Daily Tidbits: Wikipedia users asked to edit 'Wikipedia' book

"Wikipedia: The Missing Manual" by John Broughton has been made available for free on Wikipedia, O'Reilly Books, its publisher, announced Tuesday. The book is being delivered in Wiki format, which means users can edit the text as they see fit. Peter Meyers, the "Missing Manuals" managing editor, said O'Reilly may use those edits in a second edition, if it's made available. If you want to read the book (or improve it), it's available now on Wikipedia's help page.

AllFacebook, a blog that covers the world of Facebook, launched a tool Tuesday … Read more

Disqus now offers Facebook Connect log-in

Universal comment add-on system Disqus is the latest company to pledge allegiance to Facebook's Connect platform. Users will soon be able log in to comment on Disqus-powered blog posts with their Facebook ID. Meanwhile these comments can be pushed back to the user's Facebook news feed, completing the circle.

This is a big deal for blog owners who may feel a little finicky about going through with a full Facebook Connect install on their blog. Considering the main point of registration often comes when users want to dip into a discussion this was the next logical step for … Read more

Comment tool Disqus launches v2.0 with automagic backup

On Tuesday, blog commenting add-on tool Disqus is launching version 2.0 of its free service. Many of the biggest changes are on the back end, but the user-facing elements have been given many small tweaks that should make it a faster, more approachable solution for the mass market.

I chatted with co-founder Daniel Ha about it on Monday, and he says one of the biggest changes blog owners are going to notice is the plug-in support. The plug-in with the most improvement is WordPress, which can now be moderated from inside of WordPress' admin area instead of on Disqus alone. (Download WordPress from CNET Download.com.) All comments are also synced up both locally and to Disqus' servers, so if Disqus goes down your comments won't. Likewise, you'll be able to copy over Disqus comments to your existing system if you decide to ditch it later on down the line.

For commenters, the experience has also been improved. Gone is the up and down voting system, which has been replaced with a simple up button to give a good comment a nod, and smarter tools to flag offensive or otherwise spammy comments. Commenters who write a veritable opus can now turn that nine-paragraph work into its own standalone blog post that lives right on Disqus' servers, where other users can comment and interact with it. Ha says he's not trying to take away from existing platforms, but give these really good, in-depth comments their own place to start another conversation without completely thread-jacking the conversation that's going on there. Think of it kind of like FriendFeed, but using the same engine people are used to.

These are just some of the improvements with the updated platform. Disqus comments are now SEO-friendly systemwide, so your blog posts will be indexed both by content and discussion. The administrative area of Disqus has also been tweaked slightly to be simpler to manage across multiple blogs, although there's still no way to mass delete messages via search query, or select multiple messages from a list like you can in some blogging tools' stock comment systems. After having used Disqus to power our Webware 100 2008 award pages, the lack of mass edits and deletes was one of the only weaknesses that really bugged me. Luckily it's something Ha says is working in testing and will be coming soon in another update.

Disqus is currently in use with about 30,000 blogs and competes with tools like SezWho, IntenseDebate, and JS-Kit to enhance the built-in functionality found in mass-market blogging platforms. To play around with the new system I've embedded it below. You can also check it out by visiting one of our Webware 100 2008 winner profile pages. … Read more

A commenter's Bill of Rights? Let's think first

There's a fascinating discussion going on about the rights and prerogatives of bloggers and the people who leave comments on their Web sites.

Hank Williams has a good recap on his always entertaining blog of the incident which triggered a contretemps featuring--who else?--none other than Robert Scoble.

This issue came to the fore recently when Robert Scoble commented on a post from Rob La Gesse's blog. The problem is that Scoble commented using Friendfeed instead of the standard blog comments. La Gesse and Scoble had a discussion where Scoble wanted him to move the discussion to Friendfeed. … Read more

Video service Seesmic shacks up with Disqus

Video and text don't always go together, but that's not stopping video and audio microblogging service Seesmic from partnering with the distributed comment tool Disqus. Starting Wednesday, users of Disqus will get the added benefit of video commenting alongside the text entry field.

The option is turned off by default in Disqus, and must be enabled by whoever is administrating the account. We've gone ahead and turned it on in the Webware 100 winner pages, where we've been using Disqus since unveiling the 100 winners late last month. I've also added it to the end of this post, where you can add your own video comment after the break.

One small hiccup I've found is that Seesmic won't pull in your Disqus account information. You've got to be registered with the currently private alpha service to have it linked up with any sort of account. Otherwise you're limited to leaving an anonymous comment that can later be reclaimed when you get Seesmic access. Disqus founder Daniel Ha tells me the two companies are working on deeper integration for user authentication, but in the meantime anonymous recording is the easiest option for people who don't yet have Seesmic accounts.

I'm still not sold on the trend of video commenting. It's a bit gimmicky, and as others have said, it makes conversations difficult to parse. Ideally I'd like to see services like Seesmic partner with Jott to add a small transcript under the comment that would save me some time, and improve the experience for search engine bots, the deaf, and others who don't feel like watching and listening to what could be a simple sentence or two of thought.

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SezWho rolls out widgets, sticky metrics

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 … Read more

Intense Debate does souped-up comments for your blog

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 … Read more

Disqus: a new universal comment system for blogs

There's a new universal comment system launching this morning called Disqus (pronounced "discuss") that's aiming to improve the world of commenting for both users AND blog creators. Their take on comments is a little bit like OpenID's stance on logins: give users one identification for many places, while mixing it up with the social tracking capabilities found in coComment and Twitter.

Blog owners who install Disqus to replace their default commenting system get the added benefit of creating a separate forum for each post that mirrors whatever discussion is on the comment thread. In return, users can maintain the same Disqus identity on multiple sites assuming blog owners are willing to buy into the system. Unlike a comment tracking system like coComment (review) however, the onus to be a part of the community falls on the site proprietor instead of the user.

As a commenting system it's very full featured. There's threading that I tested to go six levels deep (a step up from most default comment architecture), and a per-comment voting system that lets users vote on the quality of a response using up and down icons. Users can then sort the comments by chronology, or the most votes on the fly.

Also worth noting is the profile system, which like coComment, lets you see a user's list of comments, and links to where they've been making them. While you can comment anonymously to your heart's content on any Disqus comment board, you can also come back later on to claim your profile in order to start maintaining an identity on other sites--a kind of "try before you buy" approach. If you end up claiming your profile on one site, your "anonymous" identities on other sites will link to your identity.

One neat takeaway is that Disqus lets you track other Disqus users in a similar fashion to Twitter and coComment, throwing all their latest comments (and links to where they've been reading) into one public stream. As an added bonus, each user gets a "clout" rating, which is an aggregate measure of how their comments are being rated in various networks. The higher the clout, the better their perceived reputation is to other casual observers.

Disqus is free, and works with major Web blogging platforms like Wordpress, Blogger, Typepad, and MovableType. If your blog falls elsewhere, there's also a snippet of javascript code you can drop into every post, or add to your site's post template to add Disqus comments. I've embedded a Disqus comment module after the break, so feel free to give it a spin.… Read more