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Jul21
What 22 Bloggers Are Saying About the New coComment: Pros and Cons
As many of you know, I'm nuts about coComment - a true coCo-nut. (Laughter.)  But I was curious to see what gripes others might have about the new and improved version of coComment that launched yesterday.

I searched for recent mentions of coComment in Technorati and carefully read all the reviews I could find of the updated comment tracker.  Here's my quick take on what 22 other bloggers have to say.  Hopefully this will help you decide whether to use coComment, and maybe even help the coComment team improve their software.

Cocomment Logo.gif8 of 22 Bloggers Like The New coComment

Joseph O'Connell says, "I'm extremely impressed with [the coComment team], and like Feedburner, I wonder why their tools aren't being used more. Maybe I'm too much of a geek, but I love it."  Joseph, you're not too geeky.  I am also appalled at coCo's lack of popularity, given its incredible utility.

Joseph has some of the wisest words about coCo that I've seen anywhere: "Similar to del.icio.us, CoComment stays nicely out of the way until called upon, and doesn't require a separate application running or complicated plugin/extension to configure. By acting entirely as a service and a layer on top of existing software, they provide some really powerful glue for the distributed web."

Michael Specht says coComment comes "highly recommended" for making his Web conversations easier.

John Cass captures my excitement: "I immediately logged into my CoComment account, and noticed that my list of comments tracked was lit up with new comments. There were lots of comments from non-CoComment users. Hey this means I don't have to bother bookmarking a blog conversation when I comment once a comment track is started."  Exactly!  John concludes, "This is a great step forward in comment tracking."

Randy Thomas says, "If you have a blog or are simply a reader of blogs ... CoComment is a great tool that is very helpful."

Stegbeetle says, "It's well worth having a go with this."

Mark at Made to Praise Him says, "coComment is fast becoming essential if you're into the social aspects of blogging."

Andrew Fife especially likes the coComment comment tracking widget (Andrew, there are actually three!).  However, he says coCo doesn't always work well at Blogger blogs.  I've had occasional problems with coCo and Blogger myself.  Hopefully the coCo team will fix that.

James at Right On! says, "To those of you who comment on a LOT of blogs as I do, and find it VERY hard to remember what you commented on and where… a valuable resource called cocomment just got a HELL of a lot more valuable."

5 of 22 Bloggers Dislike the New coComment

Garrett Fitzgerald says, "I think I need to see this in action a bit before I give it a try, but it looks neat."  Garrett, watch my coComment page (or grab the feed) if you want to spy on someone before giving it a shot.

William Foxtrot boldly states, "Anybody who enjoys commenting on weblogs needs this tool."  Like me, William hates "hit-and-run" comments.  But the conversation changes completely when you can easily listen.  I think the day is soon coming when it will be seen as rude not to respond to a blog comment - because tracking comments will be so much easier.

Aaron Hockley doesn't like coComment at all: "Bad software. Bad, bad software. coComment gets one chance to fix this, and then it’s going away."  I'll see if I can help Aaron out - he doesn't like the fact that coCo installed a toolbar icon without asking.  Aaron, the extension download page explains that when you install coComment, it inserts an icon in your status bar, typically located at the bottom of your browser.  I don't see that as intrusive or impolite.  However, perhaps coComment should consider giving users the option of moving or even removing the icon while still getting the tool's functionality.

Chris Clarke didn't like the email coComment sent its users announcing the improvements.  He ho-hums the new features and concludes, "Go sign up for co.mments instead."  Chris has had problems signing in to use coComment.  Have any of you experienced this?  Chris, give coCo a second chance, if only for my sake!  coComment has several social features that co.mments doesn't - at least not yet (at Chris's post, co.mments guru Assaf promises "more great features" soon).

Side note: From emails we've exchanged, I know Assaf to be a very nice person who cares deeply about improving co.mments.  I don't see coComment as being "better" or "worse" than co.mments; rather, I think they each bring a unique focus to the conversation tracking table.  I use and appreciate them both.

Lloyd Budd uses coComment, but says the new features make him like it less.  He says his conversations feed suffered from "a flood of junk" and is upset that the coComment team sent him his password along with the new features announcement, unsolicited and in unencrypted form.

And 9 of 22 Bloggers Haven't Tried the New coComment Yet

Of all people, Darren Rowse says he hasn't used coComment before.  Darren, I invite you to try coComment for seven days!  If you don't like it, I'll send you my priceless Yoda PEZ dispenser.  Candy included.  I'll even pay for the shipping.

Greg Kiernan says, "It all sounds pretty impressive and i am certainly interested in giving it a good try out as soon as i can!"

Phil Wilson says, "Finally! I gave up using CoComment after a few weeks when it became obvious that only other total nerds were adding any value to it, and not the people I actually wanted - people actually in the conversation."

Scott Schecter says, "For me the whole bookmarklet bit just took way too much effort to be very useful. Well evidently I missed that they now have a Firefox extension that does most of this for you automatically now. I'm gonna give the extension a shot, and see if it fares better. If it sticks I'll let you know." Please do, Scott!

Cherrie, one of the few female bloggers discussing coComment (why is that?), exclaims,"Excellent!!! I've been wanting this for ages!!"

The Technology Blog makes this great understatement: "I think this little program may lead to lots of more conversations on blogs."

Jordan Running says, "I used coComment for awhile when it was new, but it didn't take long for me to decide it wasn't really worth the trouble for me."  Jordan then admits that the new features "may change my tune."  I hope so, Jordan!

Fraser Kelton says, "When it first came out I was excited about a headache of mine that coComment was going to solve - tracking my conversations.  I tried it out and found that it ... sort of solved my headache, but produced a number of other ones. In the end I decided the headache trade-off wasn’t worth it."  But now Fraser says he'll give coCo another shot.

Finally, some guy named Robert Scoble says, "I have to try it out again. I lost interest after switching computers again."  Robert, you'll like it.  coCo has its flaws, but you're a busy man and a busy commenter, so it should save you some time.

Conclusion: Most Bloggers Like the New coComment; Some Say It Needs Improvement

Overall, 17 of the 22 posts I found expressed appreciation and/or excitement for the new version of coComment.  The most commonly cited reasons for liking the new coComment were its ability to track comments regardless of whether commenters are registered coComment users and its ability to track conversations at pages where you choose not to make a comment.  Several bloggers said they had used older versions of coComment and had stopped using the service, but are now excited to give it another go.

I personally think the social aspect of coComment has been largely ignored.  I love being able to see what other people are saying about a given topic, at a given blog, or just in general.  (Am I a spy or just inquisitive?)

5 of the 22 bloggers didn't like coComment.  The most frequent complaints were technical glitches, lack of uniqueness, and a preference for co.mments.  Also, Chris Clarke and Lloyd Budd didn't like the announcement email.  Just some things to work on for the coComment team!

30 Comments/Trackbacks




Wow, fantastic job Easton in bringing our voices together!

Thanks for linking to my bitching about cocomment... I don't have a problem with the status bar icon... that's been there since version 1.0 (they made it function poorly in this release, but that's a separate issue). My complaint is that the firefox extension installed a toolbar icon, on the main firefox toolbar. That's sacred ground and I should decide what goes there, not a third-party extension.

Thanks Lloyd and Aaron. The real fun part of this for me is that coComment turns our blog comments into a quasi-IM conversation of sorts.

Aaron, I respect you a ton for being bold and sharing your concerns about coComment. I haven't had the same experience - for me, coComment just stuck its little icon down in the bottom right, in my status bar. Maybe we can get Steph or someone from coComment in on this conversation and get some answers as to why that's happening. But I do concur with you on the "sacred ground" aspect of your personal browser.

Thanks Lloyd and Aaron. The real fun part of this for me is that coComment turns our blog comments into a quasi-IM conversation of sorts.

Aaron, I respect you a ton for being bold and sharing your concerns about coComment. I haven't had the same experience - for me, coComment just stuck its little icon down in the bottom right, in my status bar. Maybe we can get Steph or someone from coComment in on this conversation and get some answers as to why that's happening. But I do concur with you on the "sacred ground" aspect of your personal browser.

I'll echo Aaron's sentiments - thanks for linking to my bitchfest. I might just give cocomments another try, if only because there is no way to delete your account (at least you couldn't last week when it was in it's previous incarnation).

I think this is a terrific piece of work, Easton. Well done!

Chris, you're a fellow blogtipper, so how could I not link to you? :P

In all seriousness, though - coComment, as much as I love it, is of course still not yet a fully baked service. (Hence the little "beta" sign, right? Well a zillion services have those but that's a different subject.) So it's great to bring issues to the forefront. I'm tired of reading post after post that simply regurgitates a news item. That's why I wanted to grab 22 thoughtful replies to the coComment buzz.

Easton, it seems you echo your own sentiments, or more specifically you have the same comment twice.

Thanks, Lloyd. It's not my fault - my blog has been running very slowly this morning and I'm looking into speeding it up.

Easton, nice job summarizing our posts! You (quite literally) make a great effort to get everyone talking about coComment on the same page.

Thanks, Joseph. Tools like coComment - well, is there one quite like it? - can take a blog post's comment thread and essentially turn it into something more like an IM conversation. There's more fluidity. I just wish more people would come to the "aha!" moment on this.

For example, these very words I'm writing right now are instantly going to show up in your coComment records, as well as those of other coComment users who have commented above. Plus those who are silently tracking this page, or tracking my coComments, or yours, etc.

Ripple effect, anyone?

Great post Easton, a great example of effective blogging, helpful to get the thoughts of the community.

I can definitely say I am also a coco-nut. ;-)

Now we have the major hurdle of commenting tracking dealt with by cocomment what other features can the community recommend to CoComment?

I want to see folders for blog conversations.

John, that's a good idea. I also want coComment to put a search engine on their site so I can truly mine blog comments and see who's mentioned corporate blogging, who's mentioned me, my company, etc. Right now you can almost do that - you can look by tag - but the true search, once it's there, will be hot, hot, hot.

Final straw: the toolbar icon reinstalls itself each time I restart Firefox, even after I've removed it. This is crossing the line from annoying to just plain stupid. I'm done. I'm no longer a coComment user.

Aaron, that's sad to hear, but then again I suspect others are having similar experiences. I'll do my best to keep everyone posted on coComment's progress.

Easton, I agree about the search engine feature, that would be handy.

Aaron sorry to hear about your firefox troubles. Hopefully the folks at CoComment will see your post and work on fixing it.

Well I spoke too soon... I guess I'm still a coComment user because there's no way to cancel an account, at least not on their website. I sent a support request... we'll see what I hear.

I'll be interested to see how that works out, Aaron.

I've found coComment to be an excellent social blogging tool. Strangely enough, just before I found coComment, I was chatting with a friend about how difficult it can be to develop a post into a conversation - the conversation soon becomes a disjointed series of posts across many sites, with everybody wanting presence on their own site but acknowledging one another with trackbacks. coComment goes a long way towards helping to solve this problem. Everyone is able to participate in a single thread and also have a coComment box on their site publicising their involvement. To further close the gap, wouldn't it be cool if a blogging engine could agggregate local posts and coComment threads?

Another thing that has been very interesting is that online friends have been introduced thanks to coComment. A friend of mine sees a post I've commented on, wanders across and introduces himself. My own Feeds list has broadened substantially due to loitering over the comments of my friends in their own coComment spaces.

Granted, not everybody is interested in this aspect of blogging. There are those who see blogs as a simple publish-subscribe, and that's fine. But if you are more interactive, more sociable, then coComment is the best thing I've found so far to help facilitate that.

Mark, that's a very interesting observation about cocomment. Especially as many bloggers believe that commenting is the best way to become an effective blogger. Your exploration of blog commenting can enhance the skill for many bloggers. In your view what makes a blogger an effective communicator using cocomment?

John, a friend of mine has a great definition of an expert: an "ex" is a has-been and a "spurt" is a drip under pressure! So please don't brand me in any way an expert ;-)

I'll take a shot at your question as best I can.

Commenting and use of coComment may not directly influence your writing style, but there's much more to communication, and blogging can be a tough medium in which to communicate effectively. I think there's little doubt that commenting in general draws traffic to your own blog. The difference that is made by coComment is that now visitors to your site can also see where you're actively discussing (without you needing to blog about every discussion that you have). In the case of my own site, this helps to:

* demonstrate that I'm a sociable, accountable, and practical kind of person, and not some lone wacko spouting dangerous or merely theoretical nonsense;

* demonstrate that I'm not offering opinions in a vacuum, hence adding credence to my own posts, and showing that I value and weigh the opinions of others;

* makes it easier for visitors to consider commenting on my posts;

* helps grow a community around my subject matter of like-minded bloggers and commentators;

* helps to keep me on my toes regarding the accuracy and relevance / timeliness of my posts;

* opens-up the topics covered by my blog without my needing to identify and initiate every one of them.

I hope this helps a bit. As I opened, I'm no expert :-D

Mark, great thoughts and I look forward to your answer to John's question.

A couple other scattered reasons why I like coComment:

1 - It leaves me without excuse as to the comments I make. Others can now track exactly what I say. (Maybe coComment can develop a spam-catching community of sorts for spammy coCommenters? Or even non-coCommenters?)

2 - It saves me time and energy and clutter. I used to either bookmark all my comments or save the URLs in Excel. Man, that is soooo 2005 :).

3 - It helps me get to know people better. Mark, you used the word "disjointed." coComment makes things a bit more fluid for me.

Imagine if 10 people in a company all used coComment and tracked each other's comments daily. They could instantly jump into conversations together, helping each other more quickly and aboiding missing out on those critical moments when conversation could flare up like tinders just needing a spark.

Ah, I should have hit refresh before commenting - I see that Mark has answered John.

For what it's worth, this post has gotten a LOT of comments compared with typical posts at my blog, but I haven't seen any significant traffic changes (see my Sitemeter stats). And in my experience with our network's authors, I've seen that in most cases, being an avid commenter around the Web doesn't by itself boost your traffic exorbitantly.

But what really is wonderful about commenting to me is that it's adding to a conversation. Indeed, the first comment at a post is what essentially creates something called "conversation" - something two-way instead of one-way. So commenting helps you connect with *other people* - and that's the ultimate benefit I see. So, again, tools like coComment can supercharge our ability to get to know people.

Easton - I just started using cocomment. Really like it. Today's tip: I found this new site that simplifies helping your readers submit your blog posts to social websites such as gigg, furl etc...: http://ekstreme.com/socializer/. I'm sure you are aware of it but since you've given me some great tips, thought I would do so in return. Chad H

Mark, wow, great list of reasons to blog and use cocomment.

John, thanks. I was worried that I hadn't really answered the question.

Easton, yeh, I shudder to think that I used the dirty words "draws traffic". What was I thinking?

Seriously. You're right. It's about making connections with people. My blog's readership is quite small, but I've seen an increased number of connections (regular visitors who are likely to interact), both inbound (they value my blog) and outbound (I value theirs), since I started more actively commenting on others blogs, and more again since coComment started gathering momentum.

The problem is that web stats don't show this. When you think about all the activities that contribute to stats, it's very hard to find the real connections that you've made amongst the visits made by search engine bots, spam bots, cached social RSS feeders (so you have no idea how many real subscribers there are), search engine results etc. etc. Case in point: my most glorious month of stats was when spammers first took an interest in my blog. My stats went through the roof - while I looked for suitable measures to reverse the trend!

So I say "stuff the stats; let's just make an effort to connect with people". coComment is a great help in this regard.

:-D

Good points, everyone. Chad, thanks for that link - I'll check it out ASAP. Keep feeding me the tips! Many of them will eventually end up in my corporate blogging wiki.

Mark, you're right. Stats have their place, but in the end, too many bloggers deem them more important than human connection.

Hi Easton,

Visiting you again. You know I love cocomment all along since it started. I am just curious if haloscan users are switching to cocomment?

Not sure. How would we find out? I'd be interested in doing some detective work there.

I love the music at your blog, ChorusLine.

All,
thanks easton for the post, and to all for the helpful thread! A few things:

- the icon re-appearing problem is now fixed. Check:
http://www.cocomment.com/teamblog/?p=99

- we delete any account if we get a request at info [at] cocomment (dot) com from the corresponding email address

- a few things you are talking about are very high on the to do list (groups for example)

- thanks for all the other ideas you're discussing here, very useful for us!

- easton: comments DO indicate popularity, so more comments means more traffic! More here:
http://www.ballpark.ch/blog/english/685/blog-comments

Have fun folks!

Thanks for the update, Laurent!

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