Comment Where You Want, Just Let Me Know About It

Over the weekend, I noticed a post by Robert Scoble regarding comments on blog posts and where they should appear. The source of interest came from the launch of another aggregation service called Shyftr. This is an RSS aggregation service that allows comments on the content within Shyftr, not on the blog that is the source of the content. At first, I was resentful that another service was going to usurp the conversation. Then I started reading about the issue. Scoble’s interest had stemmed from a post by Louis Gray. Louis Gray does bring up an interesting point about the number of sites that are allowing comments on stories from another site. In particular, he brings up social media sites like Slashdot and Digg:

And that’s not even touching on the social news sites like Slashdot, Digg, Reddit, etc., where comments and community are generated, essentially through leveraging third party headlines.

The other services that allow commenting in or out of the original service are some of the lifestreaming services like FriendFeed, SocialThing! and Iminta. I found this interesting as I thought the “comment on the tweet” feature really cool, because it went back to the original tweet. The key point in his argument is that social media is exactly what Shyftr is doing, but with RSS feeds. That is the killer point. We all love social media, and if that is OK, then why is there a problem with Shyftr?

So, now we look at the counterpoint. Tony Hung says Shyftr crosses the line. He brings up very valid points as most people want to know what the conversation is and where it is occurring. He then mentions something interesting, that kills his own argument.

However, in my mind, when a service cannot exist *without* republishing others content in its entirety, and directly profits from that republishing without the original consent of the author, there’s something that isn’t right.

The issue with this is that he essentially says social media as a whole is wrong. The “directly profits” idea is a little tenuous as most sites get ad revenue only. However, if this is his true feeling, then he can not possibly feel that social media is a good thing. That is the part of the argument that I really disagree with. Most bloggers should disagree with this. Anyone that plays with social media should disagree with this. Social media has been a traffic driver for many sites. Twitter itself is a kind of social media, though not quite as direct as the social news sites.

My point is that if social media is OK in everyone’s mind, then what is wrong with Shyfter? Nothing really. However, one thing I would like to see is that these services give trackbacks or follow links to the original source. This allows the blog owner to see where the conversation is and join in.

17 thoughts on “Comment Where You Want, Just Let Me Know About It

  1. First of all, Scoble got it wrong by comparing apples to oranges: where conversations should be (Louis) vs. its ok to lift 100% of the content off of a source (me).

    Second of all, what I said is not a contradiction in terms. I think social media as a traffic drive is important, and indeed, I wrote almost 50 ways it could help a blog last last year on

    My beef was not that people can’t quote me, or that services cannot grab portions of my blog for their services. That’s fine.

    What Shyftr did was lift 100% of my posts and then push that as a public service to the rest of the world.

    I don’t think that’s cool for many reasons, one of them being that its not what I have intended for my feed to be used as.

    Not because I think that Shyftr is currently making boatloads of cash (which they currently are not), but because they are profiting in the broader sense: they were taking advantage of my work (and others work) and were building a business around it.

    That’s all moot because its changed so that the public sharing of feeds is now limited to the title and a description — which is now like Digg / Slashdot / Techmeme and so on.

    There are fine in my mind as they encourage people to visit the original source (amongst the other reasons).



  2. @Tony

    OK, so I misread your intent as well. I apologize for that. I did read this morning that Shyftr is changing to be like many other social media sites as well. So as you said the “content lifting” point is moot.

    In any case, thanks for commenting on the topic and my blog.


  3. Das Wa-handern!…

    Lese in der Mittagspause “Die Gespräche wandern durch das Netz” von Martin Recke und muss zugeben: Er hat einen Punkt (schlechte, weil wörtliche Übersetzung von “He has a point.“).
    Für manchen altgedienten Blogger mögen das……


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