The Twitter Comment System

Twitter killed a lot of blogs, and I’m beginning to think that it’s killed even more comments. I love Twitter, but I do miss the old days of the blogosphere, back when blogs where as common as opinions (I was traversing my archives earlier; it was like visiting a graveyard, with URLs for headstones). Back when even a half-assed entry would garner comments from near and far, and people would link to each other and the sense of community was in-between people and their writing, rather than in-between 140-character quips.

Those days are gone, and a new batch have arrived, where if I write that I’m eating a strawberry pie on Facebook, it’ll get more replies than if I dig up a super-rare interview with George Lucas and write about it on my blog… What’s a man to do?

Adapt and overcome of course.

Earlier today I tweeted an idea as I was heading out the door and by the time I got back several people pointed me to Faruk’s, who already implemented an early version of that exact idea (so I’ll spare you the lead-in and leave you in his capable hands).

The basics is using Twitter for blog comments by using @Heilemann and a unique keyword, like the ID of the entry: #1234. As Twitter is searchable and tweets time-stamped, you have an off-site comment system already in use by millions.

Faruk’s current implementation is very baseline, but the potential is there, and it isn’t hard to imagine fetching replies through a twitter search, caching and displaying them as a traditional linear (maybe even threaded) comment list.

Problems and annoyances are abound, but it’s an intriguing idea; one that might be worth pursuing if it can bridge the classic and micro-blogging divide.

Hit me up and see what other said.

Update: There are several obvious and some not so obvious downsides to using Twitter as comment system, none of which I covered yesterday, both because I was pressed for time, but also because it’s worth gauging reactions rather than preempting them. First of all, Twitter searches only go back about 11 hours, which makes caching locally a must. Secondly, as roq points out, not everyone likes Twitter, though I can live with that (and easily build an anonymous function of sorts, if this otherwise solved more than it broke). Then there’s the 140-character limit, which isn’t necessarily conducive to conversation (but then, unlimited space apparently isn’t either, so…).

All in all, I doubt using twitter as a comment system is of much use. Perhaps it makes sense to have a link ala the one above to cater to people’s preferences, but on the other hand, if people aren’t going to comment locally, why would they do so on Twitter?

Update: Kim points out that “by anticipating the unique ids, it then becomes possible to pre-comment on stuff not yet published, and futurespam!” #