When Australia lost the Crocodile Hunter a couple of hours ago, shock reverberated around the ‘net.

Intriguingly, I expected Guestbooks to be up with the half hour. What I did find was the comment section of The Courier Mail performing that task. Tragic Loss of An Aussie Icon. Unfortunately, because they moderate every comment I doubt they will have the infrastructure to provide a proper, responsive, memorial guest book service for Steve Irwin to the world.

But if you do operate a traditional media/online paper, consider having guestbook infrastructure ready. Its a way to open dialogue between people who want to express their emotions. Stop thinking articles and journalism and start thinking dialogue and discussions. Remember the outpourings for Sophie Delezio at WishesForSophie? My bloglet here. Don’t do it for the ads, do it for your community. No I’m not being niaive, popup ads will just enrage already tender feelings, this is NOT the time to engage your readers in a marketing campaign! But sure, have interesting clickthroughs they can use, once they have assuaged their need to vent shock and disbelief.
Note: I still can’t get NewsCorp “tribute to Steve Irwin” site to load. It’s URL includes a Courier Mail subdirectory – infrastructure issues? When it loaded I got this message:

The form you submitted contained the following errors
Unable to receive your comment at this time.

Sure its a small problem -News will chuck a few quid into upgrading the servers – but unless the recognition for tribal rituals and ceremonies around community events is understood and appreciated, leaders will form communities elsewhere that meet the public’s needs. No doubt about it.

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