Keeping up with comment threads across sites?
May 4, 2006 7:23 PM   Subscribe

How do I keep up with interesting comment threads across sites?

I already use an RSS aggregator to keep up with site-posted content, but sometimes I want to know what has been posted to a comment thread since I last read the comments. The problem is that I don't always remember which site it was on, or how to get back to it. I know most activity drops off once things scroll off the front page, so I really am looking for a way to scrape the comments for a given URL or forum thread and keep them all in one place so I know what's happening where. This problem would be solved if you could subscribe to a feed for any thread on any site, but since that's not possible, what's the next best thing?
posted by Mr. Gunn to Computers & Internet (18 answers total)
I keep a "links" directory on my desktop, and drag-and-drop any URLs like that into it when I first visit. The directory displays in reverse-creation-time-order so I see the most recent entries on top.

It just takes a bit of discipline, but pretty soon it becomes habit. Every once in a while I go in and delete the old ones I no longer care about.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 8:16 PM on May 4, 2006

That's the intent of the CoComment service. I'm not sure if they have it perfected yet, however.
posted by slhack3r at 8:20 PM on May 4, 2006

It's pretty web 1.0, but you could just bookmark the interesting stuff.
posted by moift at 8:25 PM on May 4, 2006

Some websites have comments feeds as well.

Seconding what moift said, I have a folder in my bookmarks called "temporary" and that's where I put stuff like that.
posted by IndigoRain at 9:11 PM on May 4, 2006

RSSPECT lets you create RSS feeds for any URL you choose.
posted by Robot Johnny at 9:21 PM on May 4, 2006

Best answer: In the same vein as RSSPECT, PolyFish also lets you make any webpage into an RSS feed. I haven't used it yet, but I just read about it on lifehacker and it seemed a good time to mention it, as the LH crowd say that it is particularly easy to use.
posted by ranglin at 9:57 PM on May 4, 2006

BTW, it would be really nice if MetaFilter had an RSS feed for each comments page as well. I really love it with!
posted by ranglin at 9:59 PM on May 4, 2006

I keep a folder in my bookmarks bar titled "temp." Every time I come across an interesting discussion in MeFi or elsewhere, I drop the URL into it. I clean this folder out at least every morning, certainly before I begin my daily routine of checking all my favorites (MeFi, AskMe, Craigslist, etc.)
posted by invisible ink at 10:51 PM on May 4, 2006

note: I am on Safari on Mac OSX 10.4.6. But I'm sure this method can be duplicated on other platforms, probably with Firefox.
posted by invisible ink at 10:53 PM on May 4, 2006

Best answer: does the job beautifully, although I'd steer clear of their RSS feed - just check their website.
posted by tommorris at 12:09 AM on May 5, 2006

I too face this problem. The good news is most popular forum software (IPB, vBulletin, PHPBB) let you receive instant email notifications when a thread you have posted in receives a reply. However, this only works if you create an account and stay logged in, but personally I do that anyway as I like the features of being able to disable the display of sigs and change the default number of posts per page to the highest possible. Also, I don't think this email notification is the default setting even once you create an account, so you may have to visit the control panel to set it once.

That takes care of forums, but it doesn't help for blogs. The way I handle those is mostly the way everyone else here has mentioned, by just noting the URL somewhere. Personally I use a TiddlyWiki for this, but you can do it however you like: bookmarks, text file, etc.
posted by Rhomboid at 3:21 AM on May 5, 2006

I'll second - it works well with every site I've tried it with (unlike CoComment).

On MetaFilter, I sometimes use the rather splendid MetaRSS to keep track of new comments to threads I've posted or commented in.
posted by jack_mo at 4:29 AM on May 5, 2006

I use an RSS aggregator (FeedDemon) that allows me to "flag" a post. I just flag the ones I've replied to, and use the flagged filter to review which posts I want to check in on at a later date.
posted by Merdryn at 6:09 AM on May 5, 2006

Response by poster: Thanks everyone. I knew something like this had to exist. I was looking for something exactly like co.mments or CoComment. Unfortunately, the firefox bookmarklet for co.mments just spits out a bunch of code when I click on it. Looks like maybe there's a parenthesis where there shouldn't be. The first line starts with (function() {.

Ponyfish works as expected, but you have to more or less manually specify the wildcard part of the url for each comment, and therefore only works for sites which permalink each comment. Thankfully, most do. I really like that it allows you to create feeds without signing up for an account. I think it's a useful feature that the feeds get deleted after not reading them for 7 days unless you save them.

MetaRSS does certainly do the job for this site specifically, and with the greasemonkey script, it's one click bookmarking.

Thanks to everyone for the ideas.
posted by Mr. Gunn at 8:38 AM on May 5, 2006

Response by poster: Ok, so I'm just posting this here to see if the tracking is working. You should temporarily disable greasemonkey before installing the bookmarklet, but this may not be necessary if you're not running any scripts that mess with javascript links. Also, the track page at shows the post, but reports that there are no comments in the thread.

I'll post later as I test out cocomment's firefox extension, which looks promising.
posted by Mr. Gunn at 10:49 AM on May 5, 2006

co.mments doesn't track everything, but it'll do most blog comments.
posted by tommorris at 1:39 AM on May 6, 2006

Response by poster: I have heard from the developer of co.mments that his bookmarklet now works with firefox you have a greasemonkey issue), and properly pulls all comments. In short, it works well without all the clicking required by ponyfish, although Ponyfish is more powerful, so it would be the second choice if co.mments doesn't work.

I never really figured out what the cocomment extension was supposed to be doing, but as far as I could tell, it did nothing.
posted by Mr. Gunn at 3:17 PM on May 6, 2006

This is a hugely late test post (2007) to see how cocomment works now....
posted by mmahaffie at 8:53 AM on February 19, 2007

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