Comments sections are increasingly where the conversation is and confining comments to a single site is anachronistic. If comments are to have their place in the greater conversation they need to be allowed to roam free and return to you with friends. So if you are serious about comments and about the conversations they convey, it is time to step up to the plate and do something about it.
Make comments social
I’ve used CoComment for a while now and it tracks comments you post to blogs and their responses over a period of time. For a while it was one of the very few services that went some way to keeping me engaged in a conversation through comments on a blog even though the interface through my browser was a little clunky and painful at times.
Disqus integrates into most major blogging platforms and creates a kind of social overlay on top of your existing commenting functionality (at least, that is how I understand it). Disqus users can track conversations they are participating in on Disqus enabled sites across the Web and share those conversations with their contacts and followers on services like FriendFeed. Disqus turns your comments into more effective conversation pieces and enables your commentators to engage in conversations that they can track and contribute to even if they are not on your site.
It gets better because Disqus integrates with Facebook Connect and Seesmic so you can not only comment on the site itself but also feed your comments directly back to your Seesmic stream or your Facebook public stream too. Oh, Disqus comments can also sync with FriendFeed (another great conversation tool you may be underestimating).
Mashable is currently testing the next iteration of Disqus which aggregates comments about your posts elsewhere on the Web in the comments section of your blog. Just take a look at the Mashable post for more about this and for an illustration of how this looks in practice. If you still think I am drinking the Disqus Koolaid, read Fred Wilson’s post about why you should use Disqus.
I just started playing around with another service that takes the comments-based conversation to a new level. Ever hear of a service called Backtype? I saw something about it recently and created a profile in case something came up in future. It wasn’t until I listened to an old episode of TWiT that I realised what a cool service it really is. Backtype heads off on to the Web armed with a little information about you and finds out where you have been commenting about stuff. It then creates a kind of comments lifestream using that data. You can set up keyword alerts (very similar interface to Google Alerts) that let you know when people actually talk about you in comments.
It is certainly a departure from the humdrum site specific comments so why not check these cool tools out? Another tool to take a look at is IntenseDebate (a bit like Disqus). Of course you may not be all that interested in what other people have to say (which is ok, I guess).