Tracking Conversations

One of the frustrating things about blogs as “distributed conversation” is keeping track of places where you have commented. People often reply but you never see their answers because you forget or lose where you have commented. There are a couple of low-tech ways of dealing with this and a new service that aims to solve the problem.

Getting involved in the conversation is essential to your blogging success. You need to network, get known, of course, but also you need to know if people are criticising you, commenting about your blog or service and engage in discussion about their points. Here at Performancing we have to track what the blogosphere is saying about us and Performancing for Firefox in particular.

What I tend to do is to bookmark (plain old browser bookmarks) posts and re-visit every once in a while. This is not optimal, particularly as I could be using any one of three machines at any time!

A better approach that I recently heard about is to use and tag posts where you have commented with a tag that you use for following up.

These are ok workarounds, particularly the approach but still when you think about it pretty lame solutions compared to what is possible with the technology, it amazes me that nobody until now has addressed the issue.

coComment is a new service that aims to automate tracking your conversations, complete with real time notifications and RSS feeds.

Whether you’ve commented on a blog or you’re just following a blog-based conversation of interest to you, coComment can let you know what’s been added to a particular discussion in real time

Currently you need an invitation to use the service. Lucky me I got one! You will be able to find codes knocking around the web, I am sure this is an intentional “leak” to build buzz.

The service works using bookmarklets, just like those available for and technorati. When you arrive at a post you want to comment on you fill out the comment form as normal, before you submit though you click your bookmarklet. Once the bookmark has done its business you submit your comment.

So far the comments I tried to post haven’t shown up and a couple of times a message has appeared saying the blog I am trying to use the service with is not supported. Not a great start but I will persevere with it because I hold out hope it will help me a lot. Other people seem to be getting on with it just fine.

Each user has their own page that allows you to track your conversations, here is mine. You can also subscribe to your conversations with RSS.

How do you track your blog comment conversations? Is this something you can see yourself using?

17 thoughts on “Tracking Conversations

  1. a) there is a superior greasemonkey script available at It updates the list of supported blog systems daily.

    Currently supported systems: click here / Drupal is not supported 🙁

    b) coComment is open for everybody now.
    The news: click here

  2. While I also prefer email notifications, I’m starting to use RSS to track comments on my own blogs, and sometimes others.

  3. I just save off the text of a comment and the URL in a text file. I have a few different ones, one for random locations and others for specific blogs I frequent. That also means I’m not relying on a third-party, and it allows me to keep the comment handy in case it gets – cough MMFA cough – deleted.

  4. Or maybe somebody could simply write a GreasyMonkey script for this purpose in just 30 minutes? Any GreasyMonkey experts over there?

  5. Very interesting idea, definitely worth trying. I try to follow up the conversations with the help of the same “replies” tag (I think, I’ve got the idea from the Nick’s post here), but quite often I’m too lazy to do it and rarely have time to go over my comments.

    I wonder how complex would it be to get a Firefox extensions that bookmarks at CoComment AND at This way you would have a known-to-be-working backup and don’t have to worry at all about forums/blogs not supported by CoComment. Supported ones would be tagged with “replies”, not supported with “replies nofollowup”

  6. Personally I am hoping that someone better comes out with something better to solve this problem. coComment is a huge step, but as they admit on their site, they are not using the best technology options, but rather the quickest. Either they will come out with something better as the next version, or someone else will build upon their humble beginnings and we will have something that rocks.

  7. From the looks of things, co Comment will enventually have a plugin for the blog owners to make all of their comments cocommented. This would me that every comment that happens here (since the guys at performancing would definitely take on that responsibility) would automatically be included as soon as you comment once. This service is going to take both more commenters picking it up and also blogs installing that code once it is available.

  8. I second Chris’s comment on e-mail notification – a distinction between follow-ups by other people and an answer from the blog owner could be useful – I’ ll have a look at the code of the “Subscribe to comments” plugin I mentioned if I find time 🙂

  9. Pascal – I agree with you that the blog-host has a role in this as well. Why should the onus be on the commenter to provide a solution to the problem, especially if one of the main reasons people tout blogs as so great is that they ‘enable conversation’? When feeds are made available for comments, I subscribe to them, especially on blogs where I know most of the action occurs in the comments.

    At the same time, its easier for me to use a service that just requires me to sign up to it once, rather than wait for all the blogs I want to comment on to get their acts together, and then sign up on each of them in turn. More practical and realistic as well! CoCo isn’t perfect, but it is a quantum leap better at keeping track of what/where I comment than any other solution I’ve seen so far.

    As Chris says, instead of having my inbox or RSS reader flooded with comments, and instead of leaving my email address strewn across the Internet in hundreds of subscription forms, I just comment as normal and let CoCo (+Greasemonkey) work in the background collecting everything into one place that then gives me a picture of (perhaps) 95% of the comments I’ve made across the ‘Net.

    Ironically enough, it won’t be showing the comments I’ve made here – as I said earlier, CoCo and the old bookmarking system are going to have to work together for a little while longer till the kinks are worked out the system.

    Chris – I personally prefer to take my follow-ups into the RSS reader. You still have the same problem with regards the dross and spam comments, but for some reason it feels less invasive (and more controllable) than in the email inbox.

  10. Email is my preferred method of providing follow ups but a big problem is you received all the spams too. Any popular blog that you comment on and employs email notification means you are signing up to receive every comment spam that they receive. Also after the main intelligent comments die down you are left with a never-ending stream of “me too” link drops from people who are seeking out venues to mention their blog. At least with CoCo you don’t get them in your inbox.

  11. Hi,

    The launch of CoComment made me write a (far too long, I know) list of ideas, tackling the same problem – and with a lot of the same solutions as you suggested.

    There’s one other aspect however: how can you as a blogger make it easier for your reader to follow up on his/her comments (I suggested comment feeds, e-mail notification, threaded comments or an accompanying forum).

    (relevant direct link to the section on the role of blog owners)

  12. I really like coComment because if you use Firefox and the Grease Monkey script, you don’t have to do anything but post comments.

  13. Right now I get a good feeling about the service, perhaps there will be copycats that are even better. Maybe just because I am a geek I tend to give beta services a bit more leeway than maybe I should but I am still optimistic it will work out. As Cas says, perhaps the visible history of your commenting will help show you are not just a driveby link dropper or a troll but a real honest person who wants to communicate?

  14. The Greasemonkey script is a lifesaver. Half the time I forget I’ve even got CoCo working away in the background.
    The best way to get a code is still to register your email address on the CoCo website. Up till now, codes have been following in 30 minutes to an hour.

    I used to bookmark posts I got involved in conversations on. I’m now doing a hybrid bookmark/CoCo thing. It’s taking some getting used to but it’s definitely proving worth the effort for me.

    It also has the side-effect of making me comment more often on blogs I wouldn’t normally comment on. It’s odd, but I feel like it’s giving me legitimacy or a way of garnering reputation. I’m suddenly not an anonymous commenter if people can see what I’ve said elsewhere. Perhaps we’ll start to see people attaching their CoCo pages to their comments along with their own site addresses?

    Either way, I would recommend people get a code and play.

  15. Personally i’ve always liked using a special tag in delicious, it may not be optimal, but its garunteed to work in all blog software, forums posts and anything else i might comment on, whereas something like cocomment clearly isnt.

    interesting service, but ill stick with tagging stuff as “replies” untill i see how it works out for them.

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