

The author then looks at how OpenSim might work for marketing, as many of us have experimented with in SecondLife:

The population of individual OpenSim grids is even smaller. Ony 4,550 people logged into the largest OpenSim-based grid, OSGrid, over the past 30 days. By comparison, more than a million logged into Second Life in the same time period.  Even with the population of all the hypergrid-enabled grids is taken into account, the OpenSim user base is still tiny compared to Second Life.

This may change as a Web-based viewer for OpenSim is developed, and more schools, enterprises, gaming companies and social groups move to OpenSim.

I think the marketing opportunity will change, but probably not based on sheer numbers on the grid. More likely, the marketing opportunity is more targeted at niche audiences that the brands bring onto their own sims for specific purposes. I can imagine a community built up through a social networking site that is then brought in-world for special events.

So, the question remains posed in this other article:
How much life is there in Second Life?

More and more people around the world are committing to the obvious. The population in virtual worlds such as Second Life has grown to tens of millions in the past decade, which should come as no surprise to those 35 or younger, technology nerds of all ages and anybody who can no longer imagine making a living without the Internet.

Virtual worlds are the product of the same advances in computer technology that brought us Google, eBay and Craigslist. They offer similar benefits: Fast and convenient access to ever more sophisticated information. They come with similar, built-in hurdles: You have to have a computer powerful enough to run the software and you need to adapt to new rules. And they raise similar questions: What should be public and free? What is proprietary and needs to be private and secured behind a firewall?

What’s different about virtual worlds is the out-of-body experience that defies the laws of nature.

So while there are niche possibilities in OpenSim, there also remain opportunities in SecondLife to create online experiences that capture the attention of random mass markets. And something bigger could be coming.

At least one person at Intel is predicting that “the internet will look significantly different in five to 10 years, when much of it will be three dimensional, or 3D.

And, hence my title of this post. Yes, we’ve been hearing about the 3D web for several years, and it’s easy to dismiss it as hype, or grow disappointed that it’s not here yet. But, I do think it’s a more likely part of our future than floating Jetson-style cars. Ignore it and find yourself catching up later.

Can’t Take All the Southern Out of This Belle

Easter has come and gone and it left me thinking about a couple of things from my Deep South upbringing that I don’t think I’ll ever shake.

One is the tradition of an Easter dress. As much as I fought my mother over the requirement that girls wear dresses to church every Sunday when I was a kid, and as much as I now enjoy attending a church where I’m comfortable in my jeans, I have to say I was a little disappointed looking around and seeing young girls in blue jeans at Easter service. I almost tweeted a comment about how I was pondering the impact of the growth of casual churches on the retail industry!
Easter Dresses

I had forced my own girl into a fancy number that her uncle and his girlfriend bought for her last year and she’d just about grown into. It’s very likely the only time she’ll ever wear it. As she would say, it’s not really her style. Dresses on Sunday’s is one tradition I won’t hand down to her.

But, Easter is just a little different. It still seems like a time that deserves something extra. A columnist in this month’s issue of Southern Living Magazine (yes, I’m a subscriber) noted: “An Easter dress was your prettiest, dressiest Sunday-go-to-meetin’ ensemble of the year. It screamed spring: floaty fabrics in pastel colors; short sleeves, puff sleeves, or no sleeves; store-bought or handmade.”

The other Easter-related bit of Southern ettiquite that I honor is the wearing of white – or to be exact the wearing of white dresses, skirts, pants or shoes only after Easter and never after Labor Day. I wasn’t raised strictly according to the rules of “A Southern Belle Primer,” but I got well-versed on it as an LSU sorority girl, and the shoes portion of that is #3 on their Southern Belle’s Ten Golden Rules.

Oh, I suppose I could break it. Many people do. But, there’s actually something fun about pulling those items out after Easter – it’s like getting a new wardrobe without shopping or spending any money!

So, I’ll probably pass that one down to my girl. That, and my absolute distaste for ever showing a bra strap. 🙂

Image via Creative Commons courtesy of Moultrie Creek.