Intense Debate is a souped-up blog commenting system that adds a lot of features for publishers and commenters alike. Installing the plug-in on your blog (WordPress, Blogger, and TypePad) adds threading, comment analytics, bulk comment moderation across all your blogs, user reputation, and comment aggregation. You can test out the system on the TechStars blog, but you’ll have to apply to the private beta if you want to install it on your own.
Threaded comments are nothing new and few blogs attract enough comments to make analytics a necessity. However, the system really shines when it comes to features for individual commenters.
While you can still leave anonymous comments, signing up for an account turns your commenting into a mini-blogging platform. The system lets you establish a reputation, link a profile, make friends, and syndicate your comments. Since all the accounts are on Intense Debate, it tracks your activity across any enabled blog. The networking benefit of the plug-in would make it a great addition to a blog network like WordPress.com.
Your profile consists of an optional photo, links to other social media profiles, your recent comments, and friends. You can see David Cohen’s profile here. Having a profile lets other users easily follow your comments over all or on a specific blog via RSS. Your reputation is based on the number of comments you’ve made and the quality of those comments as voted on by the other users.
Intense Debate competes for space on your blog with several other commenting systems, such as JS-Kit, SezWho, and Tangler. JS-Kit lets you add ratings and comments easily with a couple lines of code, but doesn’t have a user profile system. SezWho has a very similar commenting system that works for WordPress and Movable Type. Tangler has a soon-to-be released embeddable commenting widget that brings its real time forum system to your blog. CoComment has a similar system, but tracks comments across any blog without requiring a plug-in.
The system provides a lot of value for prolific commenters. In fact, a lot of TechCrunch commenters have already established their own following and reputations. A system like this provides the infrastructure to make them explicit. Yet it may be a tough sell for larger blogs who want to own their user data.