iComment is an interesting new freeware browser plugin which turns the whole web into a comment forum. Once installed you get the chance to comment on every web site you visit, just by clicking on the iComment icon in your browser bar.
There have been other attempts to do this kind of thing (e.g. Commentist, JumpKnowledge and Zspeech) but this version seems to have taken the idea a step further in terms of ease of use and accessibility. The install is a two second task and thereafter adding a comment is simply a matter of clicking on the button.
There are some nice touches too, like the ability to highlight text and comment only on that part, and you can also add a comment relating to an image. The fact that you can also add to other people’s comment thread, rate a comment and send personal messages to other commenters also adds to the whole utility of the package.
You access other’s comments by clicking on the little stickpin icons on the side of the web page you’re on, which again is nicely unobtrusive and yet clearly accessible. The use of User Profile pages is also a nice touch.
The big test of the service of course will be how it handles spam, and despite the fact that the community can rate spam comments instantly, it remains to be seen just how effective this will be. If they can keep a lid on it, then I can see this becoming a popular little service for general and personal use.
For example relevant and informative comments on manufacturer product sites could be really useful in the same way that Amazon comments are, and there are a million other areas where the ability to add comments quickly to a site will add value. It’s a little worrying that the developers are offering to pay for comments, although it’s clear they’re trying to get traction for the service as quickly as possible. $1.00 per 50 comments is not going to change the world, but again it may encourage those who have less than noble motives to clog up the system with junk.
It’s always difficult to predict the future of a new application like this, but on balance I like to think that anything which adds to the value of the Web conversation is a good thing. And there’s no doubt that this is a great way to do that. One of the most interesting things about a service like this is you never know where it might go either. All it needs is some kind of use that no-one thought of, and bam, suddenly you could be in Digg territory. Nicely designed, potentially mega useful or a disaster in the making. I’m going to keep track of this one all right.