Comments are integral parts of the conversation

While I’m still having a bit of difficulty figuring out whether the 30Boxes calendaring service is worth spending any time with or not, I’m having no such difficulty in seeing the value of a service like coComment.

The concept of this is brilliantly simple – provide a means through which any comment you make on any blog (anyone’s blog, including your own) are aggregated in a single place so that you can clearly see all those comments from different places and thus get the broad picture of all the online conversations you are taking part in, anywhere. Read more about how it works here.

Not only that, you can then add a bit of code to your own site which displays your latest comments, wherever you make them. I’m trying that out which you can see in the right-hand column.

It gets even better as you can also share your aggregated place on the coComment website so anyone else can also see what you say and where you say it. A sort of shared personal place for all your conversations. A great way to stimulate more conversation with and by others. Take a look – here’s my place.

And more! You – and anyone else – can also subscribe to an RSS feed of your comment place so you can get all the comments you’ve made to a particular post. That RSS feed will also deliver anyone else’s comments to a particular post you’ve commented on.

Now that’s a conversation. It makes redundant anyone’s notion of where you comment is an important thing. It’s not. Who cares where the conversations take place when you can track them, wherever they happen?

coComment is in beta (of course) and you need an invitation to participate. If my experience is any indicator, just go to the home page, fill in the details there and you may get an email invite from coComments directly. That’s what I did a few days ago.

This is a terrific service. It works on the major blogging platforms. Still in development, as I said, and the developers have lots of ideas for it. One I’m hoping to see soon – a fully-automated way to capture your comments into coComment. I’ve got the coComment capture bookmarklet in Firefox, but I keep forgetting to click it when I leave a comment anywhere…

24 thoughts on “Comments are integral parts of the conversation

  1. I have to confess that I haven’t used it yet, but I understand that it gives the commentee no ability to moderate. Does this make comment policies redundant?

  2. Niall, here’s how I think coComment works in this regard, taking this comment I’m writing as an example.
    My blog has comment moderation, even for my own comments. So TypePad will email me to let me know there’s a pending comment. Until I log in to my account to approve it, it won’t appear in this blog.
    But when I submit the comment, it also goes to my conversation page on coComment at the same time. Does that happen anyway or does it wait first until the approved comment gets published on the blog?
    Stay tuned as I click…

  3. Now that’s interesting. When I clicked on ‘submit’ for my previous comment, it went into the TypePad monitoring queue and did not appear here until I’d approved it – but it appeared instantly in coComment, before I’d approved the comment to appear here.
    From my perspective as a commenter, I don’t have any problem with that. I’m not a spammer plus I’m commenting on my own blog.
    It raises a question in my mind, though (which I suspect is a question in yours too, Niall) – what’s to prevent a real spammer from signing up to coComment and then spamming away on someone’s blog? Would that spammer’s comments appear immediately in the blogger’s coComment space even though that blogger may have moderation in place in his or her own blog so the spammer’s comments don’t appear there without approval?
    Questions for coComment, I think.

  4. Very interesting. I also just looked our your coComment space. Demonstrates perfectly how only half of the conversation gets captured – your responses to me are sitting there in isolation, without the context of our entire conversation. It’s like listening to one half of a telephone call (and just as useful).

  5. If you also joined coComment, Niall, we’d see all the conversation – each post we both leave comments on will show up in our respective conversation places.
    If I had a way to send you an invitation, I would! I don’t, so go to the home page and enter the details there so that coComment can invite you.
    I think this is going to be red hot once it gathers real momentum.

  6. I’m probably waving goodbye to my invite to Second Chance Tuesday with this statement, but what’s wrong with seeing “all the conversation” right here on your blog?
    I can understand how coComment could be a useful tool to track the comments you make on different blogs, but what’s the point of tracking the conversation when you can’t track what all the participants say.

  7. Neville
    There is a greasemonkey script (I think they mention it in the CoComment blog) which relieves you of the hassle of remembering to click the bookmarklet.
    In fact I am testing it right now.

  8. Nothing wrong with that at all Niall 😉 But I like the idea of a single place where anyone can go to see all the conversations (comments at least) that take place on different blogs. And sign up to an RSS feed of those aggregated comments: even better.
    Neil, thanks for the tip. I’m a bit wary of Greasemonkey after the reliabilty issues some months ago, but I’ll take a look at the coComment script. Anything to automate this!

  9. Niall, when Neville made this post I headed immediately over to Cocomment to request notification when they get out of beta. Why am I so eager to use this service when I could just visit the blog to follow the conversation? Well, because I use an RSS reader to track 50+ blogs, so it’s hard to remember which ones I commented on and which ones I didn’t. In my RSS reader, when I haven’t read a post yet, it is bolded black. After I read it, the bold turns off. That’s a signal to me that I can bypass that post because I’ve read it before. I don’t want to mark as unread just to follow comments, it gets confusing when you follow lots of blogs.
    So, that’s the value in it for me. I doubt anyone else will really want to track my various comments around the blogosphere, for the reason that it only shows half a conversation as you mentioned, but I can see myself using this service daily to track my own conversations.
    It would be interesting if they could track the entire conversation of comment threads you participate in.

  10. I noticed that too, Laura – the RSS feed lets you, the commenter, track all the connected comments in one convenient place.
    I find that extremely useful. Indeed, since signing up and starting to use coComment, I’ve viisted my conversation place on the website just once. No incentive to go there as I have all the comments coming in via my RSS feed.

  11. I signed up to cocomment the other day but haven’t had a second to leave a comment anywhere yet. So this is a test to see if it works.
    Thanks for the opportunity.
    Maxine.

  12. Neville, you are the first person I am trying coComment on — judging by others’ commentaries it should be an ‘A-B-C’ ride. And I’ll definately put my conversations into my feed reader…
    Cheers,
    Lee

  13. Oh, and having just tested my first post co-using coComment, and having plugged the rss feed into my aggregator, I have to say how COOL it is that the whole conversation, including comments made before mine, suddenly appear in my reader. “Luvely Jubbly”, as DellBoy would say!!

  14. Thanks for your comment, Maxine. Did you install the coComment bookmarklet before commenting? Your comment doesn’t show up in the comment list (see the right-hand column on this blog).
    On the other hand, Lee’s does. At least, one of them does. And if I look at Lee’s conversation place on the coComment website, it’s listed there too.
    Best of all (ref Laura’s comment), both of Lee’s comments show up in my RSS feed.
    Neat!

  15. You’re comment over at the CoCo forum about potential libel raises an interesting point worth pursuing here. Where a site is moderated, the comment appears in RSS/Co-Comment but is held in the moderation queue of the relevant site. This is barmy. If the site owner is concerned about potential libel, defamation and so on then I’m agin a comment appearing in my sidebar (for example) prior to moderation. And that’s before we talk about spam. I’ll likely take Co-Comment off my sidebar pretty soon and just keep RSS.

  16. Another thing – yes unmoderated comments appear in your sidebar. That needs resolving mthinks. Also, they could do with truncating comments – too much clutter in the sidebar.

  17. Dennis, I think the point re potentially libellous commenting is one that would concern a lot of people, not just organizations.
    Removing coComment from your sidebar would indeed stop any such comment being seen on your blog. But it’s not just in the sidebar on your own blog that a potentially libellous comment could appear – it would also show up in your conversation place at the coComment website and in anyone else’s place and sidebar if they have been part of that conversation.
    Re truncating comments, that’s just re how I’ve set up the coComment code in the sidebar. Haven’t done that too well, plus limitations in how the Typelist shows it. Works better where you have total access to your template code.

  18. Hmmm… Well, the latest comments on this blog haven’t shown up in my rss reader. Even refreshing the feed doesn’t seem to help. I don’t know whether that’s an issue with GreatNews (my reader) or coComment.
    I’d be interested to read if anyone else has had that problem.

  19. Yes, definately. I use IE (my firefox has completely crashed and so need to uninstall then reinstall) and always click on cocomment first… But irrespective of that, with more comments being added to THIS post, surely coComment should be tracking that and informing me via my rss feed?
    I’ll investigate further.

  20. Thanks for that tip, Dennis.
    Lee, there do seem to be some glitches here and there. For instance, I installed the Greasemonkey script that Neil referred to. Does what it says in recognizing a comment form so enables coComment. But I just posted a comment to another post here – and the script didn’t work so that comment doesn’t appear anywhere in coComment. So I’ve uninstalled that script and back to remembering to click.
    It is beta after all 😉

  21. Actually, there is not one, but two Greasemonkey scripts which automatically invoke coComment: Brian Benzinger’s version and mine. Brian got his out first, which only covers five specific blog systems, mine (http://ecmanaut.blogspot.com/2006/02/cocomment-new-contender-in-two-way-web.html) adds automatic coComment support to all blogs handled by coComment, updating itself daily from the coComment site, automatically growing better as the coComment guys improve their site coverage.
    That it’s beta shouldn’t mean you have to suffer for it any more; these days, we can all chime in to improve things. The web is slowly becoming bidirectional, even concerning service development such as this.

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