A New Comment System

I was reading about the latest WordPress 3.0 release, yet another step forward in open source software. I was eager to try it, so I updated last night. But the more interesting thing in the midst of my reading was a program also by the folks that make WordPress; more specifically, I was reading a sarcastic essay written by Matt Mullenweg, creator of WordPress. He was writing about how comment systems were in serious need of an update and was pushing for the comment system implemented in IntenseDebate. So I gave it a shot, and that’s what’s running the comments now.

To be honest, I’m just playing catch up; but we’re also reaping the benefits of a more mature comment system (the article was from Aug ’09). I like it so far! Here’s how I think people on this site can take advantage:

  • Reply directly to comments made by others — No more calling out names, now it’s a hierarchical format that shows your reply directly below theirs.
  • Login is easier — IntenseDebate let me create a Facebook app; not that I wanted to for personal gain, but now you can use Facebook to login to the comments here if you like. I won’t take your info, I really don’t want it, I promise. You can also login with Twitter, IntenseDebate, or it will just pull your photo in if you happen to use Gravatar (another Automattic creation, the same people that do WP).
  • Subscribe to comments — I usually “set it and forget it” when it comes to commenting on sites. Once I’ve dropped off my two cents, I usually don’t care to stick around and refresh or I completely forget I commented somewhere. The comments subscription is easy and won’t overwhelm your inbox. Plus you can reply back to any replies you get through email.
  • Voting — I don’t want this site to be a popularity contest, but sometimes you see a comment you really like. Now there’s a up/down arrow next to comments you think are really good so they’ll rise to the top. Similar to a reddit or more relevant ChipHacker. I like the “democratic” view of commenting–just because you’re the most recent doesn’t mean you should show up first. Even if you’re not planning on commenting, take a minute to click on comments you agree with.
  • CommentLuv — This is a plugin that will pull your latest blog post title into your post automatically. It’s a simple way to show what you’ve been writing about even if you don’t want to write “PLEASE LISTEN TO ME AND VISIT MY SITE” in every post. I doubt that anyone on the internet ever does that kind of thing though. With this new plugin, it’s no big deal.
  • Sharing — I really don’t think many people are submitting my posts to social media sites, but this is also integrated as a plugin (previously it was a plugin at the bottom of the post, not in the comments). If you feel the urge, I encourage it! (no pity submissions, please)

The whole point of Matt’s article was building community. While I don’t expect people to visit a site that I named after myself everyday, I hope that this new tool will help others interact when they see an interesting tidbit on here. I mean, people still read Joel’s thoughts on software, and he doesn’t even have comments! See? I’m one step up already!

Hope to hear from you in the comments, especially if you have other ideas for better interaction. Let us know if you like the new system!

By Chris Gammell

Chris Gammell is an engineer who talks more than most other engineers. He also writes, makes videos and a couple podcasts. While analog electronics happen to be his primary interests, he also dablles in FPGAs and system level design.

11 replies on “A New Comment System”

I've just installed intensedebate and I'm looking forward to all the benefits promised, now I'm just waiting for my existing comments to be imported. Before you got intensedebate installed, did you consider other similar services? Just curious.

I am actually, the interface just looks the same. The problem is that Intense Debate doesn’t allow for mass scrubbing of spam comments. It’s only downfall in my opinion.

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