Boston.com, the online arm for the Boston Globe, my favorite daily newspaper, publishes a number of interesting blogs. Among them are Maura Welch’s Business Filter, which is filled with interesting new-media nuggets; Reiss’s Pieces, which features the latest news on the New England Patriots and was nominated for a 2006 EPpy award as the best media-affiliated sports blog (it ultimately lost out to Seahawks Insider); and Starts & Stops, which follows the public transportation scene in Boston (see my earlier post on why the MBTA should be doing the same by producing a blog of its own).
But there is one crucial area where these and all of the Boston.com blogs fall short — they don’t allow blog commenting. And until that happens, they will continue lack a measure of a credibility.
Back in March, Boston.com features and content manager Ron Agrella addressed this criticism of mine with the concern that “weblog comments have becoming breeding grounds for inappropriate content and spammers.”
Yes, they sometimes are. But much more importantly, they are also the source of meaningful online conversations between bloggers and readers. And comment spam can always be deleted, either through moderated comments (which I use on this blog) or with a person who regularly monitors the comments — likely the individual bloggers themselves — and can remove them if they violate a clearly stated commenting “code of conduct”
In another e-mail exchange earlier today, Agrella wrote that “[t]hings certainly change a lot in a couple of months. I can tell you that we’re now seriously considering enabling this functionality and will probably offer it in the near future. We do have some technical and hardware issues to iron out, but it’s something we’re interested in taking a harder look at.”
So commenting may be coming soon, but “seriously considering” doesn’t necessarily equal a slam dunk.
To be considered a true player in the blogosphere, Boston.com must take the shackles off its talented bloggers and allow them to engage in a true multi-directional conversation. One-way communication online is simply no longer acceptable.