Saturday, May 30, 2009

Comments By Google

A couple of posts back I wrote about some techniques one can use to fight comment spam on their web site. Just recently, I ran into another technique, one that is all the rage in so many other business aspects: outsource it.

It turns out that Google has an interesting little service called Friend Connect. The features include comments, ratings, authentication and moderation tools to name a few. I haven't set it up yet nor read all there is to read, but I'd be willing to bet they also throw some of their great spam filtering technology built for GMail at the comments as well. An API exists so that developers can make use of the information tracked by Google to provide a more interactive experience. Think privileges determined by karma and such. And with a reasonably trustworthy third party writing a large chunk of your code, developers can focus on all the aspects of the site that deliver content instead.

The biggest downside to this approach, and it can be a biggie in some cases, is that all that social data is going to be housed in a remote database. That's probably OK for a great number of sites out there, but for some application, that may just be asking too much.

Another downside is that the look and feel is going to be limited unless you code all of your own controls against their API. That probably still does save some time. More importantly it means that you don't need to worry about the more demanding aspects of authentication. But once again, it means that outsourcing may not yield all the time saving benefits so many people think it will.

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