This may or may not be part of the “secret sauce” in Gabe’s memeorandum.com, but I think Stowe Boyd is onto something. In a post about what makes blogs work — i.e., what makes them vibrant and helps them grow, as opposed to stagnating or becoming echo chambers — he says that he thinks it has something to do with the ratio of posts to comments and trackbacks.
Being a geek (and I meant that in a good way) Stowe comes up with a “conversational index” that quantifies that ratio, and figures if it is more than one — that is, if there are as many or more comments and trackbacks as there are posts — then the blog will flourish. Don Dodge has come to a similar conclusion, and so has Zoli Erdos.
I don’t know if the ratio needs to be one, or close to one, or whether you can even put a number on it, but I think this hits the nail on the head — what makes most blogs interesting isn’t so much the great things that the writer puts on there (as much as I like to hear the sound of my own voice), but what kind of response it gets, and how that develops, and who carries it on elsewhere on their own blog. And I agree that it would be nice if someone like technorati.com or memeorandum.com could track that kind of thing and make it part of what brings blogs to the top.
I like to see what people are talking about — not just what a blogger has to say, but what others have to say about what they say. That’s why I also agree with Steve Rubel that it would be nice to have a way of tracking comments, other than by subscribing to a feed of comments, or bookmarking posts you’ve commented on with del.icio.us or some other tool.
Stowe Boyd has more on the “conversation” conversation, as it were, here. And as far as tracking comments, no sooner did I mention it then CoComment.com came out with that exact thing. I’m sure that’s a coincidence though :-)