RealTime IT News

Web Sites Can't Escape Kutano's Comment Tool

Demo 2009
Source: DEMO
PALM SPRINGS, Calif. -- Frustrated by something you read online, and you just need to let the world know? Ever wish you could slam whoever posted a glowing review of a movie you hated -- right there on the same site?

Kutano might be for you.

Sure, there are comment sections and other tools that let users rate Web sites and content. But here at the DEMO 09 conference, Kutano debuted a new, more direct and unfiltered way for people to put their opinions front and center.

Unlike comment features typically placed at the bottom of an article, Kutano's Web browser add-on gives registered users a column on the upper right-hand side of Web pages.

More importantly, Kutano said it works with any Web page and is implemented separately from the Web site owner or publisher.

"We let you post anywhere alongside any Web page," said Kevin Ishiguro, the company's vice president of products. "You don't need permission."

You do need to be a registered Kutano user to view, add and rate comments, however.

Also, unlike other services that enable users to put virtual Post-Its or sticky notes on Web sites, Kutano said its technology is tied to sites' content, not their URLs. The advantage of its approach is that the Kutano comment window follows the content on the page, regardless of the URL, the company said.

With some comment schemes, messages are tied to a specific Web page URL -- but URLs can change for reasons like site maintenance or updates.

"We're the only ones with page subject recognition technology, and we have a patent pending on it," Ishiguro said.

The company is positioning itself as "a gateway to unbiased information," because it doesn't filter or delete anything -- unlike, say, a publisher's comment section. Users can rate comments, and the more popular and higher-rated ones will surface to the top of a Kutano comments section.

You can also click an "abuse" button for comments you think are inappropriate or obscene. However, while flagging a post as abusive will hurt its rating, Kutano said it has no immediate plans to delete any comments.

"First of all, this is a beta," Assaf Koren, the company's co-founder and chief strategy officer, told InternetNews.com. "We do have spam filtering and a privacy policy." He added that users can filter the feed not to show any comments marked as abuse if they so choose.

But this "anything goes" approach isn't likely to last, warned Carla Thompson, a senior analyst with Guidewire Group, which helped select DEMO's presenting startups.

"I think they're going to be forced to deal with the issue of libel and abusive comments," Thompson told InternetNews.com. "It's a great service that has a lot of potential to partner with other companies like search engines that could mine their content.

"But I think their mindset is similar to so many other Web 2.0 companies that the community is the best way to police a site."

Update corrects Koren's title.