This Blog's Comment Sections Will Make You Feel Significant


Take a look at this discussion thread started by a librarian who has been requested a book that is so elusive that it can’t be found anywhere.

Now I can tell that this mystery isn’t going to go viral like some other examples because it wasn’t posted to a mainstream website and because it’s not a memorable example. Despite this, nine other people have replied with suggestions. The linked thread is an example of someone forming an equal power dynamic with the people who respond to them instead of trying to post something that interests a lot of people.

There are many discussions online that are just like this, where somebody posts something that will be significant to very few people but puts the respondents in a position where they can lead the discussion. However, this approach to discussion is usually limited to contexts where the initial poster is looking for help from respondents. The initial poster feels stuck solving a mystery on their own, so they make a post about it. Their mystery lacks viral qualities such as nostalgia, suspiciousness, familiarity, or strangeness, but usually other people will help them out anyways.

Compared to the discussions on the rest of the public Web, these interactions are built on a more equal relationship between initial poster and respondent. Yet they are almost always carried out in cases when the conversation starter needs help from others and so has no choice but to put commenters in a more powerful position.

If you think about Medium or Instagram or Twitter, most of the public initial posts are people doing something to grab people’s attention or to get some sort of emotional response from viewers. They are putting the spotlight on themselves. There’s nothing wrong with this, but a lot of people forget that social media can also be used to highlight the repliers’ contributions to the discussion.

I feel like Nonmonetized Together stands out from other blogs for this reason. The posts on NMT aren’t the author’s posts, they are discussions for the community. This makes the comment section become less about the initial poster (like most of social media) and more about the community (like the librarian forum).

I encourage people to expand on the information in the blog’s initial posts, place it in a new context, make tangentially related replies, and respond with a different purpose than the article (but not with a different purpose than NMT). If people respond with these comments, they will make it so the comment section is not just responding to NMT but contributing to it.

Hopefully Nonmonetized Together will help you feel less invisible.

#Discussion #OnlineDiscussion #InternetComments #SocialMedia #Internet