After my short bleg this morning I’ve been fortunate enough to score an invite to the new, invitation only beta test for CoCommenter, which has gained a fair bit of buzz across the blogosphere in the last 24 hours.
I’ll admit upfront that I had some initial concerns about the service, least being that Robert Scoble had suggested it was good, like he does every other Web 2.0 service that is launched, so I automatically presumed it was most likely crap. Also, having read a number of the reviews I was also concerned that this service would take away the commenting function from blogs themselves and centralize it on this service, therefore taking away page views from bloggers… a sort of exclusive closed shop commenting facility. I was wrong, on both accounts.
The concept of CoComment is simple. Basically it tracks comments you make on blogs and makes a copy of your comment on the CoCommenter service, as it also does with other bloggers using the service as well. WOW! you may we say, who cares? We’ll the problem I faced in looking at the service is getting my head around why this is an interested service, and I’d put it this way: it’s like an online bookmarking service for your comments. Sure, there are other alternatives out there (for example I offer the ability to subscribe to comments by email here at the Blog Herald, and b5media does across all of its blogs) but not that many blogs do, and sometimes you may want to return to a comment you made to see what others have said about it. CoCommenter not only indexes where you made a comment, so you can return to the post, but in keeping a record of other comments from CoComment users as well you can get a pretty good idea whether there is an interesting discussion being had that’s worth returning to.
What I particularly liked about CoComment was its simplicity. Web 2.0 services can often be buried in graphics and stupid functions that distract users from their core purpose. CoComment doesn’t.
It’s got a very simple interface that gets straight to the point: Your conversations, People and Blogs. Your conversations naturally leads to a menu listing your conversations with drop down options to see other comments. People tracks “People who have recently participated in the global conversation”, and Blogs, blogs just commented on by members of the coComment community. I suppose the last two features are handy if you’re interested in what other people are doing, reading and saying, but Your Conversations is going to be the main use on the service.
There are a few extra’s as well. You can get a RSS feed to track your conversations so you don’t have to login to the site to check on them, and you can also put a box on your own blog tracking the comments you’ve made. (I’ve currently got a Co-Comment box up at my personal blog here in the side bar)
The bad stuff
There isn’t a lot to dislike about CoComment, although there are some deficiencies if you look hard enough. The tracking feature only tracks comments by bloggers using Co-Comment, which if you think of it in terms of coding makes sense, but in terms of practical use has been seen by some as a deficiency. It doesn’t support all blogging apps at this stage, although it does support the majors.
The way in which you record your comment in CoComment is also a bit clunky, a button which, in the case of Firefox gets placed on your bookmarks toolbar (and I wasn’t using my bookmarks toolbar, so it sits there all by itself) and needs to be clicked for every page you want to record. If I was the CoComment team though I’d be signing up Brian Benzinger from Solution Watch who has designed a “Greasemonkey” Firefox script that automates the process for Firefox users so CoCommenter records all your comments made at supported blogs.
Will it change the blogosphere? I hate this sort of hype but for once I’m going to join it. It’s such a simple idea that’s been implemented very well, and if it takes off once it goes to open release it will potentially change the way people interact with blogs, because it will encourage more conversation. If I was scoring it, maybe 9.5 out of 10. I’ll hold the .5 back because the service still has a few bugs (it is in beta after all), but kudos where its due, I’€™m likely to be using this service fairly regularly