Geek Friday: Blogger & Intense Debate

This is somewhat of a geek topic, as it is about commenting systems on a blog.  However, there are aspects for bloggers and readers alike, and, more to the point, it involves changes I am contemplating making to the blog you are currently reading.

Blogger is sort of a drag at times.  It seems to me that by Google trying to be everything to everyone, they just wind up being mediocre at best.  The Blogger platform has a lot going for it, yet it cannot do but about half the stuff that WordPress does – without any plug-ins.  And yet, most people have a Google account (even people who don’t realize it).  I’m not a big fan of trying to make people signup for a service just so they can make comments on my blogs.  Furthermore, the stats reveal there is a very wide gap between the number of lurkers vs those who comment, and I don’t really like the idea of making it even more difficult for someone to de-lurk.

Yet, my biggest beef at the moment is the entire commenting system.  It’s about ten years behind the times.  For example, you can either moderate comments or not.  The only exception is that you can age the ability to comment so that posts over a certain number of days requires moderation.  There isn’t too much wiggle room in that respect.


On the other hand, WordPress has an entire page of “Discussion Settings”, many of which affect moderation.  One in particular I like is the setting that a comment author must have had a previously approved comment or it goes into moderation.


Well, my research indicates that the WordPress and IntenseDebate are owned by the same company, Automattic.  So, there are some similarities.  For one thing, you can set it so that a person has to reach a certain “reputation” score before automatic approval.  You can also set it so that IntenseDebate and WordPress users who have previously been approved are automatically approved.

That means that having a Google account is not enough for comments.  You can, however, use OpenID to make a comment, but that means you have to have a recognized blog or other site first.  On Google, all you would have to do is setup a blog.  It wouldn’t even have to have articles in it.  Then, point OpenID to the URL of that blog.

Also, commenting can be setup for “Guest” posts, but if I read it correctly, that means it goes automatically into moderation.

Frankly, all the above is great, and it certainly adds appeal whenever something can be done to raise the level of comments on a blog, but there are also some direct user features that are attractive:

  • The moderator can enable FaceBook logins for those who prefer that method.

  • Users can vote comments up or down.

  • Threads.  If you don’t know what I mean, then you don’t know what you are missing.

  • Choose between emails for replies or all comments on posts.

  • “Report this comment” button.  This is pretty cool.  Users can flag a comment.  If set to do so, that will throw it into moderation where the moderator can either delete it or re-approve it.

I’ve looked at Disqus and another (Echo, I think), but I had issues with both getting them to do just what I wanted them to do.  I had trouble even finding a way in Disqus to automatically approve comments from users who had previously had approved comments.  Frankly, it’s moderation settings are only slightly above the native Blogger settings.

It seems the options are:

1. Move the blog to another platform.  This is always painful, full of errors, and there are people who won’t go with you for various different reasons.

2. Install something like IntenseDebate.

3. Turn on moderation for all comments.

That last one is, of course, an option.  However, Blogger is not very friendly when all you have is a mobile phone and intermittent Internet otherwise.  I found that out when I was travelling so much between Ohio and Colorado.  Thankfully, Iowa has wi-fi at just about every rest stop, or I would have not been able to have done very much at all.  Some Feast site locations are not even very cell phone friendly, so even that might not be an option at all times.

To put it another way: If the moderator is not available, then comments won’t get approved.

So, there are my cards, laying upon the table.  Comments?  Suggestions?  Complaints?


  1. Well the blogoshpere can be like the wild-west. There's always a slight chance someone out there is going to arrive in your townblog and start shooting off comments which are far from appropiate. Nevermind what links can do.

    Not that written words can literally fly off the page and kill the reader, they will however receive a response.

    What kind of Sheriff do you want to be?

    Without moderation, one day you may have to handle arriving in town and find out someone is gunning for you. Or suddenly discover that the shoot-out at the OK Corral is being reinacted under one of your posts. Then there's always those who try to set up a brothel, of which someone posting using Asian characters seems to be already testing the waters.

    Personally I don't mind having to wait.

  2. John D Carmack

    @Norbert: Well, you realize that the "www" most listings aren't really "worldwide web" but rather "wild, wild west", don't you? ;->

    I have and still am mulling over much along the lines of what you wrote. I take it that your preference is to simply turn on moderation then?

    BTW, if anyone is interested, there is a copy of this blog with IntenseDebate turned out. Check out the test post here [broken link removed by admin].

  3. John,

    If I am certain that my opinion is worthwhile mentioning and taking them time to write it, being moderated would not discourage me from trying to post it.

    And I hope if there is something about my opinion that 'I do not see' as inappropiate, I also hope the moderater would have the eyes to block it.