December 29, 2007

Intense Debate Comment System - The Review (Part 1)

Intense Debate Comment System
The Review (Part 1)

As many of you know, I recently installed a brand new comment system on this blog. The new comment system is Intense Debate, and my reasons for using it are fairly obvious, I think. Simply put, Blogger's new comment system pretty much stinks, IMHO.

The Back Story

Recently, and without warning, Blogger (Google) installed a new Blogger comment system, a comment system that is, as I see it, extremely lacking and very shortsighted. It's almost as if Google doesn't understand bloggers (or blogging, for that matter) at all, anymore.

But since this is a site review of the brand new Intense Debate comment system, I won't go into the details regarding Blogger's recent comment system update. Instead, you can read about it in these blog posts if you're interested:

Blogger sucks more than ever not allowing extern blog links
Blogspot Blogger comment form change unfair to ALL bloggers
Blogger Changes Commenting System

Anyway, on with the review...

Intense Debate - The Features

The Intense Debate comment system offers several cool (and very useful) features that are sure to appeal to many (if not all) bloggers. But, in order to make this as simple as possible, I'm merely going to touch on some of the major highlights.

• Track Comments - allow your blog readers to track comments (and the people who make them) across multiple blogs.

Interested in the comments your friends make? No problem. If you'd like to be notified as to when, where, and what your friends comment, then you're in luck. Intense Debate provides this such functionality through RSS feeds for each user. Subscribers will be notified in their RSS readers with a direct link to view the context surrounding the comment.

Want to track your own comments? Done! Intense Debate also provides email notifications that will let you track your own comments across multiple blogs. This way, as soon as someone replies to one of your comments, you'll know about it!

User Profiles - learn more about commenters, and let them learn more about you, with user profiles.

Intense Debate allows you to set up your own personal user profile. Why would you want to do this? Simple. Whenever you leave a comment on a blog, people will see your personal avatar. And right next to your avatar is a "menu" button. This menu button gives everyone the link (URL) to your blog (or blogs), as well as the link to your profile on other websites. In addition, it gives them the direct link to the RSS feed for your comments.

For example, here's what it looks like in the comment section:

As you see in the above screenshot, anyone reading any of my comments can click the "menu" button next to my avatar, and from there, they can go directly to any of my blogs! They can also go direclty to my Facebook page, my MySpace page, my Intense Debate profile page, etc.

And through that very menu button, they can also subscribe to my blog and/or to my comments, as seen in this screenshot...

These are functions that I really like. And as far as I'm concerned, the more information bloggers can see about you, and the more you can see about other bloggers, the better! The only catch is that such information should be presented in a way that is both useful, and unobtrusive, to the actual reader. And the Intense Debate menu button, with its drop-down function, seems to do that quite successfully.

Threaded Comments - All discussions can be organized into threads, which makes it easier to follow a conversation.

Personally, I've always greatly preferred threaded comments to non-threaded comments. In my opinion, threaded comments not only make it a lot easier to follow what's going in a comment thread, but they also make it a lot easier to reply effectively as well. I mean, why have your reply fall directly under Barny's comment when you were actually replying to Fred's comment!?

Reputation/Comment Voting - Let your readers' commenting abilities be reflected in a reputation.

Each Instant Debate user has a "reputation" attached to his/her identity. This reputation is displayed whenever he/she makes a comment on a blog. The reputation value serves as a quick overview of a commenter's history, and is based on both the quantity and the quality of the comments he/she makes.

The Instant Debate comment system determines the quality of a person's comments through comment voting, which also serves to move the best comments to the top. This allows you and your readers to find the best comment content right away, while at the same time, bypassing the so-called "muck".

Many sites now implement this type of "voting" system, and basically, it's a "thumbs up" or "thumbs down" approach. Here's an example of what it looks like in an Instant Debate comment thread...

I definitely like the comment voting function, though I also recognize that it can be abused/gamed fairly easily. And this such vulnerability could definitely become problematic under the right circumstances. For example, let's say that you have some sort of influence over a certain number of people (and who doesn't!), and you ask/influence those people to either "thumbs up" or "thumbs down" a particular individual.

Obviously, the end result would be a very skewed, inaccurate and biased rating/opinion of that particular person and his/her comments. And such a rating could be very damaging, indeed.

I think it may somewhat force (or at least influence) a person to add more positive comments (and to refrain from negative ones) in order to retain a "good rating." And in the end, what good does that really serve? Will positivity replace truthfulness? Will the presence of an overall "rating system" influence a person's comments?

Well, I guess we'll see! All I know for sure is that there does need to be much more work and attention applied to this particular area.

Import Comments - You can import your existing blog comments to Intense Debate via the Import Comments tool (still in beta). And in the event that you decide Intense Debate is not for you, then you can also "take you comments with you" via the Export Comments tool (also in beta).

(Click to enlarge photo)

The Import Comments tool allows you to do just that - import your blog's previous comments (from WordPress, TypePad and Blogger) to Intense Debate. But one word of's still in beta. I repeat, it's still in beta!

I was gutsy (or silly?) enough to try it out myself the other day, and honestly, I kinda wish that I hadn't. The overall result? Well, let's just say that not all of the comments made it through successfully. Some comments seem to have been lost completely, and some, well, I have no idea where the heck they went! So my personal advice is to hold off on importing comments for now. Just wait until that function is thoroughly out of beta.

I'll elaborate more on the comment import situation in my upcoming Intense Debate - The review (Part 2) post.

Intense Debate - Overall Conclusion

Overall, I'm quite impressed and pleased with the Intense Debate comment system. As of this writing, I haven't encountered anything specific that would prevent me from using it here on this blog indefinitely.

The Intense Debate comment system offers several cool and useful functions that I like (and appreciate) as a blogger. Installation was a snap, and it's definitely added something greatly positive to this blog, in my opinion. But of course, my opinion is just that - my opinion.

Intense Debate - Your Thoughts?

So what do YOU think? Do you like The Intense Debate comment system? Do you not like it? What are your thoughts? Please share.

Related Blog Posts

Major Aaron Cook Dot Com Updates!

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thanks for visiting the Aaron Cook Dot Com™ blog! Please leave your awesome comment below! :)

Shine on,