Intense Debate does souped-up comments for your blog
Get extensively better comments on your blog with Intense Debate, a possibly better option than whatever you're currently using.
Consider today two-for-Tuesday on Webware, because we've got another universal comment system coming out of private beta today. This time around it's Intense Debate, a new service that replaces your blog's standard commenting system with an enhanced version that features analytics, user profiles, and a tracking system.
Like Disqus, which we looked at earlier, Intense Debate is full of all sorts of commenting goodness like deep structural threading, an up or down voting system per comment, and integrated user profiles with reputation. You also get the bonus of a really slick dashboard that lets you track which posts are getting the most comments (with shiny charts) and some community tools like an easy-to-use widget that lets you promote some of your top site commenters on your front page--similar to what several popular Weblogs Inc. blogs used to do.
For the sake of your users, there are also some handy ways they can interact with Intense Debate's system without getting jettisoned off the post. For example, users can register with the service right in the comments field, either using their registration system or with an OpenID. They can also subscribe to the post's comments RSS feed (which Disqus also has) as well as sign up to get notified when someone replies via e-mail.
What I find most appealing about Intense Debate's approach are its setup tools and administrative controls. Besides some of the visual analytics I mentioned earlier, the setup to white or blacklist certain words or phrases can give you a whole lot of control over automating comment moderation. You can pick one of three ways you want comments to appear on the page, and even tweak the look and style of them with one of the included themes, or use the version that will try to mimic your site's design--which I found to work only so well on a custom Wordpress blog. Advanced users can go in and skin the heck out of the thing by linking up to a custom CSS file.
The big thing services like Intense Debate and Disqus offer is the holy grail of a universal ID for comments, something I touched on earlier when taking a look at Disqus' approach. I think the hardest hump for these services to get over--a problem a product like coCommentdoesn't have--is that it requires adoption by content providers instead of users. I'm happy to install a browser plug-in or sign up for one account in one place, but blog owners with closed or proprietary systems will have a tougher time making that kind of move, unless these services offer significantly more to users and site owners than other plugins or built-in user registration tools on popular platforms.