What's That Noise?! [Ian Kallen's Weblog]

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20040824 Tuesday August 24, 2004

Are blogs conversation platforms?

Comments on blogs are problematic for the same reason that email is problematic. When anyone can say anything without accountability, the spam and other types of garbage comes pouring on. SMTP and NNTP are strong supporting evidence for this. So how do we work around this?

Using a centralized authentication key like typekey is a nice band-aid but it still doesn't address the underlying problem that's difficult to contextualize who is behind the voice in the conversation. Besides, it's not nice. It's a vendor bound and therefore borg-like.

The owner of the voice is important. You can't link to their Orkut profile; afterall, the voice might not speak in Portugese. Who owns that conversational voice that's longing to participate?

Using trackbacks to string together post references is another hack to try get around the absence of conversation in blogs. But talking about a post is not the same as replying. And furthermore, it requires more protocol infrastructure since it requires every blog to be a pingable resource. And pings themselves are untrustworthy data payloads. It just doesn't seem to fit.

Sure, you can reference another post merely by linking to it. However, replying to it as you would a conversation is missing from the blogosphere.

Now suppose a link to a blog was enriched with an attribute to indicate that it is a reply. Say, a rel attribute like rel="reply-to" -- blogging tools and mapping engines could be enabled to thread together conversations by traversing these link relationships. SMTP and NNTP message readers have been threading conversations (i.e. correlating the "In-Reply-To" header) for years. It's time to bring this facility to the blogosphere.

( Aug 24 2004, 10:58:43 PM PDT ) Permalink
Comments [1]


Neat idea, but I'm not sure it would solve the spam problem. Won't you still end up with spam from bogus blogs that create false 'reply-to' links? It would invert referral spam. I guess the bogus sites would be easier to filter but it would still require overhead to manage. Damn spammers.

Posted by David Gammel on August 25, 2004 at 04:04 AM PDT #

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