Oscar Jr. is onto something with his idea of "comment squatting". However, I'd like to expand on that; we need a whole new paradigm for comments!

As it is, the comment sections on blogs that have them act like a single thread on a message board. If there are a lot of commenters things can quickly get confusing and disorganized, or even degenerate into flame-wars. That's no good! In fact, most of the big-name bloggers refuse to allow comments on their sites for just this very reason.

What to do? My proposal is simple: replace the comment thread with an entire message board dedicated to that single post. Users could create threads on the board for different sub-topics, thereby preventing confusion. The blogger could even appoint administrators for the boards to help him keep things civil.

Most blogs would only need a single Master of Comments, since most of us don't get enough feedback to really have to worry about administration. As for the big boys, I have no doubt that Glenn, Steven, Eugene, and the rest could find dozens of suitable volunteers, with minimal extra effort on their own parts. Andrew already has something of the sort going; he's got an assistant to handle and publish comments that readers email to him.

What about clutter? you ask. Easy, I reply. Most blogs dump everything more than 7 days old off into the archives; when a post moves off the front page the associated forum could simply shut down, if desired. Lock it, delete it, or even migrate each individual thread into a large master-blog-forum where it can live or die on its own. The possibilities are endless.

Of course, in a sense, hundreds of little blogs already act as comment sections for the top dogs; why complicate matters? People like interactivity! Introducing a forum-based comment section would lower the cost-of-entry for would-be commenters, and potentially increase the utility of blogs to casual readers who would like to respond but don't want to take the time to set up a blog of their own.

I don't think the software yet exists to manage forums in the way I've described, but that's a mere technicality; there's great forum code out there that can be adapted easily enough. As blogs become journalism the Crowd will want to get more involved, and most of the major blogs are, in a way, less interactive than print publications that run letters to the editor. This new vision for comments -- or something like it -- is essential for the next stage of our blog-olution.

I wrote a response to Bill's post earlier this week on another hurdle that blogs must overcome before they supplant journalism: they've got to make money. Without revenue, blogs will continue to churn out quality punditry, but little true reporting.



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