27 August 2007

Dude, this isn't a blog

It's a forum. My bad, as the cool kids say. And I really should have known better from the get-go. I was going to omit the next several paragraphs, but I’ve had several discussions with folks who wanted clarification around blogs versus forums.

A blog is an ordered series of articles, typically sorted chronologically. Interaction is limited to comments, which are aptly named since the blogger posts and readers then respond. The blog format is not especially conducive to much interaction. A blog is also really easy to set up and maintain.

A forum is a threaded written discussion, open to a wide audience and moderated by a central authority. Forums are sometimes, though not often, facilitated as well. They typically don’t need facilitation as there is presumably a large user base generating new discussion topics.

In general…
  • Blogs are centralized, quickly developing a strong sense of character. Unfacilitated forums are decentralized and often lack that character or have a diffuse tone from all the divergent voices.
  • Forums are keenly collaborative while blogs are inclined to be narrative.
  • When it comes to the ideas expressed in the content, blogs promote dissemination and forums promote discussion.
Frankly, I expected to be musing here on this blog for a few months before anyone much bothered to read it. I’m thrilled to see that that impression was way wrong-o. But is does mean that the interface I selected was similarly wrong-o. So now I've got a forum masquerading as a blog, which is slightly awkward. I’m going to keep with it for a while at least as I am still trying to build the habit of posting on a schedule. Disrupting that to switch interface idioms strikes me as foolhardy.

I am treating this blog essentially like a facilitated (if rigid) forum. Any time someone comments, I get a notification. And I am active in the comments of these posts [for which I also get a notification, since computers are a very dumb sort of magical animal]. I suppose that once the comments section gets too bulky or my site metrics show something like a critical mass of users, I’ll activate the blog’s Wonder Twin powers and make it take the shape of a forum. And presumably the form of a floodgate.


A is A said...

I wouldn't worry too much at this point. You're getting good comments, but not so many that it's become unwieldy. In principle, it should be a little more forum-like, but this is your venture and you should design in a manner that best pursues your goals.

A is A said...

I'm not really sure how I should feel about the blog's forthcoming "wonder twin" powers. I must admit, it's a little disconcerting.