For sometime now, it bothers me that I cannot track the comments of the people I care about and value, in other blogs. Neither can I have a unified picture about what have I commented and where.
This was the main reason I chose to switch to Disqus in my greek blog just a couple of months ago. Since a fair amount of blogs are utilizing disqus too, the picture looks brighter but far from ideal.
To make things worse, there are competitive solutions to disqus, as well as solutions that do not attemot to replace the comment system altogether but track the traditional blog comments in one place instead(co.comments comes first in mind).
The problem with all the above solutions is that they are not universal, nor can they be: they are competitive services that want to keep any competitive advantage they have for themselves. Quite understandable. Especially since no cross commenting standard is to be found.
Yesterday, I came upon this post of Shey Smith, where he calls for a unified commenting standard, having in mind primarily the cooperation of systems like Disqus, IntenseDebate and SezWho. But these systems are niche play compared to the standard commenting systems of Blogger, Typead and WordPress.
As I played with identi.ca, it came to me that the microblogging federation idea can also be applied to comments. To see how, let’s examine first what comprises a comment system first:
- A form of identification (that can support anonymous comments too).
- A comment text of arbitrary length, related to a post
- Replies from one commentor to another (in the case of disqus, replies become threads).
- A feed for comments
- Moderation of comments
If we were to replace the traditional blog comment systems with a microblogging platform like laconi.ca (where each blog would behaves like a separate laconi.ca server), what we would actually get is something that would accomodate for :
- A form of identification without anonymity
- A short text comment/post/update
- An informal reply mechanism
- An informal reply tracking mechanism
- A feed per user and friends, or a total feed.
- A way of blocking users (this is from twtter, not from laconi.ca).
To bring the two worlds closer, we would have to expand the text from 140 chars to any length, bind updates to posts by making every new post create a new update with the trackback url in it.
Around each blog there is a community of regular, not so regurar and casual users. Most likely each one of them reads or owns other blogs too. If someone owns a blog, his/her blog becomes her place where the user identity is registered/created. For users with no blogs, this can be any other blog of their choice, that will server from then on as their commenting system provider. Each blog owner could choose to follow whomever he likes and therefore track his comments in the blog comment systems federation. Likewise for a user without blog. If a comment is originated from someone that the blog owner does not follow, it will show up in the replies, as replies from users we don’t know can show up in our twitter replies tab.
The ultimate merit of such an implementation is that it converts each blog into a social network too.
What do you say?
Note: As I was about to finish the writing of this post, through a tweet, I was informed of an alternative suggestion too.