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Blog comment replacement service JS-Kit has announced a new partnership with Yahoo today that will bring the ability for blog readers to login to comment on a blog using their Yahoo userid. You can see how it works on Guy Kawasaki’s blog and I’ve embedded a screenshot below. The service uses the oAuth protocol (like in 24) so you aren’t sharing your password with JS-Kit unlike say many of the Twitter apps that require you to share your credentials with the local developer for the service to work.
I guess this is supposed to be like Facebook Connect. You can spam your friends all over the place with your updates. Just like when you post a blog comment, your friends on Facebook can see it. Chris Saad is the VP Product and Community Strategy for JS-Kit and also the Data Portability Chief notes that today’s announcement is a step forward for their data portability journey. Not sure that I see how today’s announcement has anything to do with data portability but I think it’s always great to offer readers more options to login because it leads to more conversation and usage.
To make the connection work, JS-Kit is utilizing both Yahoo!’s Profile API and Updates API. According to JS-Kit CEO, Khris Loux, "Eventually, each story a publisher sends to the Yahoo! Updates feed will benefit from referral traffic to Yahoo!’s most popular sites: Yahoo! Messenger, Yahoo! Mail, Yahoo! Toolbar, Profiles, and more."
Yesterday I spent some time with the Evite and JS-Kit teams to discuss the updated Evite beta platform launch. From a Web perspective the most impactful update is the addition of JS-Kit’s comment system and polling platform. Now when you create an event, a message board is automatically added to the event where guests can speak before, during and after the event. JS-Kit CEO Khris Loux notes that this deal pushes JS-Kit past the blogosphere in terms of integration. This is a major distribution deal for JS-Kit who are just coming off their acquisition of Haloscan.
Other Evite platform updates include integration of Flickr for images, YouTube/Vimeo for videos and Plaxo for contact management. Event pages are more "hip" by adding images and videos. Evite also signed popular artist Robert Holmes to create a variety of new event designs. There’s also a private comment feature which allows guests to send notes to the host without the entire guest list viewing them – quicker than an email. More mobile options have been added including event reminders and the ability for hosts to send event invites to guests via sms.
Users can now contribute their own designs as well. This was an interesting area of discussion. All designs are automatically approved and available in the event gallery. The Evite editors will hand pick some of the popular designs to place on their home page. They expect the community to police the user-submitted designs for illegal and objectionable content. Wonder how long before we see something way out there – my odds are one week.
The Evite platform is built in Java. eVite is part of IAC and has 35 team members in Los Angeles. eVite’s self-reported stats include: 18 million registered members, 15 million monthly invitations sent, 6 million parties planned and 24,000 Evite invitations sent every hour. The average event guest goes to Evite four times per event.
The Evite team explained that the biggest challenge the face is working on a new platform while still maintaining the current platform.
To be honest, the updates are a bit of a letdown. When JS-Kit CEO Khris Loux and I spoke about this announcement a week ago, I was really looking forward to yesterday’s meeting. I was excited to see a whole new Evite that was more 2008 and less 1998. The team certainly was excited to demo their changes and that’s what makes this so difficult. But what I’ve seen is somewhere in the middle, call it 2005. When you are the market leader, it’s ok to be years behind.
Yesterday I spoke with JS-Kit CEO Khris Loux who briefed me on several major updates for JS-Kit and their product roadmap. The first update is that JS-Kit has acquired comment replacement service HaloScan for an undisclosed sum. Loux says that HaloScan was actually the first comment replacement system and has over 500,000 active blog installations. He says while the new crop of comment replacement services including Intense Debate and Disqus are getting some press lately, HaloScan is "magnitudes larger". This size was the reason that JS-Kit has acquired HaloScan. Loux believes that these comment replacement services must have very large scale to be successful – and that HaloScan gives JS-Kit that size.
The acquisition is an IP-only acquisition and JS-Kit bought the distribution and customer base. They are currently swapping out the widgets in place that are branded HaloScan to use the JS-Kit widget and it should be transparent to the blog owners. They are 20% done with the swap so far and currently are replicating all comment data into both systems to make certain that nothing is lost. The new JS-Kit is adding sites at 300/day and will have over 8 million users.
As for the new features, they include a portable comment profile, comment synchronization and search engine accessibility. The portable comment profile screenshot is listed below. Loux noted that unlike Disqus, JS-Kit isn’t redirecting users back to their site – everything goes back to the content creator.
The synchronization feature which is called "sync" is game changing I believe for comment replacement systems. If you’ve read my previous posts around this technology, one of my concerns is what happens if the company goes out of business. Your site’s comments are gone forever as well. JS-Kit believes they have the answer using Sync. What Sync does is pull in comments from your current platform and then back updates live to the blog software you use. So let’s assume you put JS-Kit on your blog, tomorrow a person makes a commment. That comment is sent behind the scenes back to your blog commenting system along with the JS-Kit powered comment. This means that you can turn off JS-Kit anytime and still maintain your complete comment base. Sync currently works with WordPress and Blogger blogs and Loux says more platforms are coming.
The other update is that now there’s SEO (search engine optimization) support for your comment data – everything will be indexed properly.
Loux concluded by saying that they don’t compete on lock-in like the other comment replacement services do. He believes they must keep innovating to keep your business.
On Thursday morning JS-Kit will be launching their Navigator widget. Navigator takes their current widget to a whole new level. It combines multiple panels inside one widget that should help to drive site visitors further within a blog or Web site. There are multiple design options so you should be able to find one that fits your site/blog design.
I am a big believer in getting people from the home page deep into a site or blog. The Navigator helps do this by exposing content that could be years old but is either the most popular or the most active. And then you can select content for what JS-Kit calls "editor’s picks" to showcase your best works.
The Navigator widget will include the following options:
- Top – gives users access to the most popular objects (by weighted average user ratings)
- Hot –links users to the most active objects (by number of actions/time)
- Editor’s Picks – gives publishers a tool for building custom views in the form of administrator-specified list of internal or external links
- “Grab It” – viralizes a site’s content and drives both new and return visits by allowing site visitors to embed a site’s Navigator elsewhere on the web
JS-Kit added a viral option as well that lets your visitors take the Navigator from any JS-Kit powered site for use on your own site, blog, etc. I’ve played with Navigator and it works well. And I’ve appreciated the quick responses from their executive and support teams.
Editor’s note: I was provided a 8AM Easstern embargo but other sites have already posted earlier (TechCrunch) so I will post as well.
Yesterday we wrote about Disqus launching their comments tool and today we have another, SezWho. For a demo of how SezWho works, check out my friends at ReadWriteWeb and VentureBeat – both sites have the SezWho comment tool embedded. If you check out my title, I note that SezWho might be the best of the pack of comment tools. Why? Continue reading…
SezWho builds up distributed ratings and reputation which in simple terms means that your comment here on CN can add value to your comments on RWW, etc. In speaking with SezWho CEO Jitendra Gupta he said that the idea is to "carry your reputation with you" and can help CN leverage whether you should be allowed to comment directly or require validation, etc. The team has filed several patents around their technology.
They aren’t building a destination site but rather a distributor site – meaning that they want bloggers to use the tool. They offer a free version and soon a premium version with more features and access. The team recently closed a $1 million Series A round of financing.
Here is an example from VentureBeat:
The new features they are rolling out today include:
Stats for commenters Verification system so no one can "fake" your account "Red Carpet" which shows the top rated commenters on a site A badge to show your score within the SezWho network – Jitendra suggested that site owners might use the badge to show how they work with the community
Back to why I think it’s the top of the crop. First, comments remain on your site and aren’t touched in any way. Search engine optimization remains, no issues with "what if this startup goes under" and it keeps everything nice and tidy. Also, the widget is placed on top of the comments and adds value to both the reader and the site owner. I could see a great mashup of Outbrain’s personalized ratings plus SezWho’s technology on the comment side to create a powerful force in comment ratings.
Some have asked me when or if I will install any of these tools (JS-Kit, SezWho, Outbrain, Disqus, etc.) and the answer is that I am still working on a strategy around this area. Our relationship is most important to me so whatever I add has to add value for you and has to make sense from a technology standpoint.
I don’t think I have gone 24 hours in the past month without hearing something about content ratings, comment ratings, widgets for content based on ratings, comment optimization and general forum tools. We have written about Outbrain who takes ratings and personalizes content based on them, JS-Kit who takes ratings and creates widgets to help find new content on a site and today Disqus launches. Each of these services provide some functionality that is the same and each has their own spin.
I had the chance to speak with Disqus co-founder Daniel Ha. Disqus comes out of the Y Combinator startup incubator and the team is based in Silicon Valley. The team is two people including Daniel and they aren’t speaking about funding ouside of the Y Combinator investment.
Disqus’ main functionality is centered around comments and creating forum threads from those comments. Their tagline is "powering better discussion" and they are centered around the discussion not the blog itself. You can check out a working version on Fred Wilson’s blog.
Disqus is creating visibility for content outside the site itself by creating forums on their destination site that drive visitors back to the blogs that generate the content. When a user comments on a Disqus-enabled blog, that comment can be rated and those ratings drive the user’s overall score. Also, the comment feeds back to that user’s Disqus profile page which Hu calls a "microblogging page" which will house all of a user’s comments across all Disqus-enabled blogs.
One of the things I like about what they offer is the spam protection. If you switch to their comment system, they have two spam filters which protect bad comments from appearing. My concern with Disqus (as with the other systems as well) is being able to take the data with you and what it takes to re-import it back into your blog should you desire to terminate the relationship. Frankly on Drupal (which powers CN) I believe it would be a difficult task. So if you decide to move to one of these offsite comment systems, make sure you consider this piece before making your decision.
Integration is offered for WordPress, Typepad, Blogger, MoveableType and an API for any other platform. I have embedded an example below.
Outbrain has relationships with several of the rss feed tools which have integrated the ratings widget directly into the rss feel tool. Outbrain CEO Yaron Galai sent over this description of the personalized ratings feature:
For each visitor, we look at their rating history, find like-minded people automatically, and adjust the rating scores based on that. In other words – you and I might be looking at the same blog post, but each one will see vastly different scores based on each one’s personal rating history. We think this far exceeds the functionality of all other rating widgets that just display the plain average because personal tastes are so important when consuming content (think about it… – if the average methodology used by the other widgets would be applied to, say, Last.FM – we would all be listening to Britney Spears and Hannah Montana all day long just because a ton of kids give it 5’s all day long……….)
We also think that this is the 1st rating widget to give readers a real personal incentive to rate stuff (and rate it honestly), as they get long term value from the personalization. When your ratings have no effect on your future experience with the widget, there is absolutely no incentive to rate (+a nice incentive to abuse it…)
In my interview with Outbrain, one of the suggestions I gave them was to allow a site to not show how many people rated the item, just the rating itself. I still believe this is very necessary for smaller sites because if you read every story with zero ratings (or one), it makes the site look tiny and unappealing.
Ratings and tagging are hot right now. Check out our coverage of Outbrain, JS-Kit and Jiglu, all providers who help you find more content that might appeal to you. Each attacks the ratings process a bit differently.