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IDEA #29 – Your Vyous (comments) on Any Webpage

“Vyous” as mentioned before is a domain I own — it stands for ‘your views’ or ‘views by you’. The following idea might suit this domain well.

Quick Summary: I know there is commentful, co.mments and cocomment, but they aren’t what I’m suggesting here. I’m looking to create a community on a proposed website that pulls in thousands (millions?) of RSS feeds, has a webpage for every single article [headline, 100 chars], and allows users to comment on it. There’d be a browser plugin as well, to easily show users reading an article page on CNN, that there are 5 comments at this proposed website; and allow them to quickly comment; … then there’d be some social networking as well (allowing users of the site to communicate with each other; and would highlight comments on a webpage by people in your ‘network’). Even if you’re not a person that comments on things, I think a lot of people read comments if the article is of interest to them.

The Problem: One of my biggest qualms is when news articles or posts don’t allow you to comment on them. In particular, Pitchfork, which is THE indie music news website, doesn’t allow for comments on anything. It’s complete bullshit, because they are very opinionated themselves — and I know there’s lots of people out there that agree and disagree passionately with them on a variety of things (such as this 1.9 out of 10 review of Damien Rice’s latest CD). On that example, I want to be heard that Pitchfork can… (expletive; expletive; etc).

Another example is CNN — last night was the oscars, I’d love to see people’s comments on this news article.

The How: Obviously for this dream of mine to come true, it’d have to be an external service. Likely you’d have a browser plugin installed — much like one of these potential competitors: Google’s Blogger Web Comments, SiteSays, and Webride.

blogger-web-comments.gif

Market Opportunity: Now, although I find this as a necessary need on the web — maybe it really isn’t. There’s a passionate community at TechCrunch, but despite ~273,000 subscribers (which Fred Wilson points out is likely 50,000 active readers) — there is typically less than 50 comments on posts (the most I feel I’ve seen was like 160). Does that mean there really isn’t a need? I know that Pitchfork is very opinionated — and music listeners (readers) of that website, can be very opinionated themselves regarding one of Pitchfork’s album reviews.

Misc related features (if you comment on these features, refer to them in the comments as ‘Feature 5:’):

  1. Comments can be text, audio, or video.
  2. MyBlogLog type features — regarding leaving your trace/footprint that you were recently at a webpage (and whether you left any ‘vyous’ on that page).
  3. Eventually create a huge directory of topics where people can mouth-off [even live chat]
  4. People select a type of comment they are leaving — discussion, idea, rant, rave.
  5. Opacity of the pop-up can be altered; whether it expands all the way vertical can be altered
  6. Pop-up: highlight comments by your friends/network or people whose comments you have agreed with in the past or simply liked
  7. Embed widget to display your latest footprints
  8. Widget to display last comments you’ve left
  9. Ability to view footprints of others that you like/network/friends
  10. Ability to view singles or people near you, that have searched same page or similar ones
  11. Ability to leave anonymous comments — but they are +/- as well
  12. Display webpage title in this box, so user knows they are commenting on it; or the rss feed title — if on homepage, maybe it recognizes what article being viewed right now?
  13. User able to right-click on a link and comment?
  14. Our website will have a webpage for every webpage we’re allowing “vyous” on — we’ll index the title of the webpage with 100 characters of the webpage (blog post) — http://www.calacanis.com/2006/10/22/newsgator-is-not-stealing-our-content/ — “To be very clear with everyone in the industry: WE DO NOT ALLOW ADVERTISING AGAINST OUR *FULL* RSS FEEDS. If you want to put ads against our feeds you *must* use the headline feeds and no more than the first 100 characters of the post.”
  15. Social networking — create a profile; add as much as you want (myspace url, flickr, digg, slashdot) …. ability to add friends [email even if they dont have ]; see comments on pages by friends, see comments by people around where you live; see comments by people you’ve liked comments on in past; see what webpages your friends have been looking at OR commenting on.
  16. Blog readers — integrate?
  17. Flag people that you liked the commentary or didn’t
  18. What? music, politics, current news, tech news, sports —– agree or disagree? —– bear or bull?
  19. Focus is allowing discussion on articles, particularly that don’t allow discussing
  20. Leave comments on MySpace pages w/o being a friend of that person
  21. When on a page, also show blog results that link to that page —- highlight blogs I like and/or people’s comments I like
  22. Subscribe to notifications of new comments to a page via us or by a username anywhere
  23. Users select privacy level — all, none, friends — to view: my comments, pages i have visited (right now)
  24. Like last.fm, “friends and neighbors”.
  25. Others that have visited a page — singles; located near you.

Question for all: Why hasn’t SiteSays or Webride taken off?

IM conversation with Marshall Kirkpatrick on 12/14/06 —
Steve: do you know of any services out there that are allowing commenting on any news article / blog post? For example, you can’t comment on CNN.com articles — because they don’t let you… Also, www.pitchforkmedia.com is basically the TechCrunch equivalent to the indie-music world — they post record reviews, but users can’t comment on the posts [they gave a recent album a 1.9 out of 10, which i loved]. I know there is commentful, co.mments and cocomment, but they aren’t what I’m looking to do.. I’m looking to create a community on my website that pulls in thousands (millions?) of RSS feeds, has a page for every single article [headline, 100 chars], and allows users to comment on it. There’d be a browser plugin as well, to easily show users on an article page on CNN that there are 5 comments at my website; and allow them to quickly comment; .. then there’d be some social networking.
Marshall: http://www.majornetworknews.com/show/group/cnn
Marshall: that’s a very sparse version
Steve: ok yeah — something similar to this
Marshall: or
Marshall: http://www.techcrunch.com/2006/10/19/campus-reader-aggregates-college-news/
Steve: so they are doing it niche-style
Steve: and i think niches are the way to go.. but i’m thinking big sha-bang here
Marshall: right on
Steve: yeah they seem offline – http://www.campusreader.com/
Marshall: just very slow
Steve: you think there’s a need?
Steve: even if you’re not a person that comments on things.. i think a lot of people read the comments if the article is of interest to them
Marshall: totally
Marshall: the browser plug in would be key
Steve: absolutely
Steve: and small things like if you go direct to my webservice from an article page, we’d attempt to grab the referral URL and throw you to the comment page
Marshall: yeah, I don’t know how much need there is there. could be
Marshall: othersonline.com is one to check out too. I covered them at TC
Steve: I think there is opportunity here; 3 competitors [1 webride, appears to be dead w/traffic]… google’s blogger web comments [only finds blogger blogs that talk blog about the webpage]… and sitesays [which seems dead w/traffic]
Marshall: could be interesting. many sites without comments have forums though
Marshall: I think you should give a long hard look at how much demand there is as well
Marshall: but if you think there is, then I think you’ve got a good approach
Steve: like this page — i want to rip this writer to shreds, but have no way to do so ..
Steve: well, i want to do it in a fashion where others chime in as well :)
Marshall: I am not saying there is no demand, but I’ll be curious to see how much
Steve: yeah — and how to tap into getting users to install the plugin

  • http://anthonynemitz.com Anthony Nemitz

    I was a bit skeptical about the idea at first, mainly due to my laziness in fiddling with browser plugins and services such as del.icio.us. However, if I was able to read and comment on pages which had no internal commenting system I think it could be a real hit. One thing that may be interesting would be a Sphere for comments to cross reference what other commenters are talking about on different sites. Webmasters could also have the option of installing a widget on their sites to get embedded comment support.

  • Grant Bowskill

    This is definitely an interesting idea. I run a site called Political Opinions (http://politicalopinions.co.uk or http://us.politicalopinions.co.uk) which acts as a feedreader to around 500 political blogs. Part of the idea was to make it easier for people to discuss politics, I initially had a commenting system built in so people could leave a comment after every article but from feedback I had from various Political blogs I removed this feature because they felt that such a service would detract from there own community.

    I think the only way to make your idea work is to cooperate with the community. If this music site doesn’t want commenting and you find a way around that, whats to say they won’t block your site reading their feeds?

    What would be great is a centralised commenting system that can easily be added to any site or replace a sites current commenting system, something a bit like: http://js-kit.com/ but because its centralised, your site would take care of all spam protection, filtering, avatars and stuff.

    Spotting spam would be easier because you can see patterns across a much wider network. What would be cool is if the whole thing were based on OpenID. Throw in some ajax for good measure and this could be great.

  • http://www.thejshow.com Jeremy Kandah

    I think I see this. I think its great to have 3rd party comments on a site, but I feel that no one will ever let this happen. I guess I would see it as a plugin for the browser. Or maybe a portal site that puts the site into a frame and puts comments on the side or something similar.

  • http://boldlygoing.com James D Kirk

    Almost seems like a joint venture between a MBL type and a coComment type of service. Or at least the licensing of their services, which could be a good branding op.

    Jeremy has a good point in that if you are a site that doesn’t have commenting for whatever reason, why would you allow this sort of service? So, “getting around that” could be key. Is it possible for browser extension to usurp the “will” of the site owner? (and Anthony, installing Firefox extensions is pretty much a no brainer 😉 )

    Key’s here would seem to be creating different levels of involvement both by the site owner/admin, as well as by the systems users (commentors).

    Another idea from my yellow pad would also fit in with this one at this point: I had conceptualized being able to track the spread of comments or rather the trackback/pingback threads that start in the blogosphere and ripple out from the original post. I’d love to have access to a service that followed that aspect of a conversation.

    As a user, I’d install a browser plugin that might pop up a window that was ad supported in order to get access to some of these features. Would you?

  • http://boldlygoing.com James D Kirk

    Almost seems like a joint venture between a MBL type and a coCommenttype of service. Or at least the licensing of their services, which could be a good branding op.

    Jeremy has a good point in that if you are a site that doesn’t have commenting for whatever reason, why would you allow this sort of service? So, “getting around that” could be key. Is it possible for browser extension to usurp the “will” of the site owner? (and Anthony, installing Firefox extensions is pretty much a no brainer 😉 )

    Key’s here would seem to be creating different levels of involvement both by the site owner/admin, as well as by the systems users (commentors).

    Another idea from my yellow pad would also fit in with this one at this point: I had conceptualized being able to track the spread of comments or rather the trackback/pingback threads that start in the blogosphere and ripple out from the original post. I’d love to have access to a service that followed that aspect of a conversation.

    As a user, I’d install a browser plugin that might pop up a window that was ad supported in order to get access to some of these features. Would you?

  • http://www.vestedventures.com Steve Poland

    This proposed browser plugin wouldn’t care about the website it is on — any webpage will be able to be commented on; no way this could get blocked [website can’t see that user has our plugin installed; so they can’t ban the user].

    As for banning us from pulling the RSS from a site — not possible; we’d pull it from a different source. If it’s out there [which it is], we’d grab it elsewhere.

    You guys are all big on this tracking comments across multiple websites — have you looked at the comment services I’ve mentioned above? I can’t see a conversation taking place across tons of websites — why would this happen?

  • http://boldlygoing.com James D Kirk

    My apologies for not being clearer. The “conversation” I am referring to is simply that “thread” that occurs naturally when a number of bloggers “pick up the story off the wire” and post on it to their sites. So, the conversation I’d like to see tracked is the various “name-brand” (or not) bloggers that talk about whatever the original post topic was on.

  • http://www.vestedventures.com Steve Poland
  • MikeD

    My little ShopTalk sidebar for Firefox does the ‘comment on a page’ part. https://addons.mozilla.org/firefox/4039/
    One of the missing pieces (which I had thought of a while ago but not implemented, because I’m lazy) would be a site that stores these comment messages to make them available in other forms and formats. There are several technical wrinkles with trying to figure out if different viewers are viewing the ‘same page’ – lots of sites use session IDs or other junk in the URLs. It would be nice to have sites publish a ‘topic map’ that told clients how to throw away the junk to get the authoritative page identifier.

  • http://www.meshtennis.com Chris Keller

    Hey Steve, one service that could already technically do this in an interesting way was one that was covered on TechCrunch a while back. It basically let you have discussions on any web page (and the same or a different company let you put sticky notes over the webpage). The trick was that while you were looking at the same web page, it was using a unique URL on their domain (i.e. http://www.hiddencomments.com/http://www.techquilashots.com/steves post about comment)

    You should ask Mike A. about that one…

  • rulepark

    I think the most important thing is like this. EVERY and ANY article that you came across can be comment and be discuss among the readers. Also make sure that, a track record for the user so that user can trace back the comments.

    You can’t make it as a website. More like a feed and a pluggin to a browser. Or, something like “RIGHT CLICK to comment “.

    It would be really great to see others reacting to it.

    Always, next thing I would consider is the whole business model of this technology. How do we earn money from it? To be practically maintaining the service, there should be money coming in. Any suggestion? Any points? Any ways?

  • Kevin

    Forget the comments site, you should start damienricefanclub.com. :)

    What if instead of a single Vyous page for every article, there would be a single Vyous page for every *topic*? The page would be dynamically created from articles, blog posts, comments, wikipedia entries, etc..

    For example, there would be a Vyous page for “Damien Rice”. The page would be laid out like a newspaper (i.e. nytimes.com) – articles from Pitchfork, Spin, Rolling Stones, a blog post from a top music blogger, and the wikipedia entry for Damien Rice. These pages would be automatically created once enough buzz is generated around a topic. Think techmeme on steroids.

    Users could comment on any of the articles or blogs, or post a comment on the whole thing. Now let’s say you visited Pitchfork. The plug-in would list Vyous comments from both the individual article, the Vyous comments from the Vyous page, and links to any of the sites/blogs/wikipedia entries that used on the Vyous page.

  • http://www.cooee.de Roman

    A couple of days ago I found this: http://www.zpeech.com
    Is this what you kindof had in mind? I’m toying with the idea of building a similar service myself, including more multimedia-features etc.

  • http://www.cocomment.com Max

    That’s the great article, couple years ago a spellchecker tools were available on the net: if you have found a mistype or missed comma you were free to highlight the text and press CTRL+T to send a fragment to the website editors, that helped make content clearer.

    I think same ide might be implemented with comments — found something — highlight+comment and then share with friends see what others are saying etc.

    Thanks for a great article.

  • http://www.cocomment.com/comments/nicolasd nicolas dengler

    by coComment we already have a first approach for this. We call it meta-conversation. It’s the ability to comment on any website. We open an internal window on the website where you can add you comment. Check it out at wwww.cocomment.com, click the “discuss this page” on the top left. You can have the same functionality if you add the firefox extension or the bookmarklet. Other people can then see your comments on any website and participate to these conversations if they also use the service. An interesting thing id also the fact that you can then display these comments on your blog via the comment-widget. It’s the idea of “filtering” the web and have conversations everywhere.

    We did not really promote this idea so far because we’re working on a new version of it. We definitely think this will be something great and we want to make it more community oriented. We are adding the group approach to the service so that it’s going to be easier to share conversations (on blogs, forums, flickr… or any website) with your buddies or any interested person. We really think this is going to be really great; in a sense, it will be another way to share interesting links and have a conversation on them directly in the context. We also think that it’s important to have different levels, being able to have different conversations on the same page, some of them being “private” (only for group members) and a main public one.

    Basically our approach it to support conversations where they exists (help you to track and share them), and give you the choice to create conversations where they don’t exist (enabler). I hope this will be the right answer to your question :)

  • http://www.vestedventures.com Steve Poland

    Somewhat duplicate of initial idea, but some additional details:
    I’d like to know who from my network has commented on a particular post. If I’m reading a post, or visiting a website — I’d really love to see what my friends/family/colleagues and/or those I admire, have to say about it — those comments should be highlighted so I can quickly scan them.

    Some features:

    1. Every page of every site is commentable
    2. friend/network comments are highlighted; +/- comments; view +/- comments by your friends/network
    3. display blogs/webpages linking to that page
    4. view last people to visit that page; friends/network; by location, sex, age, marital status.
    5. votes: must read, ok, waste (why is it a waste? or recommend alternate)
    6. activity of +’s of a page get it ranked
    7. comments also ranked and appear on homepage of our site (so people can view the top comments and view the article that the comment was placed on
  • http://www.stickis.com Marc Meyer

    Came across this discussion quite late, but I think Stickis, our product has the promise to fulfill much of your vision. Stickis introduces a meta-web layer over all pages for any user, which it fills with content/rich commentary from users you opt into.
    We’re still in the initial stages of how you opt into (very important so this doesn’t become a third-voice like graffiti vehicle) others’ information, as for now the model is strictly “add a friend” to see what they say anywhere on the web.

    Our roadmap includes creating groups which one will be able to sign up for to see anyone’s annotation in groups one belongs to, anywhere on the web.

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  • Thamil Selvan P

    There was a company ThirdVoice.com who used to do this but died during the dot com bust. http://web.archive.org/web/19991013034242/http://thirdvoice.com/