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