Blogging has become the rage both as spectator sport and participatory democracy. Yet problematic is today’s news that the Washington Post has stopped accepting comments at their blog. Why? Too much junk and too much abusive posting.
Challenges facing blogs are many: they include Commercial Challenges (people use them in junky ways to promote commercial stuff such as setting up a blog called “cell-phones-for- sale” with little or not content except ads. Also blog posts are used to promote linking to sites. The widespread use of the nofollow attribute and nofollow aspects to blogging helped reduce this SEO tactic but it’s still going on with affects that appear to vary depending on search engine and blog.
Also a challenge is the Popularity of blogs. Even good bloggers waste a lot of digital ink, and it’s hard to sort through the posts at millions of blogs to get the good stuff. Tools like Digg.com help sort the mess but as noted before leave much to be desired as search tools.
My biggest beef with blogs is the one-sided nature of the blog. Most readers are thoughtful people, and I doubt they’ll continue to put much time into commenting unless a way can be found to raise the prominence of good commentary. But this of course makes the Commercial challenge an even bigger threat to quality and can lead to actions like the Washington Post’s comment ban.
So where’s it all headed? I think both websites and blogs are moving in the direction of serving increasingly specific niches of interest rather than the web at large. The popularity of tech centric sites like Digg.com and Technorati support this, as does the popularity of a very targeted blogs like “breaking search news” over at John Battelle’s place.