Finding right blend of comment discussions is anything but easy. Many blogs (from smallest to largest) only get shallow comments and it takes some real effort to turn that into anything interesting (I am always amazed just how awesome comments are at this blog!). Forums, on other hand, are hard to follow without being regular visitor and contributor.
In the end I found some of the most interesting discussions where I never expected to – on social news sites.
With long history, but still quite generic – site for techies that hardly offers unique or original content. But it gets absolutely awesome comments that mix fans of all things tech with equal amount of hardcore cynics.
I know no other site where I had seen that many posts instantly dismantled to bits, ironed for inconsistencies and turned around by comments.
I never visited site much and from outside it is often regarded as “better digg” or something around that. Lately there had been more posts from there making it to Oursignal and I got quite into reading comments there.
Many of topics aren’t even news or any external links at all. They can simply be stories (personal, social, whatever in between) or curious questions for the heck of it.
Never seen that many obviously qualified and caring comments.
So what makes comments there so good?
- plenty of people – in practice it is around 1% (can be as low as tenth of percent) of visitors that make comments. To get a lot of good recurrent comments from many people takes a lot of visitors;
- author chips in – might not be as important for large sites, but still nothing validates comments better than blogger/author paying attention to them;
- people talk to each other – this is as hard as it gets to achieve; even with good amount and quality of comments overall it is crazy complex to reach the point when commenters start to notice each other and spread conversation around and not only aim it at post;
- self-regulation – mechanisms to both promote and nerf comments focus attention on best parts first and gets readers in the mood for rest.
A little under year ago this blog had reached its first thousand comments. Closing in on three thousands now, it still feels just as fresh and amazing to read and reply, explore ideas and suggestions that come from readers. And yet… it is who knows how many years before I might reach conversations as extensive as those sites above.
So, do you like making comments? Reading them? Any sites that get comments so awesome that they overshadow content itself? :)