Last night I installed the Backtype WordPress plugin on this blog. It’s “yet another” comment enhancement plugin for your WordPress blog. You might be thinking “that’s just like Disqus and Sezwho…” – but really it’s not. If it was I wouldn’t have tried it.

Both Disqus and Sezwho try to capitalize on you by making you create an “account” and then tracking across the web your (and other’s) conversations. All your blog page loads are bogged down by lookups to “their” servers, and it’s just a big messy pain. In addition to that I thought I got an email last month that SezWho was going out of business anyway due to lack of funding. There’s a waste of my time, and a waste tracking all those comments down the toilet now.

What does “Backtype” do?

What Backtype does is different, it just discovers other comments about your blog pages in Twitter, FriendFeed, Digg, Reddit, and even other blogs. Then it creates actual comments within your WordPress blog with that information adding to the coversation on your blog. You can choose to review and approve them (or not) and also whether to group them with your comments or in a block right after.

We all know that blogs that are more active get higher search rankings, and having more (valid) comments builds the credibility of your pages. Backtype naturally shows if there is a buzz about your pages and where that buzz is coming from by attributing the source each time.

Here’s an example of a comment Backtype added to my blog:

Backtype example

This is the format that Backtype adds the comments and you can see the last line “this comment was originaly posted on Twitter”. Backtype doesn’t interfere with other comment enhancing plugins like Subscribe to Comments or CommentLuv at all

The argument “against” Backtype

Check out the comments on this Backtype blog page and you’ll see that some people aren’t too happy about this plugin at all. They see what Backtype does as no different than “scraping” content from other pages without peoples permission.

I guess there’s a thread of truth to that – when you make a comment on someone’s blog you don’t expect to see that content lifted and posted yet again on another site. But then again, if I post say on WeblogtoolsCollection about a plugin and my comments is posted on the original plugin page (with attribution)- what’s the harm?

Really is there any difference between this and posting a tweet and having it accessible through 30,000 other tweet re-tweet and search-tweet sites? I guess that’s a debate for another day, just know that people are talking about it. I say when you comment anywhere anymore you know that you’re part of the “social conversation” of the web anyway.

Conclusion

I think that Backtype is a promising little plugin and I like what it does. In addition it doesn’t seem to slow down either my posting time or page loads like SezWho and Disqus did, and if I “ditch” Backtype in a month – I still get to keep all the additional comments that it created on my blog with nothing lost at all. I recommend you try it out – you’ve got nothing to lose.

Download Backtype Here