March 5, 2010...7:35 am

Shaping the New Conversation

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On Wednesday night I attended the Media 2010 Blogging Conference: How Blogs Shape the New Conversation. It was held here in Albany at the college of Saint Rose and two-hundred people attended, most of them bloggers. The panel consisted of popular bloggers for the Albany Times Union, which has more than 150 blogs at When you think of it, that is an overwhelmingly large amount of blogs for one city newspaper. A majority of the blogs are citizen run and unpaid, and their presence proves just how “with it” Albany is when it comes to social media.

I view blogging as just another thing that distracts me from my real passion, Creative Writing (more on this later), but I was hoping to gain more insight to the world of blogging through the conference.

Unfortunately, I found it very disappointing.

The problem I have always experienced with TU blogs is that the commentors are nasty, mean, and often spend most of the time picking fights with one another. This was discussed extensively at the conference.  The most that the panelists had to say about it was, “Yeah, the comments are nasty and unrelated, but at least we get commentors.”

For me, this has always been a big “no no”. The very first thing that I learned about blogging before I even started my first blog, is that comments do not matter. Sure, they are a nice validation that what you’re writing gets read, but that’s not important to me. I fell into blogging because of the community and the opportunity it gives me to meet new people and form new like-minded groups. I’ve met many fellow writers and book lovers and we have been able to consolidate our ideas into new projects. That is what the “new conversation” should be about, conversing with a global network of people and forming relationships. It is called social media after all.

I am lucky to have never had a negative comments on any of my blogs. I know this will not last. But I will tell you now, I will not approve them. The blogs I read and my regular readers all focus on positivity and encouragement, and that is all I plan to gain from this blog.

The issue of “anonymity” was also discussed Wednesday night, and whether anonymous comments should be allowed. I understand that many people who only casually comment on blogs don’t like to give out their information, so I don’t mind anonymous comments unless they are particularly nasty. To me, anonymity is not as big of a deal as it was made out to be Wednesday night.

It’s kind of my fault for not asking a question, but what I would have liked to see Wednesday night:

  • Tips on how to write blogs that draw in readers
  • How to keep readers once you have them
  • Keeping your blogs interesting
  • Should you try to make money from your blogs?
  • Staying on one topic, picking a blogging “niche”, or not?

What do you think when it comes to nasty comments on blogs? Do you think they should be allowed? Am I being somehow dishonest if I ever choose to delete a nasty comment?


  • Excellent post! Here are my observations:

    –Comments and feedback are wonderful, but should not be what drives us to blog/write/create, just as you said. I think what has worked for me if I really need feedback is very simple: I ask for it at the end of my post. You will be surprised how many people read our blogs. Folks that are not followers/friends are constantly visiting our site, so what truly is incredible about this tool is that we are expressing ourselves. We might be changing a life somewhere in New Zealand.

    –Anonymous comments: On Livejournal, where I write more personal thoughts, I disabled them. On blogger, it’s cool, I don’t care so much…and yes, I DO delete nasty comments. I cannot press the darn button fast enough. You know, it’s not that you “cannot take it” it’s more about that good ol’ saying: if you have nothing nice to say, don’t say anything. Period. I don’t want bad vibes around my space.

  • If someone is being critical I don’t think i would delete their comments, but if they are just being nasty I don’t think I would publish it. There is a big difference between someone adamantly yet respectfully disagreeing and just being rude. Your blog entries are more about personal experience though, and shouldn’t spark too much disagreement. For instance, how can someone argue that you really do love the trash in NYC? If your blog was about politics or hot-button social issues you would have more outrageous comments and then you might really need careful moderation. I think it’s got to be tricky. You don’t want jerks and a-holes, saying ridiculous and rude things, but you also don’t want to limit peoples’ opinions just because they disagree.

    • I agree with you. I would never delete a comment that disagreed, but I would happily delete comments that insulted me as a person, or the topic that I am discussing, which is what the panelists were talking about last night. There is also an issue with commenters insulting fellow commenters

  • Michael Huber

    Nasty comments are a reality, just like nasty people. Still, it bothers me that people are often way more caustic online than they are in person. Our Wednesday blog conference is a great example. You wouldn’t believe how much email and phone time I wasted before the event, assuring people that I wouldn’t let anyone get too mean or hateful to a panelist or another audience member.
    And you saw what happened. Even when the panelists disagreed with each other, everyone played together nicely.
    We still have manners in person. But online, the gloves come off. What does that say about us as a society?

  • Hi, it’s me once again!

    I added a link to this blog to mine. I created a whole new section to promote some of my work plus great stuff I find around the web, so of course you had to be part of it! :)


  • I LOVE comments; can’t get enough of them. Even the nasty ones. If they’re nasty, at least you’ve pushed a button. That’s better than indifference.

  • I think comments a way to socially interact and therefore they are integral to the social media aspect of blogging. If you don’t care about comments isn’t that like not caring about what people have to say about your thoughts and ideas?
    I totally understand blocking thoughtless or malicious content because no one gains anything but a headache from that. I feel sometimes a well thought out comment might complete or even make a better point then a blog post.
    I agree with you about the “Dirt off the Shoulder” approach to bad comments that the panelists had.
    @Huber: It says that we as a people are losing our spines. If you don’t want to stand behind your ideas, don’t broadcast them.

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