All Your Comments Are Belong to Us

April 14th, 2009 11 Comments

I would follow CATS on Twitter. He has a funny.H/t to Joel Garry for the AYB reference.

As I mentioned when I enabled the new Disqus Social Media Reactions feature earlier this month, comment aggregation is all the rage with bloggers. Commentary and discussion that used to be centered squarely in the comments on a blog can now happen in a bunch of other places like FriendFeed, Twitter, Digg, Identi.ca, Facebook, etc.

As a blogger, you can’t control where discussion happens, and you probably want to encourage people to talk about your writing wherever they like. Of course, as more services pop up, you have an increasingly hard time keeping up with the mentions.

Sure, we don’t have this problem too badly, but even so, it’s a bit annoying that I can’t see a centralized view of all the conversation out there in the ‘tubes.

Since we already use Disqus, I was psyched to see them release Social Media Reactions to everyone. There’s a catch though.

It’s not really available to everyone.

I’m not sure how the feature got announced as available when it wasn’t, but really? Fail. I’m not entirely surprised, since the FriendFeed integration never worked. I don’t know how many clients Disqus has, but it does seem like a heavy load to crawl all those services for links that could be shortened.

Anyway, it’s a free service, and I still like Disqus. This isn’t a flame, just an observation.

So, last week, another comment aggregator, BackType, released a WordPress plugin that does essentially the same thing as the Disqus Social Media Reactions.

BackType is a YCombinator startup that provides a service called Connect (great name) that aggregates commentary from multiple services. The service was previously available via their site, and the plugin allows a blog to integrate the commentary collected by Connect directly into WordPress comments.

Sounds sweet, but since we use Disqus, not WordPress, for comments. I doesn’t work completely as designed.

It does work though.

I installed the plugin and activated it, and now, I can comments in my Dashboard. Sure, they don’t appear on the post for everyone to see, but this is better than nothing.

Here’s an example of what BackTypes comments look like within WP admin:

BackType collecting Twitter comments

The BackType plugin seems to duplicate comments that were entered into WordPress directly, e.g. comments I made on the blog are also indexed back BackType and included. I’ve read a few places that BackType isn’t a replacement commenting system (like Disqus), rather a compliment to the WordPress system. So, there may be a setting to stop that from happening.

It looks like the BackType plugin imports older activity, a bonus feature.

Browsing through the comment logs, I found this exchange in FriendFeed comments around my IE6 post, or more accurately, John’s comment on that post. Ironically, the service on FriendFeed that provided the content was Disqus.

Now, if I cared about traffic here, this would irritate me. In a perfect world, or in 2005, John’s comment here would have driven all those other people here too. No Disqus. No FriendFeed.

Of course, they’d have to find the content first. So, services like Twitter and FriendFeed simultaneously help bloggers broadcast content and make them chase the reactions.

Bit of a Catch-22.

What do you think? Do you care if your content gets discussed other places? Do you aggressively track mentions on other services? If you comment, do you think about where the best conversation is?

Find the comments here if you want my opinion ;)


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11 Responses to “All Your Comments Are Belong to Us”

  1. John E. Bredehoft (Empoprises) Says:

    Wow, several questions at once. Let me answer all three of them, one by one.

    (1) I don't care if my content gets discussed in other places, but I'm sure that someone who is dependent upon the monetization of his/her content may feel differently. Or maybe he/she wouldn't, since comments in other places (often) serve to evangelize the source of the content to others who may not have heard about it. I think that actually happened in one instance (I forget whether The Apps Lab, or another blog, was the repository of the original content.)

    (2) I use Google Reader to conduct ego searches, but I don't really have a formal way to explicitly track mentions of the content itself on other services. This is partially because of my blogging platform of choice (Blogger – I'm inertial), but I could be more aggressive in this area.

    (3) I admit that I often don't think of the best conversation location for the content provider, but often think of the best conversation location for myself. As a fellow Disqus user, I'm positively inclined toward commenting in Disqus, which not only shows up in (and links to) the original content source, but also appears in my FriendFeed stream. I'd almost say that it was a win-win, except for the fact that it does allow comments to break out in other places, which may be good or bad depending upon your point of view.

    So now I'll post this. And because of the length of the comment, people will HAVE to come here to see the whole thing. :)

  2. Jake Says:

    I don't really mind the fragmentation, as long as I can find all the mentions and jump into the exchanges, as the content originator.

    This is why I *really* want Disqus to release that feature. I'm a bit confused about a) why it happened and b) why a pretty transparent company like Disqus hasn't been more vocal about the fact that it's not ready.

    I'd accept an “our bad it's not ready yet” post. But the only semi-official acknowledgment is the comment by Daniel I listed.

    Weak.

  3. Christopher Golda Says:

    Love to hear that you're making use of our plugin, despite not being able to display comments in Disqus. I think you can actually get Disqus to show our comments by importing or sync-ing with WP comments, but unfortunately it doesn't do that automatically.

    Generally, I don't think you, as a publisher, can stop comments from fragmenting to other services. At BackType, we're hoping to give both bloggers and comment authors the tools to find, follow and share conversations irrespective of where they take place.

  4. Jake Says:

    Hmm, I wonder about duplicates though if I imported WP comments into Disqus.

    Actually, I embrace fragmentation, but I also crave aggregation. You guys and Disqus (when their feature gets released) have it right. Allow the blogger to aggregate commentary that happens other places.

  5. joel garry Says:

    I think it ought to be considered rude to comment elsewhere – I do it myself all the time :-) It's very easy to lose context, very easy to “talk behind someone's back,” even though they are likely to see it, perhaps when someone says hey, did you see… And yet, with comment moderation you don't know if someone hasn't seen your comment (I discovered that since I often use the blog name with my domain as the posting email, some posting software thinks I'm giving commands and sends the fail to me! I smell injection attack…), they're ignoring you (like many official Oracle blogs), they configured you to spam, they think you are nuts, they're lazy or what-all.

    Blogging and the associated technologies are a type of infrastucture, and yet are evolving. This makes it all much less useful in my opinion, though there is no good answer to that. Infrastructure must be available, predictable and long lasting.

    Perhaps the fragmentation is an evolutionary pressure to move away from hierarchy (I speak, many listen, most comments boring and predictable) and towards a network structure (we all communicate en mass… like usenet and early BBS's figured out years ago).

    Even Eric Schmidt things the web is unpleasant: http://money.cnn.com/2009/04/08/news/newspaper_

  6. Daniel Ha Says:

    I'm typing this on my phone right now, so apologies for sounding short.

    Reactions was meant to be released in a staged manner. We flubbed and the settings were shown to everyone for a short period of time. In that mean, many people enabled the settings, and many people spread the word of its release.

    We decided to write about it (only) on our blog just to intro what it's about. We mention right in the post that's it's being staged out. We wanted to prepare the Reactions for everyone before completely releasing it. Since people began enabling it already, we just made a disclaimer that it would take a couple days for reactions to populate.

    Along the way there were issues, as with anything new or novel that is released. Today things are much faster and things are going along at a fast pace. It's not instantaneous yet but we're working toward that level.

    I'm not sure what else there is to acknowledge, as all of this has been officially stated before. We've been busy trying to improve this for you (and everyone).

  7. Jake Says:

    Sorry, I must have missed the staged release piece in the initial blog post you did.

    I guess viral spreading is par for the course with this crowd, making it tougher to contain once the word got out about the feature. Once live, it will be a sweet feature, and I'm antsy to test it if you need testers.

    Having been in software for many years, I feel your pain about new feature releases. I do appreciate the transparency and honesty under which you and your company operate.

    Anyway, weak comment gladly retracted :)

  8. Jake Says:

    We don't ignore you. You could say this is the official AppsLab blog :) Accept no substitutes.

    I'm with you on moderation and hope I never have to do that b/c it will ruin the conversation here.

    Like I said, I've no problem with people chatting about stuff I say in other places, even if it's bad. I just want to know about it so I can chime in and ideally add to the discussion.

    There's still a long way to go though.

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