FriendFeed just announced that they have added the ability for a user to disable comments on any of their posts. The feature also allows comments to be re-enabled as well.
Many have been calling for this feature – most notably Mike Arrington of TechCrunch who recently compared FriendFeed to Syphilis after he was attacked by mobs on FriendFeed following his incident with Leo Laporte. This feature was hinted at TechCrunch’s Real-Time CrunchUp just last Friday but it’s now live.
In addition to to disabling comments, FriendFeed has also been rumored to be working on an option for users to only allow people in their social graph to comment on their posts. Although my initial reaction to this is negative, I understand that as FriendFeed gains more users it is going to need a way to give users the ability to moderate conversations that are occurring with more and more people.
For me however, the most significant implication of disabling comments is something which I’ve wanted to, and have used Friendfeed for for some time – live blogging. Before I explain why, its best I explain Friendfeed groups to those who may be unfamiliar. A Friendfeed group is just another stream of posts and shares, but multiple people can contribute to its contents. Think of it as a mini FriendFeed for a particular subject or group of people. In a public group, everyone in the group can share stuff with each other and leave comments that others in the group can see.
So why live blogging? Well Friendfeed has had all the right ingredients for it, except for one frustration: every time comments are added to a particular share it bumps the item to the top of a group or users stream. This works great in most circumstances because it attracts more comments to the post, but as you can imagine, when live blogging…it becomes particularly frustrating as the stream loses all sense of order.
Still, even with this new introduction, Friendfeed isn’t the perfect live blogging tool just yet. To disable comments you need to do it per item you post which, when live blogging, is bound to be a real pain – so disabling comments entirely is needed. But, ideally you simply wouldn’t need to disable comments, you could merely set for a specific Friendfeed group to be ordered by time/date posted rather than by the number of comments added. That would capture the best of both worlds, chronologically ordered posts AND real time discussion. Friendfeed could of course take things even further by incorporating UStream or Justin.tv, making it possible to watch live events and have real time discussion in a far more familiar and pleasant environment than you’re likely to find on either of the live streaming sites.
Still, I am aware that Friendfeed is NOT a live blogging tool, it isn’t designed for it and I’m pretty certain it isn’t one of the company’s long term goals. That said, Friendfeed has an avid community of techies, bloggers and [insert company here] fan boys, each with their own events every few weeks. Being able to draw new users to Friendfeed every time an event takes place could be a great way to help Friendfeed’s currently stagnant user base, grow…even if it is just a little.
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