Outside.in, which is one of my favorite NYC startup teams, launched their discussions feature very quietly last week.
It's something similar to when Zillow launched their neighborhood and discussion features. Zillow faced the aggregator problem of not having a site where people normally contribute directly to the site and now opening up a centralized community feature. The great thing about these sites is that they reach out and find the community and bring it to you, but discussions require that the communities are on-site.
My suggestion to Zillow at the time was to go seek out some Outside.in content.
Now what do I suggest to Outside.in?
I thought they should start pulling the comments off of the blog posts they aggregate and using those to start discussion. The discussion topic could be my blog post title or some summary, and the comments could show up as discussion comments on Outside.in.
Wait... but isn't that "stealing" the community from my blog??
No, not if you resyndicate the comments back to my blog and leave them there.
So, someone could find an article from my blog about Bay Ridge through Outside.in, leave a comment right there on the Bay Ridge discussion board, and I get the benefit of the comment. And vice versa, any of my comments get resyndicated out to Outside.in.
What would be the net effect of my traffic? I'm not sure, but even if I sacrificed some of my Outside.in traffic, I'd get lots more comments and probably engage my own users a lot more, because they'd think of my blog as a much more lively place.
Also, maybe each comment on the last.fm discussion board could permalink back to my blog... "Comment syndicated from This is going to be BIG!". So, perhaps I'd get even more traffic with a whole new set of links.
Either way, it's going to be tough sledding to cause people to get interested in a new discussion board in a place they don't usually do community stuff on... and so I think you need to start greasing the wheels with some aggregated content.
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