Saturday, November 10, 2007


Blog comments folder

I've been having this thought. It's been coming on for a while, since before I put a comment policy thingy in the sidebar, inspired by great comments people sometimes leave for one entry or another, and by what I've seen other people do in the comments sections of their own blogs. What will happen is this: someone leaves a comment, containing an interesting insight, a thoughtful question or additional information, or some combination thereof. The host blogger then replies in the comments section, and maybe emails the commenter as well. The result is a nice little interaction, of value not only to the blogger and the commenter, but potentially to other readers as well. For most blogs, this give or take will never expand into long, amazingly entertaining comment threads such as are found in (the) Whatever or Making Light, but they're certainly a step in the right direction. The thought is this: maybe I ought to make an effort to leave comment replies, not for every comment, but at least for the ones that are particularly insightful, questioning for informative.

Over the last week or so I've actually done a little of this. Two or three of my Halloween entries from past years had new comments this past October and into November, particularly the one about Danse Macabre. That got four of them (plus two from me), as people sought and posted info on a Danse Macabre filmstrip from the 1960s and a possible modern-day upgrade thereof. Becky's left a few comments that I've either responded to or thought about answering. And just today, I got a long comment on another 2006 entry, this one about Charlie Rocket. Apparently this person became interested in the actor after seeing him on Quantum Leap, was shocked (as I was) upon learning of his suicide, and did some research into his life and death. The narrative she put together on her MySpace blog is somewhat speculative, but I have no doubt that she's got the gist of Charlie Rocket's sad story: abused as a child, scarred by the SNL firing, chronically depressed, relatively isolated and not getting many roles, which all added up to his cutting his own throat. I would send Yasmin the text of my Rocket tribute for The Observer, but I don't have her email address and don't to join MySpace to get it. So I'll settle for plugging it here and in my original posting.

And that's the iffy thing about replying to a comment. Will the original commenter ever know you did it? I'm guessing that the answer is no, probably not. Heck, I can't keep up with the actual blog entries or my closest online friends, let alone revisit their comment threads. I'm guessing that many of you are much the same way.

Ah, but now there's a link at the end of Blogger entries, allowing you to subscribe to comment threads. Online services are starting to make it easier to keep up by sending alerts only when there's something new to see. So if you do leave a comment, and especially if it's insightful, questioning and informative, you may want to subscribe to that comment thread, in case I remark on your brilliance.

some of my new Who stuff

Meanwhile, obsessive Doctor Who fan that I am, I've now listened to the brand new Murray Gold Doctor Who soundtrack 67.5 times (okay, no, but perhaps 15% of that in a day and a half), and I'm already listening to the commentary for "Utopia", the first episode of the season's 3-part finale. It's been a hoot, particularly listening to David Tennant, Murray Gold et al. make off-the-cuff remarks about Axons and Kinda and The Green Death from the show's classic era. I love that these folks are fans, too! Once I get through the rest of the episodes and DVD extras I'll probably go through the box set a second time right away, this time to watch with subtitles instead of the commentary, and to listen to the musical cues. I love, love, love the new soundtrack, but there are still a few tracks that don't automatically bring the relevant scenes from the show to my mind's eye and ears.

Enough. I suddenly feel a profound need for bed/sleep. Good night!



Shelly said...

I've followed comment threads a few ways now. I've used CoComment the longest. Unfortunately, it doesn't work on popup commenting as you have, or at least, it didn't and I don't think they added it yet. And it isn't easy to follow, so I subscribed to the feed for my account, but it doesn't update reliably and it keeps logging me out if I don't use it often enough.

It does seem to work with Haloscan which does popup, but Haloscan also lets you click to be emailed if there are followup comments, which is what Blogger has added recently. Only Haloscan just lets you know there's a comment, while Blogger's email includes what was said.

Another service is Commentful, which might just be a Firefox extension. I don't recall. But you right click on the post page (again, not on popup comment box) and you can add a sub for the comments to your account. There's a yellow circle at the bottom of your browser that turns green when your subs have new comments.

Right now, I think I prefer Blogger's version of comment updating, which makes me wish everyone was on Blogger. It seems the easiest to use.

JulieB said...

This only works with Blogger if you have a Blogger/Google account. I'll leave this with my Google account, but there's no way for a reader to link back to my site - at least that I'm not aware of.

As you may know, I've rolled my own blogging software rather than go with Blogger or Wordpress.

Part of the problem is that there are so many competing platforms I'd go nuts trying to keep up with them all.

I did try cocomment, but found that (surprise!) comments were only tracked for other cocomment users. Not only that, but cocomment users' comments got left on the cocomment server instead of mine! I begged them to fix it but got nowhere, so I ditched the service.

At this point I think the most compatible thing to do is to also offer the option to subscribe to the comments feed via RSS.

Just my thought.

Shelly said...

Non-CoComment users have shown up in my account as "anonymous." I think they made improvements in recent months. The only problem I have with it is being logged out all the time and the lag in updating the feed.

Commentful works on the actual post page, so if I'm commenting on a popup comment site like this blog, I then go back to the post page and add it. It's been pretty good.

No one service will be perfect as long as there is variety. I can track comments on through my dashboard there.

And sometimes, when I can't get anything to work, I keep a post URL listed in an email or on my iGoogle page so I can check on my own periodically for new comments.

Karen Funk Blocher said...

Julie, when I click on your name in the Blogger comment or the comment alert email, I get a page that says the following:

Profile Not Available

The Blogger Profile you requested cannot be displayed. Many Blogger users have not yet elected to publicly share their Profile.

If you're a Blogger user, we encourage you to enable access to your Profile.

The URL is

I suspect that you can set up that profile with at least an About Me text pointing at Stately Barrett Manor and your journal.

And yes, I thought I saw a subscribing to comments thing on your site. That was in my mind when I wrote this entry. I do think you've set yourself a continuing challenge, doing you own blog essentially from scratch. I admire that, but it can't be easy!

For me the comments popup has a checkbox that says, Email follow-up comments to [my email address]. I don't check it because I already get them through the blog settings.

The comments thread is also viewable by clicking on the timecode at the bottom of the entry. In this case, that takes you to the single posting page:

similar to the individual post pages in AOL-J.

The link at the bottom of that says,

Subscribe to: Post Comments (Atom)

I tend to be lazy/wary about RSS, Atom etc., never having done more than set up Bloglines and then visit it only a handful of times, and use FeedeBlitz until I got bogged down with it. I get so spoiled with emailed alerts from AOL and LJ and Blogger (for my own stuff) that I just don't bother with anything else. Of course, the downside of this is that I seldom get to any site that doesn't send me an alert! That's why I want you to do RR, Julie - it forces me to play catch-up with you at least once every two weeks.

Lazy Karen

Karen Funk Blocher said...

Shelly, I've seen some of this stuff on your blogs as well, when I get there. Like so many of the things you experiment with, I'm amazed and a little intimidated to discover so many bells and whistles available to bloggers, the choices to be made between competing widgets and services, and the pros and cons and technical issues associated with each one. I tend to fall back on only using the stuff that I clearly understand right off the bat, and see a clear benefit for that applies to my particular prejudices and goals. Does that make me a bad person? ;) You and Julie are the frontier bloggers of my acquaintance, and that's good, because whenever I'm curious about something I know there's a 90% chance you've already beta tested it. Thanks!

Shelly said...

Karen, I like to try new things, but I tend to stick with the ones that are easy, comfortable, and do what I want. I've littered cyberspace with accounts for things I no longer use. Even if something is easy and/or fun, if it isn't serving a purpose for me, I stop using it.

I find it most convenient to read blogs in Bloglines, then visit the blogs when I want to comment. I prefer getting comment threads in Bloglines, too, but that hasn't been reliable or consistent, no matter what I use.

I like the Blogger email notifications, with the comments in the email, but that's partly because I don't get a lot of email so it's easy for me to read through them and I can easily unsubscribe when I've read enough or the conversation gets off topic, etc.

Between people online I've been able to help to people at work (colleagues and library patrons) who also ask about this stuff at times, the more I can learn, the better. I guess it's in my nature to learn about new things and part of my job to be able to use things things.

Becky said...

Oye. You are so right. I almost never go back to an old entry to see if someone responded to my comments. ;-)

Paul said...

Check it out, a comment thread!

I think these kinds of things evolve slowly (is that redundent?). After a while people notice you replying to them, and will come back to check. Also, if the topic of discussion is interesting, people will drop back to see what other people have said on it. Making light didn't develop novel-length comment threads overnight.

Shelly said...

After a while people notice you replying to them, and will come back to check.

To be honest, when I was reading a dozen blogs, yeah, I did that. Then the number of blogs I follow increased a couple of hundred-fold. And I couldn't keep track of where I left comments.

For a while, I emailed myself the links to the posts so I could easily find them. Once a week, I'd open the email and click the links to check for new comments. Hardly an efficient system, especially when I was already reading blogs via feeds. Unfortunately, not all blogs had comment feeds.

Sometimes, in following links from blogs I do read, I comment on blogs I don't normally read and I want to keep up with the discussion. Services that let me know of new comments have been a big help. But I prefer the way Blogger is doing it. By emailing the actual comment and not just telling me there's a new one, I can read and decide if I want to go back to the post and comment again, as I am now.

Reading the rss feed for CoComment is like that, when it works.

Anything that makes it easier and faster for me to keep up with a discussion means I can read and comment more and that, to me, is a good thing. Because I'll never remember to check on my own. ;)

Karen Funk Blocher said...

Yes, I agree with that, Shelly: the more work it is to keep up with a comment thread, the less likely people are to do it. And that is moderated by what Paul said: if the thread is interesting, or if there's a likelihood that someone is replying to your comment, you're more likely to stop back, and to watch for the intersting or personalized threads in the future. But no, it's not reasonable to expect this to happen quickly unless there's an outside factor, such as and inbound like from Fark or Digg or whatever. And that's not likely to happen below a certain threshold anyway.

And no, Paul, "evolve slowly" isn't redundant. Some things do evolve rather quickly: viruses, for example. Hmm. I wonder whether that applies to the viral nature of memes as well.