Am I missing something, or is blog commenting still immature? I read about 80 blogs currently, and do it mostly through an RSS reader (Thunderbird), as it’s the only way to keep up with that volume. It’s straightforward to keep up with the posts themselves - they appear in a separate list for each blog, typically sorted by time posted (at least that’s the way Thunderbird presents them).
Commenting, on the other hand, is a different matter. On my own blog it’s not too bad: if someone posts a comment about one of my posts, or in reply to comments I’ve made, I get notified by email, because I’m the owner of the blog, and Wordpress (which seems pretty close to the state-of-the-art in blogging software) sends an email to tell me that’s happened. Even on my own blog, though, there is no notion of hierarchy to comments: they just appear in a stream (in other words, there is no notion of ‘replying’ stored with a comment). This can make pulling out longer threads of conversation tricky.
If I make a comment on someone else’s blog, though, I get no notification at all. Many blogs provide no way of keeping up with the comments: I have to go and check all the posts I’ve been interested in, on the web, to check whether anyone has added anything to them. Even when the blogging software provides an RSS feed for comments, like Wordpress does, the comments for all the posts are lumped together - there is no separation by the post they apply to - primarily, I think, because neither RSS nor Atom provide the notion of hierarchies in the entries syndicated. This also means I have to subscribe to two RSS feeds for blogs where I’m interested in both the posts and the comments.
Currently, these things aren’t a major issue for me, more an annoyance, as I tend to only comment on (and be interested in the comments on) a few blogs, but if I spent more of my time reading blogs, this would really begin to get on my nerves. I also avoid commenting sometimes because I think I’ll forget to check the reply. This is what makes me wonder whether I’ve missed something: how do other people cope with this? Maybe I’m expecting too much: I have an mental model whereby I want the RSS reader to act in a similar manner as a newsgroup reader by notifying me of the new comments, attached to the post or comment that they apply to. Maybe that’s more than the designers of RSS had in mind.