May 28, 2008

SezWho? My Blog Life in Comments 2001-2008

For as long as I can remember in the land of blogs, technology experts like Shelley Powers told me not to give control of my data away. Serious technology folks host their own stuff, and usually on their own servers, because they don't like to leave chance to chance--and because they know how.

I'll cop to the fact that It's a pretty dumb idea to have stayed on blogspot so long. Honestly? That's the trap of a closed system. Once you invest enough of your time and energy and passion into it, the barrier to change is about as high as the sky. Maybe higher. The relationship becomes sort of a 'the devil you know" dance, and you're not leading.


As I've written before, I like Blogger as blogging software. But I wish I would have left blogspot for my own hosted site long ago. On BlogSisters I solved illusion of hosting with web forwarding. But still, all of that content is on blogspot.

It's not like I haven't taken warnings about the risks of putting my content in the hands of third parties seriously. I have. But it has always been 'not quite seriously enough.' There are other must-dos competing with my time.

As the noise level escalates and Web 2.0 companies come and go, I see more clearly the argument for keeping ownership of my data whenever possible. It's a hot topic for social media and comment users lately.


Take my comments here on Allied. Some of us were doing comments before most of the blogs on Techmeme tonight were born, and before most Web 2.0 CEO's could drive.

In the early days of blogging, if you wanted comments, you had to stay up until 2 a.m. and sign on to get an account on YACCS within a given 1 hour period. If you weren't lucky enough to get your login during that window, you had to wait until the next day. And after enough users were on the system to create headaches, YACCS said, No More.

YACC's creator, Hossein, was a one or two man shop - Remember, these were the days before flush funding and social media conferences. Having YACCS comments in those days was being a REAL blogger, because commenting tools were hard to come by. It meant you cared enough to stay up late.

After some years, I think about 2004, Blogger got pretty good comments of its own, and I was getting a lot of YACCS comment spam. Hossein decided to stop supporting YACCS and it was time to make a switch, so I turned YACCS off and turned Blogger comments on.

That worked pretty well for a while, but before Google's first big Blogger upgrade, I started getting MORE comment spam, tried moderating comments for a while and hated it (remember - this was before OpenID, before comment registration, and when CAPTCHA didn't even work well) and so I decided to turn Blogger comments off somewhere in 2006 and replace them with Haloscan.

Why Haloscan? Because Shakespierce used Haloscan, and I wanted to be kewl like Tony. No really. I'm serious.

See how adoption works? The Kewl Factor is a powerful thang.

SO Here I am again, and Haloscan is being difficult where Blogger's new templates are concerned (you've been seeing that error message for the last HOW LONG now?), so I'm turning Blogger comments back on.


The good news is, I can turn Blogger comments back on and STILL HAVE a custom service that does more than Blogger lets me do with comments. I can get a universal user profile and comment tracking across social media. And instead of giving away the data, it stays where my comments live, with the rest of my content.

That's because I installed SezWho, which is not a comment replacement system, like disqus, but a conversation and reputation-driven universal profile. It is known for working across all kinds of social media -- including wordpress, drupal, and Blogger blogs; phpBB forums; etc. -- and for having a layer of semantic intelligence that tracks reputation over time. With open API's, it can do pretty much whatever the web decides it should do.

By turning comments back on with Blogger and adding SezWho, I don't think I'll be looking back three years from now and seeing the kind of SPAM that's piled up because my commenting service (as YACCS did) had to shutter its doors, but somehow left a window open for spammers to slip through.

Second of all, I'll have access to conversations that no matter what happens to the third party service provider. They'll live with the rest of my blog content, not on some other site somewhere else. I'll be able to keep my blog's conversational legacy, not wish that I kept it.

Third, as menopause progresses and I become even more forgetful than I am this very minute, my SezWho Universal Profile will give me a web-wide view of conversations I've participated in from wherever I am. Now, I wish I had a Universal Profile for my offline life. If only.

Fourth, Trackbacks work with SezWho, and that's a plus because with Blogger I could never seem to get trackbacks to work no matter how many times someone said: "Could you use trackbacks please?"

Well I've already given more reasons than Fred Wilson's Three Reasons in this post, and if he can do a shoutout for a company he's funding, then I can tell you why I decided to try SezWho as a mere flack.

Now back to our regularly scheduled conversation.