Show and tell: finding lovely communities

After Christmas, I got a bit weighed down by the Twitter-created business blogosphere – often wonderful but increasingly like a giant webring where you know you will eventually come back to Seth Godin.   This web-fatigue is part of the cycle, I think, because I see it in other online settings.

My overwhelm got to the point where I couldn’t summon up the will to comment.   I don’t like that.  So I stopped reading-for-work, and just played around for a bit; and in so doing I found blogs, message boards and websites which are still entirely packed with comments. It’s fun going back to being a participant again.

Here are my top 3.  I’ve added some thoughts on the drivers and barriers to active reader participation that I noticed along the way.

Belgian Waffle

Belgian Waffle is a beautifully written personal blog written by an English woman living in Brussels.  It’s a classic of the confessional style, enlivened by the Waffle’s glorious eccentricity – her launch of rude biscuits, for example, and last year’s online village fete.  I have never commented to Belgian Waffle – the commenters feel like too much of an in-group – and I bet the numbers of comments don’t reflect the numbers reading.

The Fluent Self

This is the business website of Havi Brooks, who is a business coach to start-ups.   She is an interesting mixture of New Age and down-to-earth; she writes the longest, strangest blog posts you will ever see, yet I always look foward to an update.   She is also part of a small-scale revolution in online business-to-business communication, where hard sell is replaced by something altogether different.

I don’t comment to Havi, either, but I probably will soon.  Her comment design is terrific:  the software not only links your website, but provides a link to the last blog post you wrote.  It’s a great way of discovering people, and it also encourages commenters to play nicely.

Havi also controls comments, by having a ‘Comment Zen’ policy setting out what she does and doesn’t want in comments.  I can’t imagine that working in many settings, but it works extremely well for this site.

BBC Being Human

At the time of writing, this is a quite brilliant example of the best in communication between production team and fans.   The blog has extra content and prequels to the show and  the production team host a live blog when the episode airs. It’s also Season 2, and it’s interesting to see how a minority of fans are already getting quite shirty about the direction being taken by the show.   However, it’s a long way from the fist-fights and vitriol that can be seen in a Doctor Who forum. *cough*

I lurk on Being Human and I probably always will: the BBC has one of those exhausting comment ID setups that’s a bit like buying a hifi, and I’m not sufficiently motivated to join in.

Plus bonus 4th:

Oh! Fransson

This one is a splendid example of the craft blog, in this case a blog about modern quilt-making.  I don’t have a reason to read this one regularly, but when I do, Elizabeth Hartman’s beautiful step-by-step photography always brings tears to my eyes.  As with many craft blogs, there is a mixture of good citizenship and sound business sense: you can buy her patterns in her Etsy shop.

The Fluent Self and Oh!Fransson are also examples of a new style of small business on the internet.   They showcase work and promote community, while at the same time developing new businesses models.  Belgian Waffle – well, I’m guessing that the Waffle is a writer and if she doesn’t have a book deal soon I will have to buy some of her Mean Magnets.

I have more but I’m hugging them to my chest.  What  sites are you loving at the moment?

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