One topic that often comes up in conversations about blogging is how do you define a blog.
Answering the question invariably includes a description of the attributes a website must have in order for it to be a blog:
- Reverse chronologically-ordered content, written by the author
- Authorâ€™s personality/passion shining through in the posts
- Commenting – the means for visitors to comment on the blog itself
- Trackbacks (links to and from other blog posts)
- Content distribution by RSS
It’s attribute #3, on commenting, about which a lot of people have different opinions. Many don’t agree at all that commenting is an essential element. Influencers like Seth Godin, for instance. Dave Winer, too.
I’ve always maintained that a blog without the ability for visitors to leave comments isn’t really a blog, given that a blog is all about openness of unfiltered expression and conversation. It takes more than one to have a conversation.
I’ve been thinking about this after reading Dave Winer’s post yesterday in which he defines the one true characteristic of a blog:
The unedited voice of a person.
That’s all. Nothing else is a requirement.
That’s a pretty good definition. If you think about it, the attributes I mentioned above are the technical description of a website that’s a blog (and see Dave Winer’s 2003 definition). What Dave is talking about is the emotional description.
I very much like this emotional description. But what about commenting?
Well, I’d look at it this way – comments are to conversations as blogs are to individual and unfiltered expression.
In other words, to have a conversation, you must have either comments on your blog itself or a related device that connects people’s expressions, those unfiltered/unedited voices. Trackbacks, for instance, which link and connect content on the web.
But to be a blog, a website doesn’t require on-site comments, just the unedited voice of the blogger.
I’d accept that view.