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Unraveling Comment Threads Programatically

TechCrunch just posted about how Seesmic Hijacks Comments With Threaded Replies which continues a trend of concern around conversations becoming fragmented as more social aggregation services are launched. Seesmic offers video commenting on blogs and now allows someone to "respond to a Seesmic video by hitting a reply button with in the embeddable Seesmic player, and all the responses can be seen as video thumbnails if you mouse over the bottom of the player’s screen." (Mike, a check for $17.50 is in the mail) What this means is that while the initial video comment will show up with the other traditional text comments on a blog post, any future video replies will not. [Reminder/disclaimer: I work at Six Apart.]

FriendFeed and others ran into this sort of problem a month or two ago when they allowed you to comment on a friend's Tweet as it wouldn't get published back on Twitter. They solved this by using Twitter's API to optionally also send your comment back to Twitter. In this case the problem is that nearly every blog commenting system doesn't have an API. Disqus seems to have a non-public API which Plaxo is using though that integration only lets you respond anonymously.

Technology aside I think everyone would agree that allowing comments to be published back to the blog from other places is A Good Thing(tm). That said, making authentication and authorization work on this scale of decentralization is not something that has been solved yet. I'm involved in a conversation on the DiSo Project mailing list which is looking at tackling this sort of site to site messaging in a way that scales, can be run on $1/month shared hosting environments, and provides the needed bits of authentication and authorization. It isn't an easy problem, but one which I think we should be able to collectively solve especially with existing building blocks like HTTP, XMPP, Atom, OpenID, and OAuth. hmm...


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Jun. 27th, 2008 06:15 pm (UTC)
Solving the comments problems
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