Weblogsky: Blog Conversational Index: say what?
Jon Lebkowsky commented on Stowe Boyd's recent post on a "Conversational Index" to judge the vitality of a blog. Stowe proposes an index that is the ratio between posts and comments+trackbacks. The lower the number, theoretically the better. (Stowe's post got a lot of comments and trackbacks. He must be happy :-) )
Jon wondered if it would lead to supporting spam (tongue in cheek) or if it simply would encourage attention to vocal aggregations of people and blogs. He asked how we would measure lurkers or quality or cluefulness? Ed Vielmetti chimed into Jon's comments with a good observation:
Some online conversations happen through blog comments, others through IM and email and in-person sideband and voice and ... and ... I added my agreement, noting that we've seen this metric come up in the "old days" of forum based online communities. Quantity did not equate to quality. It's like confusing signal and noise. Unless you are going for pageviews for advertising models. And I thought we were "talking" about "conversations!" wink wink
No one index covers any meaningful part of it.
Stats lie. Using stats to measure utility just encourages people to game the stats. Not a game I want to play...
The quality of a conversation is entirely contextual. Reducing it to a number does not give an indication of quality.
This goes to another assumption. Are all blogs about conversation? Are all conversations bloggy? Naw... we know they aren't. But it is chic to glorify conversation the way we used to glorify "community." (Yes, I'm getting snarky. IT must be all the SuperBowl testosterone floating around my house. I can't help it!)
I'm not totally dissing the idea here. I find it very interesting to look at ways to discern patterns in blogs. There is value in looking at the ratio of post to responses. But it cannot stand alone as a measure of value. Conversation is still, thank goodness, a quirky human act that cannot be reduced to a metric.
(And Stowe, this trackback's for you!)
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