Reminders With Future Triggers: Building an Intelligent Calendar [en]

[fr] L'idée que j'ai pitchée au StartupWeekend Lausanne, plus en détail et mieux expliquée: un système de rappels ("rappelle-moi") qui pourrait rappeler des choses comme "la prochaine fois que tu vois Sophie, ramène-lui son pull" -- même si on ne sait pas quand ni où on verra Sophie pour la prochaine fois.

Wouldn’t it be great if you could set a reminder somewhere so that you don’t forget to take your grandmother for a day in the mountains next time she comes to visit — even though you don’t know when that’s going to be?

Or if you had a way to remember to bring back Sophie’s sweater that she forgot at her place, next time you have a meeting in Geneva — but you have no trips planned to the city so far?

How about reminding you to wear woolly socks every time you take the plane, because it gets freezing cold once you’re up there? And your ear plugs, in case your seat neighbour is a heavy snorer?

We usually keep track of this kind of stuff in our heads. Or we have manual GTD-style lists — ever forgot to check them before meeting somebody, only to realize afterwards there was something written under their name?

There are existing systems that provide an inch or two of the solution, but nothing exists at this stage which actually does what I’m thinking of. Let’s go around some of these services, then I’ll share my ideas on how I think this can be done.


This is, to be honest, the service that gave me my main inspiration. It has a trigger => action architecture, but so far triggers are limited to social media events. Some exceptions: the weather, for example. Possible task: “send me an SMS if it’s going to be cold tomorrow”.

But that weather example is pretty much an exception: ifttt triggers are present events. E-mail received. Post published. Tweet with #somehashtag found. Calendar event starts.

We would need triggers like “trip to Geneva planned in 24 hours” or “Grandma coming to Lausanne in 2 weeks” or even, if we pushed it further, “on the phone with James” or “checked in with Tania”. (More on the different types of trigger I’m thinking about later.)

My idea could be an extension of ifttt, but it might also be a separate service altogether. I’m not sure at this stage.


ZMS has part of the solution: “next time I’m in Geneva station, remind me to get a croissant at the little coffee shop”. But that won’t be much help for remembering to take Sophie’s sweater with me next time I leave my house for Geneva.

Calendar reminders

Reminders are pretty standard in calendars. But you need to set them when you enter an event in your calendar. But the basic idea here is that an event in the future, as recorded by your calendar, triggers a reminder in the present. “One month before any trip to India, remind me to ask people what they want me to bring back.”


For some reason I spoke about this idea when I stopped by the Evernote booth at LeWeb. After discussion, it didn’t really seem to be their space, but one thing they do well is capture information from all sorts of different sources and in all shapes and sizes and help you organize it. Text on photos is parsed, everything is tagged and geolocated, and available whether you’re on your phone, your tablet, your own computer or somebody else’s. It has this “central nervous system” touch to it that my reminder service would need.

Also, somebody suggested storing my rules/reminders in Evernote, using tags for triggers. #gotoGeneva, for example. Or #Grandma. But that won’t work, because I’m not going to be actively checking for triggers each time I go somewhere or meet somebody or do something. This is clearly a service which needs to work with push, and not pull. The whole point of it is that it will do the pushing for us.


Based on your calendar of future trips and your connections, Dopplr lets you know if you’re going to bump into people you know when you travel.


One thing that TripIt has been doing for a long time and which I think is really cool is that you can forward your flight booking confirmation e-mails to it, and it will automatically parse them and enter the corresponding trip in your itinerary. Some people might find this creepy, but it’s a great way to painlessly transition information from one bucket (inbox) to another (calendar).


Path monitors where you are, and when you change cities, makes a note in your Path. I feel there is more intelligence coming our way from Path, but let’s wait and see. What’s interesting is that as it’s limited to (reasonably) close friends, a service like this can learn a lot about the dynamics with the people you interact with the most. This could come in handy…


Speech recognition. “Remind me to buy flowers tomorrow.” One step further: “Next time I go to Geneva, remind me to take Sophie’s sweater with me.”

How would this be done?

The service would have two main layers:

  1. gathering data to build an “implicit calendar” of your future activities
  2. rule storage and triggering

I think the second layer is pretty “straightforward”. Store rules in an “if then” format like ifttt does very well, with the extra twist that the triggers will probably look something like “N days/hours/minutes before X”. We can also get fancy about how the rule is input (from code-like to Siri-like) and how the reminder (action) takes shape.

The part that sounds a bit like SF is “how will the system know my Grandma is coming to visit?” What are the sources to generate this intelligent calendar of my future activities? Here’s what I can imagine:

  • your normal calendar (it has attendee and location fields already, that’s a pretty good start)
  • your e-mails: either explicitly (you forward e-mails with relevant parsable information to the engine) or implicitly (the engine monitors your e-mail for things like travel reservations, conversations about future activities that it might recognize — yes, people will find this creepy)
  • geolocation: where you are, where your contacts are
  • and a step further: who you’re on the phone with, who you are exchanging text messages with, parsing content of your chats and text messages (people will find it even more creepy, but aren’t organisations already monitoring this kind of thing, without us benefitting from it?)

If I were doing this thing, I would start tame and simple, by gathering information from the calendar. I would focus on one type of reminder to start with. Here are the types of reminders that I can think of, off the top of my head:

  • meeting somebody
  • going somewhere
  • doing a certain activity
  • combinations: meeting somebody somewhere (e.g. Grandma in Lausanne)

Two obvious ones are the two first ones: I could set rules for when I’ve planned to see somebody, and when I’ve planned to go somewhere. Then, once that is working, widen the trigger set, the rule set, and the scope of the input engine.

When I pitched this idea at Lausanne StartupWeekend, I was surprised by some of the feedback I got: either people misunderstood and assumed it was already possible (“but such-and-such service already does geolocalized alerts! you can do this with Evernote or RememberTheMilk“), or understood but wrote it off as science fiction. This made me realize that this idea isn’t as easy to get across as I assumed it was, but that when people do understand it, they go “oh that would be useful”.

So, this is my attempt at explaining this idea correctly, maybe in more detail. I’d like to thank all the people I’ve talked about this idea with up to now (including ZMS and Evernote with whom I had brief chats) for helping me refine the way I present it. (Somebody in particular said “oh, a kind of intelligent calendar” — but I can’t remember who… sorry.)

Do you have questions or comments? Does this explanation sound clear to you? Would you explain it differently? I’d love to hear back from you if you’ve read this article to the end.

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Idea: Working as a Freelance Researcher [en]

I had planned taking today off, but as I’m up to my neck in work I decided to spend it in the office instead. Result (don’t mess with yourself when you promise yourself time off): I’ve spent most of my morning down the blog-hole — reading a ton of interesting things online, particularly on Penelope Trunk’s blog. (Yeah, I know not everybody likes her, but I do. More on that another day, maybe.)

So, as I was reading blogs, sharing snippets on Tumblr and links on Twitter, I was thinking to myself: actually, one thing I’m pretty good at (and love doing) is finding and reading interesting stuff, thinking about it, and sharing all that with other people. (For those of you familiar with StrengthsFinder: my #1 is Input and my #2 is Communication — more about that another day, too.)

I pinged Suw on IM to see if she had any ideas how to “monetize” (still hate the word) this kind of activity. She suggested working as a researcher.

I like the idea. Need your homework done on something? I love learning about new stuff, I know how to search online, I have a great network, I’m smart (let’s say it), and I know how to write stuff up. Think of it, a lot of my popular blog posts are the result of me taking the plunge into a topic, learning about it, and reporting back. And for anything related to social media, I have the huge advantage of already knowing a lot.

This doesn’t mean I’d be giving up my current activities. But I’m getting increasingly frustrated that I don’t have time anymore to fool around online, research stuff, read more books, learn about this space we inhabit — online and offline.

Do you know anybody who works as an online researcher? Would you hire me as a researcher? (Not asking if you need my services as of now, but more “do you think I have the profile?”) If I decide to provide this kind of service, how might I go about to (a) decide what to charge (b) find gigs?

This is a very fresh idea for me, and I’d gladly welcome any thoughts you may have on the subject. As for me, I’m off to do some research on… freelance researchers :-).

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Plans for Basic Bilingual [en]

[fr] Projets de développement pour le plugin WordPress Basic Bilingual, qui rend ce blog bilingue.

Here are the next improvements I want to make to the WordPress plugin Basic Bilingual. Considering my coding skills, they will happen slowly, so feel free to lend a hand if you think you can.

  1. Move the language definition to the admin screen. There’s already a screen and an option there, so it’s a simple case of copying and modifying code around to create options for language 1 and language 2, and create a simple function to retrieve the values at the beginning of the plugin.
  2. Allow WordPress search to access the other-excerpt field. The Keyword Search in Plugin Table example in Codex is close enough to what I’d like, only it would need to search in the postmeta table instead of a custom plugin table.
  3. Here’s the big one. Append a language code to any WordPress URL (except permalinks) to filter out posts from the other language. Ideally, would display posts in the language and also the other-excerpts of posts in the other language, with different formatting (smaller title font to distinguish them from full posts written in the desired language). Am reading up on wp-rewrite, permalinks for custom archives, WordPress queries and custom queries. I feel I’m onto something, but I also feel just a little bit out of my depth.

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Four Lazy WordPress Plugin Desires [en]

[fr] Quatre idées de plugins WordPress que j'utiliserais s'ils existaient.

Dear Lazyweb,

Here are a few WordPress plugins I’d love to use, if they existed.

  • hreflang: I’ve come to love the visual editor in WordPress (after years of hating it with a passion). The only thing I regret is that if I want to add hreflang attributes to my links, I have to go over and edit them in HTML. So I don’t do it. The little pop-up to add a URL has fields for title, target (blergh!) and class, so it shouldn’t be too hard to write a plugin that adds an hreflang field, should it?
  • unpaginate: I’ve always had mixed feelings about pagination. On the blog home page, it’s great, as it allows you to simply “read more”. On very long pages, it’s also good, because it allows you to not have to wait a whole year for the page to load. But often, if I’m on a monthly or category archive page, I’d like to be able to load all the posts belonging to that month or category so I can do a quick text search on it for something I’m looking for. What would be lovely would be a plugin that adds an “unpaginate” link at the bottom of the page (near “previous”). Upon clicking that link, the reader would be taken to an “all the posts” page with no pagination. This could be an option of the next plugin I’m going to describe.
  • post lists: I like it when blogs display full posts on their pages, but I know that in some cases it’s more practical to see a list of titles with excerpts, or even just a list of titles. This plugin would make WordPress generate list and excerpt pages for any existing URL in the system: 2009/12/list/ or tags/twitter/excerpt or category/writing/partial. These pages should not be paginated, I think (so the unpaginate plugin described above could be an option for this plugin, as the code to do it should already be included). Maybe a little admin panel to set the URL schemes and activate various options would be cool.
  • Tagul tag cloud: simple one! Give all the tags of the blog to Tagul to eat, and display the pretty tag cloud on the tags/ page. Bonus for tag clouds by month, category, and… tag.

That should keep you busy if you were looking for a little WordPress plugin coding project! Am happy to give more precise information if some kind soul is willing to give one of these a try. Fame and fortune (well, maybe not fortune) await you!

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FriendFeed's Missing Feature [en]

[fr] FriendFeed, c'est bien joli, mais ça n'a jamais pris chez moi. Une chose que j'aimerais pouvoir faire (gravement!) c'est de visualiser tous les éléments de mon lifestream qui ont bénéficié d'un like ou d'un commentaire. Ça, ça serait du feedback utile qui me ferait visiter le site régulièrement. Après, qui sait, du moment que je suis là... j'y ferai peut-être un tour!

Every now and again, I hop over to FriendFeed. A couple of times a month, maybe. I like that FriendFeed gathers up all my stuff in one place (mainly Tumblr and Twitter these days).

Stephanie Booth - FriendFeed

Why don’t I head over to FriendFeed more often? Well, to me, it’s a bit noisy, and populated with “Social Media Experts” (legitimate and less legitimate). To keep in touch with what people in my world are doing, I have Twitter. To stay tuned to what they’ve found or are publishing, there are blogs and tumblelogs. I guess I just haven’t found a place for FriendFeed. I don’t want to have to “dive in” and look at everything. I also regret that there is a tendancy there to “like” or comment based on the title, rather than reading the whole thing. It’s not a crime, but it’s not really my cup of tea.

I think lifestreams have three main purposes:

  • first and foremost, for the person “owning” the lifestream (it makes us “feel” good to know that all the stuff is gathered somewhere, that there is a central repository of our expression online)
  • second and secondarily, it offers a “starting point” for somebody who has newly discovered another person online: if I start on FriendFeed, I can get a quick glimpse of what kind of things they blog about, if they tweet, if they have a tumblr, etc.
  • thirdly, FriendFeed can serve as a more global “catching up” place for people like me who don’t really read blogs and are generally pretty bad at staying in touch, and who wake up one morning thinking “Gosh, I haven’t heard about Josh for ages, I wonder what he’s been upto?”

Unless there are people out there stalking me, I am probably the most interested person in my lifestream.

What would make me go to FriendFeed more? Make it more about me. Each time I go to FriendFeed, I head to my lifestream page to see if people have liked or commented upon my stuff. There is a link I want to click, but that link is unfortunately not there. It’s the link that would show me my items which were liked or commented upon by others. And maybe (why not?) give me an option to filter “only liked and commented upon items” when I’m in “friends view”.

Stephanie Booth - Stephanie + Friends - FriendFeed

And it’s all very nice to allow me to filter an individual FriendFeed by source, but how about letting me filter the whole darn mess of my “with friends” page to remove all the Twitter and Tumblr feeds, for example, as I already get them elsewhere? Or show only links?

Maybe the layout of the feeds could be improved — I find especially difficult to sift through the stuff I want to ignore as is. And as for FriendFeed through Twhirl, well, sure, it’s running on my desktop, but I never look at it because way too much stuff goes through it each minute.

Give me some control, please.

So, recap, here’s what FriendFeed could change to have a chance of getting more pageviews from me:

  • let me view just my items which were liked/commented upon (instead of just letting me see my likes and comments, which is good, sure, but doesn’t do the same thing at all)
  • let me filter out for my “with friends” page certain services, like Twitter and Tumblr, or view only one or two services at a time.

Thanks for listening!

Edit, 10 minutes later: a list of “people who are subscribed to me but that I’m not subscribed to” would come in handy, too.

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Other People's Problems [en]

[fr] Je pense qu'une des raisons pour lesquelles il est plus facile de trouver des solutions aux problèmes des autres est que nous avons moins d'informations à disposition pour essayer de choisir "la meilleure solution".

A few days ago I had a sudden insight. And yes, amongst other things, I blame Fooled by Randomness.

We all know that it’s easier to solve other people’s problems than one’s own.

And we also know that being away from home with no computer access makes it easier to relax and do other things. Or working in the office instead of at home means you are not “tempted” by home stuff while you should be working. That basically, being in a context where you physically have less options reduces stress.

I just realised that it’s similar for with problems. One of the things Taleb insists on in Fooled by Randomness is that more information does not mean you make a better decision. More information is bound to get you fooled by randomness.

So, two things here:

  • less choice means less stress
  • less information can mean better decisions

I think that both come into play in a way when dealing with other people’s problems. You have less data about the issue than the person who is stuck in the problem. That makes it easier for you to take a decision about it (or give advice), because you aren’t burdened by tons of possibly useless data that you still try to process.

Makes sense?

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Tumblr to Capture Comments? [en]

[fr] J'aimerais un système permettant de publier directement sur mon Tumblr les commentaires que je laisse sur d'autres blogs, sans passer par coComment.

The other evening, I was explaining that I still used coComment to capture the comments I made on other blogs. As always, people try to suggest alternatives: [co.mments]( or [disqus](, for example. I appreciate the suggestions, but they show me that I haven’t managed to make myself clear.

CoComment does two main things:

– **track** conversations you participate in (or want to keep an eye on) so that you are alerted when a new comment is added to the thread
– **capture** the comments you make on other blogs so that you can collect them somewhere or republish them.

I use mainly the second feature. I’m not that interested in tracking all the conversations I take part in. Every now and again I am, and co.mments does indeed do the job, in an *ad hoc* way. Disqus is quite exciting and also allows centralization of the comments I make *with the system* (if I got it right), but it has the great disadvantage of still being too “blogger-centric” instead of “commenter-centric”: sure, I can install disqus on my blog (as a blogger), but it isn’t going to help me capture or track all my comments until all the blogs I visit have done the same.

So, like at the end of a [messy break-up]( where you’re still sleeping with your ex, I’m still using coComment for the following:

– **capture** the comments I make all over the place and republish them in [my Tumblr](

That’s it. One thing coComment does pretty well, despite all the criticism I can make to the service, is capture comments I leave in a variety of comment forms (from WordPress to FriendFeed and Typepad and Blogger and even home-made in some cases) and spit them out in an RSS feed.

Yesterday, an idea dawned on me: what I really want is for my [comments to be published in my Tumblr]( Maybe we can come up with a way to do that directly?

I use Tumblr loads, and love it. The main thing I actively use it for (I’ve embedded a few RSS feeds in it) is for quoting interesting passages off blog/articles that I read. It’s very easy:

3 Steps to Share a Quote on Tumblr

1. highlight some text on a page
2. click on the Tumblr bookmarklet
3. Tumblr automagically recognizes it as a quote, and pops up a window which you use to publish it.

The result of all this is that I have [a Tumblr]( which is full of quotes, comments (thankfully coComment seem to have [removed the nasty ads from the RSS feed I complained about](, and other things (videos and screenshots, for example).

I’ve been thinking a lot (but not writing, I know) about how these new tools in my landscape, which weren’t there [8 years ago (in a few days!) when I started blogging](, are modifying my publishing and interaction habits. The [panel I moderated at BlogTalk in Cork]( was about that, actually, but I think we only brushed the surface.

So, back to the point for this post: I’d like a [hack for my Tumblr bookmarklet — or maybe a separate bookmarklet]( (by Tumblr or a third party) which will publish the comment I’m submitting to my tumblelog. It would work a bit like the coComment bookmarklet: click it to activate it at some point before hitting submit — and it does its magic when you submit the comment.

If you like the idea, [head over the Get Satisfaction]( and add your 2 cents.

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More on coComment Advertising [en]

[fr] Malheureusement, coComment et moi sommes partis pour une "Séparation 2.0: quand les 'social tools' que vous aimiez ne vous le rendent pas." Le choix de leur distributeur de publicité est vraiment malheureux (un cran au-dessus du spam, à mon sens), et clairement, il n'y a pas de dialogue entre coComment et ses utilisateurs, malgré les déclarations acharnées "d'ouverture au dialogue".

A la recherche d'une solution de remplacement pour la saisie des commentaires, donc. Le suivi des conversations m'intéresse beaucoup moins que la centralisation de tous mes commentaires en un endroit.

I was alerted to this a few days ago by [Nathalie](, and after witnessing it [with my own eyes]( — well, I’m going to go to bed a little later to blog about it, after all.

After [preparing to slap ads in our comment RSS feeds](, [coComment]( is staying on the same ugly and obviously slippery slope by inserting ads in the cocobar:

coComment blog ads in cocobar

So, slightly more discreet than the [big banners placed in the RSS feed](, but not in very good taste either. Here are some examples of scrolling ad text:

– “Want fast fitness results? Click for free info, revolutionary products.”
– “Walk on the well placed warmth of radiant heating. Click now!”
– “Free comparison of top car rental companies. Click here!”
– “Click to create your dream holiday trip now.”
– “Easy-to-use, advanced features, flexible phone systems. Click for more info.”
– “Visa, MasterCard, AMEX & Discover. Compare Offers & Apply Online. Click here!”

Reloading a cocobar-enabled page will provide you with hours of endless entertainment. (I’m kidding — but there are more out there, of course.)

Now, I understand that [coComment needs to “monetize”](, though one could question a business model which seems to be based on revenue from scrolling ads and blinking banners. (I can’t remember who said “if your business model is putting ads in your service, think again”.)

There are ads and ads, though. Here’s a sample of banners from the coComment site:

coComment blog » Blog Archive » Advertising, Revenues and harsh realities

Commenting is sexy. HotForWords is the talk of the party at Geek Goes Chic

Commenting is sexy. HotForWords is the talk of the party at Geek Goes Chic

coComment blog ads

The screen captures don’t render the blinking quality of most of these ads, but I guess your imagination can fill in. Now, does anybody else than me feel that this kind of advert is just about one step above spam? Based on a few of the comments I can read on [the post Matt wrote about the “harsh realities” of advertising](, it seems not:

> With all honesty, the banners displayed on the cocomment site are awful and are making the service look VERY unprofessional – totally agree with “disappointed” on this one. Few will argue that perception is 99% of reality, so with those banner ads making the site look like crap, the whole service becomes questionable. I felt like I was about to get a trojan into my computer when I first saw

> there are other advertising partners that don’t crap up your web site with ads that flash in your face. most opensource projects are using google ad sens now (just an example) that displays relevant ads that look very subtle.


> I agree with some of the commenters here about the ad selection. It wouldn’t be so bad if it were unobtrusive AdWords or… something a little classier. It cheapens your brand. Think upscale! Or, at least, more upscale.

Allan White, in comment

Yes, there are ads and ads. These ones definitely make coComment look very cheap and dodgy, and I’m not sure it would encourage users to hand over credit card details to pay for an ad-free version. Also, what’s with the [Hot For Words]( thing? I’m sorry, but this is not my world. coComment has obviously moved into a space which is very alien to my beloved blogosphere.

Unfortunately, it’s not enough to [state]( that you [want]( to have a [conversation]( to actually be having one (I guess that for starters, that last post would have pointed to [the post of mine]( that [contributed to prompt]( it). A conversation starts with listening and caring, and obviously, despite their efforts to prove the contrary, the coComment team sadly don’t get this.

What could they have done? Well, I’m not going to launch into a session of full-blown strategic consulting for an ex-client of mine (who didn’t seem to value my advice much at the time), but simple things like taking up issues such as the arrival of advertising *with* the people who use the service **before** actually dumping ads in their feeds unannounced could be a way of showing you care a little bit about how they feel. Understanding that [apologies and justifications]( when you mess up do not erase the past also seems like a good idea. As my friend [Brian Solis]( put it:

> Making mistakes in social media is a lot like sticking daggers into a wooden fence. Just because you apologize and pull them out, they still leave the scars for others to see, and feel. Sometime apologies help people feel better, but they don’t fix perception. This is why thinking before engaging is critical to success in the world social media marketing. This is after all, about people.

Brian Solis

So, as I told Brian, coComment and I are headed for **[Breakup 2.0]( when the social media tools you loved don’t love you back** (yes, you can quote that one, it’s from me).

At the moment, I’m only using the service to “save” the comments I make, because I like keeping a trace of my writings (I used to collect stamps). Sadly, I’m not even sure coComment will allow me to walk out with all my data in an XML dump — I don’t see anything obvious in the interface for that, so if I am able to, it will probably be due to my relationships with the people who have access to the server. (I said “if”.)

The tracking feature is too confusing and overloaded for me to use — I can imagine using something like [co.mments]( to keep an eye on the small number of conversations where I’m on the lookout for an answer. But I don’t have an alternate solution for “capturing” the comments I make. Copy-paste is a bit of a bore, and doesn’t capture the comment content — just the fact that there is a comment.

I’ve been thinking up **an idea involving a Firefox add-on**. It would have a bunch of algorithms to detect comments fields (maybe would support some microformat allowing to identify comment feeds or forms), have a simple on/off toggle to “activate” the field for capture (some right-click thing, much more practical than a bookmarklet or a browser button, because it’s always there, handy, wherever you click), would colour the field in something really visible when capture is on (red! pink! green!) without disrupting readability (I need to see what I type). It would capture the comment, permalink, blog post name (it knows I’m the commenter, I could fill in that info in the add-on settings), and dump the info in an XML or RSS file, or in the database of my WordPress installation, with the help of a WordPress plugin.

It’s a half-baked idea, of course, and I don’t have the JS skills to actually code anything like this. It should probably be a week-end project for somebody with sufficient Javascript-fu — if you’re interested in bringing it to life, get in touch.

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Promote Comments Plugin Idea [en]

[fr] Une idée de plugin que m'a soufflée Bruno Giussani: pouvoir "promouvoir" un commentaire et l'intégrer sans peine au contenu du billet.

A few days before [LIFT’07](, I had dinner with [Bruno Giussani](, who now happens to be one of the lucky people to live in [beautiful Lausanne](

Amongst other things, he told of [his frustrations]( with current blogging software (he’s using [TypePad]( and how [the perfect tool]( “Old post I wrote when I was in the same state of mine.”) didn’t seem to exist. I guess one simple reason this is so is that “perfect” means different things to different people.

I use [WordPress](, like it, and generally recommend it around me, because to my mind it’s the most complete and user-friendly platform out there, **and** because the [plugin architecture]( allows for nearly any functionality to be added to it if somebody takes the trouble to code it.

Bruno shared with me one shortcoming of today’s blogging technology that he and [Robert Scoble]( were talking about at LIFT last year (so this is not a “new” idea). Here is a write-up of this idea (with his permission of course), with a few implementation and interface details, in the hope that someone out there will pick it up and write the plugin. (I’ve heard enough people recently asking for plugin ideas to work their mad coding skillz on…)

**Here’s the basic idea:** there are often valuable contributions in the comments of a post, and we would like a way to be able to effortlessly “promote” a comment (or part of it) into the body of a post. This allows the blogger to easily act as an editor for the conversations taking place on his blog.

All this, of course, would have to be nice and ajaxy. Here’s how I could imagine it happening.

First of all, the plugin recognises that the author of the post is logged in, and adds a “promote” link next to each comment, in addition to the “edit” link. If that link is clicked, the comment text is automagically appended to the post content in a blockquote, complete with author name and link to original comment.

If part of the comment is selected when the promote link/button is clicked, then only that excerpt is quoted in the post.

Instead of the dreaded confirmation pop-up, a nice confirmation message should appear alongside the promoted comment in the post body, with an undo link.

From a back-end perspective, the promote link “knows” which post it belongs to (check the ID of the comment <div> it’s in). It shouldn’t be very difficult to grab author name, author url, comment permalink, format them all nicely (blockquotes, credit, microformats), edit the post, and add it to the end of the content with some introductory text (like “promoted comment”) and an “edited” stamp with time/date of promotion.

Possible problems:

– if part of a comment is selected and the wrong “promote” link is clicked, what behaviour would be expected? Probably an error message of some sort, or even better (but probably trickier to implement), a choice: promote the whole post (based on link clicked) or the excerpt (based on selection)?
– should promoted comments really be added into the post content, or stored as post meta data?

Taking this a step futher: wouldn’t it be nice to let the blogger introduce the promoted comment, or write a few lines after it? In this case, pressing the promote button/link would bring up a pop-up where more text can be added, with the option of displaying it before or after the quoted text.

And even another step futher (but I’m not sure it’s an interesting one): how about allowing the blogger to make a new post out of the promoted comment, instead of just appending it to the current post? Would this be interesting?

Additional thoughts on this basic idea are welcome (Bruno, let me know if I forgot something, it’s been a while since our conversation). If you’re a plugin author and you feel upto it, go for it (just make sure you give Bruno credit for the idea). I’ll be happy to try it out.

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