18 Jun 2010

User Review: 6 Ways To Liven Up Your Community

Chris Gammell wrote an excellent post about his experience using IntenseDebate.  After reading Matt Mullenweg’s post, 6 Steps To Kill Your Community, Chris was compelled to give IntenseDebate a try.  Here are some of his initial thoughts on how you can benefit from using IntenseDebate (via his post):

  • 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. […] You can also login with Twitter, IntenseDebate, WordPress.com 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.
  • CommentLuvThis 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)

Many thanks to Chris for giving ID a try, and for sharing his review!

We depend on your support and feedback, and we always love your help with spreading the word about IntenseDebate.  Let us know if you publish a review of your experience with ID — we’ll be happy to give you a shout out, and help share your feedback with the rest of the blogosphere. 🙂

Posted by Michael Koenig in community,feedback

1 Sep 2009

Navigating Your Comments

We’d like to share some thoughts and get your feedback.

Our goal with IntenseDebate is to make your comments better.  We offer a system that encourages conversation, and improves your ability to have meaningful dialogue with your readers and fellow commenters.  Comments are the icing on your content cake, and there’s real value and insight in comment sections (the icing is the best part!).  That’s why being able to find valuable comments is key.

We think it can be cool to bring in comments and social media from around the web.  That’s why we offer FriendFeed integration (where comments made in FriendFeed are pulled back to your blog), and trackback / pingback support with our WordPress Plugin.   Aggregating constructive and relevant content benefits your comment section (which is why we are checking out aggregation services like BackType and uberVU).

But there can be too much of a good thing — you wouldn’t want a cake that was all icing. Check out Matt Mullenweg’s recent post “6 Steps to Kill Your Community” (especially step 5).   Too many external scraps of “conversation” flood comment sections with retweets, and even tweets about comments on that post.  Adding in every single mention buries your comments and destroys the debate.

A real-time “conversation” aggregation system also introduces a whole new beast to deal with. Pulling in bits of “conversation” in real-time with no moderation would allow belligerent people to dominate a comment section simply by tweeting out curse words (or worse) over and over embarrassing your readers, and drowning out meaningful discussion.

Nicolas Holzapfel wrote an interesting TechCrunch post recently.  He touches on something that we’ve been fixated on for a while: there’s a limit to the number of comments that you’ll read on a post before you move on.  Let’s face it, few of us have time to read through hundreds of comments let alone Tweets, and comments from FriendFeed and Digg.

How can we make it easier to navigate through all of the comments so that you can find what you’re interested in?  We think IntenseDebate strikes the right balance: our user reputation scores, comment voting, comment sorting (by ranking), and comment/user following, are some of the ways we help bring good comments to the forefront.  We also auto-collapse comment threads (once there are 25 threads on a single post), to help navigate. There are a number of great ideas in the comment section of Nicolas’ post:

  • Add headers and topics
  • Show comments made by people within your social network (ID users)
  • Filter comments by keyword
  • Tag clouds

We keep an eye on everything and good ideas can come from anywhere. If you see something killer that we should do, let us know and if there’s enough demand or just if it’s super-cool we’ll get it on the roadmap.

What do you think?

Posted by Michael Koenig in feedback

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