No, this has nothing to do with the Presidential election.
A while back I played with Disqus, a hosted blog comment management system. I like the idea of threaded comments and easier comment management/layout tools. In practice, I found Disqus to be a little klunky and so I removed it.
Then Automattic, the company behind WordPress, purchased Disqus’ biggest competitor: Intense Debate. They locked the software down to new sign-ups while they tweaked the code. I applied for a beta invite which just came through this morning. I may be imagining it, but there’s a certain extra level of trust now that it’s an Automattic product. It also now uses Akismet for spam filtering and it supports Gravatar images.
Intense Debate, like Disqus, allows you to import/export/sync your comments between their hosted system and your blog’s own server. So you can switch back and forth and not worry about losing anything already in your database (which you backup nightly anyway, right?) or on Intense Debate should you decide to switch back later.
The best part about systems like Intense Debate is that it links conversations together across the blogosphere. You can log into a single interface to follow/track your comments and the comments of others across multiple Intense Debate-enabled blogs. This is where I think Intense Debate will have the most value. As an Automattic product, I think it will eventually have better adoption than Disqus. The more blogs using Intense Debate, the better it will be in the long run.
It has some little bells and whistles, like a widget for displaying recent comments in a sidebar (you can see it already in mine) and a Feed Flare for adding comment counts to FeedBurner RSS feeds.
What I’m not seeing yet is a way of author highlighting my comments here.
So far, I think I like Intense Debate. It was even easier to install/configure than Disqus was, and the layout is less fussy. It took about an hour for my blog’s 3000+ comments to be imported. I’m not disappointed with the way the comments look and behave, and I haven’t had to touch a line of CSS yet. We’ll see how it goes as I leave it here for a while. Please let me know if it really sucks, okay? I have it set to just filter spam but not require any other moderation at the moment. I was approving all legitimate comments anyway.
I’ll be using this post to test, so if the comments seem a little funky here, that’s why.