Intense DebateIntense Debate is one of the new crop of comment replacement services. Basically if you have a blog, you can replace the default commenting system with the one that Intense Debate provides. While I am not a great fan of these replacement services yet, they are gaining in popularity because they offer additional services and functions that the standard blog commenting systems don’t.

I was able to grab some time with Intense Debate developer Austin Hallock and our interview transcript is below.

Allen: Can we start with a brief bio about yourself?
Austin: Sure, I’m 16-years-old, live and goto high school in Arvada, Colorado. I started in the ‘tech world’ when I was 12 building lame Geocities sites, and slowly progressed towards forums (phpBB), and then onto custom built sites that involved a lot more programming. I developed and ran two websites in 2004-2006 that I sold for $10,000 (quite a bit of money to a 15 year old), then moved on towards building another site that never really took off, before moving to Intense Debate.

Allen: How do you describe Intense Debate?
Austin: I think of Intense Debate as simply a better way to do comments. With most blog platforms, comments aren’t really focused on as much as they should be — comments can be what drives traffic to your blog, as well as what gets people to return and engage in a conversation. Intense Debate takes the standard comment system and enhances it to have threading, reputation, and a central storage house for all your comments (as well as a lot more, you can check out the new features we roll out here: http://intensedebate.com/blog/).

Allen: What’s your role with the company?
Austin: I’m one of 2 developers here, and when it comes to programming, I’ve mainly been working on the new features we release every week.

Allen: What’s the technology behind Intense Debate?
Austin: We use PHP5 and mySQL… pretty much the standard LAMP stack. To display our comments on blogs we use a combo of javascript, PHP and a bit of modified AJAX (to work across domains).

Allen: Why did you select the programming language you did?
Austin: I learned PHP simply because it was, and still is, widely used. Same for javascript — plus learning javascript completely expands what a developer can do in the ui sense of things.

Allen: There’s been a lot of talk about the new commenting systems not being able to handle load – can you share some details of your server environment?
Austin: I’m not the server guy here, but we’ve got plenty of server power…I do know when just bought a couple more servers due to our recent growth.

Allen: what’s the tech team look like at Intense Debate?
Austin: 2 dudes in an office :)

Allen: what’s your take on the openstandards like oAuth and OpenID?
Austin: Never really taken a look at oAuth, but OpenID is certainly a good thing. The easier it is to access websites, the better!

Allen: can you share any juicybits on what’s coming next from intensedebate?
Austin: Well, can’t really give out too much, but I will say that in the next month we’ve got 2 HUGE features coming out.

Thanks for spending some time with us Austin!

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