If you are a tech blogger then you are likely to be a little bit geeky, you might even like to watch models develop and change and improve too, I certainly do. If you are into the whole social networking and blogging thing then you’ll probably love playing with the various tools and platforms who offer widgets and plugins and options for expanding the conversation.
Andy blogged on it some time back and made some good observations and insights so no real need to regurgitate those here. I’ll generally echo his sentiments when I say that I too like Blogcatalog, for me it’s one of those places that lately seems to be ‘getting’ the whole conversation thing. It has taken an existing idea and added value and improved on it. I love the way in which it’s a moderated resource too, it doesn’t just take on any old blog or website, trust me I know – which for me is a definite plus. It’s a great quality step to know that every single site that has been added has been given the once over, or at least I assume it has. I couldn’t find any further info on how this is handled. Human moderation obviously helps blogcatalog in building trust and credibilty, so for me is just another winner.
The recently added new discussion feature could also be a pretty good thing. As it stands its pretty basic. Registered users can start discussions and reply to other conversations began by others.
Discussions seem to show up in ones home page which is a neat little way of spotting any buzz of activity.
It’s a litle unclear as to what drives this at the moment, i.e do they appear because they are just ‘popular’ conversations or do they have to be part of your ‘friend’ or ‘neighbourhood‘ list, or do they have to be a part of your theme even. I should think they are, but a little help link to a FAQ could clear up these and issues related pretty quickly.
I love the little filter option, as this helps you quickly spot posts from your friends, as well as conversations that you started.
It would be good to see an extra link in there of the form discussion Ive partook or something like that. Currently, the My Discussions link doesn’t take me to a grouping of threads Ive participated in. I assume this is because I haven’t started any conversations yet. Perhaps it would be good to have this tiered in someway even.
* Daniel( thegoodknife ) kindly cleared this aspect up for me nicely. I can’t link directly to the comment as they don’t yet seem to have a permalink option for individual comments, but I’m sure it’ll follow.
Whenever you reply to or start a topic, that topic will get added to your favorties automatically. These Favorite posts are what we use to populate the lists on the sidebar of your user profile, and is also a good way to track the threads you’re most interested in.
Expanding upon a good thing..
Community building and neighbourhood interaction is no new thing in the space. Bumpzee recently enabled people to form communities managed by community leaders, members can join the group and follow the conversations that grow from topics generated by user blog posts and issues related to the theme in general.
Blogcatalog would do well to follow this lead and develop the software to enable similar tightly defined conversations to grow. Community leaders would be encouraged by the opportunities it presents to them too, which could help create a virtuous circle of interaction and feedback.
There’s a recognition that as of today April 27th 2007 the software as it stands isn’t the greatest and needs a bit of work to get it to where it needs to be. In my view it should allow for a number of things.
>>Moderation , community leading and anti spam
Neighbourhood leaders should be able to appoint moderators, especially in some of the busier communes.These things can be jumped on by spammers who see them for a linking opportunity they represent, so its a good idea to run a good tight ship as early as possible. Spam generally, shouldn’t be too much of a problem because most of the users are genuine bloggers and site owners. Problems could develop if this aspect was loosened, although, the ‘genuine blog owner’ blogcatlog requirement, is a very useful 1st line of defence.People should be allowed to link out liberally too. Any system designed to limit user ability to link out in context and give juice would be a bad thing. The very idea should be one of trusted users in trusted communities.
>>Formatting and posting
The software should at least provide some basic formatting options and allow for certain html or BB tags too. Users should be trusted sufficiently without recourse to any use of nofollow tags! Abusers will be pretty quickly snagged so I don’t see it as a potential problem. I’d also like to see bigger reply thresh-holds too. Currently, you cannot reply to a response to a response, 2nd level commenting seems to be the limit. Perhaps a BB style or HTML blockquote or snapback system could be useful.
I guess the jury is still out on whether people who like to write about their interests and passions on a daily basis will really engage in such a thing over a period of time, much of that will be influenced by the tools and features and benefits offered by the platform, and more importantly the people who choose to interact and engage within the spaces provided.
Blogging is certainly on the up and up, and options like those provided by great sites like blogcatalog will in my view, certainly help link the threads and strands of thought that make blogging the fun communication phenonmenum that its become. The social networking space is certainly one of the most exciting out there today and is constantly evolving offering an ever increasing array of methods and tools for direct communication.
Which reminds me, did I tell you about my latest social networking project? 😉