Comments are a strange part of blogging. I love ’em, and I hate ’em. The majority of comments I get seem to fall into the camp of: “Gee, Micah, I really liked what you wrote.”

But, the comments I love are the ones that extend the discussion. Sometimes those comments spill over onto Twitter, or direct emails, or lunch discussions the next day. And those are the comments that I would love to capture. Those comments I would love to extend beyond my blog. Those comments I would love to make interactive.

When I started to get back involved with the Colorado tech scene, I got to know one of the founders of Intense Debate, Josh Morgan. Fantasic guy. Clearly in over his head, but a hard worker. His partner, Jon Fox, is a brilliant developer, but needed direction. Still I really liked what they were doing.

So, I added Intense Debate.

After a couple of weeks, Intense Debate began to really bog down performance wise. Plus, it didnt have trackback support.  Knowing the guys, I finally made the decision to pull it off my blog, and go back to the default comments. I explained why (performance and lack of trachback support). I figured the default comment system would be good enough.

Over the months, I watched Disqus continue to grow and Intense Debate languish. “They will do what they are going to do,” I thought to myself. “I hope that ends up positive.”

And, Disqus continued to innovate and extend their reach. And, finally, Disqus got funded.

And while there has been minimal innovation with Intense Debate, Disqus has continued to add features and even developed an API (which as a non-technical person always means to me that one can do more cool stuff with the product).

And, even more importantly, more and more of the blogs that I interact with were using Disqus.

Still, I stayed loyal, and added no comment system to my blog.

Fast forward several months.

My blog has grown. Many times, I get a dozen or so comments on posts. Its no 100+ that some people get, but its more than 1 or 2. So, I started reviewing comment systems again.

For those that dont know, I run business development at Lijit Networks, and one of my roles is finding additional content sources for our technology to index. At Lijit, we are content agnostic. We will index any RSS/OPML feed or URL.

I often say, “Google wants to index everything. At Lijit, we only index the information you care about.” So, if you want to index Disqus or Intense Debate comments, we want to make it easy.

So, I emailed Daniel Ha over at Disqus and Tom Keller at Intense Debate.

Five minutes later, I got an email back offering development and business development support. Access to a private API, basically whatever we needed. (It didnt hurt that Daniel and his business partner were both UCDavis–my alma mater–*ahem* almost grads).

I was completely amazed at the speed and willingness of Daniel to make sure that the two companies worked well together and produced a superior integration.

And even then, I didnt add Disqus. I stayed true to my word, not adding any comment system.

This post: http://www.jangro.com/a/2008/04/08/hacking-disqus/ became the straw that broke the camel’s back for me personally.

Why? Because the community had begun to choose which comment system they wanted to use by hacking it, and if you read the comments, Daniel jumped right in and has taken some of the hacks, and integrated them into the system. Disqus had embraced the community right back.

Then, with the addition of video comments (something I want to play with, and would rather do than write a comment), Disqus became too good to not use.

So what does that mean? Its simple enough. In this world we all work in, if you dont embrace (and be embraced by the community) you cannot succeed. If you dont continually innovate, you cannot succeed.

Moral to the story: If you dont embrace the community, and you dont innovate, you die.

And that is why I chose to add Disqus comments to this blog. Will they stay? I dont know. It will depend on if Daniel and team continue down their current path. Could Intense Debate produce something that is interesting enough for me to walk away from Disqus? Sure, and frankly, I hope they do. But, for now, Disqus it is.