BackType’s Co-opetition with Disqus, IntenseDebate


Disqus “makes commenting easier and more interactive, while connecting websites and commenters across a thriving discussion community.”

IntenseDebate lets you track your own comments and those of people you follow.

BackType “is a service that lets you find, follow and share comments from across the web.”

Right now, it’s pretty easy to say that Disqus competes with IntenseDebate. Then you read what BackType is doing, and you think, “and they’re competing with Disqus and IntenseDebate too”. Well, they are, they aren’t.

It’s complicated.

I tweeted this last night:

“Just added BackType to my FriendFeed. An interesting competitor to Disqus and Intense Debate.”

That tweet set off a great discussion on FriendFeed. Two folks jumped in. Louis Gray, who has several posts up about BackType, had a couple insightful replies:

“It is a comments tracker and search, not a comments replacement system.”
“My point is that you would not install BackType on your blog. BackType is a superset comments tracker. It finds my comments on Moveable Type, Disqus, Blogger, WordPress, you name it. Then I can search it or follow people. Show me how you would replace your comments on your blog with BackType code and we have a discussion.”

And Phil Glockner added some great food for thought:

I agree with Louis that I don’t think BackType is competing directly. I do think their service overlaps with something centralized commenting systems already do, which is to.. well, track comments across various blogs and other places. BackType opens the scope by supporting tracking your comments wherever they are, in whatever form. But unlike Disqus and ID, it most definitely isn’t a centralized comment service. In other words, Backtype is not the engine you would use to create new comments.

They both really brought home the differences between BackType, and Disqus and IntenseDebate (ID). Disqus and ID are software applications that do a lot of comment management things for bloggers. Spam protection, threading, comment rating, reblog, etc. But I think there’s more to the story here. FriendFeeder Rahsheen puts his finger on it with this comment in the discussion:

I can’t actually put backtype on my blog and have people leave comments in it, but as far as sharing where I’m commenting…it pretty much owns

That’s where the line between competitor or not gets fuzzy.

Is Comment Tracking Geared for Bloggers or Blog Readers?

When I wrote my tweet, I was thinking about BackType from the perspective of a commenter, not a blogger. What I like about Disqus and ID is the ability to see all my comments across the blogosphere in one place, and the ability to track what and where others are commenting.

If I use Disqus for that purpose, then I’ll only see comments made on Disqus-enabled sites. If I use ID for that purpose, then I’ll only see comments made on ID-enabled sites.

But if I use BackType, I see comments by people everywhere! This is because BackType is a bottom-up approach: “Hey commenter! Just provide your commonly-used comment auth credentials, and we’ll find your comments!” It’s an incredibly simple, elegant approach to tracking comments.

BackType tracks comments made via Disqus, and I assume ID as well. For instance, I can see Robert Scoble’s comments on Fred Wilson’s post My Techmeme Obsession on both Disqus and on BackType. But only on BackType will I see his comments on the TechCrunch post A sheepish apology.

So if I’m interested in tracking Robert’s comments across the blogosphere, which site should I use, Disqus or BackType?

BackType also pulls in comments made on Digg and Reddit, as Louis Gray wrote about recently. Even better! So as a user, where should I spend my time?

Disqus and IntenseDebate Will Compete on Other Bases

The reason I say that BackType is in “co-opetition” is that part of the value prop for Disqus and ID is the ability to have a centralized place for your comments, and to follow those of others. It’s not their only value, but it is part of the story.

If things like ad dollars built on site visitors is something these guys are looking at, then there is definitely competition. It’s a battle for attention.

But I believe there are going to be some interesting revenue models for Disqus and ID beyond site visitors. And that makes it less of a competition. BackType founder Christopher Golda made this comment on the FriendFeed discussion:

Thanks for the comments everyone — we don’t believe we are a competitor with either Disqus or ID; in fact, we recommend both. Anything that improves the quality of comments is complementary to BackType 🙂

Focus on the last part of that statement. If Disqus and ID improve the experience for commenters and bloggers, it ultimately is for the good of BackType. I’m not convinced there won’t be some competitive overlap, but I can also see the distinct value props of Disqus and ID relative to BackType.


See this post on FriendFeed:


About Hutch Carpenter
Chief Scientist Revolution Credit

14 Responses to BackType’s Co-opetition with Disqus, IntenseDebate

  1. What about Disqus versus ID? Can they coexist peacefully? I’d like to think that increased visibility to the power of third party comments will help both players, but they sure do seem to have similar offerings.

  2. Bloggers can only install one comment management system, Disqus or IntenseDebate. So those two are really competitors, working to be installed on as many blogs as possible.

  3. Louis Gray says:

    Glad you followed up on BackType. It’s really a great service not just to follow individuals’ activity around the Web, but to track terms and trends. You can set up e-mail alerts for keywords and see if things are gaining or losing momentum.

    Disqus still offers the best blog commenting experience, in my opinion, but I don’t follow people’s comments there. Instead, I use BackType. They’re already doing great, and have big plans. One of the best services to debut in 2008.

  4. Chris Nixon says:

    I find BackType to be infuriating. Difficult to set up. No ‘add this’ button for blogs highlighted. I’m normally great at these things, but their minds are obviously working in a different way from mine. I’ll keep trying, but so far in has me perplexed.

  5. Rahsheen says:

    I just realized one really important factor here:

    “When I wrote my tweet, I was thinking about BackType from the perspective of a commenter, not a blogger.”

    Anyone can sign up for Backtype, follow some people they think are cool, and automatically have referrals to good content.

    That simple change of perspective, from blogger to commenter, is pretty powerful to me.

    Using ID or Disqus alone, you can do the same thing…but only with a subset of the blogosphere. That probably doesn’t sound very beneficial or ever make much sense to the average blog reader

  6. eng1ne says:

    By Jove, I think you’ve got it! I agree that BackType is tops at tracking comments, and that translates to being the best at comment tracking for everyone.

    One thing I would like to request is to change the URL you have for me above from my LJ page to Scribkin or my FriendFeed profile. Thanks!

  7. I was really impressed by BackType – that’s how I found this post, by the way! I follow a group of people I know, use a custom RSS feed from BackType to see what they’re saying and where, and use this as another source of great content. It’s turning comments into another microblogging platform. Killer!

  8. @Chris: You should have an e-mail from us; I notice that you’ve claimed your comments properly now.

    @Hutch: Great follow-up to the discussion on FriendFeed. I guess I would agree that there is a little bit of competitive overlap from the perspective of the comment author because all services offer profiles, but generally Disqus/ID are focused on the commenting experience on blogs. As Louis said, we’re focused on tracking comments and search for blogs as well as other services like Digg and Reddit. There’s a lot of complementary value; we use Disqus on our blog and have worked with Daniel and Jason at Disqus to ensure support with BackType. I think you’ll find that we’ll be working together (rather than against each other as many suggest) a lot more in the future — to improve both services.

  9. Thanks everyone. Louis – good call on the keyword tracking function. Just signed up for that. Rahsheen, Phil – thanks. BackType is a more complete view of comments. Chris Nixon – cool to see a problem resolved. Christopher – thanks. Good note re: your working with Disqus. Look forward to future announcements. And don’t forget ID for us wordpress folks!

  10. Pingback: Backtype Brings Your Comments Back to Life | Black Web 2.0

  11. Gabby says:

    I think Disqus is going to be the next best thing in commenting. It’s great at stopping spam!

  12. diggma says:

    I find BackType to be infuriating. Difficult to set up. No ‘add this’ button for blogs highlighted.
    social bookmark

  13. Hey, you have a great blog here! I’m definitely going to bookmark you! Thank you for your info.And this is site. It pretty much covers DoFollow Social Bookmark related stuff.

  14. PTC sites says:

    i wanna seriously use backtype for comments , i use it to give links to my related posts with
    Backtype i feel is very complex , does anyone know how to use it , i need to use it for my blog on Android development

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