Comments: Are They For The Author Or The Audience?

Everyday we crank out posts for readers to respond. We try to contribute to the conversation. We aim to solve a problem or have a problem solved for us by our readers. Everyday. The overall point is to receive feedback among other things. Can we all agree with that?Yet, there’s a huge stir about conversation fragmentation. I’m not going to rehash it. My focus for this post is whether users are now commenting for the authors or for the audience.

A Shift From Author To Audience

A huge shift seems to be occurring to the latter: the audience. Louis Gray’s latest post shows that it might not be as bad as we think. However, we’re not all Louis Gray (no offense Louis). For those that aren’t very well known, the shift from the comments being directed towards the author to the audience is a tough blow. Smaller blogs won’t welcome the hassle. Those with a more established reader base won’t really have to worry. Yet, one should ask their readers, are you commenting for me or are you commenting for the audience?

Commenting To The Author

If you’re commenting for the author, I feel there’s no reason that you should be commenting on places such as FriendFeed, Digg, Mixx, or any other site that isn’t the original site. Yesterday Steven Hodson pointed out:

We all go back to FriendFeed, Shyftr or even Twitter and we talk about the post there. I know because I have caught myself doing this numerous times but it wasn’t until this morning when I click through on FriendFeed to read Fred Wilson’s post only to return to FriendFeed to make my comment. I could just as easily have made the comment on Fred’s blog and really that is what I should have done but instead I added to some perceived fragmentation of the comments around that post.

My question to Steven is: were your comments for the author or for an audience? If it was for the author then you clearly shouldn’t have went back to FriendFeed. What sense would it make? Why make it more challenging for the author to know what’s on your mind if you’re directing comments at them, but posting them in an alternate site?

The Audience Isn’t Conversation Fragmentation

If you’re commenting for the an audience, then that’s an entirely different story and really is not for the author to worry about. In this case, it’s not even conversation fragmentation. It’s simply the user going off elsewhere to get opinions on a topic. While it would be nice to have that brainstorm session on the original site, it’s not necessary and doesn’t affect the author one way or another. The conversation would eventually venture off from the main point of the conversation anyways. Why would you, as an author, want users to start getting off topic on your site? You can definitely take that elsewhere for me.

Think and Clarify

Clarity is important here. Authors have to get over what’s not entirely meant for them and those that comment need to figure out who the hell they want to talk to. Users aren’t being clear on what their goal is, which is only stirring the pot even more.

Corvida Raven

A natural pioneer at grasping the rapidly changing landscape of technology, Corvida Raven talks tech in plain English on