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Comunidades, English, Gestión del conocimiento, Gestión e innovación

Blogs as community killers?

Here is an experiment.

For some years, I’ve been witness and part of an interesting debate (at Knowledgeboard, at Macuarium, at…) about the role of blogs in communities. Some say blogs help to build them and spawn interesting content and discussions; some say it deprives the community of a nucleus of shared conversations and thus kills it. The KB went the blog way, attempting to integrate the member’s blog feeds (I was a part at that, although I didn’t quite like it), Macuarium has gone the one-core way, attempting to centralise conversations in a few common areas and forums and not integrating domain blogs… other than as content in its own portal.

The results are a mixed bag. KB believed integrating blogs would enrich its content and enliven the wider conversation. Most of KB content has melted away (although I’m not sure that’s the only reason), there are relatively very few conversations going on (again, not just because of that: there was a peculiar forum redesign), papers keep coming in for publishing, and the related blogosphere is quite healthy, if not thickly populated. It takes a RSS reader and patience to keep abreast, but all in all I wouldn’t say there is much more content than before. The KM focus has shifted. People who wrote and commented on the KB are now mostly out on the blogosphere, or silent.

On the other hand, Macuarium decided to steer clear of blog integration, seeing it as a “community breaker”. It has had some trouble digesting bloggers (it republishes articles but does not offer blog feeds) but conversations and content are thriving. This has not affected domain blogs, which have increased in number in the last few years (as in any domain) and indeed provide some healthy competition for Macuarium content and news coverage. People are still participating in Macuarium forums and content, even many of those that run specialised domain blogs.

I have also posted this message at the com-prac mailing list, where I’ve been an active member for years. Many other members run blogs (I only found out how many when I started to run mine :-)). Many of them have very interesting content, some have solid conversations going on (comments and cross-references). Most of that does not show up in the resource we share (this list), not even as announcements. It is not difficult to understand why things only get written once (working twice is not funny) but it’s not as easy to see why posting in “ivory-tower” blogs is better than doing so at a well-populated, well-informed, debating, pugnacious list.

The only reasons I can see yet are

  • by blogging you attach the post (and possible conversation) to your name and “brand” whereas here it would be shared, common to all.
  • at your blog, you don’t have to listen to conversations and objections you might not like.
  • the sort of things you post while blogging often resemble this post :-D, longer and more argumentated than usual question-answer, tip-news, list messages.

Any opinions, comments, criticism, observations :-) ? I’d be especially interested in hearing of other communities, especially web based ones, that opted to integrate or to shun domain blogs, reasons and results…

Looking forward to your views, best regards,

Miguel

Updated: Here’s a reference to blogs in the CoP ecosystem. It does not deal with the interaction, though.

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Comentarios

7 comentarios en “Blogs as community killers?

  1. Miguel,

    Perhaps there is a fertile middle ground in the creation of multi-author blogs? We are working on/with the adoption of a third party community site. On that software platform, each member is entitled to a personal blog if they so choose.

    Nothing substantive enough to report yet on how that is going. Or maybe there is: so far, many folks are using just the listserv.

    Publicado por Jon Ford | mayo 9, 2007, 3:10 pm
  2. Hi Jon,

    we had that opportunity with Invision (they do a blog component for their forum software along those lines) but the collaborators voted it down. Several times. They fear it would take the conversations away from the forums.

    Still, there may be a channel issue there: email and web navigation are not so linked as forums and web navigation. Maybe that’s a reason most of your members are not taking up the offer, and most mailing list’s portals don’t thrive.

    Re the middle ground you suggest, that would amount to integrating the independent blog with the community portal (more or less closely). That’s something that could work, I think. But, if there’s no payment or contract involved, there’s a certain risk of assymetry: either the portal is promoting the author, or the author is promoting the portal (or they’re both good enough and the issue is not relevant). It needs a lot of good faith and trust to do it (which is not saying it can’t be done :-)).

    Thanks for your opinion and experience (and please keep up the news :-)).

    Best regards,

    Miguel

    Publicado por Miguel | mayo 9, 2007, 3:26 pm
  3. Hello Miguel,

    Nice place! I even managed to learn a few new Spanish words such ac Correo, enviar comentario!

    Blogs as a community killers — what a topic. I would say yes. Blog came from the US. US is the most individualistic society. What do you expect? Community advocates collective livings. Which is in oposition to individualism.

    But then again, depends on the kind of blogs. As long as the blog does not touch on anything to do with human behaviours, that blog can be neutral. Anything neutral would not pull-the-community-apart. But as we know, most blogs allow comments, and that if not control could create problems.

    Control is the key. We somehow has the romantic ideas that, let’s creat a space, let’s come and share ideas. That would not work. If we want to have continuos flow of ideas, activities etc. there has to be control. Control in this sense is more about regulations … regulate where, when, how, why and what. If there is no control, things would just fall into pieces. Just like a plot of land. If you want to turn it into a garden and wishes it to stay a garden forever … what would you do?

    Cindy

    Publicado por cindy | mayo 11, 2007, 9:32 am
  4. Hi Cindy,

    very nice to see you here :-). How’s everything?

    That’s two key issues you raised there: how the blog’s reader “community” interacts with the pre-existing community (once commenting there is allowed, how interactions shift), and the control issue, which changes radically when blogs interact with the old structure.

    This experiment is being quite interesting :-). Best regards,

    Miguel

    Publicado por Miguel | mayo 11, 2007, 6:13 pm

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