The debate over fragmentation of blog comments has been around for awhile — I’ve written about it, and so have people like Louis Gray and MG Siegler and others — and I don’t think it’s going away any time soon. Some argue that having comments at places like FriendFeed (or Shyftr, or a number of other sites) isn’t really that big a deal, and that it’s no different than people discussing your blog post via email or some other place that you can’t see it. But Fred Wilson had an interesting take on it in one of his blog posts today, about a blog post by his brother Jackson: he said as far as he’s concerned, bloggers effectively get “paid” by people commenting on their posts:
So here’s the deal. Jackson instigated the conversation with that post. His reward is the comments it generates. That’s how bloggers get paid. And he’s not getting his due on this one.
I think that’s an interesting way of looking at it. Obviously, comments don’t actually pay bloggers for their posts (although the tip-jar model is pretty close). And I’m sure some bloggers would rather get paid with actual money. But I still think Fred is onto something — comments, and other interaction with readers, are one of the ways in which bloggers are rewarded for their effort, along with links from other bloggers, high ranking on sites like Techmeme, etc. It would be nice to think that the sheer joy of crafting an awesome blog post was enough, but some feedback is nice too, even if it’s not completely positive. (Note: For what it’s worth, I agree with Jackson — Mott the Hoople was awesome).
That’s why, like Fred, I am hopeful that comments in all kinds of places can be aggregated in more ways. I’ve got Disqus on my blog (as Fred does) and that helps — and now I have the FriendFeed plugin working as well, so any comments that appear there show up here as well. I don’t mind people commenting somewhere else, but I like the idea that I (or anyone else) can see them all in one place if I want to do that.
Steven Hodson thinks WordPress should buy Disqus, and Broadstuff has some thoughts too about what he calls “dis-aggregating the aggregators.” Allen Stern of Centernetworks has a video response. And Hutch Carpenter of I’m Not Actually a Geek thinks that fragmented conversations can actually be a good thing.