In May, Mathew Ingram, Fred Wilson and others said that for non-professional bloggers, comments were how they got paid. The interaction and discussion that takes place on blogs, between the author and the consumer, is what most write for - the conversation. But recent tools that let people comment elsewhere, or interact on the original content in other ways has some saying users' actions simply aren't enough. As much of the conversation moves off the original blog, or people are sharing items in Google Reader or hitting "like" in FriendFeed, they are showing interest, but not engaging, causing some to wish for a simpler time when those services didn't allow users to show passive approval.
One of the more outspoken voices on this topic has been Allen Stern of CenterNetworks, who wrote on this blog earlier this month:
"early adopters are screwing early adopter blogs - period. Clicking share on google reader is not like leaving a comment on the source. Clicking like on ff or retweeting on twitter is not the same as leaving a comment on the source. I will have more on this soon as I think that lazyness has slowly ruined what was something beautiful."And while he and I don't always line up with our beliefs on the same spot in the blog evolution chart, there is no question that some activities do more to encourage the original author and their content than do others.
In that spirit, here is the first attempt at an exchange rate for interacting with blogs. As Allen has been a chief proponent of giving original authors their due, I believe the unit of metric is best labeled as a "CN", in honor of CenterNetworks. It's also no coincidence you could call these "C Notes" or "Comment Notes".
To start, I argue that a comment on the original author's blog post should be counted as "1 CN", to establish a baseline.
Actions that are worth more than 1 CN, depending on one's network size and influence, include:
- Making a comment on the original blog, then blogging about that discussion on your own blog. (10 CN)
- Writing a new blog post on the same topic and linking back to the original author as the source. (5 CN)
- Submitting the blog post to StumbleUpon with a strong description and good tagging. (3 CN)
- Submitting the blog post to Digg, Reddit, or Hacker News. (2 CN)
Actions that are worth between 1/2 CN and 1 CN, depending on one's network size and influence, include:
- Retweeting the item on Twitter. (.8 CN)
- Digging an already submitted story. (.6 CN)
- Adding a vote on Reddit, Hacker News, or Mixx. (.5 CN)
- Posting the item natively to FriendFeed. (.4 CN)
- Posting the item to Socialmedian or Strands. (.3 CN)
- Posting the item to Facebook. (.25 CN)
- Adding the item to your Tumblr blog. (.25 CN)
- Sharing the item in Google Reader. (.25 CN)
- Adding the item to your Delicious. (.2 CN)
- Adding a comment on the original item on FriendFeed. (.2 CN)
- Liking the item on FriendFeed. (.1 CN)
- Adding a comment to a reshare of the item on FriendFeed. (.1 CN)
- Liking a reshare of the item on FriendFeed. (.05 CN)
- Adding a comment on the item in Shyftr. (.05 CN)
- Adding a comment on the item in Facebook. (.05 CN)
As your activity gets further and further away from the original blog post, and the blog post becomes less of the story, but the third-party service gets to be more of the story or the destination, it delivers less perceived value to the original author, be it psychological, social, or in some cases, actually financial. While some of us early adopters are all too happy to expand a blog post's reach through our various social networks, and enjoy the new communities that are built there, it's not surprising that those who are seeing less activity on the original source of their stories are feeling something's amiss. I know that as I've gotten busier, I've taken less time to comment on the many blog posts out there, even as I'm making comments on the various social media sites, and sharing like I always have through Google Reader.
So if you want to show your appreciation to the author of a blog you've found particularly insightful of late, or who has opened your eyes to a new topic, don't just take the easy way out and hit "share" as the item flows through your RSS reader, or hit "like" on your social site, but take the extra time to rise up the CN chart and put some food on that blogger's table by making a comment and engaging. Allen and many others will be happy you did.