Comment Search – What’s taking so long?


Before I get to the point of this post, I just have say that I really like the Performancing extension for Firefox, but for some reason it stopped functioning. Performancing came out with their 1.0.1 version with some nice new additions, but when I downloaded and installed it, it didn’t work. The little pad of paper and pencil in the bottom right of the browser is gone. The right-click “blog this” functionality is gone. And, it still says that the extension will be installed when I exit the browser and re-open it. Right, did that already. Oh well. Not that big of a deal really. It’s a nice extension, but I can certainly get by without it. We all did before, no?

Anyway, on to something else. I was doing some lazy day reading today, catching up on some of the blogs that I usually follow but just haven’t had the time to keep track of anymore and took the time to read some of Steve Rubel’s thoughts over at Micropersuasion on what we can expect in 2006. Not bad, Steve, not bad. I especially agree with this statement:

“Still, shockingly, every single blog search engine is missing out on the next great opportunity. They’re focusing solely on searching blogs. They’re building great tools for bloggers, but they’re failing to recognize that what we all need is a way to search the entire conversation. This is where the blog search war will be fought in the months ahead.”

This could not be more true. In some blogosphere monitoring we do for various clients, comments are a huge part of measuring the pulse or sentiment of those writing about the company or product. Is it a tedious process milling through all of the comments to find those two or three nice nuggets? You bet it is. Are comments invaluable sources of feedback that only extend the long tail of conversations in the blogosphere? Hell yes they are.

It is almost an understatement to say that someone already in the game of blog search – Technorati, Google, Yahoo!, Ice Rocket (come on Mark!) – or some new startup or other innovative company needs to step up and fill a great need. Mining blog posts for valuable comment content is a process that we surely will see simplified in the future, maybe even next year. But I still can’t get away from one question: what is taking so long?

In my mind, the logical progression was, first, internet search, then blog search, but with that did not come comment search. They’re part of the postings, blogs, and most importantly, the conversation. This means they have to be part of search, and they definitely have to part of measurment. To ignore comments is like listening to a telephone conversation, but only hearing one end of it and not asking what the person on the other end said. We know what the long tail is, so why can’t we measure it? It’s coming, I know.

On a side note: when speaking of measurement, how come there is such a notable difference between the results of “trend” searches on Ice Rocket and that of Technorati? Maybe what is needed is a little bit of collaborative innovation. Psh, that probably won’t ever happen, but one can hope.

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25 Responses to “Comment Search – What’s taking so long?”

  1. Well, part of the problem is that there are blogs that don’t think comments are important, and impede the conversation by forcing comments to sit in moderation queues for hours (the irony of the referral on this post), or just don’t have comment capabilities beyond trackbacks (see Godin) or Technorati trackbacks (see Winer – which then means you have to rely on Technorati actually working, but that’s another issue).

    And, well, comments are an interesting twist. I use an extension in Firefox that somewhat tracks comments, but not totally. Others are using to track comments, but that seems like a total pain.

    However, as more and more companies realize that they need to see what’s happening in blogs, and as more and more tracking companies see dollar signs to what can be done, comment tracking will become a thing for corporations through someone like Intelliseek or Biz360 or Bacons or Factiva.

  2. The reason there is a difference between the trending on Technorati and that on BlogPulse/IceRocket is because Technorati is showing absolute counts and the others are showing *normalized* counts. This distinction is a fundamental one that, shockingly, is not generally understood.

    Look to my blog soon for some perspective on the lack of comment search in blog search engines.

  3. 3 Mike

    Not sure if either of you will visit again, so I’m not sure if responding to your comments via another comment will work, but here goes.

    Thank you both for stopping by and throwing in your two cents, I really do appreciate it.

    Jeremy – What the name of the extension you use to monitor comments? I may not have the following like you do, but it would be interesting to play around. I have followed the adventures in Pepper v. Rubel over the last year or so – very entertaining – and I must say that I admire you for calling him on such things as not allowing comments be free, among other things. I agree that one of those companies might lead the way to comment search/easier monitoring. I can see Biz360 being capable of that, but we’ll have to see.

    Matt – That makes sense. But, you are right, I didn’t realize there was a distinction. Thanks for clarifying. I’ll check your site out soon for a little more perspective.

    On a side – What do each of you thing the potential is of a blog-bust? I only wonder because in tech and a lot of other areas there always seems to be a backlash on products/companies, etc. Do you think blogging could lose its importance overtime? I think it potentially could, but would only happen because it will just become part of the everyday landscape of communications, pr, and all that. It will lose the “new” feeling. Although, Web journals/blogs have been around for quite some time.

    I hope you both have a wonderful holiday season, or Christmas as it used to be known. ­čśë

  4. Nah, I came back ­čśŤ is where I got the comment tool. It’s okay, at least it’s interesting. ­čÖé

    The blog bust/backlash has already begun. A friend was in the Bay Area for Syndicate, and he noted that the young (20-something) bloggers were there mocking Winer, Canter, and even Scoble for their blogging. I was trying to convince an old client to take up blogging for his online business and his response was “a blog is like a Website – soon, we’ll be inundated with them, and most will be crap.” I saw his point, but wish he would have taken the plunge – he also didn’t want to deal with comments and trackback spam issues, though.

    But, I wrote a couple posts about blogs and PR a while back – mocking the companies that set-up separate divisions. It reminds me of all those Sarbanes-Oxley, Home Security, Online News divisions of PR firms that have gone away. Blogs will just become (are becoming) a part of an overall PR strategy, as they should be.

    Happy New Year – that way, I can avoid all the Holiday issues. ­čÖé

  5. Blog comments don’t benefit from the same metric (links to them) that blog posts and other web pages do, making it tougher to rank the stuff that’s worth reading properly. Whoever cracks that nut will be praised.

  6. *scratches his head*

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