How to increase participation in blogs? Some answers from the net

In an earlier post I claimed that most adults are not motivated to take part in the possibilites of web2.0 as they use the internet more like classical media.

Doing research on how to increase participation two aspects are generally mentioned:
1) technical barriers have to be reduced
2) it’s necessary to motivate to comment 

I think technical barrieres are more and more reduced (although they still exist), but the question still to answer is how to increase participation.

Some good general suggestions are made by the librarian David Lee King in a series of blog posts called “Inviting participation“. He treats passive as well as active participation. Nevertheless I think “ask the readers about their opinion, people are willing to share” is to simple and does not work in general. But he reminds us that many blog posts don’t really invite participation.

 Salla mentioned in her blog that people have fears about sharing thoughts, information, etc. I think that’s right. Adults are also much more aware of risks when sharing more or less personal information online. Furthermore I think blogging (and commenting) can be compared to public speaking. Something many people don’t like.

Nina Simone, expert for participatory museum experiences,  has also written two posts on developing questions for visitor participation. Although these articles are not directly linked to questions in blogs you can transfer her ideas to them.
Finding the right questions (for visitor dialogue) and Design Techniques for Developing Questions for Visitor Participation (especially recommended)

Her “useful characteristics of good questions” are:

  • questions that trigger an immediate response
  • questions that induce grappling
  • questions that motivate authentic expression
  • questions that draw from personal experience, not abstraction
  • open to anyone (minimize cultural bias)
  • speculative (what if? instead of what is?)
  • questions which produce answers that are interesting to consume and respond to

I think her suggestions are useful as they reduce at least partly fears of writing a comment. In general many questions are to abstract and need to much reflection. So one maybe thinks about it but it takes too long to find an answer (and so one leaves the computer and takes the question with him  – until something else comes to his mind). 

So what’s the essence?
Don’t hope adults are absolutely willing to share their thoughts and to comment on blogs. Give them easier opportunities to  participate in blogs. Ask simple but interesting questions to make them familiar using web2.0 actively.

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