Comments are not blog posts
Fred Wilson started a discussion about blog comments today. Here is the final paragraph of his post which pretty much sums up his thoughts:
What’s the difference between a great comment and a great blog post? Nothing. What’s the difference between a great commenter and a great blogger? Nothing. At least in theory. It’s time for practice to meet theory.
I don’t buy this for a second. There is no difference between a blog post and a comment? Fred goes so far as saying that Techmeme should track comments just as it does blog posts (which of course also means that Fred doesn’t quite understand how Techmeme works).
The difference between a blog post and a comment is very simple: a blog post is meant to spark discussion – a comment is part of that discussion. Bloggers spend a long time thinking about what they write and maybe edit and rewrite their posts once or twice. Comments, on the other hand, are written within a few minutes and while they themselves can often spark new posts, they are definitely in a different category from blog posts.
Don’t get me wrong – I love comments – I try to write lots of them and few things in blogging make me happier than when my posts spark a conversations in the comments here, on FriendFeed, or anywhere else. There is lots of value in them and in the relationships they can create.
Comments and blog posts are symbiotic – without a blog posts – there can be no blog comments and both have their own kind of value.
Sure – a Twitter tweet, a Flickr photo, or even a change in your Google Talk status can spark a discussion on FriendFeed these days and Steven Hodson would probably rightly say that this is an example of the ever changing landscape of blogging.
However, I think there is a qualitative difference between a well-thought out blog post and a 140 character tweet, just as there is a major difference between a full-scale blog posts and a comment.
Update: Just moments after I post this, a post by Alexander van Elsas shows up in my RSS reader – looks like his thoughts about this are quite similar to mine:
But at the same time I also feel that commenting is easy. Easy, not because the stuff that is written down is obvious in any way. But easy because the original blog writer triggered a commenter to think and react. And that is what Blogging is all about. Some are in it for the money, some are in it for the fun. But a great blog post, no matter what it is about, makes the reader think. And that is what is so hard about blogging.