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Can Blogs Survive Twitter?

Blogging is a conversation, Kevin O'Keefe of LexBlog is fond of saying. But how can you have a conversation if others can't join in through comments? Recently, the editors of popular legal blogs The Volokh Conspiracy and Above the Law have updated their respective comment policies, reserving the right to moderate comments as they deem fit. Above the Law took a further step, changing the site design to hide comments by default -- requiring readers to opt-in to view them. The sites have taken this approach to crack down on crude or offensive comments that may drive other readers away, or intimidate them from commenting. In that regard, the restrictions that ATL, Volokh and others place on commenters help to encourage the conversation rather than kill it.

But even without restrictive policies, blog comments in general are dwindling, writes Scott Greenfield. On his Simple Justice blog, Greenfield says many regular readers and commenters (largely from the criminal defense community) have taken the conversation over to Twitter:

The reason for this shift is clear: community. My primary community, the criminal defense lawyers in the practical blawgosphere, spends a lot more time on twitter these days. Some can be found there every evening, twitting away. I tend to jump in and out in short bursts, then move to another activity that involves flesh and blood people, but that's my choice. Others find the virtual community more comforting, more addictive.

Though Twitter supports community and short interchanges between participants, in the long run, Greenfield regards it as "a minus for the blawgosphere:"

[Twitter] reduces the value of blawgs by siphoning off the valuable discussion and leaving either a void or a palette to be painted by the nuttier folks who file in and out. There are still plenty of nuts around to comment, even if the more thoughtful people have gone elsewhere for their discussions. Statistics [at Simple Justice] show that readership remains high, and increasing, while discussion wanes.

Has Twitter rendered the comment sections of blogs obsolete and is that a loss for the blogosphere? And if traditional comments at blogs are obsolete, could video commentary revive them? Please post your thoughts below (comments aren't entirely obsolete yet!).

Posted by Carolyn Elefant on January 29, 2009 at 12:21 PM | Permalink | Comments (7)


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