Interview with Austin Hallock, Intense Debate Developer

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).