Commandeering the Conversation













Last week David Mullen asked people who read his blog to “share gems.” As I read the comments following the post, I noticed how many of them were less “business tips to be a better professional” and more “wise words to be a better person.” While some people added tidbits from professional mentors, others shared quotations that had become their mantras.


It’s funny how the comments on a blog post can change the conversation.


The same thing happened a couple months ago when Chris Brogan posted “50 Ideas on Using Twitter for Business.” (In fact, I tweeted about my interest.) In the comments section, someone mentioned that an intern was working on the company’s Twitter account. Chris responded and asked, “Is Twitter an intern-level platform?” and “Did you put your brand in the hands of an intern?” These questions spurred even more comments about the roles of interns, who they are and what they can handle. (As an intern, I of course threw in my two cents!)


I think it’s great to see the conversation branch out in different directions. Not only do we get to see what people had to say about the original blog post, but also some other thoughts that occurred to them while they read it or even ideas they’d been playing with for a while.


What do you think? Do you welcome the change? Or do you think it’s like that annoying kid at the lunch table who didn’t listen to what everyone had to say and just carried on a tirade about whatever subject he wanted? (Yeah, I had one of those…all through high school.)


Should we stick to the program and only comment on-topic? Save the other stuff for another time?


Update: Another lesson learned: don’t wait two days to post what you write. Chris Brogan made his opinion on this subject known over at his blog by asking readers to “Make It [Their] Blog” on Oct. 15 and following up with “Posts from the Comments” featuring Rebekkah Hilgraves yesterday and Mike Sachleben today. I’m going to chalk this one up to “great minds…”


*Image by joguldi.


6 responses to “Commandeering the Conversation

  1. Thanks for linking to my “gem” post and extending the conversation on your space.

    I don’t mind when people do that, unless it was outrageously in another direction that brought no value whatsoever to the comment conversation. Otherwise, blog comments really mimic in-person conversations. Someone says something that sparks another thought for us and we veer a bit off course. No problem in my book.

  2. As few commenters as I get on a regular basis it doesn’t bother me. It happens in “real life” convos so why not on a blog? I also don’t mind really long comments. People have apologized for leaving comments longer than the blog post and I always tell them that I don’t mind and it’s the truth. If I’ve struck a nerve or stimulated thought with my readers then I’ve done my job.

  3. I think the point of a blog is to engage the reader. If your post inspires them to write about any topic (in a tasteful way), then I think it should be embraced. What frustrates me to no end is when bloggers write very opinionated content and then do not enable comments.

  4. @dmullen made me do it! 😉

    Rarely do discussions stay on focus for too long. However, during a spoken conversation where we need to focus we have the checks and balances in place to keep info going where we want it to. When given the opportunity to interact freely part of natural discourse is to add and detract from a conversation. Which is why we have those conversations where someone says, “how did we end up talking about this”. Part of that stems from the good ol’ idea of word association – yup, there’s more to that then many think!

    However it’s that very tendancy to latch on to a non-primary topic and go with it that’s exacerbated in both the ‘online forum’ and ‘blog/comment’ worlds. Why? Because the checks and balances simply don’t exist in these communication realms the way they do in conversation. (Think about face to face conversations vs instant messaging vs any form of delayed response communication.)

    Is this a bad thing? Well it can be. It all really depends on the authors desire. Is the discussion to be one about a specific topic with no digression? Or is the desire to let thought flow freely paramount?

    Let me ask a question back (after that diatribe)… what’s worse: to state something like ‘please keep to the topic folks or comments will be deleted’ or enduring a good blog turned sour by comments taking it into undesired territory? Chances are, reality is somewhere inbetween.

    Which reminds me, who’s dressing up for Hallowe’en? (kidding!!)

  5. An off-topic thread carves its own path to relevance.

    A great example – Liz Strauss’ Open-Mic night’s –

    Drop by any Tuesday night to join in. The 99%, the lurkers, the silent audience, they all strap on newly active voices. That shared experience, that only occurs in the comments, is deeply meaningful.

    After all, are our blogs really about us?

  6. Pingback: Come On, Let’s Make Up A Dance « libby started a blog

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