I am an avid reader of RSS feeds, relying on Google Reader to keep me up to date with the latest industry news. But there is a hole in the world of blogs – comments are a dead end. I literally read hundreds of blogs and occasionally leave a comment, but I rarely go back to see if anyone else follows up.
Disqus and Intense Debate proposed to close this comment hole by replacing the comment capability of participating blogs with a centralized system. Automattic, maker of the popular WordPress blog software, even recently acquired Intense Debate. But these systems merely add another destination to check for comments and replies.
I wished for some ability to follow comments automatically, right within Google Reader, and now I (nearly) have it! BackType is a clever service that tracks blog comments, associating them with their authors through the URLs many people use when posting. Users of this service can then “claim” their comments (via these URLs) and associate them with their account.
But that’s not the part that hooked me. Once you have an account, you can look up your favorite comment authors and “follow” them through BackType, subscribing to an RSS feed to follow the comments they leave in the future. This even works for people who don’t have a BackType account – anyone using a common URL can be followed in this way. And BackType integrates with nifty network-of-networks lifestream aggregator, FriendFeed.
BackType isn’t perfect, but it’s constantly being improved. It only checks certain blogs. You can submit them through a bookmarklet, but it would be nice if it had a wider set already. I’d also love to be able to automatically “follow” any comments left for a blog post after I comment. In other words, add all comments, no matter who writes them, to my feed for that one post.
But BackType is good enough already that I heartily recommend it. Follow me!