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 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.
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.
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:
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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