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April 29, 2005

Taking Six Apart Apart

Heather Green

Interesting interview with Mena Trott, co-founder of the blogging software Six Apart over at the Red Couch.

She came by and spoke with us about a month ago. And one of her insights that stuck with me was the notion that, over time, people will get more control over who sees their blogs. They will be able to make different parts of their blog private, so that they're open only to certain people. This is already happening to some extent at LiveJournal, the service that Six Apart bought in January.

Afterall, maybe you don't want your co-workers to read what you really think about them. It will be one of the ways that blogging morphs to deal with thorny issues, such as privacy and work guidelines on what you can blog. But it will also bring up questions about whether limiting conversations is truly blogging.

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? Blogspotting on Blog Visibility from Get Real

Over at Blogspotting, the new Businessweek blog on blogging, Heather Green explores an insight from Mena Trott: "over time, people will get more control over who sees their blogs. They will be able to make different parts of their blog... [Read More]

Tracked on April 29, 2005 01:37 PM

? Blog Visibility from Don Singleton

In my Comparison of Blog Services article, in the section on Yahoo 360, we see that you can make your blog visible to just your friends, or you can broaden it to include friends of friends, or even friends of friends of friends, if you don't want to ... [Read More]

Tracked on April 30, 2005 07:53 PM

I have been a Livejournal user for several years. Many of the people I read actively use filtering for many of their posts. Myself, I restrict the few work-related posts I do make to only those people on my "friends list" - which is admittedly minor security. I tend not to name names and this sort of thing, even before I became aware of "Dooce", it was pretty obvious that calling people out in a public post was not a good practice. I do not think that "blogging" requires full and complete disclosure of all of your posts to your full audience. By this definition, even those sites that require registration, are not truly "blogs". One thing to keep in mind is that I would venture a guess that most "bloggers" (I phrase I do not particularly care for) are using their posts as a way to keep in touch with friends and family and to become aware of like-minded people. Those friends of mine that post 100% of everything fully public refer to this practice as living an "open source life".

Posted by: Mark Myers at April 29, 2005 12:03 PM

I'm a Livejournal user (I've set you up as an RSS feed there), and I find that what LJ really replaces for me is the extensive group email discussions I used to have with my friends. LJ represents self-selected communities that have discussions, obsessions, and relationships. Imagine overlapping clusters of friends, all writing about their day and the issues they care about. The ability to strictly control who can see an entry allows users to post really personal stuff about their life in one post, and then have a wide-open post to the whole world about their opinions on Bush's social security plan or whether Tom Cruise is too old for his current girlfriend. (I leave you to guess which is the hotter issue on my friends-list today!)

It's about relationships -- much like the front porch was in small town America 50 years ago.

Posted by: Oriana at April 29, 2005 12:04 PM

And one other thing....

Now haveing posted this comment (my first to this site) I have an additional point...

Is "screening comments", and maintaining a moderated "blog" truly "blogging"? There are those who would say no.

Although I fully understand the need/desire for such a feature, it raises the specter of editorial control of opinions, which runs counter to the spirit of the "blogosphere".

Enough buzzwords for ya?

Posted by: Mark Myers at April 29, 2005 12:06 PM

I love these ideas, they really force me to think through this form of communication and how it's evolving. I agree, I wonder if you have moderated comments is that true to what was originally thought of as "blogging." But what was that, really? Generally, there are some notions of what it means, I believe. But it kind of reminds me of something that Clay Shirky talks about, that the term blogger changes overtime, and other terms come up to deal with this evolution. Like what Oriana is talking about, with replacing email with blogging.

Posted by: Heather Green at April 29, 2005 12:31 PM

As I noted in a previous post, I think moderating comments discourages commenters big time. I want to see my comments appear when I hit the post button. The wsj.com Question of the Day moderates posts and discourages real discussions, for the most part. I seldom post more than once on a topic. I have a message board as well as a blog that allows comments, and we've never been comment spammed, although I guess it happens. If a comment is off topic, delete it after it appears. This will save you time, as well.

Bottom line, if a corporation feels compelled to moderate and censor comments, it probably shouldn't allow them. Personally, I prefer blogs that allow comments, but I read a few political blogs that don't.

Another way to look at it is that commenters help you create content (free labor) and show interest in your posts and your company. But if you don't expect a lot of comments, it may be better not to allow them so that the lack of interest is not so apparent? In my industry, hospitals??anaged care organizations??anagers are trained to keep their mouths shut. So they tend to not discuss controversial issues in public. Most of the comments on my blog come from other bloggers, consultants and consumers who feel freer to comment than health care managers do. I suspect the same is true in other industries.

The advantage of a message board over a blog is that you can organize forums according to product, service, industry segment or specific topics. Over time, you build a body of searchable posts that help customers and prospects as well as your market research people.

Anyone can sign on to Apple's message board, I think, and it's a pretty good example of how to do it. Also, the mac magazines such as MacWorld have pretty good boards.

While Six Apart's Typepad blogging software is very populare, I use pmachine.com's Expression Engine, which is a powerful PHP application that includes a message board module and is setup so that other modules such as stores can be integrated with it. I use vbulletin.com's message board software, and it's apparently the leading software package available.

Posted by: Donald E. L. Johnson at April 29, 2005 01:02 PM

I also miss -- in this format -- the option to reply to other commenters. In Livejournal comment threads are nested and entire sub-conversations appear from initial comments. (This can be both a good and a bad thing. The journal's owner can sometimes get testy when a fight breaks out in their comments section). I think Livejournal, as opposed to blog formats like this, is much more interactive and about interaction.

Posted by: Oriana at April 29, 2005 03:20 PM

My first question was...who in the world ever said blogging had to be public?

Yes, if you use a service like Blogger, etc. they lack the controls to have privacy. But, like Donald, I use Expression Engine and have several blogs that are totally private, userName/password required, closed communities. One is for family, another for friends, and a recent one for the members of a band I played in way back in my youth. In fact, I don't have a single "public" blog. I have public "websites" but they're not blogs in any way shape or form. :-)

Posted by: PXLated at April 29, 2005 03:31 PM

Hi,

As blogs move more into business, of course things are going to change. Maybe it is new to sixapart but the exterprise blogging softwre on the market has been supporting private/public posts for at least a year as well as greater functionality.

Posted by: jim wilde at April 29, 2005 03:40 PM

I am an vivid blogger and reader. Comments are treasured so there?? nothing more annoying than sites that require me to register or have an account. eprops xanga! You??e losing out.

Posted by: sonially at April 29, 2005 05:43 PM

Howdy,

But you don't have to register or have an account to post comments. When you look around on blogs, there seems to be a lot of different approaches to comments and not any one size fits all. The only reason we put one step between submitting a comment and having it posted is because we need to look for malicious or libelous statements. That seems to be unchartered territory and one that many bloggers are sensitive to these days.

Posted by: Heather Green at April 29, 2005 06:12 PM

I agree that comments are an important part of the blog experience. Without the feedback ability, it's really nothing but a posting, much like a Usenet news group only harder to find.

But without some sort of control, popular blogs would wind up looking like an outdoor bulletin board at a convenience store. Personally, with my blogs, they're currently completly open, but if they get more popular, I'll eventually have to add some spam plug-in software, and maybe reach the point where it will have to be moderated.

I'm a techie, so I'd like a technical solution, such as software that could compare a comment post against a published set of criteria and have it flag why a post is being rejected.

On the other hand, there are more than enough lawyer types that they should be able to come up with a disclaimer that would cover things. Perhaps Forbes and Newsweek should enter into a 'gentlemans agreement' and sue each other for a $1 to generate some case law. :-)

Posted by: Don Melvin at April 29, 2005 10:06 PM


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