More confidence needed in IntenseDebate


I’m not sure what to make of IntenseDebate, the third-party comment management system that’s been managing the comments, and the commenting process, on this blog since mid November.

The screenshot above is probably as good an indicator as any of the sense of frustration I often have with this system.

What the screenshot shows is the dialogue that appeared for three whole days on this site last week following an upgrade of the IntenseDebate WordPress plugin.

It seemed to me that the new version 2.0.17 of the plugin treated my blog and all its comments – over 5,500 of them – as a brand new installation and so wanted to import them all into a database at IntenseDebate, something you’d definitely want to do in order to use the system. Yet I’d already been using IntenseDebate for six weeks.

It wasn’t until the intervention of Michael Koenig at IntenseDebate that the issue was resolved, although I still don’t know what the issue was nor how it was resolved.

It doesn’t give me a feeling of confidence in using this system. But that’s not the only thing, there’s more.

pendingcomments Now, every time I log in to the blog’s admin area it shows one comment awaiting moderation. Yet there’s never actually a comment to moderate.

If I log in to my account at IntenseDebate, it shows no comments to moderate if there actually aren’t any.

Whatever I do, I cannot get rid of this notification which has fast become a serious annoyance.

Which is another thing – where should I moderate comments? At Intensedebate or at my blog? Maybe it’s just me not fully understanding (or perhaps following) IntenseDebate’s instructions but I find this aspect of using the service quite confusing.

I’ve noticed that when I do moderate comments at IntenseDebate, the status of comments updates quite quickly on my blog to reflect what’s happening, so the synchronization of comments in both databases seems quite effective.

Yet I have a feeling of unease about my comment data and whether I really can trust IntenseDebate with it. I know I still have all the comments in my WP database, but I’ve noticed that some comments are missing from one post since I started using IntenseDebate. I really hope that’s not reflected anywhere else.

And what about this – a comment by Bernie Goldbach showing today in the ‘Recent Comments’ module on my blog’s dashboard, yet the comment itself isn’t anywhere, not in the blog nor at IntenseDebate:


So what happened to that comment?

One more thing – every comment now requires moderation. Before IntenseDebate, anyone who had commented here at least once could make a further comment that didn’t need moderating: a sense of trust had already been established.

While all of this may seem like a litany of unhappiness with IntenseDebate, the fact is that I think it’s a great service in its overall operation.

I like the comment threading capability – also one of the new features of WordPress 2.7 if your theme supports it – which was one of the main reasons why I wanted to use IntenseDebate in the first place.

Other features, too, are worthwhile such as connecting with other IntenseDebate users and tweeting whenever you leave a comment.

I just wish I felt a little more confident overall.

If you’ve installed IntenseDebate on your blog, I’d love to hear your impressions of it. And I wonder how my Twitter buddy Rik Wuts is getting on with his Disqus experiment.

Related post:

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.

  1. Dave Briggs

    Hi Neville – I installed ID on my blog in the last few days, largely as a result of the positive experience I had with it here! I too had the issue of the rogue comment which I couldn't find in order to moderate with it. After a bit of random clicking though I did manage to track it down – it was obviously a spam comment. I'm not yet upgraded to 2.7 though which may have an effect on this… I wrote a bit about why I'm using ID here.

  2. neville

    Good point re plugins, Dave, I'd forgotten to mention that in my post.

    There are four plugins I used before installing IntenseDebate that don't work with ID installed:

    Comment Quicktags Reloaded
    Friendfeed comments
    Subscribe to comments

    Of them, seesmic is the crucial one for me; it's bitterly disappointing that it no longer works. For visitors, I've had 2 ask me re subscribe to comments.

    Decision time approaching whether I continue with ID or kill it. An influencing factor will be my theme: once it supports comment threading, I'll have less desire for ID.

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