It’s hard to ignore the trend, as wonderfully articulated in this post by Khol Vinh, that the online publishing world has been moving away from long, thoughtful pieces followed by an interesting discussion either through comments on the original post or when someone else posts a rebuttal/addition/clarification on their own site. Now we have Likes, Reblogs, Retweets and other interactions that have a lower barrier to entry but which are also less meaningful and which add less value to the overall conversation.
Brian Oberkirch is talking about something similar as he goes through the reasons why something like Tumblr and how they’ve been designed to accentuate the positive by making it clear that whatever you do within those communities is going to be associated with your profile.
There’s a large debate going on right now surrounding the implementation of Facebook’s new commenting feature on news websites. The problem, some people say, is that Facebook requires you to use your real name and that having that hanging over their head would stop some people from truly expressing their opinions. That hasn’t stopped Facebook from moving past Google as the preferred third-party credentials users opt to log in to sites with, something that’s analogous to if not directly comparable to the idea of using those credentials to sign in and leave a comment on a new site.
Commenting will always be part of the social web. But it may – and already has to some extent – become less of a gauge of interactions than some of these other signals. It’s impossible to accurately predict, though, since things can shift very easily.