Turning the cacophony of comments into a community

With so many bloggers attending last night’s ‘open house‘ at the new Telegraph offices, I’m sure we won’t be short of reports on the proceedings themselves. (Here’s what David Wilcox made of it… including a short video featuring yours truly!) But what struck me most was the number of people who went along in their capacity as ‘commenters’ on the various Telegraph blogs.
I confess, it wasn’t ever something I thought of as a capacity in itself. But there were lots of people who wanted to define themselves as active participants in the Telegraph brand, more than just mere readers or consumers. For editorial and commercial reasons, that kind of commitment and enthusiasm is crying out to be built upon.
But how? The one thing blogs don’t yet do well enough is development of the conversation. Yes, it’s great to have the ability to add a few lines summarising my own thoughts… but then what? I might go back to see if my comments sparked any responses, from other readers or from the original author, but I probably won’t. My comments hang off various posts on the same blogs, with nothing to hold them together. I want to be a stakeholder, and given the effort I’m putting in, I probably deserve some kind of recognition; but I’m just a recurring voice in the cacophony of comments.
For a while now, I’ve had a notion of ‘a blog of comments’. Every time I add a comment to a Telegraph news story (for example), it would get aggregated on a ‘personal profile’ page… in other words, a de facto ‘news blog’. You automatically see the headline (and first paragraph?) of the story I commented on, followed by what I thought. It lets me write what is effectively a news-driven blog, but does a lot of the copy-and-paste work for me. Not just somewhere to write, but built-in inspiration on what to write, too.
Commenters would get a degree of status and recognition, and become an extension of the journalistic community. There are numerous benefits for the Telegraph too; it encourages buy-in into the brand, boosts overall page impressions, and does good things for SEO.
Intriguing, then, to see what happens in a month or two when the ‘My Telegraph’ functionality appears. Shane and co didn’t say much about it, but it was definitely mentioned that readers would be able to create their own blogs under the Telegraph umbrella. (Shane? Ian? Care to expand?) But if the Telegraph doesn’t do it, one of the big news brands will.

8 thoughts on “Turning the cacophony of comments into a community”

  1. I should probably add that, shortly after writing this, I remembered The Sun’s ‘MYSun’ – their capitalisation, not mine. But whilst it does offer readers a free blogging function (of sorts), and access to a discussion forum, it doesn’t come close to what I’m proposing here.
    But while we’re on the subject, the lists of ‘most recent postings’ don’t suggest that MYSun’s blogging platform is doing a great amount of business. Only four posts under the (predefined) heading of ‘News’ since the start of April… and one of them was my ‘lorem ipsum’ experiment. All sorts of reasons: usability, lack of serious ‘blogging’ features… etc.

  2. Does cocomment not do some of what you are looking for? It has the social network thing going on and collates all your comments together? For instance this one will show up under my profile :melstar73

  3. CoComment does it to a certain extent Mel, although not in a way I particularly like, to be honest. But by moving it out of the Telegraph site (or wherever), you’ve effectively lost the connection, and hence the marketing and networking opportunities. It struck me that the attendees clearly defined themselves as ‘Telegraph people’, and many/most probably wouldn’t have a ‘blog’ anywhere else.

  4. Hi Simon,
    Thanks for coming last night. It was great to meet you and so many others who had existed only as names and URLs up to that point.
    I can’t elaborate much on what I said last night I’m afraid – mainly because the details are still being finalised. However, the changes will begin soon and will be proceed incrementally, rather than in one big bang. As soon as I can reveal more it will be on my blog.
    Have a good weekend,

  5. Hey Simon
    Thanks very much for remembering MY Sun. The ‘General’ and ‘Personal’ blog categories are the more popular places for people to leave entries rather than ‘News’ as you can see on the site… but as well as being able to blog about the news, users are also able to leave comments under articles and discuss current affairs on the messageboards, too.
    We have some exciting plans in progress with MY Sun, so do keep watching.

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