Blog Frustration: Comments and Feeds

Rss IconI’ve been using Typepad for a while now, and I think it has really moved on recently. One thing that’s been really bugging me though is the lack of work that seems to have been put into comments.

Ok, so there’s hardly a huge amount of comments traffic here yet, but the thing that annoys me about Typepad – given that this is meant to be a conversational medium – is that comments aren’t readily integrated into these feeds. Nor is there any simple way to do this. Services like Co-comment are great… but not brilliantly serviceable yet. So while people can read posts and do lots of other stuff like add them to or Digg them, they can’t see or make comments unless they go to the site.

What stats I have show that I get a lot of people reading this via my Feedburner feed, which is great. Hello to you all! As Vista approaches and the rest of the world catches up with RSS (see Wired article), I think this is the way most people are going to handle content. The actual site will be visited less and less. So I’ve been trying to tweak the feed to make it as useful as possible to people. I’ve added various ‘flares’ and an option to receive the feed by email.

Anyway, having had a dig around, I found some good hacks on getting comments feeds [ here ] and have thus just published a separate feed for comments from this site [ here ]

How does anyone else get round this? And does anyone else think it’s about time Typepad got over the bling thing and did some real work making comments work better?

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5 responses to “Blog Frustration: Comments and Feeds”

  1. The options available in any blogging system generally aren’t that good. RSS isn’t really all that good at conveying anything other than a stream of data, and he relationships between posts and comments are hard to represent neatly within it.
    There is an extension to the atom feed format (much like RSS, but more versatile and better defined) which provides a good way to represent comments, but it hasn’t taken off yet and no widely-used feed reading software supports it.
    I’d love to be able to subscribe to a feed and select for each feed (and override for each entry) whether to follow the comments. Until then I find I can never be bothered to follow comment feeds as the comments are rarely given any context and it’s usually too much work to follow them while keeping up with 300 or so other feeds. It’s definitely a weakness in the “blogs as conversation” model.

  2. I much prefer threaded comments and email notifications of thread replies (ala LiveJournal) than RSS feeds of comments (either entry or site-wide) (in fact as james points out site-wide comment feed would be very difficult to mentally parse). I will be offering a hosted solution much like typepad with this type of comment solution soon.

  3. WordPress gives people the option to subscribe to a comments feed. I have found though that in reality no-one does, even though I give the link on my site and services such as Bloglines can autodiscover it. In fact on Bloglines I have about 180 subscribers to the various feeds but only one to the comments feed… me. And I don’t actually look at it in practice. As James points out the comments aren’t given any context and so you really do need to look at the site anyway to work out what is going on.

  4. I’m glad you have such savvy readers. I am a champion for the meek. Just about everything you’ve written makes no sense to me because I am Computer Kindergartner. Your blog is simply on my bookmarks bar….
    Anyone wanting to make an effort to keep up with the conversation can really do that easily enough, don’t you think?
    Are you missing out on a piece of brilliance as yet undiscovered? Most likely, (as I certainly am not apt to provide it!)
    The possibilities prove endless and overwhelming.
    Maybe the blogging weakness will remind us that we also shouldn’t order in all our groceries, books and more importantly, convictions. I hope you take my meaning. Bless you, K and your own brilliant thought process.

  5. You’re right Suzanna – the simpler way! Trouble is… Really Simple Syndication was meant to make things even simpler. And it does… except for this dang thing about tracking the conversational.
    Dan – I’m looking forward to whatever you’re going to put out. When might we see it? I’m sure that a next wave of blogging products will sort this out, but it’s annoying for now.
    And Dave, I too don’t really want to have to bother with a separate comments feed – and don’t expect other too either. All it helps to do is flag up in my browser when people are commenting without me having to go check. Perhaps that laziness… but wasn’t that what a blog was in the first place? Push-button publishing for those who didn’t have time to do the whole coding thing?
    On the whole though, I totally agree with Suzanna. There is just way too much posting and not enough conversing in this whole blog world. It’s sometimes like a conference where everyone is spouting at once and no one’s actually listening to anyone else. I know people who track over 100 blogs in their ‘reader’. How? Perhaps we should all trim everything to one line of bookmarks…
    Anyway, I’d better get off and order my groceries 😉