The question from Judy Gombita, last night, was, “Does it annoy you (i.e., do you find it disingenuous) when a blog post boasts “76 Comments” but you discover 48 of them are actually tweets?”
I had a long conversation with her on this topic, where I argued that I don’t feel cheated when the comments section includes tweets and retweets. I used to have that perspective, but I started finding a really good use behind this seeming subterfuge.
I do understand Judy’s point of view on this issue (summarized from her tweets),
I think it does not pay respect to the act of a thoughtful comment @beastoftraal, comparing a fast tweet to the time spent composing one (Link)
they have a place: ON TWITTER. Not in the comments section or counted as such. That’s simply blog-ego padding. (Link)
my time is valuable. If your comment section is “padded” with tweets, then likely I won’t bother coming back. (Link)
This used to be my stand too. But then I started using these tweets too, from the comments, in an interesting way. Let me explain this from two perspectives – the blog’s owner and the blog’s reader.
But, before that, a few, generic points worth mentioning.
1. Most blogs using Disqus as a commenting platform have separate containers for comments and ‘Reactions’, which list tweets and RTs. This works much like how trackbacks worked earlier. This is a more open and honest list of interactions and addresses Judy’s problem with a single list of all interactions.
2. These days, I believe, every interaction matters. Interaction could include a long, well thought-out comment, a tweet, a native retweet or an edited retweet. It may also include the most derided of all – the ‘like’. All these are not equal, of course – the actual comment may be the most valuable because it means the person has taken the time and effort to read and react by adding his/her own point of view. But, that does not mean the native RT or a like are worth nothing. They do need that fraction of a second to offer too and indicate something about the reader.
3. We live amidst information overload these days. There’s just way too much information available at the touch of a button that our attention is the real currency. Given this situation, I have noticed that most of the interactions, in many blogs, have been reduced to just a like or a RT. While that is indeed discouraging, it does not mean they are completely useless.
For the blog owner:
If I blog about something and also have enabled the tweets to be counted under the comments, it means all related interactions (including actual comments to retweets and tweets) are collected under the blog. This is far more convenient than me trying to search Twitter, time and again, for who interacted with that content on Twitter, in the form of tweets and RTs. In fact, after a period of time, I may not get older tweets either!
This collection of Twitter-based interactions, when collected below the source content is fabulously contextual intelligence. When it comes to an actual comment, it is more about what the comment says and less about who says it. But the reverse is true for tweets added as comments – it is more about who says that, and less about what is said, since it is only a tweet/RT.
Every tweet below that blog post is context for me to understand that so-and-so person endorses it or has interacted with that content, in some way. That intelligence is up to me to put to good use when I’m chatting with that person again, on a similar topic.
Think of it this way – if I’m a stand-up comic and am performing in a room, a person who acknowledges by smiling becomes an important target. I may naturally look at him for the next pun and react to his smile more often during my performance.
A tweet is nothing but the equivalent of that smile/nod – it is a signal, in context to the topic of the blog post, from someone. When I put all the 3 together – my post (topic), the reaction (tweet) and the person (who), it becomes contextual intelligence for me.
For the blog post reader:
If I come across an interesting blog post on some topic, I tend to look for who interacted with the post. I look at the comments for counter opinions and reactions, and also look at the tweets and RTs to see who else has endorsed that point of view. This discovery of content-based connection helps me frame a network of people who have interacted with that topic.
Taking the stand-up comic act example – I’m in a stand-up comic act and am liking it. I notice a neighbor enjoying it too and smiling consistently for all those jokes that I seem to be enjoying. The first level of connection is that we both are in the same performance (we are reading the same blog post). Next, we seem to be enjoying the same jokes/puns (we both have interacted or are planning to interact with the blog post). I could use that context as intelligence.
For example, I could walk up to this person in the break and use the common jokes as a introduction, ‘I noticed we’re laughing at the same jokes! I’m Karthik…’. You get the drift to what I can do in the blog post example? It becomes easier since it may be on Twitter, or via email, but both have a strong context from what I have observed about that person.
So, to sum up – no, I don’t consider comments to be same as tweets and RTs in a blog’s comments section. But that doesn’t mean these seemingly frivolous tweets and RTs are worth derision. They have some value and it is up to us to utilize them.