Take control of your comment history with Backtype

In my 11th grade history classroom, a poster of a large Rooster hung on the wall with a caption that read, “What do you call someone who gets his girlfriend pregnant and then flies the coop?” I am not making this up. And it does have a point.

I often read blog posts, occasionally make comments, and then never return to the original post to see what conversation has transpired. I never subscribe to the RSS feed for a post’s comments and usually uncheck the box asking if I want to be notified of follow-up comments via e-mail. I cut and run. I wouldn’t call myself a chicken, as it’s more of a lack-of-time thing than an I’m-too-scared-to-see-what-other-people-said-after-me situation. But admittedly I’m not very good at staying engaged in conversation at a blog once I’ve made my initial comment. I don’t like having to bounce all over the Web to different sites, trying to remember where I’ve left comments. Enter BackType.

backtypelogoBackType is part comment aggregator, part monitoring tool, and part online community. You create an account (mine is here) and add your avatar, web address, and profile information. Then you enter all of the Web addresses you’ve ever listed when leaving comments on blogs. For me, this included my old and new blog sites, my Twitter address, and my Unhub address. BackType then crawls blog posts to find comments that you’ve made and allows you to “claim” them under your profile so that they are credited to you. You can also do a search on your name and claim other comments that you’ve made. It gathers all of your comments into your profile, where you can share, tweet, permalink to them, or click back to the original post. It gives you a fantastic line of sight to all of the comments you’ve made on blogs, all from one simple interface.

From a monitoring standpoint, BackType also allows you to search blog comments for terms and keywords, so you can monitor your brand, business, or personal reputation and see what’s being said about it in blog comments. I tested this out by typing, ahem, “Georgia Bulldogs” into the search box and BackType returned 93 blog comments from a variety of blogs. You can sign up to have an e-mail alert or RSS feed on your search terms delivered or just view them via the dashboard when you login to BackType.

BackType also includes a social networking aspect in that you can friend other BackType users and see what comments they’re making on blogs. The most followed people on BackType are who you’d expect: Chris Brogan, Robert Scoble, Jason Calacanis, Jeremiah Owyang, etc. It’s a great way to see what comments people are making throughout the blogosphere without actually having to run all around the blogosphere. Additional features include BackTweets, which allows you to search links on Twitter, and BackType Connect, which tracks links from other social services. The service launched last summer and announced these two new features earlier in March.

chickIt’s so easy to lose track of conversations on the Web, especially with the variety of channels for sharing and exchanging information and opinions. The comments section of a blog post is often an arena for heated discussions. If you leave a single comment and never return, you may not even realize that the seed you planted with your comment spurred follow-on comments or in-depth reflections. BackType allows you an easy way to check in with comments you’ve made and see what’s developed. It also creates yet another online presence for your “personal brand” and can show others who visit your BackType profile where and how you’re engaging and what contributions you’re making.

So don’t be a chicken. Don’t comment and run. Use BackType to stick around and see what’s born out of your ideas.

Hat tip to David Spinks. Image from Flickr user JOE M500

2 thoughts on “Take control of your comment history with Backtype

  1. Thanks for writing about this as I’ve been trying to calm my irritation with Backtype by researching its significance. I don’t have an issue with wanting to see who comments after me, as many blogs don’t have that feature unless I join the site. What I don’t appreciate is being forced to claim comments by joining Backtype. Then being unable to remove the comments from Backtype. I have no desire for all of my comments to be in one PUBLIC place without an option to modify it. While I realize the web is open, this seems like an great site for stalkers and employers.

    • Backtype allows you to remove any comment from your profile with a single click. If there are comments you make that you don’t want appearing in your Backtype profile, you can easily remove them. However, as you alluded to in your comment, this doesn’t remove them from the Web entirely. Any blog comment you make lives on and is searchable, so while not including it in your Backtype profile might mean it’s not quite as easy to find and attribute to you, it’s still out there for people to find. All blog comments are, by nature, public. With that in mind, I generally try to make sure that anything I publish to the Web (blog posts, comments, Twitter updates, etc.) would be palatable for my boss and my mother. That guideline seems to keep me in check. ;-)