SezWho offered a universal reputation system for comments, allowing visitors to log in using their Email address or OpenID, establishing a reputation system that carries across onto other SezWho-enabled sites. And unlike some other comment systems, blog owners didn’t have to worry about handing over their data to SezWho – for quite a while one of the primary criticisms of some competing services, like Disqus, was that they housed the blog’s comment data, effectively keeping their owners hostage (this is no longer an issue, as these services now offer synced comment archives).
JS-Kit’s acquisition of SezWho is not particularly surprising. There’s definitely a need for enhanced commenting systems, but this space is overdue for consolidation. The problem with having all of these discrete commenting systems is that for the most part, they aren’t compatible with each other. Users’ comment histories and reputations are segmented across a handful of competing services, which sort of defeats the point.
And aside from JS-Kit, most of these services are free, leaving them vulnerable to drops in advertising revenue and perhaps also deterring major companies from entrusting their data with them for fear that they might go belly up. In the current economy, most of the services are either forced to shut down or seek an acquisition.
Aside from its acquisition of SezWho, JS-Kit has also bolstered its presence with the acquisition of Haloscan last summer. The company has also established partnerships with a number of major companies, including Sun and World Now.
Some of the smaller services may be dying out, but JS-Kit still has some strong competition. Last fall IntenseDebate, another commenting system, was acquired by Automattic, the company behind the incredibly popular WordPress blog platform. IntenseDebate continues to operate on other blog platforms, and is also slowly having its technology incorporated into WordPress itself.
Another increasingly important player in this space is Facebook, which just released a new commenting widget that allows sites to quickly integrate Facebook Connect with only a few lines of code. Users can have their comments relayed back to their Facebook News Feeds, where the conversation can continue. Some large sites have little interest in handing over their data to Facebook without getting much in return, but it’s a system your everyday blogger will love. And that’s a scary prospect for the rest of the widget makers.