I'll get the problems out of the way first. Here are the issues I have encountered with IntenseDebate that need to be fixed before I could recommend the service without hesitation:
- IntenseDebate is supposed to be able to import comments stored in the default Blogger commenting system. I have tried this multiple times on both Atheist Revolution and Mississippi Atheists and have been unable to get it to work. After a considerable delay, I receive an error about how the server is taking too long to respond. This is a big problem that must be resolved before those using Blogger comments jump to IntenseDebate.
- One of the few things I liked better about Haloscan was that it made it very easy to view comments across all posts in the order in which they appeared. When I wanted to examine new comments across all posts, I could do so easily from one page. IntenseDebate seems limited to displaying only the 5 most recent comments. To see more, you have to go thread-by-thread. They need to have a page from which one can view all comments across all threads.
- After hearing about how it was coming for months, IntenseDebate has still not added trackback. This is a real puzzle, and I expect many Haloscan users will be reluctant to give this up. I know I was.
- A strength of IntenseDebate is that it allows for banning trolls based on IP or e-mail addresses. Unfortunately, they have also made this system fairly counterintuitive to use. It was only by accident that I stumbled on the solution. If you have a troll giving you trouble, use the "report" button next to the comment on your blog. This will send you an e-mail that contains the offender's IP address.
- The primary benefit of IntenseDebate over either Blogger comments or Haloscan is threaded comments. This was my initial attraction and what I consider to best reason to use IntenseDebate. It is so much easier for me to interact with commenters using this system, and it should facilitate discussions among commenters.
- I like the inclusion of the "report" button because it lets any reader notify me when they come across a troll. While I have been far more involved in interacting with my readers since moving to IntenseDebate, readers are likely to encounter a troll before I do. With this handy button, they can alert me of abusive comments, etc.
- Although I am still confused about how the comment voting and reputation systems work, I do like the idea of readers being able to vote up comments they find useful. I've been using this as well, regularly voting up comments that add to the discussion.
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