insightful, the quality of the comments frequently
declines as the post ages. Spam — as well as comments containing many of the seven words that George
Carlin says you can’t say on TV — eventually start to
proliferate, and weeding them out can be a chore.
It’s telling that three of the biggest blogs in the
Blogosphere — InstaPundit, Power Line, and Hugh
Hewitt’s Weblog — all lack comments. When I asked
Hewitt whether Weblogs should have comments enabled,
he frowned upon them, adding, “I don’t believe that
bloggers have quite figured out yet the danger of the
comments policy,” especially from what he calls “black
blog ops,” or mischievous hackers willing to post disinformation on unsuspecting Weblogs’ comments sections.
As Hewitt notes, “If it’s your site, you’re responsible for what’s on there. The danger of defamation is
real, as is copyright violation. That’s why I don’t have
them — I just don’t have the time to patrol and take
down anything that could be defamatory, and if it’s on
my site, I’m liable.” Of course, like all aspects of
Weblogs, it’s certainly possible to experiment with
comments on and off, and see which you prefer.
www.hughhewitt.com was created by Hugh Hewitt.
Should a Weblog Have
Online comments allow readers to immediately
respond to a new post; frequently offering opinions, corrections (if warranted), and often links to related articles.
It’s possible for a short post by the owner of the blog to
become a lengthy dialogue with his readers. When a large
enough readership causes comments to get extremely
extensive, a Weblog can begin to blur the line with online
forums and bulletin boards.
Should your Weblog have this feature enabled? It’s a
matter of taste and time. The time aspect is that while the
first comments to a new post are often interesting and
Why Not Start Blogging Today?
Blogging is so easy to get started, and can be free, or
extremely low-cost. It can be a great hobby in and of itself,
or an enjoyable adjunct to an existing one. It’s a great way
to share your latest project with the world. Why not get
Who knows — Time Magazine could eventually be
calling! And even if they don’t (which, truth be told, is
more likely), you’ll have an enormous amount of fun
along the way. NV
Chasing the Long Tail
NUTS & VOLTS
Perhaps the most significant theory that Hugh Hewitt discuss-es in his book called Blog is the concept of “the long tail,” a term
coined in the fall of 2004 by Chris Anderson, the editor of Wired
Magazine, who, incidentally, now has his own Weblog, at
While Anderson didn’t initially create the concept specifically for Weblogs, the long tail has tremendous implications for
anyone planning to blog. It’s what the military calls “a force
multiplier,” and a way for someone whose blog might not have
much traffic to generate a surprising amount of impact.
The most well known bloggers, such as those we’ve
mentioned in this article, can receive hundreds of thousands of
visitors a week, and the lion’s share of attention from big media.
But as we said at the start of the article, the Blogosphere is
composed of approximately seven million blogs. Technorati.com
— the blog-oriented search engine — tracks over five million of
them. Surveys show that less than 50,000 Weblogs are updated
daily, but as Hewitt writes, that’s “the sleeper fact” of these
numbers. “From the big bang of blogging, 50,000 new virtual
newspapers had been born.”
The vast majority of those blogs go unnoticed by big media.
But there’s another factor to them that is little understood outside
the Blogosphere — because they have smaller, but often more
intense groups of readers, when they focus en masse on a story,
they can generate amazing word of mouth.
Hewitt says, “I would rather have 90 percent of the blogs and
none of those top ten percent bloggers writing about my book,
than I would have all of the top ten percent and none of the 90
percent doing so.
Because the 90 percent of the tail operate in very high trust
environments — they’re read by their brother-in-law, they’re read
by their neighbors, their friends in church, their friends at work. If
they say, ‘hey you ought to read this book,’ it’ll sell a lot of books!”
Hewitt says that if a highly trafficked, household name site
such as InstaPundit promotes Blog, he’ll obviously sell lots of copies.
“But the total traffic on the 90 percent of the tail is going to dwarf
the total traffic on the ten percent, or even the one percent. That’s
the power of the tail. And what matters is how do you get the
meme going in the tail.”
This is a concept that the mainstream media simply doesn’t
understand. “They’ve never worried about the tail, ever. And now
they’ve got the tail just eating them, all day, 24/7,” Hewitt chortles.