Web Discussions: Leaving The Instigator Out

I know that this has been discussed in great detail already. And I have a vested interest in this debate with our firm’s investments in the disqus third party comment system and also twitter which is part of the problem. But today I saw something on FriendFeed that really got me thinking. Here’s a picture of it:


My brother, known as Jackson to the blog world, wrote a wonderful post on the rock band Mott The Hoople last week.  I saw it today and posted it to delicious. Which resulted in it showing up in my FriendFeed.

And the good news is that a bunch of people saw that post that would have never seen it otherwise. A few went to Blogger and left a comment for Jackson. And a bunch left comments on FriendFeed that Jackson will never see and never reply to. And he also won’t see Robert’s compliment which I know he’d appreciate.

So here’s the deal. Jackson instigated the conversation with that post. His reward is the comments it generates. That’s how bloggers get paid. And he’s not getting his due on this one.

It’s sort of my fault because I posted it to delicious and got the conversation going elsewhere. It’s also sort of the fault of the people who left comments on FriendFeed and not Jackson’s blog.

But mostly it’s the fault of the web services for not figuring out how to work together. Some have. Twitter and FriendFeed pass updates and replies back and forth. That’s good. Disqus passes blog comments to FriendFeed but I don’t think FriendFeed passes comments back to Disqus. If not, they should. And FriendFeed doesn’t pass comments back to Blogger, Typepad, and WordPress.

All of that should happen. Because the people who create social media content; the bloggers, the twitterers, the commenters, the youtubers, the flickrers, etc, etc are doing this for a reason. Feedback. And without their content, none of these companies would have a business.

So it’s time for aggregation to work two-way. You can suck it out. But you have to pump it back too.

#VC & Technology

Comments (Archived):

  1. Louis Gray

    This is something often discussed, but difficult to solve. What if 10 people bookmark this post, and their del.icio.us bookmarks permeate FriendFeed? Then, those conversations, all different conversations, out of context, get pulled back into your Disqus-powered comment set here? Would that make sense? Would that make you more powerful because you got more comments, or more informed because you saw what person A said on comment stream B in audience C? I think that while it’s all right and good to say “give me my comments” as many have for many months, there are often conversations that belong elsewhere, and not to the originator… therefore, not an easy fix.

    1. fredwilson

      The notion that comments are “owned” by anyone is nutty to meOnce made, they are “owned” by everyoneAnd if they are “owned” by anyone, they are “owned” by the person who made themBut if you are commenting on a post made by someone, it seems obvious that you’d want that person to see themI realize the problem isn’t simple to solveBut that is not an excuse not to try to solve itfred

      1. Deva Hazarika

        “But if you are commenting on a post made by someone, it seems obvious that you’d want that person to see them”I think that is a flawed assumption.If you post on something related to VC/funding/etc, I will probably want you to see the comments, because I value your input and any further discussion from you on that topic.On the other hand, you could post something I find interesting about some new indie bands, and I don’t care if you see my comments on it at all – I might simply want to share and discuss w/ my friends who I see shows with.

        1. fredwilson

          Maybe you don’t care if I see the conversation about indie bands, but I care.I’d like to see who you talk to stuff aboutMaybe I want to see if they blog or twitterAnd then follow themThat’s the whole point of social mediaFred

          1. Deva Hazarika

            Now I think we’re getting into some fun areas re: what types of social contracts/implicit agreements exist in/around this whole area. And what benefits the reader and what benefits the author. And whether or not all discussions deserve to be open. And how much people want to live in public. A lot of discussions on this topic tend to get hung up on the tech/integration side of things, but I think the issues we’re getting at here are the more interesting ones.

          2. gregory

            yeah, very interesting areas ….. the most interesting will be being forced to answer the question, “where do thoughts come from”, and a wide consideration of that will be the most disruptive meme ever …. lol

          3. aweissman

            Totally. See, I missed half the conversation Fred – I was only part of it over at Jackson’s place, so the convo began and ended there for me . . but clearly it wasn’t over. Sucks for me as a participant and Mott-head. I would have appreciated more of an opportunity to tell you why Central Park N West is so much better than I Wish I Was Your Mother ๐Ÿ˜‰

          4. Vasudev Ram

            I don’t have a strong opinion either way about the main thrust of Fred’s post, since I just saw it and haven’t had a chance to think about it – but then saw Fred’s comment just above (the one to which I’m replying) and then realized I agree with this:>I’d like to see who you talk to stuff about(I’m guessing that means “talk to about stuff”)> Maybe I want to see if they blog or twitter> And then follow them>That’s the whole point of social media+1 :)Some time ago I observed this about myself:while surfing the Web, whenever I came across some interesting site / post, I would often examine it a bit carefully (instead of just saving it for later use and moving on), and then look for links – on that site / post – to the author of that site / post, and if they had a link to their main site / blog, would check that out, and if they didn’t have a blog (or even if they did), would google their name or other things they’d linked to in the first post, to find out more about the person or those things, and this would quite often lead on to finding other interesting stuff they’d written or other interesting software that they’d worked on/with or developed. So after I observed this, I started doing consciously, more often, and have since seen that it has often led on to more discoveries of interesting stuff … and have made it a bit of a habit to do that nowadays …I have a term I use for this phenomenon – I call it “serendipity leads to good stuff” ๐Ÿ™‚ – I’m sure lots of other people have discovered this as well, but just sharing …Sorry for the slightly post (I would quote Pascal as my excuse ๐Ÿ™‚ – and I guess that what I just wrote means that I do (now) have an opinion on the main topic of the post after all :), i.e. that it’d be good if something could be done about it, whether by piggybacking on trackbacks or some other way.

          5. Vasudev Ram

            oops – meant “slightly long post” ๐Ÿ™‚

          6. fredwilson

            Serendipity leads to good stuffI totally agree

      2. khylek

        I don’t really see why this should be all that difficult from the FF perspective. If I’m FF and there is a discussion surrounding a link, however it is shared, I KNOW the URL. I can match that URL to a FF user, and I should be able to pipe the conversation onto a widget in their blog.Twitter is a big problem since there is no real concept of trackable conversations.

        1. fredwilson

          But yet twitter and FF have integrated alreadyIf you see a twitter post in FF, you can @reply right from FFAnd yet you can’t do that with blog commentsIt’s nutsFred

          1. khylek

            Yes, but what you can’t do with Twitter is pull in comments that are replies to links. I see conversations stream by about a particular article or topic in Twitter. And you can’t tie those to a specific post because Twitter doesn’t thread the conversations.If I say@FredWilson that was a great post, you are right on!To Twitter, that is a single message that was a ‘reply’ to a person, not a tweet. Since you can’t tie the replies to a tweet, there is no way to tell what tweet initiated a conversation. Without knowing that you can’t see what the URL was.Quotably tries, but I don’t think they do it particularly successfully.All said, eventually I’m going to be moving more of my activity to FF because of this.

          2. fredwilson

            I think twitter or some third party client or service can and will solve that problemMaybe FF willFred

          3. Ian Betteridge

            Summize does this very well.

  2. Mark Trapp

    It’s not about blogs.Let me repeat that: it’s not about blogs.Every week it becomes fashionable to discuss how Friendfeed is setting out to destroy every mom-and-pop-good-american way of interacting online, when that’s not the case.Companies aren’t setting out to make a buck with your content, there isn’t some conspiracy to destroy blogging (or Twitter or Google Reader or whatever the vogue Friendfeed is Killing X service is). Friendfeed and services like it are doing one thing: making it easier to communicate with like minded people. People who would normally never even hear about your blog (like me, just found it on Friendfeed), much less comment on it, are being exposed to it via their friends on Friendfeed, Shyftr, and the like.Do bloggers complain when they hear someone mention an idea they had on their blog at a party or a conference? Do you see other media get annoyed when American Idol isn’t discussed on the official American Idol message boards? What’s the big deal?

    1. fredwilson

      Here’s the big deal:I started this discussion and I want to participate in itIt’s not about blogs for sure.It’s about social mediaLet’s get it rightFred

      1. gregory

        and about the death of the ad-supported revenue model, which placed importance of page views, clicks, etc …

  3. Julien

    Well, as a matter of facts, the “value” used to be in the content itself (blog posts, youtube videos), but the masses wented their content back to share it accross multiple websites (hence Feeds… etc), so this content lost its value… and the value moved to what could not be “transfered”, ie, for example, the comments.Basically, any UGC platform has to retain some data or they’ll loose their users/viewers/readers… On the other side, users/viewers/readers want the data -weither its theirs or someone else’s- to be portable (so that they can use it differently)!

  4. Hutch Carpenter

    Fred – this comment from your post: “His reward is the comments it generates.” Well, yes and no. As a blogger, I definitely get the reward aspect of comments. You’ve managed to come up with something that engages others. I love that.But I’d argue there’s another reward from blogging: awareness. Site views, comments, Likes, Diggs, Stumbles are all tangible signs of awareness. If your blog post increases awareness of (i) the subject matter; (ii) your own blog/way of thinking, I’d argue that’s the bigger reward.In that context, comments happening all over are a good thing. It’s not a single instance of comments on the blog – it’s awareness all over the Web. Built up over time. And that’s why comments separated from my blog don’t bother me.

    1. fredwilson

      Yes, that absolutely trueI have no problem with the comments to a post I write being everywhereIt does increase the discussion (as the Jackson example shows)But most bloggers will want to see all of the comments and it’s a pain to go find themAnd since this is a discussion, it would be useful to have at least one place where the entire discussion is captured and the place for that is on the blog where the discussion startedFred

        1. fredwilson

          See that just annoys me that all that discussion is not at least being posted to my blog where my everyday readers can see itarggghhhhhh

          1. leigh

            hum…i guess just like in real life – people will read your stuff and have a chat about it in places you can’t hear them. All great comments. All things that you probably would like to know about. But there is no central control. That’s almost kinda the point. (ah, let’s have a moment of sympathy for old media companies and big brands who have been suffering this particular aliment for a while now)I say, set the comments free and let go…the most important ones will likely come back to you one social media way or another….

          2. gregory

            we are on the way to everybody knowing anything, and that will not have physical location

  5. Robert Seidman

    Great post Fred, and I’m glad it’s you doing it because now it will get more attention. :-)If I call up Louis Gray to discuss your brother’s post, he doesn’t get to hear it and everyone is OK with that. Everyone, right?Though the notion that really, the only way Jackson’s blog post gets paid for is via comments does strike a chord with me and I hate not paying him. He’ll never see FriendFeed but he’ll probably see this so: I thought your post was great, Jackson. Thanks!But net of everything, I view the fragmented conversation as a good thing. Conversations always get fragmented among people. That’s how it happens offline too, why should it be any different here? Isn’t it just the way people work? Not to sound too Yogi Berra-esque, but conversations occur where they happen!Net of everything the post got more views and more comments as a result of being shared via delicious and on to your friendfeed stream. A gazillion comments around posts occur on Digg every day, with the comments being on Digg and I never once have heard a complaint about it (which doesn’t mean people haven’t).Things that net more readership, and more comments, even if they fragment the conversation: I’m for those things, not against them. If there turns out to be a good way to automate bringing the fragments back to the blog that started it, I have no problem with it — but for some of the reasons Louis stated, I’m not sure it will actually result in a net positive.

    1. fredwilson

      I’d like to try it and seeI don’t like saying “it can’t work” or “it’s too hard” or “it’s going to be a mess”I am certainly benefiting from the synchronization between twitter and friendfeedAnd I think we would all benefit similarly from a synchronization between disqus and friendfeedAnd if that works, then the next step is blogger, wordpress, typepad, intense debate, etc, etcfred

      1. gregory

        and the step after that is the synchronization of everything with everything … which is anyway what nature already does … we are enabling the mystic perception of reality … lol

    2. allen stern

      Robert – just because something works X way offline, does not mean it should work X way online. Your “calling” point just doesn’t work online – I am sorry.

      1. Robert Seidman

        Actually Allen, it “works” just fine and dandy. You don’t like it but that’s not the same as it not working. You’re a different case than Fred’s brother for me though — you’re trying to make money on your blog, and while I don’t doubt that you love it, the ultimate payment still winds up being $$. And you should be pretty happy with every blog, delicious, stumble, digg (I see you begging for those on Twitter from time to time, never saw you complain about the comments that occur ON Digg in the same fashion — not saying you never complained, only that I must’ve missed it) conversation your post generates! FriendFeed is no different.Still, I’m coming around more to Fred’s thinking. Jackson is more representative of the multitudes of bloggers who are doing it simply for the love of it. If some simple tool to pull the conversation back to him and others like him can be created and it makes sense, and…it fuels his love for blogging, I’m definitely all for it.

        1. allen stern

          Robert – I have written about digg before – you can find my post on “wtf: why does digg have comments” from early 2007. Whether it’s about money or not, it doesn’t matter – the conversation should remain where it started whenever possible – we can do this technically – so why not do it?I just don’t get why anyone wants to keep the conversation away from being centralized in/decentralized out – this is the best scenario for all.

          1. Robert Seidman

            It’s not about people wanting to keep the conversation away from being centralized, it’s about people wanting to have conversations wherever they want to have them.If someone can bring all the fragmented conversations back centrally in a way that makes sense to the people reading the comments, I don’t think anybody, including me, is against that.I view that differently than “the conversation should happen where it starts”, which I disagree with completely. Conversations happen wherever they happen, and nothing, including desire, or personal bias will change that. Trying to change *that* will definitely not produce the desired results.

          2. fredwilson

            i agree that the conversation should happen where it happens. that’s logical. but if the technology can be created to re-aggregate it back at the starting point, then we should try that and see how it works and if it benefits the world of social media

          3. mrclark411

            I can see why you would want it all in one place, but I can also see the benefit of having separate conversations (maybe because of privacy or specific interest [music vs. investing] or to include specific audiences).I think an answer to this would be to have a groups system with a very open api that allows comments and other meta-data (youtube videos, flickr pictures, etc) to be assigned to a specific group. That way, say using disqus, you could have the conversation all in the same place (the original blog), but it is grouped.

  6. Deva Hazarika

    I used to think similarly to Fred that comments/discussion about a blog “belonged” on the the blog. But as I start to use FriendFeed, I’m changing my mind. Why are discussions on FriendFeed any different than discussions over email or at lunch or on twitter? None of those comments live on the blog. Maybe you don’t care for the blogger’s audience. It’s definitely not those people’s “fault” in any way for choosing to comment wherever they want.

    1. fredwilson

      Well the lunch conversations can’t be captured in text and sent to my blog.So that’s not the issueBut the twitter and email discussions could and shouldIt would only increase the discussion even more and make it betterfred

      1. Deva Hazarika

        “It would only increase the discussion even more and make it better” See, here we just fundamentally disagree. I just don’t buy the “increased discussion = better” claim. Take most online forums – they are often very heavy on noise, trolling, and just plain bad/dumb posting. They have a ton more comments on many topics than blogs, but making the discussion wide open often makes the discussion worse, not better. And then there’s the issue of keeping up with responses to things you write – I like to respond to people who respond to me, but the more unbounded that gets, the less that becomes possible. If I want to discuss something you wrote on your blog with a closed group of friends, I don’t feel any obligation to have that conversation in any specific place. I consider it just the same as discussing a basketball game or TV show or newspaper article or whatever other piece of content.Having said all that, I do agree with a big part of your general thesis here. There are multiple places where people simply want to have open conversations around a certain piece of content. It makes total sense that all of those comments would be aggregated into a single conversation.

        1. fredwilson

          I mean FF is aggregating all of my postings on the web, twitter, flickr, blog, tumblr, delicious, disqusIt’s an aggregation service for gods sakeYou’d think they’d understand that aggregating comments back to where they started would be useful toofred

          1. Deva Hazarika

            in the walk before you can run department, i hope they at least start aggregating twitter/tumblr/ff/blog links to the same place into single entries.

          2. fredwilson

            Agreed. That would be a good first stepAnd once they do that, its logical to let others pull all that out and put it elsewhere (like on my blog)Fred

  7. mattmaroon

    Doesn’t just about every link in that chain have an API? Disqus Twitter and FF all do, though I don’t know how comprehensive they all are. I’m guessing this could be made to happen fairly easily with at most a WordPress plugin.

    1. fredwilson

      If someone would build that, then we could test the hypothesisThat’s all I am sayingfred

      1. mattmaroon

        I certainly would love having all of the many comments from FF, Hackernews, etc. about my entries posted to my Disqus. I’ll ask Daniel about that next time I talk.

        1. fredwilson

          That’s great. Thatnks for posting the link

  8. scottyhendo

    A single feed is like tossing a pebble into a still pond – you can watch & count the ripples it creates. Aggregators are like the splash that the pebble causes, thereby creating more ripples.By digitizing our conversations, we’ve blended the packaged content with the extemporaneous reactions. Do we really want/need to see every single person’s reaction to our ideas? Won’t the conversations our thoughts spark come back to us in some other form anyway (like word of mouth marketing).At some point, we need to accept that our thoughts & insights really aren’t ours to begin with. We just happen to have become aware of them because of our unique connections to other conversations & sources. There has to be a point where we release title to these thoughts and allow them to become other. Otherwise, we will stop the circulation and be left with stasis.

    1. fredwilson

      That’s an interesting thoughtAnd the first comment that makes me think I might be wrong about thisBut I still think it’s worth trying to see what happensFred

      1. scottyhendo

        Glad to help you consider it from a different angle.This discussion has made me run back through the feeds & aggregators to figure out how I found your blog in the first place. (Fortunately, it’s a pretty easy line to draw.) It might underscore the point I made earlier:1. Met Josh Kopelman 1 1/2 years ago2. Reconnected with him through Twitter just recently3. Got his tweet about his lifecycle messaging post4. Began reading his blog Redeye VC again5. The very next post was “How to ‘Ask for the Order'” that was triggered by your post of the similar name6. After reading some of your posts and viewing your LinkedIn profile, I added your blog to my RSS feed and began following you on Twitter7. Now I’ll be sharing these thoughts through subsequent conversations, blog posts, tweets, etc.Since you and I value this discussion, who in this series of ripples deserves to get paid? What’s the most equitable way to do so?The atomization and re-consolidation of conversation is blurring that line between individuals. At some point, the value created transcends private benefit and creates social benefit. Interestingly, we’re reaching an almost Buddhist level of interconnectedness.

        1. howardlindzon

          whoa…good stuff

      2. gregory

        with technology we are modeling real life, so forget the ownership and page view needs for a moment …in real life most of our conversations are about other people, what they are doing, etc. most of the the time those “other people” are not present, nor do they have a clue ….and often we are talking about other people’s ideas, and how they combine with still other people’s ideas, and all of this is going on without those people’s presence or understanding or “ownership” of the conversation … in fact it is a weird concept in real lifeanother weird concept is the one that says our ideas are our ideas … 99.9999% of the time we heard them from someone else, or read them, or they are simply in the zeitgeist and obvious to many. they come into our mind from “somewhere”, and mostly that is not in our control, what to say of under our ownership ….so in the current time, where open is becoming far more valuable than closed, to even think about controlling parallel conversations is against the flow of reality. better to put one’s attention to what enables the increase of omniscience for all, rather than the hoarding of the resource of communication for a relative few.

        1. fredwilson

          I am not sure I am with you on this one gregoryThe reason the online world is at times more interesting then the real worldis the we can track all of these conversationsWe should not build an online world that mirrors the offline worldFred

    2. zachlandes

      I have to disagree – when we lose ownership of our ideas we lose ownership of the most valuable thing humans possess. If you look up at a skyscraper and think, “boy thats a valuable building”, then think of all the multitude of lives’ work that went into the components of that building. The man who invented the elevator. The man who discovered the modern process for steel. The engineer who invented the window support technology that withstands harsh wind buffeting. Clearly these ideas are worth exponentially more than the building. And each little piece of a bigger idea is valuable. I know this is a rant, but I strongly disagree with the idea, I have read here and elsewhere, that ideas ought to be an unprotected commodity on the internet. Without protection of ideas, we lose the incentive to create them, or at least to develop them. The internet is just the thoughts and conversations of the world, in digital form, and without the traditional physical barriers (practically speaking) to their transmission.

      1. gregory

        no, we don’t lose incentive … the ideas continue to come on their own .. . and the open source movement should show you that incentive to develop is also not lacking ….

        1. zachlandes

          Open source is largely the realm of hobbyists, right? Ideologically, a programmer may believe in open source, but he still works at a firm that develops proprietary software and owns rights to it. At least, thats the most common case, AFAIK. I guess I’m just a little more cynical about humanity and too entrenched in the economics department – but incentive (not only economic, but generally) is the driving force behind action.

          1. scottyhendo

            I want to clarify that I’m not coming at this from an open source or socialistic economic theory. Rather, I’m stating that how we determine value of our interaction is changing because of the fundament shifts social media has created.Money is just energy and represents the value an individual brings to society. Determining that value in a knowledge economy is not the same as in an industrial economy. We’re living in the digital revolution and need to adjust how the valuation system to maintain an equitable balance to incentive innovation and growth.

          2. gregory

            agree .. the whole concept of what is value is in BIG change (wall street players will be the last to get this) … for that matter, the whole concept of what it means to be a human being is also changin, fast!good times

          3. zachlandes

            Human beings are the same – they are just playing in new sandboxes.

  9. Justin

    ” And without their content, none of these companies would have a business.”Twitter has a business?

    1. fredwilson

      That is to be seen. I am not saying twitter has a business yet. First they have to make it work reliably and then they have to show how they will monetize it.But I think its clear that wordpress, blogger, typepad, flickr, youtube, etc have businessesFred

    2. tweetip

      justin ~ when twitter scales to 100M users, they not only have a business, we have a new way to communicate in realtime. not important to everyone, but many companies you will never hear of are building apps needing quick instant broadcast capabilities. the point lost (we think) is twitter is creating a pipe of liquidity, where others pay a tap fee.

  10. bbluesman

    Hey Fred,been lurking for a while but topic here and particularly the Mott the Hoople association motivated me to leave a comment. I agree with your points here and hopefully you either know something is in the wind here ore maybe you just made some rain.

  11. Alex Iskold

    I agree that you need to see the data, but NxM integrations is not the answer. What we need is a view for you that pulls it all together in one place and then pushes it out, but for each service to integrate with all other services is not scalable.We are running into a famous engineering patterns issue – a pattern called model-view. This pattern is about having multiple views of the same information, and it discourages multiple models. What we are doing is creating multiple models and this is bad.

    1. Lloyd Fassett

      To prevent pulling everything together and pushing it everywhere, a profile driven system could selectively push information out. The ability to push a content better would change everything.

      1. gregory

        yes, if every node in the network was able to collect and remember every particular set of node exchanges and push them out to every other node in the chain, it would, in technical language, all start smoking very soon…but i think that is what the brain does

    2. BillSeitz

      I’m not sure each individual msg needs to be instantly integrated. Being able to at least pull the threads together for discovery would be a big step forward.(esp if each of those threads has an RSS feed)

    3. Toufique

      Alex took the words out of my mouth. NxM integration is not a scalable solution. We need something better.I’ll try to chime in from the standpoint of someone who’s been trying to tackle this problem. I run a social web discovery start-up. We aggregate user-generated relevance data (tags, votes, ratings, trackbacks, comments, links & eventually clickstreams) to help people discover related content. The more and more we used Youlicit, the more we wanted to comment and converse about our discoveries. So we looked into building a commenting system. In our usual spirit of “not reinventing the wheel” (read “laziness”), we figured it would be easier just to build something that would simply aggregate existing discussions and allow us to participate in them. Definitely much easier said than done, but here are our thoughts…Web conversations aren’t like one long sheet of paper. In comp sci speak, they’re more like a distributed tree. Clearly, you can’t contain them in one centralized place, but you can traverse through them as a single, but distributed, model (think IP addresses, LDAP, etc) as long as the links are created using a trackback-like mechanism as Alex Sitora & Ian Kennedy suggested. Secondly, you need to be able to drill-down into subnodes and make them computationally tractable, i.e. know what people are saying on those offshoot conversations. This is easily solved if the trackback contains a link to an RSS/Atom feed of the comment threads. Thirdly, you need to be able append nodes to the tree. This is easily solved with a simple REST API that allows you to post a comment w/o actually being on the site. I think what we’ll need is a “Trackback 2.0” standard w/ three main requirements: 1) Tree discovery & traversal – Trackbacks 2) Computationally tractable drill-down – RSS/Atom 3) Append nodes (comments) – RESTAll of the technologies that are needed to make this happen already exist for the most part. So why isn’t this happening yet? Well, it’s a very new problem, but a large emerging and one (the kind that makes us entrepreneurs go yummy in our tummies). But the only way these things get done is if a few players collaborate and implement it. Standardization comes later. So if anyone else is working on this problem and has some thoughts to share, I’m all ears. Drop me a line, toufique at youlicit.

  12. STHayden

    I don’t think comments actually pay money.. and they probably clicked through to see what the article was about. So there was the gift of traffic.

    1. Ian Betteridge

      Traffic with no interaction is largely a cost to bloggers, not a profit. I’d much rather 50 people read a post and commented than 10,000 read it and said nothing.

  13. terra210

    On my blog, I like using “source: andthelink”, when I bring something in or quote from it. It would be nice if posts had “trails” build in. But you can’t really control content in the world of ideas, you get into copyright issues, and things get very bogged down. In some ways, I like knowing if I put something out, it gets absorbed into the bigger meme. Or maybe I am just used to this experience, being female. Interesting post Fred Wilson.

    1. gregory

      yes, i like it too. it is what “reality” is, infinite abundance of idea and flow, and the artificial concepts called copyright and intellectual property rights will be seen as anti-life, very soon …. an avalanche is upon us, and we secretly love it

  14. allen stern

    Fred- it’s good to see you come over to the good side (perhaps you were always there) – I’ve written about this topic a bunch of times and while many disagree with me, the conversation should be centralized in/decentralized out. Comment on the place where the item happened (flickr/youtube/blog/whatever) and then all of the other services like friendfeed can aggregate out – but the comment should take place on the place where it originated.click my name to read my latest article on this topic

    1. Alex

      Fred,Good to see you coming around and seeing the light of day. Hope you will stop pushing comment replacement systems and instead focus on delivering value to the site owners.This is great.-Alex

      1. fredwilson

        i think third party comment systems provide great value to the “site owners”. i articulated why in my “3 reasons to use disqus” post. in fact, i think third party comment systems like disqus and intense debate can help solve this problem

  15. jeremystein

    we need a service that traces the flow of content across micro-memes. integrating with everything seems like a technical nightmare.

    1. Jitendra

      Jeremy, That is where SezWho comes into play…check it out. Thanks, Jitendra

  16. Bwana

    I guess I’m crazy for enjoying the effort it takes to see who is talking about me on the web. I’m willing to check a few different sites to see who is talking about my content. I came to the realization it won’t be centralized on the originating point years ago which is why I started subscribing to Google searches. I also came to realization I’m not going to be a part of every conversation that’s about my content. Once I put it “out there”, it’s “out there” and people can talk about it all day without my knowledge. For example, say I post a negative review of some game that got rave reviews all over the web. There will be a billion forum conversations about my article on public and private forums that I will never read. I guess it’s just me, but it doesn’t bother me.

  17. Jitendra

    Hey Fred,This is Jitendra from SezWho.I believe that distributed conversations is more and more becoming a fact of web life. even the biggest sites or voices do not control the conversation they instigate, so Its really important to accept the fact that no one platform or site is ever going to control/aggregate the conversation.In such a world, solutions that force-aggregate content to one site are not going to succeed. Instead a meta user-based aggregation approach (kinda like how Google builds the index for Search) is needed.thanks, Jitendra

  18. Alex Sirota

    fred, I think some of these issues can be tackled using the standard trackback/pingback mechanisms – I believe those were invented specifically to alert the original author that there are additional conversations going on elsewhere, without needing to tightly couple everything. Actually aggregating all the discussions into one view would be very useful as well, but maybe that can be quite easily implemented on top of the trackback mechanism.

  19. iankennedy

    Why not revive Trackbacks as a way to let the source know of a new comment thread taking place elsewhere?http://everwas.com/2008/05/

  20. tjgillies

    +1 for using disqus

  21. Nigel Eccles

    You can pull FF comments back to your blog. Duncan Riley uses at Inquisitr uses a WordPress plugin (http://blog.slaven.net.au/w… to do it. It seems to work well however it would be even better if it integrated with Disqus comments.

    1. stoweboyd

      Manual trackback: “Fred Wilson on Leaving The Instigator Out: Smalle Worlds v Big World” http://twurl.nl/c4shf3

      1. fredwilson

        StoweI read your post and tried to leave you a comment but it got fried bytypepad’s comment systemBasically I said that if this is true:

        1. Mark Evans

          It’s somewhat ironic that this post about comments has generated 78 comments (including mine) on this blog. I would love the idea of a comment aggregation service/widget to reassemble all the comments now being strewn about the Web. Looks like either another feature from Disqus or an opportunity for Fred to fund another comment start-up.mark

  22. Ian Betteridge

    Of course, one thing we’re all forgetting: At the moment, FriendFeed doesn’t even aggregate comments internally. Even if I just reshare an entry, that spins off an entirely new comment thread.

  23. Raji

    We NEED a aggregator!!

  24. david cushman

    Fred, we have an issue in so much as the likes of friendfeed aren’t only distributing the conversation, they are disrupting it. But, they are adding value by making more of our metadata available to more people – and it’s this intersection that allows communities of purpose to self-form on an adhoc basis. The more we can pull this out of silos and make (as you point out) the instigator the aggregator, the more we’ll step towards making us the url.Nutshell: The reason we go online is to connect with other humans. The reason we share our metadata is to make that process easier. Our metadata asserts who we are. The more widely it is shared the more we can connect with others who share our immediate purpose.

  25. spragued

    Bloggers certainly get value from increased exposure that fragmented conversations provide — it may even make up for the loss of direct value of seeing commentary on their sites. But there is still an issue about brands being subsumed by other brands…http://www.ratdiary.com/200

  26. jackson

    I appreciate you driving some traffic my way.To those who may decide to visit Savage Distortion:Beware………

    1. fredwilson


  27. Myrne Stol

    Rather than centralizing everything, I think it would be wonderful to have technology where you can easily search in what different places of the web your post has generated discussion. Just like a Digg counter on each page. I think people are quite proud of their diggs and comments on digg, even if there posts don’t hit the front page.It would be nice to be able to place an uberwidget on a page which would include digg, reddit, friendfeed etc. Not only focussed on sharing, like ShareThis but also on showing the discussion in various places.I don’t the conversation will ever get centralized again.AideRSS already listens to Twitter for example.

  28. dappelbaum

    Excellent point – its definitely time for aggregation to work two-way. My belief is that as the number of roles and systems in the social networking application universe increase, the value of any given system could decrease from simple dilution if these sorts of improvements don’t happen. What if services expand faster than people can consume them? Bloggers and savvy internet users will try anything if its seems trendy or likely to help their revenues, but its staying power (and ultimately, the capacity to be monetized) that matters.

  29. Chris Brogan...

    Because of this post, I dove back into FriendFeed to see who’d said what about my stuff. I felt sad. There were all kinds of vibrant conversations going on, only I didn’t know about them.One part of the currency I crave from doing a blog is that conversation, especially on my blog, where I spend lots of effort building the posts to be conversation starters, not just fully formed ideas.I’m with you, Fred. I want it to go both ways.

    1. fredwilson

      ยณThere were all kinds of vibrant conversations going on, only I didn’t knowabout them.ยฒI am going to reblog that thought on fredwilson.vcThat’s the pointfred

  30. jodyreale

    Social networks becoming more social among themselves? That would be like cobbler’s children wearing shoes. Interesting.

  31. qwang

    I’d imagine that the “perfect end state” would be aggregators pulling comments out of feeds and writing new comments using some kind of universal API, making the original comment thread the most authoritative. Neither of these (pulling feeds, writing-in comments externally) are very difficult tasks technically, it’s really a matter of getting compliance from aggregators.I find “search and crawl” solution rather messy, and is particularly unfeasible when much of this content is only accessible from behind a login.

  32. qwang

    I will add that friendfeed comment threads are more intimate. they are exclusive between me and my buddies and I care much more about what they have to say. On a 100+ long thread, I don’t really want to read every single comment. Perhaps a cool feature would be:”5 of your friends have commented on this thread: [friend a] [friend b]…..” with anchor links to their comments.

  33. Chris Yeh

    Caveat: I am not a computer scientist, and am probably way off base. That being said…Why couldn’t we have a system where anyone who creates original content tags that content with a unique token or GUID, which aggregators and others can then pick up and incorporate, wherever they publish the content?Then the primary content creation systems (WordPress, TypePad, etc.) would build in aggregator trackbacks to copy the comments back to the original location.It would require independent adoption on the part of a lot of different parties, and it would be imperfect, but at least there would be one place to go to see all the conversations.

  34. Aneel

    If these free services go two-way.. and give up those eyeballs, don’t they shut off a possible monetization avenue (via advertising) because they cease to become a destination of any kind?