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My Ten Favorite Tweets – Week Ending 112808

From the home office in Lake Tahoe, California…

#1: Better than spam? Chris Baskind reports a spammer on Twitter has a 21.5% return follow rate: http://bit.ly/EzHm

#2: If you don’t ask, you don’t get. And…you never get everything you ask for.

#3: Just added BackType to my FriendFeed. An interesting competitor to Disqus and Intense Debate.

#4: I love this saying about parenting: “The days are long, the years are short.” >> So very, very true.

#5: Why is Papa Bear such the dufus in the Berenstein Bears books? Giving us Dads a bad name…

#6: Doing a keyword search in my GReader, seeing some great posts for blogs to which I don’t subscribe. Power of subscribing to others’ shares.

#7: Editing/adding content on my blog’s About Me page. That page receives a good number of hits, and I thought…”What Would @chrisbrogan Do?”

#8: Reading: “Resumes are Dead. Social Media is Your New Resume.” http://bit.ly/yqUQ

#9: Twitter for $500 million..gut says that’s too low. Twitter is the defining platform for lightweight interactions. $1 billion +…

#10: Thanksgiving morning. We’ve got Christmas music playing on the radio (96.5). Kids are jumping on the bed. Heading to Gramma’s house later.

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BackType’s Co-opetition with Disqus, IntenseDebate

friendfeed-add_edit-svcs-comments

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.

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See this post on FriendFeed: http://friendfeed.com/search?q=%22BackType%E2%80%99s+Co-opetition+with+Disqus%2C+IntenseDebate%22&who=everyone

WordPress Acquires IntenseDebate. Disqus Just Got Big Competition.

VentureBeat reports that Automattic, provider of WordPress blogs, has acquired social commenting application Intense Debate. [Update – IntenseDebate has a post about this]. As a blogger on WordPress.com, I welcome this. I’ve seen the power of Disqus for other blogs, and I’ve wanted it here. But there wasn’t a way to add Disqus to WordPress.

In an earlier post, Could WordPress.com Create a Disqus Killer?, I wrote about what would happen if WordPress enabled a similar social commenting system. Here’s a quote from that post:

Imagine if a lot of those folks streamed their comments into FriendFeed. The viral nature of FriendFeed would be an accelerator on that volume. A WordPress.com commenting system would dwarf disqus.

WordPress.com has the built-in advantage of already hosting millions of blogs and comments. Disqus is still in its infancy in acquiring new blogs.

If Automattic is serious about this, they should enable a new commenting system to work on non WordPress.com blogs as well. As a blog reader, once you have a profile set up, you’d like to use it everywhere.

Interesting to see where this leads.

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See this post on FriendFeed: http://friendfeed.com/search?q=who%3Aeveryone+WordPress+Acquires+Just+Got+Big+Competition

Weekly Recap 053008: ‘No Comment’

The week that was…

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Good discussion this week about comments…first, there was the latest installment of this issue: comment dispersion away from the originating blog…Fred Wilson at A VC weighed in: Jackson instigated the conversation with that post. His reward is the comments it generates…interestingly, bloggers with big established audiences agreed with him…Chris Brogan wrote this on Fred’s blog: One part of the currency I crave from doing a blog is that conversation, especially on my blog, where I spend lots of effort building the posts to be conversation starters, not just fully formed ideas…Mathew Ingram wrote a concurring blog post Bloggers get “paid” with comments

Which made me wonder, do you think there’s a divide between larger established bloggers and smaller, newer bloggers on this issue of distributed conversations?

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Next up on the comment discussions…who actually owns the comments?…there was a controversy early in the week where Rob La Gesse was irritated at the comments that were occurring on FriendFeed about his blog post…so he pulled his blog RSS from FriendFeed, which eradicated that post and all its comments from the FriendFeed UI…this raised the question of who owns the comments, and whether FriendFeed should do a better job of keeping records…Mathew Ingram reached out to FriendFeed co-founder Paul Buchheit, who noted the bias is toward blogger control of their feeds and that they will look at ways to solve to better retain comments…

Later, Daniel Ha of Disqus wrote a post called A Commenter’s Rights…kind of a Bill of Rights for those who leave comments on blogs…one Right that I liked: ‘The ability to edit and remove their comments’…too many blogs don’t allow that, including wordpress.com…

We’ll close this out with a quote from my favorite cranky blogger Steven Hodson: This whole discussion about comments is becoming borderline stupid

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FriendFeed is growing, and not surprisingly, it’s getting its share of…um…interesting personalities…click this link which takes you to a search for “tweets totally f%(#ed twitter”…you’ll understand what I mean…

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Hats off to a couple of developers this week…I wrote a post titled FriendFeed ‘Likes’ Compatibility Index…I manually pulled together some stats to see which other FriendFeeders had the same Likes as me…well Yuvi wrote a script that he could run from his computer for any FriendFeed handle he entered…a bunch of us wanted our stats manually calculated, and he obliged…he blogged about it, and hit Techmeme…very nice Yuvi…

Then another developer, felix, created a UI where anyone could enter their FriendFeed handle to see the people who shared Likes the most…and then felix thought, “I’m going to turn this one up to 11″…he made pie charts out of the results, which have become a big hit on FriendFeed…FriendFeed co-founder Bret Taylor gave his thumbs up on felix’s blog, “Very cool!“…very nice work felix…

BTW, we’re all one playing for second place to Shey in the Likes department…

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Jeremiah Owyang apparently has an interesting post on FriendFeed that he’s writing for Saturday 5/31/08…Robert Scoble talked with Jeremiah, and gave this update:

I just talked with Jeremiah. He says FriendFeed will turn on a new functionality that Jeremiah is calling “MiniMeme.” He wouldn’t give me more details, but I am intrigued.

So check your RSS reader for Jeremiah’s post, and maybe we’ll be talking about that here next week….

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See this item on FriendFeed: http://friendfeed.com/search?q=%22Weekly+Recap+053008%3A+%E2%80%98No+Comment%E2%80%99%22&public=1

Analyzing My FriendFeed Stats: I Should Be Direct Posting More

I’m curious about the level of interaction that occurs around the different content that streams through FriendFeed. Distributed conversations are fine by me, and I wonder what sparks them most often for content. So I did a little analysis of the ‘likes’ and comments that have happened for me.

Below are some pie charts. The first set analyze the ‘likes’. To the left is the percentage of my FriendFeed stream that comes from different content sources. To the right, I counted the number of ‘likes’ for the various content sources. For the ‘likes’ I only counted for the month of May, but I think it’s a decent approximation of my overall activity.

A couple observations:

  • Blog posts and FriendFeed Direct Posts are the biggest sources of ‘likes’
  • Google Reader shares and Twitter are a big part of my stream, but don’t generate a comparable percent of ‘likes’

Now let’s see how the comments look:

Would you look at that? FriendFeed direct posts dominate the comments. My blog posts are #2.

What’s It Mean?

I imagine everyone’s experience will vary. For me, I draw four conclusions.

My FriendFeed use is similar to people who Twitter: With FriendFeed direct posts, I’ll sometimes just make an observation. Other times, I direct post a website, generally with a graphic. This strikes me as similar to Twitter in that I’m posting something that can be consumed by anyone who subscribes to me. Also, these posts mean someone can stay within FriendFeed. Seems to make a difference in interaction when people can stay on the site. Like Twitter.

‘Likes’ dominate my blog posts: The Likes:Comments ratio for my blog posts is running at 4:1. For all the concern about fractured comments, I’d say people are overlooking basic recommendations of your content via ‘likes’. It’s not about the comments, it’s about the ‘likes’!

Comments on my posts frequently occur on someone else’s stream: There are several of my blog posts that have generated good comments. They just haven’t occurred on the RSS feed from my blog. These bigger comment fests have been when someone with much larger following and FriendFeed ‘presence’ (and I’m not going to write his name, because I use it too often…). But you know what? I’ll take those comments! They obviously weren’t happening just off my own post. In the long run that kind of exposure is vital for us smaller bloggers.

Google Reader shares suffer from repetition: Good blog posts will often be shared by several FriendFeed members, including those with larger followings. So when I share, I may be following others. So the repetition diminishes the interaction. I still share – there is some interaction. And Google Reader shares end up in several other places, like RSSmeme and ReadBurner. These services will show the most popular shares, so I want to vote for these blog posts.

Final Thoughts

Colin Walker has some interesting thoughts about using FriendFeed as a blogging platform. Looking at how FriendFeed Direct Posts and my blog generate the biggest activity, maybe he’s on to something.

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See this item on FriendFeed: http://friendfeed.com/search?q=%22analyzing+my+friendfeed+stats%22&public=1

Could WordPress.com Create a Disqus Killer?

Disqus is an application that hosts comments for blogs, applying some nice features to improve and make more social the commenting process. Here’s what Fred Wilson said recently:

Since I converted from TypePad comments to Disqus last August, the number of comments I regularly get have gone up by a factor of at least five and maybe ten. It seems that each week I have a post that gets over 100 comments (not this past week though). That never used to happen. And the discussions in the comments have improved dramatically.

Fred Wilson, A VC, Three Reasons To Use Disqus

Automattic, the company that runs WordPress.com, has not enabled disqus to work on its blogs (including this one). Here’s what Robert Scoble reported about that:

I’ve been talking with Toni Schneider, CEO of Automattic (the folks who run my blog) and they are looking at a raft of things to do to make commenting better for WordPress.com users.

So, let the commenting wars begin!

Robert Scoble, Scobleizer.com, Seesmic & Disqus add up to video comments and more

Scoble’s update is intriguing. Commenting wars? Might WordPress.com have something in the works that could undermine Disqus?

What’s Cool about Disqus

Because I don’t have disqus implemented on this blog, I’m a bit handicapped in my assessment of disqus. But here are the things I like:

  • Easy to track where you’ve left a comment
  • You can follow others, and see their comments across various blogs
  • You can create an RSS feed for your disqus comments, and pipe that into FriendFeed. Vastly increases the social nature of blog comments.

Here’s a screen shot of my comments on several blogs with the disqus commenting system:

Four comments, across four different blogs. Really nice to see that. You’ll also see a couple people that I’m following, on the left hand side of the disqus profile.

And here’s what a disqus comment looks like as it comes through FriendFeed:

As a commenter, you can extend your conversation outside the blog. Notice the ‘Likes’ and Franklin Pettit’s comment. And as a blogger, all the conversatin’ showing up in FriendFeed gets your blog post much more play.

Alas, disqus is not enabled on WordPress.com.

WordPress.com Snuffs Out Disqus?

Which brings us to Robert Scoble’s update. Sounds like the folks at Automattic aren’t sitting still. And that could be bad news for disqus. Why?

Volume, volume, volume.

On disqus’s site, they say that over 4,000 blogs are using their commenting service. Fred Wilson said it was over 10,000 blogs using disqus. Neither number compares to all the blogs hosted by WordPress.com.

If Automattic turned on similar commenting capabilities for its blogs, you’d have a sea of comments on that service. Take a look at the number of comments made on WordPress.com blogs each day:

Imagine if a lot of those folks streamed their comments into FriendFeed. The viral nature of FriendFeed would be an accelerator on that volume. A WordPress.com commenting system would dwarf disqus.

WordPress.com has the built-in advantage of already hosting millions of blogs and comments. Disqus is still in its infancy in acquiring new blogs.

If Automattic is serious about this, they should enable a new commenting system to work on non WordPress.com blogs as well. As a blog reader, once you have a profile set up, you’d like to use it everywhere.

Final Thoughts

Disqus has done an amazing job of customer service so far. That’s worth a lot of goodwill right there. I also love the upstart companies who show the world new ways of doing things.

And who knows? Automattic might be thinking of integrating disqus as one of the “raft of things to do to make commenting better for WordPress.com users”. I know I’ve requested the addition of disqus.

But if Automattic smells a good opportunity here and recognizes the value of its huge user base, then as Scoble says, “let the commenting wars begin!”

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See this item on FriendFeed: http://friendfeed.com/e/b0d09b39-26e0-2681-7b58-8fc234709b30