How do you track the conversations that go on in comments around the blogosphere? It’s easy enough to know what the actual blogs themselves are doing, after all - we have our feed readers, Google’s blog search and technorati. We have trackbacks and pings to let us know when people are linking to us on their sites. But what about the hidden conversations that are happening in the comments?
There are two angles to this. For example, it annoys me that when I comment on someone else’s blog, I am leaving content there that isn’t aggregated on my blog. I see DavePress as my little hub on the web, from which you can find out what I am doing elsewhere, on Twitter, or del.icio.us, or Flickr. I have a widget on this blog that displays the latest comments here - I’d also like one that displays my latest comments elsewhere.
This might be a fairly selfish thing to want, but the ability to do this has more practical advantages too. If we want people, whether public servants or those working for private enterprises, to engage with bloggers and to respond to them we really ought to be providing a way for those responses to be easily tracked.
Likewise, when a discussion is going on around an issue, with lots of stuff in the comments, how can that be tracked, or even found in the first place? You can subscribe to comment feeds I guess, but if you do that with every blog you’ll end up with twice as many feeds as you have already…
I think this could be a really important issue if we are to start using blogs as consultation mediums.
I suppose one possible answer is that we abandon comments altogether, and instead everyone responds to everyone else via blog entries, linking to the original. I have read of some bloggers turning off the comments on their site for exactly this reason.
It’s a funny decision to make, actually, whether to start your own post on a subject or whether to respond in the comments. I don’t think I have a hard and fixed rule about it, maybe it just comes down to how much I have to say on a topic.
Does anyone have any ideas on how we can track comment conversations - whether our own or those we are interested in? What could change to make it easier?