What would you guys think about trying the IntenseDebate comment system?

My recent change to the comment quicktag toolbar has brought about quite a bit of discussion about issues some folks are having with commenting here at SEB. For example, the comment editing plugin I’m using doesn’t work well for everyone who tries to use it.

As it turns out, the folks who develop WordPress also offer a complete commenting system replacement called IntenseDebate which I’ve been mulling over. It would essentially replace the built-in comment system and offer a boatload of features not the least of which would include editable comments, reply by email (something which folks already try to do and it only goes to me), threaded comments (WP will do this natively but I’ve not turned it on yet), email notifications (making three plugins I could yank from the install), logins using OpenID, the ability to tweet your comment, Facebook connect (allowing folks to participate from within Facebook), and several more. Plus your account would be good on any blog that’s also using Intense Debate.

Of course, it is an external service so if they have server trouble our comment system would be down until they’re back up and running. My biggest concern is that I like having the comments in my database, but it turns out it’s a two-way sync. Any comments left using the system are duplicated in my database so if we changed our minds and I uninstalled it we don’t lose anything in doing so. Or at least that’s how it’s supposed to work. It would even still allow guest commenting for folks who don’t want to register an account with them or don’t have a OpenID.

I’ve not used it myself as I don’t have many blogs that use it that I’ve ever bothered to comment on, but some of you may have and I’d especially like to hear from you. Either way, leave a comment and speak your mind on whether we should give it a go. It looks like it could kill several birds with one stone, but it’s not without its potential downside.

Update: Apparently I have used IntenseDebate on other people’s blogs as I’ve already got an account with them listing a whole three comments. Don’t remember enough of the experience to know if I thought it was OK or not.

12 thoughts on “What would you guys think about trying the IntenseDebate comment system?

  1. And I made one other mistake, it appears that IntenseDebate doesn’t offer comment editing for visitors, just for admins and moderators. Apparently there is another comment replacement service called Disqus that offers many of the same features as ID plus the ability for visitors to edit their own comments.

    ID is developed by the same people who develop WordPress so I’d imagine it would integrate quite well. I have no experiences with Disqus so if you do then please speak up.

  2. It sounds like it would be perfect for the SEB community, Les. If it really does sync stuff back into the database, I don’t see any harm in trying it out.

    Does it only start with “new” comments, or posts, or will it sync the existing comments into thee system. If the latter, that’s a loooooottt of comments. Might want to check with their support to see if that might be an issue.

  3. I’ve been a member of online communities that tried both Intense Debate as well as Disqus. In 2 separate cases, the majority of users squirmed away from ID, but eventually were able to embrace Disqus.

    My 2 pennies.

  4. I’ve been using Intense Debate at Atheist Revolution for some time and have been happy with it for the most part. It certainly makes dealing with trolls easier!

  5. I have to admit that I’m reluctant mainly due to it being an external service. It’s rather annoying to me that much of it’s functionality isn’t part of the core WP package.

    You can replicate most of it with plugins, but you’re looking at around 10 or 15 to do it.

    That said, I am considering turning on threaded comments, which is part of core oddly enough, to see how folks like them.

  6. I’ve not found threaded comments in WP that valuable. I have them turned on, but in most blog formats they don’t nest all that well, and it becomes too easy in a long comment thread to lose track of replies. (Since the data is, though, already embedded in the comments, Les, you can simply turn it on and take a look at some long threads to see how they render.)

  7. hey, the squeeky wheel really does get the grease!

    I’ve never knowingly used ID or Disqus, no help here. Although reply by email, facebook connect, and still having editable comments might be nice…

    As far a threaded/nested comments, I think it might work well for this blog. It adds to the “conversational” feel of the comments, allowing tangents to run on in their own little space, so you don’t have to wade through pages of comments to sift out the relevant ones. On the other hand, it does affect the look of the layout, and lots of short comments with several short replies starts to look more like a twitter page full of pointless shout-outs instead of the deeper, more thoughtful discussion that often goes on here. Of course, if everyone still writes long, thoughtful comments, that won’t be a big problem!
    I’m sure I could get used to whatever format, it’s the content that keeps me here anyway. I’ve always thought that Pharyngula could use nested comments, as one can get a serious case of scroll-finger stress and vertigo trying to keep up with a side conversation on a long, skinny thread of hundreds of comments, but, as with this blog, commenters there often respond to two or three others in a single comment, which doesn’t make as much sense nested…jeez, I’m no help at all…61/2 of one, half a baker’s dozen of the other!

    In short, I have no idea about anything…but hey, why not try something new-If it sucks I’m sure people here will tell you before they give up commenting!

  8. Actually, ***Dave, just turning on threaded comments doesn’t help show how it would work. There’s no “reply” function without threaded comments being turned on so the data to tie them all together doesn’t exist yet so looking at a long thread looks the same as it would prior to turning on threading.

    However, this reply is being done with threaded turned on. I have to give credit to the folks who made this theme as it popped the comment text area up to under the comment I’m replying to. I can see Neil’s comment under where I’m typing this reply. Very interesting indeed.

  9. Disqus works OK it seems, only used it a few times, it stores your avatar somewhere on some server .. Personally, I like to “self-thread” by using @ signs and qoutes, cuz many threading systems are confusing and work *too* well, and breaks everything up, and I think damages the continuity, or at least compartmentalizes the ideas on threads, rendering fragmented conversations and missed ideas.. But as long as the edit feature works I can use anything lol

  10. Would it be possible to set up a small sandbox environment to let us see how it would actually work?

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