Fred Wilson and the power of comments

by Mathew on January 11, 2009 · 17 comments

Over the years that I’ve been blogging, I’ve continually made the argument (as plenty of other people have as well) that comments are an integral part of a fully-functioning blog. As part of my new job as communities editor at the Globe and Mail — which I wrote about here — I’ve been encouraging writers at the newspaper to not just read the comments but also respond to them. Why? A couple of reasons. One is that it helps to improve the tone of the comments, since it helps to make it obvious that a) someone is reading them and b) someone actually cares what is being said.

The other reason is that, despite the occasional idiot who just wants to pick a fight, comments can help to trigger not just an interesting conversation, but one that actually expands and advances the issue in question. Fred Wilson’s blog post on the future of newspapersis an excellent example. It’s actually a follow-up to a previous post about his use of media, but it has sparked a fascinating debate about the efficacy of blogs as a reporting medium, the utility of editors, and many other topics. And Fred is right there, as he always is, responding and interjecting alongside them.

The most obvious thing about the post, of course, is that it is in response to a comment from a reader, who said that Fred’s blog was great but that it wasn’t a replacement for journalism in any real sense because he doesn’t report on things, he just opines. Fred responds, and then other readers move the debate forward, including Dave Winer and entrepreneur Steven Kane, talking about the differences (or lack thereof) between blogging and reporting, about examples of each, about future business models.

Highly recommended.

  • http://beatermagazine.com Nick Norris

    Well, here's my comment. I completely agree. The best way anyone can engage their users, is to go out there with them and talk up their point. A lot of times, if someone writes a blog about a specific topic, and one of the comments disregards or discredits their point, it should be the bloggers mission to be able to back up their point. I have seen so many instances where the blogger is completely torn apart by the readers and never engaged in a solid debate.

    Good blog, I like it.

  • http://www.mathewingram.com/work mathewi

    Great point, Nick. Thanks for the comment.

  • http://shegeeks.net Corvida

    User engagement is very important. If you want them to hear you, you need to hear them as well too! FriendFeed is a prime example of how replying to comments can expand the discussion and engage even more users. User engagement opens the door to plenty more!

    Nice post Mathew!

  • http://avc.blogs.com fredwilson

    yes, yes, yes. this is so right Matthew. i reblogged the opening of this at fredwilson.vc

  • http://www.mathewingram.com/work mathewi

    Thanks, Corvida. You are quite right — that's one of the things I like most about FriendFeed.

  • http://www.mathewingram.com/work mathewi

    Thanks, Fred — and thanks for hosting such great comments :-)

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  • http://www.goarticles.com/cgi-bin/showa.cgi?C=1494198 Rob

    That’s some interesting points you have raised. I wonder if its going to stick. Anyways I learnt something new all the same.

  • http://www.englishclass.com.tw ????

    Interesting post. I have made a twitter post about this. Hope others find it as interesting as I did.

  • Guest

    Interesting post. I have made a twitter post about this. Hope others find it as interesting as I did.

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