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.

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 www.cocomment.com

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 del.icio.us 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.

Conversation Feeds [en]

A couple of weeks back, I was having a chat with Max, one of our new developers. We were discussing improvements that could be made to the “My Conversations” page, and the conversation drifted towards RSS feeds (well, feeds in general). I started thinking about how feeds could be made more useful for conversations (because, frankly, I don’t know about you, but I have a lot of trouble following conversations through feeds). I’d like to share some of my thoughts with you, and you can let me know what yours are.

  • When they are blog posts, feed items are reasonably independent from one-another. You can read a single feed item and it makes sense on its own.
  • When the elements of a feed are parts of a conversation, however, that changes. Whether the conversation is a comment stream on a blog post or the replies to a forum topic, the different elements in it are closely linked, and it’s difficult to understand one of them without seeing it really in context. Context here is two things: the initial article, forum topic, or even web page which sparked the conversation; the other comments which led the conversation to that point, or at least a number of the comments immediately preceding it in the conversation.

Now, if you keep that in mind, you’ll understand that feeds are pretty adequate for following:

  • a series of loosely joined articles (blog posts)
  • a single conversation

They are not the ideal solution for following multiple conversations simultaneously.

However, the very reason one would want to subscribe to conversation, usually, is because there is more than one to follow. (If you’re just having one conversation, or read only one blog, subscribing becomes less useful.)

So, how could we organise comment/conversation feeds to make them more usable?

The main problem I have with multiple conversation feeds is that the conversations are all mixed up. Unless I check the feed very frequently and have all the ongoing conversations present in my mind, and they’re not too busy, the main function of the feed will be to let me know which conversations have been updated, and give me a handy link to go and check them out on the original webpage.

I think a conversation feed should do more than that. Here’s how I, as a user, would like to see the conversations I’m following.

  • First, make the conversation the feed element, instead of the comment. I know this sounds bad, because we expect a feed element to be atomic, and a conversation is clearly not atomic — a comment or conversation element is. But from the reader’s point of view, the unit of meaning here is the conversation. As I said above, a comment alone usually has little value.
  • Second, provide context. If there are two new comments in a conversation I’m following, give me those two, plus 2-3 older ones to help me remember where I left off. Give me the title of the blog/forum and the post/topic name. And give me a link to the original publication page if I want to read everything.

Obviously, this can’t be done with a traditional RSS/atom implementation. You need something somewhere to count the new comments, distribute them into their respective conversations, and package it all neatly. This is where I see a service like coComment step in.

Do you think that presenting conversation feeds in this way would make them more useful for you? What other ideas would you have?

I’d like to stress that this is just my personal thinking. We’re not planning to replace the current coComment feeds by this system (and if that were to happen, we’d leave the “traditional” ones in too, I’m certain).

So. How would you like to read your conversation feeds?

Initially posted on the coComment blog.

Job Offer: Chief Architect, coComment [en]

[fr] On embauche chez coComment! Architecte en chef recherché.

I’ve dropped hints with a few people that there were exciting things to come within coComment. There is still much we cannot say, but here’s a fist tidbit (and not the least): we’re hiring.

We are looking for an individual with skills in product design, familiar with the blogging/commenting space from both a technical and user community perspective. Fluent in English and at least one other European language.

Your remit will be to work closely with the Marketing and Technology teams to formulate and lead the development of CoComment.

You will need to be flexbile, fast thinking, passionate about the blogging/commenting space and with the ability to take creative thought and turn it into deliverable product.

In return, CoComment offers a creative, supportive and fast-moving environment, the opportunity to join a rapidly growing company and equity incentives.

Please email matt at cocomment dot com with covering letter and CV, detailing current and expected remuneration.

As a personal note, I’d like to add that there are chances I’ll be reporting to the Chief Architect. It’s of course not yet 100% certain as there are many unknowns, but here I am, probably posting the ad for my future boss’s position…

Crossposted on coComment blog.

Sorry For The Outage [en]

As you certainly have noticed, we’ve had a bit of an outage over the last 24 hours. It was due to a problem at our hosting company, and to the best of our knowledge, it is now resolved.

Around 1pm local time (CET), the firewall started acting out. I’ll spare you the sordid troubleshooting details, but the situation was such that it had to be physically replaced. We then worked with the hosting company to reconfigure it, but despite our efforts — which involved Christophe connecting and doing some setup magic from his plane back from Japan, and many other more sordid details I’ll spare you too — there were still problems with the comment tracking service and our e-mail distribution until this morning. (This also means that if you sent us mail during the last 24 hours, you’re better off sending it again.)

The main thing is that as of 11:30 this morning (still CET) everything is (hopefully!) back to normal. We’re really sorry for any inconvenience this may have caused you.

If some of the conversations you wanted to track didn’t get recorded during the last day, remember you can simply go back to them and check the “Track this conversation” checkbox. If you want to reappropriate any comments you made during the outage, the old trick of selecting the comment and clicking on the bookmark (or toolbar button) still works.

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Initially posted on the coComment blog.

Code Face-Lift [en]

Version 0.8.1 was deployed this morning. It doesn’t bring you any new functions, but hopefully better stability (it was majorly a code face-lift).

Let us know if you notice anything funky! (As in, particularly, things that used to work and don’t work anymore — we know it can sometimes happen.)

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Initially posted on the coComment blog.

Forgot to Tag a Comment? [en]

CoComment user Carme forgot to tag one of her (?) comments when posting it, and asked if tags could be added later.

Well, good news, Carme. They can. Go to your conversations page, by clicking on the coComment logo the Firefox extension adds on the bottom right of your browser window, for example. Then expand the conversation your comment is in by clicking on its title. And expand the comment you made which you want to tag, also by clicking on it.

You’ll see a list of tags at the bottom, and you can add to those or remove existing ones by clicking on the “Edit” link. This is what it looks like:

Editing Tags

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Initially posted on the coComment blog.

Who Owns Your Comments? [en]

While doing my regular tour of the blogosphere (in the “what are people saying about coComment” department) I found an interesting post by Paul Sergeant. He has recently (and happily, may I say) discovered coComment, and he has the feeling (as we do too!) that coComment has an important role to play in the world of online conversations:

[…] the most exciting thing is Cocomment’s potential as a component in a much wider conversational subsystem. There is clear synergy with some of the things that Calico Jack has recently been working on. Leaving aside some reservations about data location, I can see Cocomment having an important role in a new generation of dynamic social networking applications.

Earlier in his post, however, Paul cites something Jon Udell says in a post answering the recurring “are blogs without comments blogs?” question. (Answer: they are, in my opinion). Let me reproduce it here too:

Ownership of your own stuff, and federation by linking to other people’s stuff, are the twin pillars of the blogosphere.

Now that’s interesting. I hadn’t thought of things so sharply under that angle before, particularly in regard to coComment. Who owns your comments?

I know that one thing coComment does for me is give me a bit more of a feeling that my comments are mine. I can display them on my site. I can see them all on one page. They are labeled as “mine”, because coComment knows they all belong to my account.

Quite some time ago, Ben Metcalfe noted that coComment introduces a semantic fork in the conversation. The fork isn’t as important as it used to be, because we now have a lovely coCo-crawler. For Ben, part of the problem was that the blog owner did not have any control over the conversations which were published on the coComment site. And I agree that this is a problem when it comes to spam and the like.

However, do we consider it a problem that the commenter doesn’t retain control over the comments he leaves on other people’s blogs? For example, it has always bothered me that value-added comments of mine, scattered all over the blogosphere, could disappear any day at a whim of the blog owner.

Comment ownership is a complex problem. The commenter writes the comment, but the blog owner hosts it. So of course, the blog owner has the right to decide what he agrees to host or not. But the person who wrote the comment might also want to claim some right to his writing once it’s published.

At coComment, for the moment, ownership is more on the side of the person who made the comment. This balances things out a bit, in my opinion, and gives back to the commenter a bit of ownership he might yearn for.

As a commenter, I like that. I can show people my comments even if they get stuck in moderation or are deleted by the blog owner. I have a record of all my comments.

As a blog owner, I’m less happy. If I look at the conversations coComment is recording for my blog, there are some comments there which I would like removed. Some random spam comments that made it through the filters. Some off-comment or autopromotional ones I wouldn’t want to have on my blog. But it’s not that bad, because the conversation is on coComment and not on my blog.

Do you see the difficulty? There are times when one could say the “blog owner rights” and “comment writer’s rights” come into conflict. How do you manage such situations? Do you think a service like coComment should mirror the blog conversation exactly, or not? Who owns a comment?

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Initially posted on the coComment blog.

Sampling the Blogosphere [en]

We regularly use Technorati to keep up-to-date with what the blogosphere is saying about coComment. Here are a few things that caught my attention today.

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Initially posted on the coComment blog.

Some Tips on Commenting [en]

Here at coComment, we quite like these commenting tips given by Reg Adkins over at Lifehack. I personally like the opening paragraph very much:

Posting a comment on someone’s website is like walking into their dining room and pulling a chair up to the table. If it’s your dining room table it can be a bit of a shock when someone shows up.

Read the rest of Reg’s suggestions, and let us know what you think. Do you agree? Disagree? Do you have other tips for being a “good commenter” that you would like to share with us?

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Initially posted on the coComment blog.