Fractured comments and owning the conversation.

# conversationThe discussion has continued around the issue of conversations prompted by blogs and where they should be held.

Back in February I discussed the possibility of being able to comment directly from your feed reader in my post "It's the conversation that matters". Now with services like and FriendFeed this is happening (we love choice) but the problem becomes how we keep track of the conversation when it is decentralised - or, as is now being said, when the comments are fractured.

The debate as to who owns the conversation has been rumbling along, Louis Gray says bloggers should be aware of where interaction could be taking place and engaging wherever we can. Sarah Perez echoes this by saying that "Thoughts, opinions, and conversations don’t belong to anyone, anywhere, at anytime" - perhaps a bit too far but I get where she is coming from.


As I said previously, the argument for having comments centralised is context. Having trains of thought spread throughout a number of different services is not conducive to a fluent conversation so - rather than wanting ownership over the discussion - I personally would like all comments referring back to one place for the sake of context in order to aid the flow of conversation.

The problems come when different services do not integrate and each services ends up with its own thread relating to any given subject that does not refer back to anywhere else. Either all services should aggregate content from everywhere else (which isn't going to happen) or all comments should come back to one central location for the sake of clarity - the most obvious place is the material source: the blog.

This is why I get so excited over the potential of services such as If RSS readers support comment pass-back then we can keep the choice of feed readers but allow any conversation to be visible in its entirety.

The advantage of now using one of the most popular blogging platforms means that you are more likely to have people design solutions to do what you want and, sure enough, Glenn Slavin has done just that with regards to FriendFeed with his FriendFeed Comments WordPress Plugin. Whilst still in beta this plugin checks for "likes" and comments to your post on FriendFeed and brings them in to your blog.

So now two sources of fractured comments can be drawn in to one central location. This is only the beginning and I hope that other services take note and follow similar lines or that developers work with APIs and aid the flow.

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  1. Louis Gray says: #
    I'm looking forward to a widget for Blogger that incorporates the FriendFeed details. I'm more likely to stay on Blogger than Wordpress going forward, and I like the idea of at least alerting commenters in one area to those in another.
  2. Colin says: #
    I have no doubt it will come - it's all about facilitating the conversation no matter where it is.
  3. JP says: #
    Amen brother... but wait, somebody else already said that [oh good, it was me].