Yours awesomely,

“Wow, your blog is awesome. I literally just stumbled across it, but now I’m going to tell all my friends about it!”….“What a great site this is.  And let me tell you, the quality of your writing is awesome!!”

Yes, since my Editor’s Comment was recently rebranded as Blog Spot it has become officially awesome. How do I know this? Because each morning when I log on to the Natural Products website a fresh crop of comically ingratiating comments is sitting there, desperate for me to ‘approve’ them.

Now, not even my mum has ever used the words ‘Jim Manson’ and ‘awesome’ in the same sentence, so I rather quickly realised what was going on. I am sure you too, dear NP reader, will have realised that Monica, Dave, Brandy and the rest of them really just want to offer you viagra and spray tans (and in the case of Monica ‘a good time in Burgess Hill’).

Needless to say at Natural Products we protect you from this stuff. It’s real comment we want to encourage. And therein lies the real beauty, and power, of the web: its ability to engage communities — in debate, in knowledge sharing and simple mutual encouragement.

Of course the internet only provides the mechanism for industries, campaigners, magazine publishers and others to engage with their communities. Individual sites need to provide compelling ‘reasons to visit’ before they can expect real interactivity between community members. But growing numbers of natural and organic businesses are already doing a great job at harnessing the power of online communities — both for their own benefit, but often that of the whole industry too. We’ll certainly be aiming to do our bit on the Natural Products website — watch out for some exciting new features in the coming weeks.

‘Junk comments’ may be the latest digital detritus to test our collective patience. Real comment on the other hand stimulates debate, challenges received wisdom and helps connects us all. So let’s hear more of it.

Alternatively, if you just want a good time and happen to be in Burgess Hill…

By Jim Manson

Natural Products editor and environment journalist
Jim Manson is editor of Natural Products magazine. He’s written widely on environment and development issues for specialist magazines and national media, including the Financial Times, The Guardian and Time Out.