The Ultimate Comment Tracking System

by Maskil on 3 Jun 2009

As a blogger, I view the comments that I leave on other blogs, forums and websites as part of my digital content; as intellectual output if not perhaps intellectual property. I’m therefore concerned with tracking all of them, as well as ensuring that they are merged into my digital stream.

I recently completed a brief survey on the BackType website. Going through that exercise made me realise that none of the comment tracking services I make use of (or that I’m aware of, for that matter) has all the angles covered. All of them fall short in some regard, in some cases quite significantly.

In my view all the existing comment tracking systems enter the whole commenting process too late. They step in only once the comment has already been drafted and submitted, then attempt to intercept/copy it, track it or search for it after the fact. As a result of these design decisions (and in some cases poor implementation) they fail to capture anywhere near 100% of a user’s comments.

In an attempt to address that gap, I’ve drawn up this user specification for The Ultimate Comment Tracking System (UCTS). Please see this as a living document; feedback and suggestions are welcome:

  • UCTS needs to be built around a desktop client, to allow the user to compose the comment offline and ensure that it’s not lost in the event that the target Website fails.
  • My preference would be for an Adobe AIR application (something like Posty, but for the commentosphere).
  • The client should include a reasonably full-functioned text editor for composing the comments.
  • The comment editor should include a spell-check function.
  • It should preferably support multiple operating systems (Windows, Linux, Mac OSX).
  • The application needs to be browser-agnostic, or at least support the most popular browsers (e.g. Firefox/Flock, Google Chrome, IE, etc.).
  • It should support the most common blog platforms, CMS and comment systems.
  • The most common forums and bulletin boards should also be supported.
  • Support for other feedback and survey input forms would be an added bonus.
  • Comment systems that are not supported natively should be handled by means of form-filling, (something along the lines of Google Toolbar AutoFill). In the worst case, posting the comment using copy and paste should be supported, with the desktop application including a copy/paste option to strip out formatting.
  • It should support multiple profiles, e.g. personal, professional, etc.
  • Each profile should be given its own URL on the comment tracking website.
  • Each profile should hold its own user information fields, both on the local machine and on the comment tracking website.
  • Common user fields such as Nickname/Username, E-mail address, Full name, Website, City/State/Country/Postcode, etc., should be completed by means of the auto-fill.
  • The most common comment fields, such as Title/Heading, Comments and Tags should be supported.
  • Once the user has completed the comment and all other required fields, clicking on a Submit button should post the comment to the target Website.
  • In addition to submitting the comment to the target website, UCTS should also save the comment to the local machine (e.g. in a text file), as well as to the comment tracking website.
  • Each comment should be given its own unique URL, and all comments for a profile should be available as a stream or RSS feed.
  • The system should store both the URL of the article and that of the comment itself (if a unique URL is allocated, e.g. comments are not inline).
  • The system should allow for later annotations to be made to the entry on the comment tracking website.
  • It should allow comment items to be easily shared by placing a “share this” gadget on each page.
  • At the back-end, the system should provide a way to track or be alerted of replies or subsequent comments.

Any Web 2.0 start-ups out there that see the potential for a better comment tracking mousetrap? If so, please take this idea and run with it; my consulting fees are very reasonable, and I’d love to test the Alpha version.

I currently store the bulk of my comments on coComment, but I’ve also created profiles on BackType and commentino. You can find my profiles here:

I’ve also just signed up with TypePad Connect Beta:

Previous post:

Next post: