OpenID allows us to verify that the person visiting and commenting on our sites relates to, or owns, a specific URL. This is wildly useful, and I'm looking forward to seeing it more widely adopted as soon as possible (OpenID on this site is in testing still but will be up and running soon!).
I was thinking about OpenID the other day, and one other problem that we are currently experiencing. People know that commenting on other sites will increase their exposure. Lots of people know that. So popular posts on popular sites receive a huge number of comments. Partly because they are good posts, and partly because people know a comment in the right place can be a major draw for traffic.
This creates a visibility problem. It's difficult to spot the good commenters (or good comments) in among the mess at the end of most articles. It's even harder to spot comments from people that you know personally, or whose comments you enjoy reading.
- A site uses OpenID for commenter identities.
- This frame includes a rating for that commenter, a link to a profile for that commenter, and rating buttons.
- The profile includes whatever the commenter wants to add - standard profile stuff.
- People can click the rating buttons in the frame, "Positive" or "Negative", to indicate how they feel about a specific comment.
- The combination of these clicks produces the overall commenter rating.
- People can also leave a note with their rating ("Comment is extra-smart") which is added to the commenter profile along with, ideally, a link to the original comment.
- People who leave ratings need to be validated with OpenID before they can rate another person's comments.
- People can opt out of the system.
- A quick call to the system could grab the commenter (or comment) rating and change the display accordingly, allowing a skim-reader to quickly pick out the best comments from a thread.
- People would get feedback on their comments!
- Would be possible for individuals to set preferences within the system ("Always highlight comments from this person", "Always ignore comments from this person")
- People who leave worthless comments (quick one liners using keywords instead of names, just to boost their own search engine link-love) are easily spotted and ignored.
- Provides a path for non-A-list bloggers to become more widely read and A-list themselves.
- System is open to spamming - people can set up multiple OpenIDs to vote themselves up. Easily fixed though - IP and cookie tracking, plus a higher weighting given to commenters with certain characteristics (member more than a year, consistently highly rated comments, rate lots of other people, don't just give high ratings when they do rate, etc).
- Revenge rating (where someone leaves a negative rating and the person slighted then does the same back despite actual comment quality) could be a problem.
- "Cliques" could easily form.
- It may dissuade genuine people from leaving negative comments on popular blogs for fear of fanboy-revenge.
I'm not entirely sure how much of a difference this could make. It would require a wider adoption of OpenID (definitely a good thing), and adoption on the larger blogs and blog networks. However, were such a system to exist and be used, I think its benefits would be enormous. I'd be very interested in hearing your thoughts.