“Tumblr’s Killer Feature”, and the mixed blessing of comments

I’ve largely neglected this blog over the past couple of years, especially since Google Wave got canned. My time right now is mostly spent on my new startup, Querki — folks who are interested in the details should check out its development blog.

But I’m still quite interested in the topic of online conversation, and so I had to post a link to this recent article from my friend Siderea. She makes a very good argument that comments are *not* always a good thing — and that, indeed, a chunk of Tumblr’s success can be attributed to the fact that it decided to not have them.

Well worth reading and thinking about. The upshot isn’t that comments are inherently *bad*, mind you — but that the presence or absence of comments, and how they are managed in an online system, will have strong effects on how that system behaves. There are costs to comments, which aren’t obvious unless you look carefully.

Or to put it more concisely: decisions have consequences, and the decision of whether or not to include comments can have *big* consequences. So don’t make that decision casually…

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