Today, I just crossed 10,000 comments on Disqus. I have been using Disqus for 5 years, so that’s a running average of 5.5 comments per day, but it’s a bit more in reality because I became progressively more active in the past 3 years. I’m not really counting. It’s an online lifestyle choice.
Commenting is rewarding when you’re part of a community, because of the people interactions and intellectual stimulation that follows. It’s like talking to strangers and friends at the same time, and making new friends and connections. And it has been rewarding to me, many times over.
But commenting is still considered the underworld of social activity, the “alternative” to Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin or Google+, Instagram, Foursquare or Vine. Commenting is the equivalent of back alleys when compared to mainstream social activity.
Why? Because comments are not well connected to the rest of the web or to other social networks:
- Comments aren’t indexed by Google. You can’t find what I’ve commented on when it’s relevant to your search.
- Comments don’t have SEO value for the website that is hosting them.
- Comments aren’t part of my Klout signals- not that it matters that much, but it makes Klout incomplete at gaging my “social influence”.
- I can’t reveal, curate or publish a feed of my comments. Of course, I could do it via an API access and some programmatic muscle.
- I can’t search my comments or my friends’ comments or comments about my interests or customers, although they are all public somewhere.
- I can’t easily discover other communities where my friends are having discussions or where there are discussions about my interests. (OK, I get a drip of that via the Disqus email, but it’s a drip)
- I can’t see the social network behind comments in the same way that I see a network of people on Facebook or Twitter.
- My commenting system isn’t suggesting people or other comments I should be a part of, based on knowing so much about me.
Yet, I still drop 20-30 comments every day on a dozen regular blogging communities, and the occasional new one that is discovered by sheer ploughing power or serendipity. 70% of my commenting is done on AVC, my favorite one, of course.
But these blogging communities aren’t intentionally connected with each other. I have to do the bar hopping myself. Arnold Waldstein says You can’t airlift community. He believes that each community is on its own, and that engagement is specific to it. Daniel Ha, CEO of Disqus said in the comments of that post “All of the communities powered by Disqus are incredibly different — that’s true. What is the common trait? The common trait is the people.”
“We, the people” are the common trait, and we are the ones that have to bar hop. This is not a rant directed at Disqus. The other four networks are guilty of the same un-connectedness between each other. And it will probably remain that way for a long time. I attempted to solve that with Engagio, but it was a tall order.
Twitter doesn’t care if the people you follow are on Facebook or LinkedIn, and it won’t help you to identify them. Facebook doesn’t take into account your Twitter friends, and the same indifference exists between Google+ vis-as-vis the others. To each their own.
We, the people have to drive our own buggy and go in and out of these networks, blogging communities, and online vertical services. They each compete with our time, and keep us separated via a consequential divide and conquer.
If you live online, you need to think about four general areas of activities: the general web, the social networks, the mobile apps, and the online communities where “everybody knows your name.”
I would love to be on a bus of people I like, that takes me from one place to another, instead of riding a buggy on my own, but that’s not a reality at the consumer level. Businesses can use HubSpot, HootSuite or Salesforce.com to tie these pieces together, but consumers are on their own.