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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

Battle of the comment add-ons: 6 services compared

Commenting can play a major part in making an author's blog post deeper, and more interesting to read. It's like having a discussion in real life versus simply hearing someone speak--there are details, and alternate angles that can come of making ideas go two ways instead of one.

When creating a personal blog or one for business, there are the standard comment systems that come with your blogging platform, as well as a whole new breed of third-party tools that can add extra functionality, and potentially a deeper level of discussion to your site. So which ones are worth installing?

We've picked six of the major players in this space, and talked about what makes them more useful than the ones that come built-in to popular hosted blogging services like WordPress and Movable Type. Even if you're not on one of these two platforms, several of these solutions will work on a site you've built from scratch.

CoComment lets your readers subscribe to comments on a blog post, and share that thread with other CoComment users. It scrapes people's comments from threads they've replied to, so they can monitor and access the responses for multiple sites in one centralized location.

Adding CoComment to your site doesn't involve replacing your current commenting system, but it means you're signing up to be part of the CoComment network. If your users are active members of this community you might get new people discovering your content and taking part in the conversation--which could translate to site growth and prominence. The two things that turned us off to the service were the sometimes slow service and distracting ads that take are found on CoComment's main service.

Co.mments is a plug-in for blog owners, as well as a simple browser bookmarklet that lets you (or your readers) track conversations regardless of whether or not the stock commenting system offers such a feature. It works similar to some of the Web commerce price trackers we've looked at before, and will notify you if there are changes. Commenters can keep an eye on all the conversations they're tracking in one spot, and quickly browse through them like an river of news with a full list of keyboard shortcuts.

If you like Wordpress' built-in comment system and Askimet spam-catching plug-in, and don't want to ditch it for some completely different system, then Co.mments is a simple way to add tracking services for your readers so that they will know when to come back. However, it doesn't offer some of the advanced functionality of the others, and is mainly for helping your users keep track of what's going on with various threads on your blog--not making them more advanced. Several other services we're profiling offer subscription features of their own, but we liked Co.mments' in-box that lets you go catch up on multiple conversations in one place.

Continue reading to find out the other four services and which ones we picked out of the bunch.

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