For the past few weeks, I had been looking into a new commenting system for my blog because it was difficult to track lengthy conversations.
I’d had good experiences with Disqus as a commenter on a few blogs. Although Disqus advertises that bloggers can use it on TypePad, what they didn’t reveal — until I tried to install it — is that it only works with the TypePad Pro pricing plan and higher.
Next, I tried IntenseDebate. Whilst not as popular as Disqus, IntenseDebate has many of the same features. I got as far as installing it onto my TypePad blog, but ran into a problem. I was supposed to be able to have all my old comments appear natively in TypePad, and entries posted after I installed IntenseDebate would feature the new commenting system. I wanted to keep my old comments. Unfortunately this didn’t work. What happened is that IntenseDebate just appeared over all comments, making it appear as if no one had replied to my old posts. I asked for help at their GetSatisfaction customer support page, however no assistance came. I decided to uninstall it because it wasn’t working as advertised. After reading around, I discovered that getting IntenseDebate to install on a TypePad Plus blog was an imperfect hack rather than true integration.
By good fortune, SixApart released TypePad Connect BETA several days ago. TypePad Connect has some of the same features that Disqus and IntenseDebate have, like comment threading, user pictures, and user profiles. SixApart integrated TypeKey profiles into TypePad connect, so if you already have a TypeKey profile, it has evolved into a TypePad profile. Everyone can sign up for a free TypePad profile (here’s mine), regardless of your blogging platform and whether you blog or not. This is exactly like IntenseDebate and Disqus, where you can create a commenter profile. Like Disqus and IntenseDebate, bloggers can use TypePad Connect on their blogs to help manage their comments, regardless of whether you have a Movable Type or TypePad blog.
Disqus and IntenseDebate are the more established commenting systems, so they do have more robust basic moderation features as well as flashier bells and whistles that TypePad Connect lacks — such as comment statistics, reputation systems, comment voting/rating, comment flagging (for appropriateness), video comments (Disqus), widgets that display information about a blog’s commenters, and better integration with other social networking platforms. IntenseDebate, in particular, has a ton of moderation features that I would find very useful if TypePad Connect had them. I think that the TypePad profiles could be more aesthetically pleasing. The profiles on Disqus and IntenseDebate just feel more Web 2.0.
I installed TypePad Connect on my blog, and I’m very pleased with it so far. I’m just as pleased that I have a native commenting system that allows me to keep all my old comments and makes conversations easier to follow. TypePad Connect is still in beta, so there are probably a few minor issues, but I’ve had few problems with it, and the initial problems I did have were quickly solved by the SixApart team.
I hope SixApart takes some cues from Disqus and IntenseDebate and decides to integrate many more features that are essential to commenting systems (IP blacklisting, email blacklisting, word filters), as well as of the more social network-y features.
EDIT – 24 November 2008: So apparently I can ban IP addresses and words in TypePad Connect. However, it doesn’t let you ban email addresses. It would also be nice, for those blogs that publish comments without moderation, for there to be an option to hold comments in moderation depending on IP address, number of links, email address, and key words.