20 April 2008

Attn: Social Network Operators! Honesty Is Better Than Censorship

Comments - in regards to blogging, they're a signature feature. Without enabling comments on a blog, you don't have a blog. Instead, you have a closed website that merely speaks at people, not with them. In the Web 2.0 marketing paradigm, this means death.

Why Allowing Comments Is So Important
Social networks are renown for their commenting abilities, whether like the infamous MySpace profile pages that skew off into one endless column pushed off to the side or YouTube's ability to comment on posted videos. Comments are the life-blood of creating conversation. What then of social networks that limit or censor comments?

If you want to moderate comments, as a member, that's cool and reflects on you as a person. What is more problematic is a social network that deletes comments off of their system posts, as well as from their members' posts because they seem negative or call them to task. These types of social networks are doomed to fail. Why?

Honesty Is Better Than Mandates
If you force the philosophy upon members to "not say anything if you don't have anything nice to say" after they've already signed up, you are alienating and discouraging true and honest discourse within your network. Certainly, some form of civility should be encouraged, but if you stop people from bitching on your network about how they don't like such and such a business because it creates "an atmosphere of negativity," then you are in essence creating a negative space around your own social network.

When a social network operator practices this "niceness comes before honesty" approach, they detract future contributors. Fortunately, there are only a handful of such social networks out there and most focus on tight niches. Yet it makes me wonder if they have any concept of what Web 2.0 is all about (regarding SN's): conversation!

Attention Social Network Operators!
If you don't want to allow honest discussions, don't start a social network. Instead, create a website and invite contributors to supply you with the stories you wish to post.

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