SmoothSpan Blog

For Executives, Entrepreneurs, and other Digerati who need to know about SaaS and Web 2.0.

Fred: Comments Aren’t As Important as Blog Posts on Techmeme

Posted by Bob Warfield on July 28, 2008

VC Fred Wilson frets that Techmeme is a conversation that’s one sided because it doesn’t treat comments as highly as blog posts.  He is unhappy that Scoble’s post decrying Silicon Valley VC disease got onto to Techmeme but David Hornik’s reply did not.

Even if Hornik’s reply was as good or better than Scoble’s post (it wasn’t), I have a couple of problems with this.  First, its a reply.  Whatever interest or excitement it has fundamentally comes from responding to the blog post in the first place.  Techmeme and others are justified in focusing on the start of the conversation.  The blog post stands without the comments, but 90% of the comments cannot stand on their own without the blog post. 

Second, the purpose of Techmeme et al is to identify interesting conversations, not to microanalyze them down to which comment was the best.  What possible basis can they have for determining which comment is best at present anyway?  Are we going to measure impressions?  Do we care that the comments at top will automatically get more impressions than the ones at the bottom?  Are we going to vote?  At Helpstream, we let people indicate which response to a community question is the “best answer”, but no such facility exists in the blog comments I’m familiar with.

Fred’s been at this business of comments being more important or as important as the blog post for a while.  I read the comments.  There are often good ones.  Most of the time they are not as good as the blog post itself though, and this is not unexpected.

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2 Responses to “Fred: Comments Aren’t As Important as Blog Posts on Techmeme”

  1. Techmeme is tuned to find interesting, smart, and influential tech conversations, right? If a comment plays a large role (i.e. Hornik’s comment) in continuing or creating a conversation why shouldn’t it be included on Techmeme. You built this whole post around a conversation supply chain that included Hornik’s comment as the main ingredient.

    You ask, “What possible basis can they have for determining which comment is best at present…”? Doesn’t that question apply to anything that appears on Techmeme?

  2. smoothspan said

    Andrew, welcome!

    Techmeme is tuned to find conversations, not conversation fragments, which is what I view comments as. This post is built around Fred Wilson’s post, and Hornik’s comment is a side show. I specifically wrote it as a post and not as a comment to either Fred’s post or Scoble’s original post for that reason.

    When I ask for the basis, I am referring to some automated means of determining which comments should be included. In other words, the practical matter of identifying what comments merit being directrly cited. As I mention, impressions are not going to be indicative. Links? Not all comments can be linked directly to in all blog platforms.

    What is it we’re missing out on by not targeting comments? You still get the conversation itself identified. I suppose there is the potential of a blog post that is itself uninteresting but that contains a comment worthy of Techmeme. Do you think that is a common case? I can’t ever remember seeing such a thing, but I’d love to see some examples if someone could offer them.

    Cheers,

    BW

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