BackType Plugs A Hole In Online Monitoring Systems

backtype BackType, a new service by Canadians Christopher Golda and Michael Montano, finds and aggregates comments from across the web.

One of BackType’s most obvious features is the ability to create an account and "claim" your comments to provide a complete picture of your commenting activity across the web. Once you’ve done that, you can "follow" other people’s comments, Twitter-style (I’m davefleet on BackType, as I am on most services).

Plenty of websites like TechCrunch, Lifehacker, Louis Gray and Mark Evans have focused on this side of the service. To be honest I don’t have much to add to their commentary on this aspect.

The value in comments

Reader comments are often just as interesting as the posts themselves. By reading through the comments on a thought-provoking post, you can often learn more than from the original piece. Given that, tracking someone’s comments can be enlightening.

Personally, I only have the bandwidth to follow a few people that I specifically want to learn from and who I know write useful, well thought-out comments — I’m not sure I want to all comments from a large number of people — but that’s just me.

Adding a layer to online monitoring

"Twitter for comments" aside, a different aspect of BackType got my creative communications juices flowing: the ability to search comments by keyword, and to set up a persistent search on that keyword.

I wrote a little while back about how to set up a simple online monitoring system. One thing that system missed, though, was responses to blog posts. You could see original posts as they appeared in near real-time, but after that it was up to you to go back and check on them.

By using BackType in conjunction with sites like Technorati (or not), Google Blogsearch or Blogpulse, you can capture ongoing discussions alongside original posts in two simple steps:

  1. Search for your keywords from the BackType homepage  (for example: or do an advanced search at
  2. Subscribe to the RSS feed for those results ( and plug it into your system along with your other searches.

Problem solved.

As Louis Gray says, "I think BackType has the potential to be as relevant as Technorati (in a good way), Google Blog Search or Summize. It’s one to watch for sure."

The folks over at BackType seem to have realized this potential, shown by their response to a question over on Mark Evans’ blog:

In addition to searching comments by author, searching by topic has shown to be very valuable as well so we plan on doing a lot more with that. We see a lot of opportunity in comments; what you see on is what we’ve started with.

Have you tried BackType? If so, have you found it useful?