I’ve been thinking on and off about blog comments for a while now, particularly about whether there’ll ever be some clever way to track them. Currently I read many blogs and comment fairly frequently, but I have to remember to go back and check for replies. Goodness knows how many times I leave a comment and forget about it; I’ve been known to be halfway through reading a comment before realising I wrote it! It’d be great if there were some way of tracking comments and replies, but I’ve never been able to think of an easy solution.

The obvious answer would be some kind of ID system. The problem with this is that it would require:

  • support from all the major blogging tools / websites
  • an infrastructure that could cope with hundreds of requests per second, 24/7, plus graceful fallback1 if everything breaks
  • a centralized database with some kind of security so that the digg/slashdot crowd wouldn’t go completely mental over privacy issues

In short, I couldn’t see it happening. Then, earlier this week, somebody launched just such a comment-tracking service based on a completely different principle: coComment.

The idea is this: coComment give you a ‘button’ for your browser, which you click before you submit a comment on any website. Behind the scenes coComment intercept the text and figure out how the commenting system works. They then put all the information into a ‘Your Conversations’ page. You need only check this page to see all subsequent replies.

A major advantage of this system is that it’s up to coComment to support websites, not the other way around. Currently it works with Blogger, MSN Spaces, MySpaces, TypePad, WordPress, Xanga, Flickr(!), Kaywa and Mojira, with Movable Type and Digg support on the way. That’s a pretty comprehensive list already, and covers the vast majority of comments I leave, I think. LiveJournal would be a good addition.

coComment are very web 2.0, naturally, and provide RSS feeds of all your replies, as well as javascript code to display x recent replies on your blog, or whatever. They certainly seem to have a decent attitude, and their blog is frequently updated.

I guess the major issues with this system are:

  • Ease of use – the button has to Just Work. There’s already a (Firefox-only) script that detects compatible forms automatically, so that’ll help
  • Speed – it needs to be fast. Too slow and I’ll get bored. Yeah, I’m fickle like that.
  • Mistakes – there needs to be a way to manually add pages to the system, for those times I forget to click the button

Of course, the big question is, does it work? Well, since signing up on Tuesday, I’ve left a grand total of one comment anywhere, so can’t tell you. I’ll test it out some more and get back to you.

It’s not as simple as some overarching ID system, but I really like the idea. If it works properly, I’ll definitely use it.

  1. not the right word…what do I mean? []