Friday, May 13, 2005

Open for comment

Never underestimate the power of a well-crafted phrase. Never compromise in the search for the right words to make your point.
Yesterday I read a post on my friend David Shaw's blog in which he quoted Steve Smith's description of the community discussions on agriculture.com. This line captured my attention: "These days, a Web site is less a magazine than it is a quilting bee."
That's how a good writer uses metaphor! That is the simple, lovely writing that I adore.
Smith was talking about how "AgOnline leverages the natural tendencies of the ag-world to swap stories and trust one another's experience in the field, and it should be a model to other b2bs that talk at, rather than with, their customers."
Reading that piece has convinced me to change my position and to reopen the comment function on this blog. Back when I started this venture, I allowed comments. At first, there were none. And I was saddened. Then, some appeared. And I was pleased.
But I continued to worry about the problems we encountered at About.com in the old days, when discussion groups and chat rooms were often dumping grounds for nastiness and ad hominem attacks.
And I pulled the plug on comments when I came across the first inappropriate posting to this blog.
I am still worried, and I may change my mind yet again. There are downsides to opening a conversation. And blog comment functions can be misused, sometimes in surprising ways.
But if I believe in the spirit of community journalism -- and I do -- then it's time to talk less and to listen more.

1 comment:

David Shaw said...

Paul:

Let me be the first to comment. Couldn't agree more on your assessment of Steve--one of the better writers I've had the pleasure of being associated with.

His metaphor has had me rethinking some of the magazine/web models I've held dear.

All best,

David