Valuing your readership – Front page links for top commenters
I recently installed a plugin that enables you to show your top commenters. It’s there to the right of the screen. I wanted to reward my mostive active participants.
As some of you may have read already, I don’t nofollow my commenters I think it’s a lame thing to do to people who take the time to comment on what you have said. Some blogging platforms place restrictions at the core program level making it very difficult for people to do very much about it. Not everyone can get in there and hack or change things they dislike. Lots of bloggers probably don’t even realise that their commenters are nofollowed simply because they are not as tech savvy as the next person. Not everyone surfs with a customised css file or firefox search status plugin! It’s refreshing to read that people with a broad reach like Robert Scoble are re-evaluating their positions although some like Anil Dash remain less convinced.
Anyways, this isn’t another anti nofollow rant, its more a case of talking about building a readership and rewarding those who participate and some of the stuff that has to be done to make that happen.
People are driven by their emotions. Whilst some of us might like to think that its all about the intellect, or logic, the power of the mind etc; the reality is that it isn’t. At some level, we all want to be noticed, valued and loved, that’s emotion. It’s pretty fundamental and we will do all manner of things to make it happen. Flowers for our wife, a good home cooked meal for our husband, a helping hand for a friend even, are examples of that virtuous circle of showing others that we care and that they matter.Blogging isn’t too dissimilar and has lots of real world parallels. Just because its often solitary in deed, doesn’t mean that its any way different to any other form of communicative exercise.
Personally, I blog and comment on other blogs because I’m interested in what I choose to talk about and what others have to say. I love to follow a good debate and usually enjoy noting how an issue or products perception can shift and move. It’s fascinating and often mirth inducing to watch the various players and performers act out their roles and play their hands in the game.
It’s entertaining to see how some people really do get caught up in the perception of their own piss and importantance, the whole A , B or Z list celebrity thing, that whole false manufactured media bullshit thing that we are fed with in the mainstream world, that cult of personality crap, is very much alive and kicking in this little world of ours too. I love to watch certain personalities, learn about them, almost 2nd guess their next move or reaction, almost like a mini casino where 20 quid says that in rection to that comment there, mr so and so will say blah. It’s that predictable at times, but damn, it’s funny and entertaining too. Real soap opera stuff .
Take last night. I was thinking about the recent soap that is the MBL fiasco and of how it seemed to have inflamed so many passions. It got me thinking about how silly spats and disagreements are played out in this timeless interconnected space of machines and technology. People insult or deride or pour scorn upon others by way of subtle nofollowed references or blatant aggressive linking to hijack a name. They know that the target of their praise or vitriol will be pinged and trackbacked or told by an ally or cronie, or if not will show up in some referal string somewhere. Alliances can be forged by a me2 or a link, as can enemies too. When egos are ruffled, the reactions can be explosive.
Ok sure, its a natural consequence of what happens when you paricipate in or observe a thing that is connected; a fluid conversation, ebbing and flowing, sometimes spilling over before simmering down again to some accepted level. The blogosphere full of its little niches and communes, their subsets and competiting constituencies all vieing for that prime position or space like some primitive primordial sludge bubbling and popping and boiling. Digg, Technorati, Google, Yahoo, msn, links and the like, being a vehicle to enable progression to some higher level of existence up in the food chain.
It’s an evolutionary tale; if you ever watched or participated in the various cloaking and spam and nofollow debates of years gone by you might be surprised at the shape and makeup of the exisiting picture today. You might be inclined to think, wow, how did they pull that off. Or you might be one of those who say, yeah I saw that coming all the way. If you are then great, I hope you invested well in what you saw and are reaping the benefits and dividends. I gotta confess, I’m not one of them! The point though, for illustrative purposes is that key individuals engaged in these debates and won out. They won out to their advantage and profited from it too.
Look at how nofollow is used today; look at how various search engine employees or blogs comment on the thing. look at it in the context of paid links and search engine gaming, look at how they want us all to adopt it and question why that might be.
Look at the way in which cloaking now almost has this universal black dark art connotation.Just go go and read up at forums and see how it almost universally panned as a big big no no. That didn’t just happen, it was bent and moulded and shaped by key participants with vested interests. It was about rank on our terms or we will kill you. That simple. So its use of course, waned.
Look at search and how its monotheistic power status has panned out, the probability is that it was more luck then any finely honed visionary judgement. A reason why Google succeeded in the way it did, was because it carried a keycommunity with it. The do no evil thing, the warm words of reassurance, the we are like you mindset, engendered a spirit of cooperation amongst the community it embraced; the community itself wanted it to succeed above all others and god, succeeed it did! Is it possible for one or two individuals to look that far ahead and say, we will make that happen and it’ll happen this way and us and us alone will triumph with magnificence! Did Larry and Sergei think that way? Was it some kind of carefully thought out world domination plan? Nah, no way, just not possible, too many variables. it’s a good lesson though, a lesson in how with careful cultivation and with the right people, you can achieve a great deal. Google used forums to deliver their message, evangelists like Googleguy the high preachers spreading the gospel.
Todays terra forma is the blogosphere, blogs have that instant power to snowball a message through to 100’s of 1000’s of individuals and gain that instant attention. Just look at the readership of techcrunch as an indicator of how fast something can grow. 200k reported feedburner subscribers, reported to be in the top 1000 sites on the internet by alexa, an established regular readership.. yet in early 2005 in terms of numbers, it just didn’t exist.
Daniel is a useful example to close this whole post down with. I found his blog via some blog somewhere or other.I commented, he took the time to mail me personally and thank me for my comment. Ok, so it was probably automated, I don’t care if it was, but it was personalised, it was the thought that counted and it was different. I’d probably have gone back and read there again anyway, but he now sits more favourably, just because of that single action.
We are emotional beings and feed off of each other, don’t expect me to explain the intricasies of the human psyche here, go ask a Freudian or Jungian analyst for that, I’m just a commentator on life as I see it sometimes.People and tech stuff and seo nonsense just happen to float my boat. It’s entertaining, beats TV. It’s real world drama at its best.
The point I wanted to make before starting on this mega post here was that if people feel that you are rewarding them, or that you value them and what they do, if you can show them that you have their interests at heart as well as your own, if you can appeal to those emotional needs without sounding like some contrived arse, then you’ll reap a benefit too.
Valuing and recognising your regular commentators using the plugin mentioned is one way of doing that. 😀