For the past few years everyone’s focus has been on building communities and big media is no exception. Recently however there seems to be an acute acceleration for big media to get its game on as seen via News Ltd’s, ThePunch and Fairfax’s soon to be released National Times. Presumably they’ve launched these titles having seen the success of comments on blogs and their ability to build and manage online tribes.
But from this flurry of comment-generating focused activity, a problem is already emerging and it’s very simple: a lot of comments on blogs and media sites aren’t very good or insightful.
Bloggers have been in the thick of it for years, but the rise of big media dipping its toes into the ‘commentsphere’ is a concern because of what it says about the direction of media in general in Australia.
There is a fundamental difference between good content that generates comments, and content written specifically to generate comments.
Good, well reasoned, researched content that happens to generate comment as result of its existence is much better as the focus is on that topic. Content written provocatively with ‘how many comments can I get from this’ in mind becomes more about the author than the content, the content suffers as a result.
There is an argument flying around that deliberately provocative content ‘furthers a discussion’. But it is a weak defence if ever there was one. Look at most of the comments on blogs and websites that are deliberately provocative and you won’t find much ‘furthering of discussion’. What you will see is a lot of abuse, accusations, outrageous insults and petty squabbling. Every now and again there’s a good comment or two, but frequently it’s overwhelmed and drowned out.
And yeah, sure, you may not get a whole bunch of comments from a non-provocative post or column going ‘right on mate’ – I probably won’t get any for this post – but that’s not the point if you’re truly trying to change people’s minds. To take a spin on a Confucius saying “if someone has a thought but they don’t comment, does the thought still happen?”
Anyone can be deliberately provocative, it’s not a skill – it’s just noise. If you don’t believe me, make sure you come back for my next blog posts:
- Elvis Presley was a hack
- I blame monks and nuns for the financial crisis
Clearly I’m joking about the blog post titles above but the point is clear: being provocative is easy, it’s shallow and its not very inspiring. Even the most (initially) provocative blog or website’s content loses its sting when you know it’s been written by someone deliberately trying to generate comments.
Back to the grind…
Disclaimer: As I wrote about media companies I should mention that I head up the marketing for this company.