I’m reading that Automattic, the company behind WordPress and WordPress.com, as well as Akismet and Gravatar, has acquired IntenseDebate. The deal isn’t all that surprising, given the fact that several services offering more or less the same functionality have popped up the last few years. The most notable is probably Disqus, and it is in this sphere that IntenseDebate operates.
For those of you not familiar with IntenseDebate, it is basically a hosted comment solution for your blog, replacing the built-in comment functionality. This means that some features that are not available in, say WordPress, can be added, and that commenters can have one identity for all sites using the service. Other selling points are threaded comments, and e-mail functionality.
I can understand why Automattic acquires IntenseDebate. It is a good complement to especially Gravatar, another hosted service that more or less is the de facto standard for user avatars on WordPress blogs, and several other sites as well. If Automattic rolls out IntenseDebate across WordPress.com, their hosted blog platform, and then adds native support in the next WordPress version, just like they did with Gravatar, they’ll quickly push IntenseDebate forward. I believe it is a sound business decision.
However, I doubt I’ll use any hosted commenting service myself. Avatars is one thing, but the comments are content, and I prefer to have content under my own control, if it is to be displayed as a part of my blog. The main reasons for this is:
- What happens if the service gets canned? This could mean loss of comments, which would be very bad indeed. Sure, there are backup solutions, but still, it is a risk I’d rather be without.
- Speed. This applies to all hosted services, applications, widgets, and whatnots I put on my blog: If they are loading slow, my site will suffer, and there’s nothing I can do about it.
- Security and spam. Sure, the spam fighting plugins available isn’t perfect, but at least I have full control. What happens if someone hacks a commenting service, and what happens if a security exploit opens it up for spamming or worse? This is, again, outside of my control.
What do you think? Would you want to use a hosted comment solution like IntenseDebate or Disqus?