Echo, which provides a real-time commenting and Web-wide reactions aggregation system, has upgraded their Pro service today with what they are calling the first real-time recent comments widget.
The widget adds a more dynamic look to what is generally a somewhat stale part of a webpage (until you refresh), and is really targeted at major online publishers, which is Echo’s overall focus.
The widget is meant to replace existing, more static recent comments widgets. The name “recent comments”, however, doesn’t quite tell the whole story of what the widget provides, however – it actually pulls in all comments and Web-wide reactions to posts, such as tweets, Facebook status updates, etc.
While it’s nice to know that all of this information is coming in, after looking at a demo for a few minutes, we’d recommend that future versions include tabs at the top with comments left directly on the site (which is what more traditional recent comments widgets do), another tab for “Reactions”, and then possibly an “All” tab.
Right now, a comment / reaction shows the commenter’s avatar pic, the title of the post being commented on and the first few words or a sentence of the comment. When a visitor clicks on the comment, they are sent to the top of the page of the article, which is probably in the best interest of the site owner as they want their story to be read. However, we’d also like to suggest for future versions, ways to:
- Expand an individual comment right in the widget
- Expand the entire comment thread for the post within the widget (or perhaps just the thread associated with the specific comment, if there is one)
- Go directly to the exact comment on the post (i.e. which would also be in Echo’s commenting system)
The second point may be not too useful for very large sites, but for sites that have frequently returning commenters – i.e. if you visit a tech site and you see that Fred Wilson has left a comment [update: that's apparently pretty unlikely, see the comments below], you might want to go straight to his comment. This also becomes especially useful to returning visitors that have already read the article, and are more interested in the ongoing comment stream at that point. All of these recommendations, of course, would be left up to the site owner to decide which to implement.
Ok, enough suggestions – as it stands right now, this new widget from Echo is most likely the first of its kind, works very smoothly (as we’ve come to expect from all of Echo’s products) and should be a very welcome upgrade for both Echo’s existing list of impressive clients as well as future ones.