WordPress as a loosely-coupled comment engine

My quest for a loosely-coupled comment system has led me to the same conclusion Dave Winer reached a while ago: Use WordPress. Rather than cross-posting to my WordPress comments blog, though, I'd like to use it as a kind of a web service that I can integrate into my existing blog. And I'd like to do that as portably as I can, so that the glue can be repurposed for any blog publishing system I might switch to, as well as for any other comment service I might switch to.

I haven't created the glue yet, I'm just doing things manually in order to think through what the glue needs to do. So far I've identified these functions:

  1. Create placeholders in WordPress. I see no reason to replicate the bodies of my postings on the WordPress side. I'll just post stubs there that link back to my real blog. To make it easier to stitch things together, I'd like to embed the serial number of my Radio UserLand posts into the WordPress URLs. So for example:
    That might not be straightforward, though. In this example, the original WordPress URL was something like:
    The descriptive trailing part of the URL, called the post slug, is derived automatically from the title. You can change it interactively, and I did, but that's a nonstandard feature and so isn't supported in any of the weblog APIs. I might instead have to embed the serial number in the title.
  2. Monitor the WordPress blog for comments. I can schedule a process to watch the main comments feed and, when a new comment appears, I can collect the whole set of comments for that item using the per-item comments feed.
  3. Include comments directly in the main blog. I'm weighing a couple of approaches. If the watcher process writes comments in HTML format, and writes them to the same domain as the main blog, then I can use one of the portable wrappers around XMLHTTPRequest, such as Dojo, to support a snippet of JavaScript that sources that HTML into the page. Alternatively the watcher process could write out JSON (JavaScript Object Notation), which can be sourced into the page without requiring a heavyweight toolkit. That's how the Recent Links feature of my blog works now: Del.icio.us provides a JSON representation of my recent bookmarks at del.icio.us/feeds/json/judell.
  4. Propogate deletions. At least for now, I'm leaving comments open. I'll let the WordPress spam filter catch what it can, and if anything gets through that shouldn't, I'll manually delete. How the watcher process will detect deleted comments, in order to refresh what's included on the main blog, is an open question.

It seems mostly straightforward, but I thought I'd review the plan here in case anyone's been there and done that and has advice to pass along.

By the way, I'm not completely comfortable with the idea of freeloading on WordPress in this way. As I mentioned before, I'd pay a small monthly fee for a blog-independent service that's designed equally well for interactive administration of comments and programmatic integration into my blog. That offer still stands.

Former URL: http://weblog.infoworld.com/udell/2006/09/25.html#a1530