Better conversations with IntenseDebate

Updated on November 14, 2008

Today I installed IntenseDebate on this blog as a way to address one of the things I don’t really like about commenting – the linear form comments tend to take.

What I mean is that the chronological-order format makes it difficult to track actual conversations where different people comment and interject as a conversation develops. Instead you simply get a list you have to scroll through which, if you get a post with loads of comments, soon gets cumbersome.

Not only that, I think structures like that de-stimulate people from continuing discussion or joining one where you will miss some of the points being made in the cut and thrust.

I tried coComment when it first appeared a few years ago (and initially got quite excited with it). I’ve considered some of the various comment plug-ins you can get for WordPress but none really seemed worthwhile or added something anyone wishing to comment would find of lasting value.

More recently I’ve looked at Disqus which I don’t like at all as your comments are taken away from your blog to a third-party location, plus my perception that it didn’t integrate well with my blog’s design template.

So I’m trying IntenseDebate via the plug-in for WordPress which makes the comment form and published comments on each post look quite different, as this example indicates:

commentsexample

Note the in-line threading where I replied to a specific comment. And look at those RSS options. I like that. And the ‘follow this discussion’ box drops out to give you lots of different choices on subscribing to the content of just this comment thread.

Four clear reasons prompted me to give it a go:

  1. If I change my mind at any time and decide to revert back to the standard WordPress comment structure, I can synchronize all comments made via the IntenseDebate setup back into my blog’s comment database and not lose any comments – this is crucial and the #1 benefit for me.
  2. Comments anyone has made prior to installing IntenseDebate are easily integrated into the new system while still remaining within my WordPress comments database.
  3. IntenseDebate is owned by Automattic, the company behind WordPress and Akismet, with all the trust that implies (basically, I’m willing to trust them because of that).
  4. Of all the conversation-enhancing tools out there, IntenseDebate looks like the one I think everyone – me as the blog author and you as a commenter – would actually find useful and give us all a better overall experience.

So I’ll post what I think of IntenseDebate over on my tech blog as I get to know it (for an initial view, check out what RWW has to say). And my Twitter buddy Rik Wuts is going to check out Disqus and we’ll compare notes.

I guess, though, that the most important factor is what you, a commenter, thinks of IntenseDebate and what it offers. No doubt you’ll let me know, thanks.

Neville Hobson

Social Strategist, Communicator, Writer, and Podcaster with a curiosity for tech and how people use it. Believer in an Internet for everyone. Early adopter (and leaver) and experimenter with social media. Occasional test pilot of shiny new objects. Avid tea drinker.

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