Archive of "Commentosphere"

Archive for the "Commentosphere" Category

Commentosphere – Importer and Userscript

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After much trouble and headaches with the speed of the Ning backend, the Commentosphere Delicious Importer is working! Numerous recent updates and optimizations to Ning seem to have greatly increased the speed of the backend, which was what was dragging down the original. I created a test app clone of Commentosphere and successfully imported 70 comments from some test data Johan sent me awhile back to make sure that it really was working this time.

There is also now a Greasemonkey userscript for posting to Commentosphere! Based off of Johan’s commentblogging userscript, it adds a link to all comment post pages on Blogger blogs that links to the Add a Comment form on Commentosphere, already filled in with the necessary information for your new comment. One thing I would like to add to the script is the ability to select parent comments from the comment page, instead of having to get that data manually if you want it. It is still recommended to run with both the userscript and the bookmarklet — for posting comments from non-Blogger blogs.

Commentosphere – Name, URL, Some Other Thoughts

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I have decided that, at this early stage at least, the name for Commentosphere is rather immaterial. The URL, is sufficiently abstract, I think, to be maintained no matter what the service ends up being called. Even though the scope of the service may well prove to be outside that of blog comments, the URL works well enough for (as they may be termed) comments on forums and other things as well. Should a move be in order it will be dealt with when the time comes, but I think that, for now at least, the current URL will suffice.

I have been talking some with Yoz Grahame (from Ning) about Commentosphere. Most of this discussion has centred around the methods of getting data into the service. A summation of the results follows, and I will be quick to point out that most of this idea is his with only minor additions of my own.

Write a JavaScript piece that is hosted on Commentosphere and can be included by blog owners in their pages. Then, on the occurance of a comment posting form in the page, a function defined in this JavaScript can be called with a reference to the comment form itself, and to the names of the necessary fields (comment content, poster name) and other data (page title, page url, these cannot be pulled by the JavaScript itself because the script may be running on the blog’s main page). The script then alters the form to include a checkbox (defaultly checked) that turns on/off the automatic posting of any comments entered into that form to Commentosphere. Optionally, fields for tagging the comment and specifying parent(s) may be added by the script. Additionally, a small piece stating wheather or not the user is currently logged in on Ning will be inserted.

If the user is logged in, then when they post the comment to the blog it will automatically also be added to their account on Commentosphere by the method described below. If the user is not logged in, and chooses not to sign in (or has, indeed, no account) the comment will still be added, but to an anonymous account and merely have the user’s name (as specified in the appropriate place on the form) stored for display purposes.

For Blogger blogs that use the Blogger comments form, a simple Greasemonkey script will suffice to inject a script tag into the page calling this same script from Commentosphere with the appropriate data being supplied by the Greasemonkey script instead of the blog template.

The posting method runs as follows : An onsubmit handler is added to the comment posting form. When it is run it creates a new Image object and loads into in an image which is really the result of a PHP script running at Commentosphere. Data is pulled from the form and passed to this script via GET (so the URL to the ‘image’ would be something like The function loops until Image.complete is TRUE, and then returns TRUE, thus waiting until the request to Commentosphere has completed before submitting. If the user is logged in this cookie will be passed with the image request and the script will detect it and add the comment to the correct account. No popup windows.

I can find only one potential problem with this method, and that is that the comment’s permalink URL is not set until it has been posted into the blog system, so how could that be passed to the server beforehand? It warrants some thought, however, because if this worked it would make Commentosphere an almost seamless service.


Commentosphere Update

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After a bit of a rocky start Commentosphere seems to be operating normally. After talking a fair bit about the project and its scope with Johan of Ecmanaut, I have reduced the amount of data that needs to be input/stored for each comment and updated the labels/filters on some fields. As a result of this there is a new bookmarklet, so you may wish to switch to that. There are also now JSON feeds, with two callback options and a read-only XML API format for query pages.

Johan’s idea of calling the service ‘Webadict’ has been growing on me, but the one problem there is that it would probably require changing the URL of the service, which is just about impossible on Ning if you want to keep all your data as is.

The importer has been taken offline, as there were performance issue with the Ning backend that caused odd (and mostly useless) results. The Aggregator still has the same sorting problems, tag intersections are not yet supported, and the filter that finds children of the selected comment only works if the child comments have but one parent. These are the only four currently known glitches in the system, and it seems to be working admirably besides these.

I will be out of contact for just over a week, starting this Friday.



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I posted before about how some people are posting their comments to At that time I said that I thought the idea good, but would far prefer it if there were a service dedicated to this use, for reasons I listed. After some discussion on the subject, and seeing more and more how useful content is sometimes lost because it is in a comment somewhere, I decided to try my hand at implementing the idea myself.

So, using Ning as the hosting and codebase, I have developed Commentosphere. Yes, it’s a tacky name, if you have another suggestion I’m more than open to it 😉 Developing on Ning was an interesting first-time experiance, on which I plan to write a post later. Currently posting to the service is handled primarily by a bookmarklet available on the about page or the posting page, but I hope eventually to have some greasmonkey script’s based off of Johan of Ecmanaut‘s script for You must have a Ning account to add comments to the service.

For those people who have been tagged their comments on I have included an importer. Having, however, no comment data on myself I have not been able to properly test it, so feedback on this feature would be greatly appreciated!

Comments may be filtered by tag, user, what post they are on, what blog they are on, what parents they have (more on that below), or any combination of these. They are also fully searchable. Tag intersections do not work yet, but I am trying to fix that. Syndication is possible via RSS 2.0 or JavaScript (for inclusion in a blog sidebar, see mine) and there is a JavaScript Feed Generation tool. Other formats (including JSON) should be coming soon.

Comments are semi-threaded on Commentosphere. It works like this: when adding a comment you can specify the permalink URLs of one or more comments that this comment is a reply to. When viewing that comment in the app these ‘parent’ comments are listed and linked to. A link to ‘child’ comments is presented and, if clicked, will bring up a page of all comments who have that comment set as their parent. Multiple parents is currently a tag buggy, but that should be fixed soon.

Last but not least is the aggregator. The aggregator lets you add posts, blogs, tags, and users to monitor for comments. When a new comment is added to Commentosphere for any item you monitor, it will be added to your aggregator. For off-Commentosphere comments you have the option of adding an RSS comments feed that will also have its content mixed into the page. The page may itself be syndicated via RSS to allow you to monitor comments from blogs across the web without cluttering your reader with all the innumerable feeds. The aggregator currently has a known bug in that it does not sort the items in any way, and thus they end up chrological, but grouped by source. This is obviously not the desired behaviour and I am working to correct this.

And that, in a (large) nutshell, is it. More information can be found on the about page or the tips page. Testing and feedback on all features (especially the importer) would be greatly appreciated.