Disqus released their new commenting system today. It adds:
# Comments are indexable by search engines (SEO-friendly)
# Export and import of comments
# Automatic synchronization between Disqus.com and your WordPress comments
# Uses the new Disqus API
# Moderate/administer your blog right from the WordPress admin
The important one there for me was the ability to import and export comments. It actually is not working for some reason right now (an export to Disqus gives an error) but I am hoping this is just teething problems. This feature meant I could move in the first place (as before moving to disqus meant a blackhole for any new comments), but it is also the trackbacks and larger userbase that makes me want to switch in the first place.
This does mean goodbye to Intense Debate for now – I loved the automatic export out of friendfeed provided by that service but the larger community of disqus hopefully will mean a greater number of people coming to this site. Not that I am ignoring Intense Debate – with the ability to import and export as well – I could move between providers with little pain – and not lose any comments in the process. This alone is going to make it interesting to see how this particular niche progresses. The competition is huge and with only minimal barriers to switch providers, somehow the commenting providers are going to have to balance innovation and stability to maintain their userbase.