Yesterday we were all aflutter over Disqus (review) and Intense Debate (review)--two companies offering similar products for replacing an existing blog comment system, and one is centered around universal profiles and comment tracking. Today we're taking a look at SezWho, a comment enhancement service that's been around since June (we briefly wrote about them last month), and has since been integrated into more than 300 sites.
Instead of replacing your current system, SezWho layers on a reputation and rating system to your comments. Registered users can vote on the usefulness of other people's comments, and that rating goes into an aggregate ranking that's a part of a user's profile. Like the solutions from yesterday, rankings are universal on any site that's integrated SezWho, meaning you're taking a track record of all your posts with you to other sites, where other users can explore what you've been commenting on, and how other users perceive you. The goal is to help sites sort out the good and the bad (employing self-policing from the users), and simultaneously letting people share and explore links amongst themselves.
This morning the company is announcing several new features. Two--one for site owners, and one for SezWho users at large--are all about user visibility. The first, called Red Carpet, is for site owners, and is similar to the top-users widget I mentioned with Intense Debate. Red Carpet lets site owners promote some of their most active discussion participants with a visual ranking widget that can be put anywhere. In a perfect world, users will see this somewhere and either explore some of the content these users have been reading, or feel the need to participate to get a place on the list.
The other widget is a SezWho profile badge, which users can post on any blogs or personal pages. Mousing over the badge causes it to pop up with a user's SezWho profile, including links to their latest comments, and other user ratings. Between the two, I see Red Carpet getting more traction, as blog owners seem more likely to promote the use of such a system to give their blog, and some of their older posts additional exposure in other parts of the SezWho network.
What might end up being the most useful addition is a new set of metrics rolled out last week to both SezWho users and blog owners. Users get to see a more open set of stats about how many people are rating their profile and comments, while blog owners get access to a new internal tracking tool that shows where any incoming SezWho traffic originates. The data charts aren't as extensive as something like Google Analytics, but it's a nice addition for site owners to keep an eye on user involvement.
On a side note, our (CNET's) TalkBack commenting system has a similar feature for rating a user comment's usefulness, and users can hop between our various sites with one account. The biggest difference is the option to jump to other sites with that same ID.
I must say, I really like the idea of SezWho. Comment rating is a very useful way to sort through the good and the bad--assuming your audience is keen and plentiful enough to make it worthwhile. Where SezWho inherently falls short is how deeply it can be integrated. While it's nice that you don't have to replace your current system, you're missing out on a single user profile for both the site and commenting system--something which is possible with larger Web-based blogging platforms like Wordpress.com and Blogger.