The talk that’s all the rage on everyone else’s weblog tonight is reader feedback. Dave Winer’s tired of keeping track of where he’s been and checking back for replies.
He doesn’t like the idea of comments as RSS feeds. It clogs up his aggregators, he says. To which I say there are days when I visit a blog and the most interesting stuff there is the reader comments. That’s the case here at least twice a month. If b2 doesn’t offer a comments RSS feed soon, I just might have to code one myself.
Winer proposed an alternate solution that made my head hurt. Way too complicated. The beauty of the comments system is its simplicity. Readers see something, they type in their name and a comment, hit a button, and it’s done. Who wants another username and password to remember? Who’s going to tell everyone they need one? There’s already way too much weblog-ese running around. Pingbacks, trackbacks, RSS, Googlejuice. Even the word “weblog” itself. Why are we always trying to make things more complicated? I’m convinced that 20% of my readers, in spite of my best efforts, think I have one page–some post I made ages ago about some hot topic, like Sotec laptops or eMachines upgrades. They read the accumulated replies, write their own, and think it’s a user forum. Many thank me for providing a place for them to ask questions or vent. Some of them venture out into my Weblog at large. Many never do.
I’m sure more weblog-ese is going to help these people tremendously.
The b2 gang has a solution to Winer’s problem as well. They’re developing a model, utilizing mature and existing Internet standards, that lets you subscribe to a post. Tick the box when you comment, then if somebody replies, you get the reply via–hold your breath–e-mail. I think most people assume comments systems work that way anyway. Set up an e-mail address that you use for comments and only for comments, and you’ve got your solution.
I’m sure that’s way too simple though. It always is.