I ask myself this question because I’m suspicious of the idea that blogging is all about having “conversations.” This is an idea that a lot bloggers like to push forward. They like to view themselves as “conversation” enablers. But this idea is just marketing speak. It’s a simple and clever strategy to keep people talking about them and their blogs.
Good blogging though is about being a great publisher of content, not being a wonderful conversationalist. People that read blogs and people who publish blogs, are not looking for chit chat. They’re people who have something to say and people looking for someone who has something to say. If you’re blogging to know what people think about a particular topic, then I suggest platforms other than blogging, like chat clients.
Most of the time, when people are pushing and encouraging conversations, what they really mean and want is feedback, but there’s a big difference between wanting feedback and wanting conversations. Conversations are spontaneous and not well thought of rants. They are unstructured streams of thought between a group of people. Feedback, on the other hand, is evidence that you’re provoking a reaction, good or bad.
This is not me advocating for or against commenting. That’s a whole different issue. There are many pros an cons that have been discussed, but comments are not the only way to know if your causing a reaction. I’m just not sure if I can agree completely that blogging is about having and enabling conversations. If I want to see what people think of a particular topic, I prefer to use other methods other than blogging. There are better and more effective ways for having conversations. There are things like chat clients, forums, and even services like Twitter are better for having conversations.
And there’s always a hypocritical conundrum with the conversationalists. They say that’s it’s ok to moderate. But that’s not a conversation. A least not a natural conversation. That’s controlling perception and quality control. That’s being a publisher.
I view blogging as a tool for the amatuer publisher. Wanting feedback, criticism, and validation are totally different things. It’s not the same with having conversations. Publishing, like blogging, is about having something to say, not wanting to “talk.” A good blog post is a monologue that sometimes people enjoy and sometimes they don’t.
So don’t get obsessed or trapped with the idea of provoking conversations. Unless you’re Robert Scoble, your blog should be about having something to say. Don’t focus on what people may think, focus on what you think. Focus on being a good publisher.