Please Don’t Be Rude, coComment. I Loved You.

[fr] J'étais une inconditionnelle de la première heure de coComment. Je les ai même eus comme clients. Aujourd'hui j'ai le coeur lourd, car après le désastre de la version 2.0 "beta", le redesign du site qui le laisse plus confus qu'avant, les fils RSS qui timent out, le blog sans âme et les pubs qui clignotent, je me retrouve avec de grosses bannières autopromotionnelles dans mon tumblelog, dans lequel j'ai intégré le flux RSS de mes commentaires.

Just a little earlier this evening, my heart sank. It sank because of this:

Steph's Tumblr - rude cocomment

That is a screenshot of my Tumblr. And what coComment is doing here — basically, inserting a huge self-promotional banner in their RSS feed — is really rude.

I’m really sad, because I used to love coComment. I was involved (not much, but still) early on and was a first-hour fan. They were even my client for over six months, during which I acted as a community manager, gave feedback on features to the team, and wrote a whole bunch of blog posts. This ended, sadly, when coComment finally incorporated, because we couldn’t reach an agreement as to the terms of my engagement.

Inserting content in the RSS feeds is only the latest in a series of disappointments I’ve had with the service. I used to have a sidebar widget to show the last comments I’d made all over the place on my blog, but I removed it at some point — I can’t remember when — because it had stopped working. I tried adding it again, but for some reason WordPress can’t find the feed. It seemed very slow when I tried to access it directly, so maybe it’s timing out — and I think I recall that is what made me remove it in the first place.

I’m sad also to see blinking ads on the coComment site, confusing navigation, pages with click here links, and a blog which has no soul, filled with post after post of press-release-like “we won this contest”, “we’re sponsoring this event”, “version xyz released”, “we were here too” — all too often on behalf of a mostly faceless “coComment Team”. CoComment used to have something going, but to me it now seems like an exciting promise that lost its way somewhere along the line.

Last August, the version 2.0 beta disaster made me cringe with embarrassment for my former love (who on earth takes all their users back to beta when 1.0 was stable?) and left many blogs paralyzed, including my own. I started writing a blog post, at the time, which I never published, as other things got in the way. Here’s what I’d written:

I reinstalled the extension yesterday (I’d removed it a few months ago because I suspected it might be involved in a lot of browser hang-ups) but had to uninstall it a couple of hours later:

  • too many non-comment textareas get the coco-bar
  • blacklisting seems broken
  • pop-up requesting info confirmation for website blocking form submission of non-comment forms, even though coco-bar was removed AND extension was deactivated for the page.

It would be nice to be able to read some clear and detailed information about these issues and their resolution on the blog, so that I know when it’s worth trying the extension again.

Also, a major issue is that when the coComment server isn’t responding, people cannot leave comments on integrated/enhanced blogs (like this one, or my personal blog). I had to remove coComment integration from my blog so that coComment downtime doesn’t prevent my readers from leaving comments.

Update: in case this wasn’t clear first time around, these problems have since then been solved and coComment apologized for the mess. It doesn’t erase the pain, though.

So, coComment — and Matt — are you listening?

You’re in the process of alienating somebody who was one of your most passionate users — if you haven’t lost me already. I cared. I forgave. I waited. I hoped. But right now, I don’t have the impression you care much about me. I’ve seen excuses, I’ve even seen justifications, and now I see large ugly banners in my Tumblr. What happened to you?

You’ll have understood, I hope, that this is not just about me. This is about the people who use your service. The service you provide is for us, right?

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This entry was posted in Connected Life, Social Media and the Web and tagged antipattern, badpractice, banner, blog, cluetrain, coComment, comment, criticism, disappointment, downhill, feed, Online Culture, passionate users, rss, Social Software, Software and Tools, tool, tracking, tumblr, Venting. Bookmark the permalink.

25 Responses to Please Don’t Be Rude, coComment. I Loved You.

  1. Marie-Aude says:

    J’ai arrêté d’utiliser CoComent depuis longtemps, car à chaque fois que je passais sur le site de ma banque avec l’extension activée, mon browser plantait. A force de la désactiver… elle est restée comme cela. C’est effectivement dommage, c’était une très bonne idée.

  2. Kristina says:

    Stephanie - Thanks for the post and I am sorry you fee this way. The coComment team does care and as the company is growing in user numbers and employees, we strive to keep the close connection with our early and devoted users, such as yourself. If you would give me the opportunity, I’d like to connect with you via e-mail or phone and have a conversation to see what we could do. You expressed your opinion pretty well in the blog post, but I think we can also have a conversation about it, which would be extremely helpful. In the past, we have not been perfect, but have always tried to make quick changes responding to the requests and feedback from our users, such as yourself.

    Thanks and I look forward to your response …

    Best Kristina kristina@cocomment.com

  3. Stephanie says:

    Kristina: thanks for stopping by. If you don’t mind, I’d rather have the conversation on this blog — why take it into a private space like e-mail or a phone call, where others will not benefit from it? I thought coComment was all about “conversations online”…

    I appreciate your desire to be open to discussion and am ready to answer any questions you may have. One simple thing you can do — I guess it’s obvious from my reaction in this post — is clean up the RSS feed and make it more responsive. That would be a good start.

  4. I think there are two separate issues here so I’ll address them each in turn if I may.

    1. Ads in the Feed

    coComment is now a much bigger company with over 3 million unique users per month. We have, upto now, provided our services entirely for free and not monetised in any way as we developed our offering and sought to get the right product for our users.

    But, now, we need to start monetising since our investors will not continue to pour money in forever without a return.

    That means that either we serve advertising or our users pay a small subscription. We are going to implement the latter option so that those who wish to have coComment without ads will be able to do so.

    1. Version 2.0 Beta

    I’m a little surprised that this is posted now since it’s now 9 months ago and the issues raised there have been resolved. In fact, we posted a candid mea-culpa about the whole issue and emailed our entire userbase to let them know about he problems.

    The major issue you mention, in particular, has been fully resolved and coComment will not now block a comment from being submitted even if the coComment server is unavailable.

    I’d also suggest you try the new Firefox Sidebar … it’s now no longer a frame and is instead a true browser sub-window. This means faster loading, better control and easy access to coComment on any site where you’re commenting.

    Summary

    Fundamentally, we are committed to listening and responding. Unfortunately, we can’t always do everything that we’re asked to do but wherever we possibly can, we do.

    However, I do think it’s a little unfair to raise nine month old issues unless we have clearly not responded to them and, on this, I think we can definitively show that we did so comprehensively.

    Fair point ?

    Where should we put the ads ?

    How many people would prefer to pay a small subscription for coComment and see no ads ?

    Would love to get your responses.

  5. justgraham says:

    I gave up on CoComment a while ago but it still seems to pop up from time to time in the various browsers I use. ;-)

  6. christophe says:

    Hi Steph !

    On the pure technical side.-( : I have just tested your conversation feed. I can get it in less than 2 seconds (size is 25K) : not bad considering I’m in Kiev and, for some reasons, (maybe related to the visit of Mr President Bush ;-) ), we do currently have a slow access to sites not hosted in Ukraine. Do you see similar response time ?

    Thanks for your help.

  7. christophe says:

    Just tested again from one of our servers in Paris: elapsed time to get your feed is less than 900ms. Could you please send me some details on the way you use the feed ? (tools, ….)

    Thanks

  8. Stephanie says:

    Christophe: feed http://www.cocomment.com/myrss2/steph.rss seems ok now. Yesterday was timing out in WordPress RSS widget and in browser. Was using http://www.cocomment.com/myRss/steph/60a7b0a0430ffc9e6245.rss as provided by comments page. http://cocomment.com/myrss2/steph.rss returns a 301.

  9. christophe says:

    Ok, thanks. We have made a minor release yesterday: maybe you experienced this issue just at the same time (but this was very very short). Could also have been a temporary network issue (like I’m having today with the flickr images on this page) slowing down the access to our servers from your computer.

    Thanks for your help and if you see anything wrong or have any performance issue again, you are of course welcome to contact me on this post (that I track) or via email.

  10. frederique says:

    bon, je le fais en francais parce que quand même, je maitrise pas assez bien l’anglais pour grogner dans cette langue là :-) 1. je n’utilise pas cocomment (il me semble important de le préciser), donc mon commentaire sera purement sur l’aspect commercial de l’histoire, et surtout des réponses qu’on t’apporte. 2. Les utilisateurs ne sont JAMAIS unfair. Ils ont toujours raison. Si ils se sentent encore gênés par quelque chose qui s’est produit il y a 9 mois, c’est votre faute puisque le problème est apparu à l’origine. Pas la leur. 3. Arguer d’un “la pub c’est pour financer le service”, en mettant des pubs plus grosses que le service rendu, c’est tout simplement faible. Si le service n’est pas viable gratuitement, alors il fallait le dire dès le début, et c’est que le business plan n’était pas valable. Et il aurait fallu proposer EN MÊME TEMPS l’offre payante sans pub et l’offre gratuite avec pub. Car là, vous imposez la pub. 4. La proposition de discussion en privé est débile. Le problème ne concernait pas que steph. 5. Ben dis-donc, les relations consommateurs chez cocomment, c’est vraiment pourri. Les utilisateurs sont méchants, on fait des modifications sans prévenir l’usager (“we made a minor release yesterday”) 6. Pour en revenir au 1. si jamais j’avais eu la tentation d’utiliser cocomment, cet échange m’en aurait dissuadée.

  11. Stephanie says:

    Matt: will continue the conversation in a blog post tomorrow. Didn’t get around to doing it today I’m afraid, work got in the way!

  12. Hi Stephanie and all readers.

    Not trying to hijack the conversation and happy to continue it here too but I have also posted a short piece on the coComment blog explaining what we’re upto and inviting feedback.

    http://blog.cocomment.com/2008/04/07/advertising-revenues-and-harsh-realities/

    Bottom line is we don’t want to alienate our users BUT we also need to generate revenues now. All suggestions gratefully received :-)

    Best regards,

    Matt.

  13. Pingback: Climb to the Stars (Stephanie Booth) » More on coComment Advertising

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