I’ve been frustrated with loading speed problems I’ve traced back to blog widgets in the past, so I’ve been very resistant to installing any new plugins. In the past few weeks I’ve had three different people urge me to give the Intense Debate comment system a try, so I gave in and installed it. I could see the advantages for readers, but I was wary that it didn’t offer much to the blog owner. I was wrong, I’m loving it, and here’s why you should add it too.
The old Typepad comment system had a lot of friction. Their login system never seemed to remember who I was, so I had to got to a separate screen for that. Then I would have to navigate back to the page, enter my comment, and submit it. After that was the obligatory bad-acid-trip sequence of letters to prove I wasn’t a robot, and finally my comment might appear.
I guess I wasn’t alone in finding this a pain. I’ve got four or five comments in 24 hours, whereas I used to be lucky to get one every couple of days. ID has a great in-context system for entering comments, and remembers who I am for more than a few minutes.
Part of the reason for their ease-of-use is that they don’t have any visible anti-spam measures. This might be a problem as they get more popular, and people target them, but just getting away from the comment monoculture we have know will make the spammers life harder.
Brings in Visitors
People have been finding my site through commentors I share with other sites. Since every comment is an implicit vote of interest by the commenter, this is a great way of discovering new blogs you’re likely to be interested in too. I’d love to see a way of easily tracking these visits directly through the ID interface, bloggers would be interested in the statistics and it would be a direct demonstration of the system’s value.
The widget they offer for recent comments is clearer and more informative than the default typepad system. I like the snippet and the button to jump makes more sense to me than the old Typepad version. The prominence it gives to comments lets me demonstrate how much I like getting them, and even better there’s another that shows top commenters. Happy commenters means more comments means a happy Pete.
I’ve had nothing but good experiences with their email support, patiently helping me figure out an early issue that turned out to be an option I’d mistakenly set. It’s a scary step to hand over your comments to an external startup, but they offer importing and exporting to XML which makes the risk a lot more palatable.