Fracturing The Stream
By Jeff Sayre
I just read an interesting article on the BBC’s website (in their Science & Environment section) and was surprised to see this little social gem at the end of the article:
The BBC has apparently outsourced the commenting functions on its site to Facebook and Twitter. Of course, Twitter is not truly a commenting service as there is no way to follow a threaded conversation.
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I do not know how long the BBC has relied on an outside site to host and hold conversations about their articles. I believe that BBC’s decision — or any site’s — to fracture their content stream by choice is a bad idea.
Why? Because it makes users have to leave their site — why would they want that — and log into another site just to read and post comments about an article. As some of us do not have Facebook accounts by choice (like me), it also means that they are alienating some people from the conversation.
Fracturing By User
Whereas fracturing your own Stream by choice is not a good idea, sometimes it is the users who fracture your commenting stream.
One well-known and respected VC, Mark Suster (G+, T), has publicly stated that he does not like to announce his blog posts on Google Plus or Facebook as it fractures the conversation stream. People would comment on his post within his Google Plus or Facebook thread but not bother to reply on his blog post. He wisely prefers to have the conversation stream occur in one place — on his blog. That way it can easily be accessible to all, and moderated by him. So instead of using Google Plus to announce his newest postings, he relies on Twitter as it is suited to broadcasting about his posts.
I, too, have debated the desirability of announcing my latest blog articles on Google Plus as 95% of the comments I receive occur on my Google Plus thread and not within my blog post. I have made the observation before that Twitter is more a broadcast platform and Google Plus is more of a conversation ecosystem. Mark’s experiences and mine seem to back up this assertion.
You run the risk of giving your readers the opportunity to fracture your article’s conversation stream if you announce it on Google Plus or Facebook. To prevent that from happening while still benefiting from announcing their posts on social networking sites, some bloggers will turn off commenting within Google Plus and Facebook and ask their readers to leave comments on their original posting.
Are There Solutions?
As long as there are multiple Stream Channel providers, the reality of Stream fracturing will remain. However, fracturing your own stream on purpose, as the BBC does, seems like a bad idea. But, it is something that you can control. Preventing others from fracturing your own stream can be a little more difficult as readers can repost or reshare your content and create new channels of conversation that are divorced from the original content bucket.
It is clear that part of the issue with fracturing of streams in the blogging has to do with the outdate paradigm of blogging engines. I wrote about the need for blogging to evolve in my article, It’s Time for Blogging to Evolve. In that article, I propose a path toward making blogging a fully-integrated member in the real-time social web.
Other Articles of Mine On Stream Fracturing