Comments are often the best part of a blog post. This is how blog visitors get to communicate with other visitors and the author of the post.
Recently TypePad, which hosts this blog, added some new comment features. Here's the best one: you now can subscribe to a comment feed.
If you're not familiar with Internet feeds, here's an overview. Basically they're a way of keeping up on what's happening with a web site or blog without actually visiting the site/blog.
The comment section of every Church of the Churchless post now begins with: "You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post."
If you click on "comment feed," you'll be taken to some options for subscribing to a feed for that comment. Once you've subscribed, you can use that option to keep track of new comments without going to my blog.
I'm no expert on feed readers, but I've learned a few things in the brief time I've been using Google Reader.
--It can take a while for a feed, like a new comment on a blog post, to show up. Maybe several hours. Google Reader periodically checks for new content. The more popular a web site or blog is, the more often it checks.
--Clicking the "refresh" button doesn't mean Google Reader has gone out and checked your feeds for new content. It just means that Google Reader has checked it's regularly scheduled scan of the sites/blogs.
--The first time you add a feed, likely quite a few posts, comments, or other content will show up on Google Reader. The number of new items is shown in parentheses, like (11), after the name of the feed on the home page.
--When you've looked at the items on a feed, click the "mark all as read" button. That will make the feed name disappear from the column on the left side of Google Reader. Don't worry. This is good. When there is new content, the feed will reappear with the number of new items shown, so you won't waste time re-reading stuff.
The TypePad comment feed feature also worked well for me in Microsoft Outlook, the email software. When I clicked on "Outlook," a feed for that comment was added in the "RSS Feeds" mail folder.
New comments didn't show up automatically in my email inbox, but when I clicked on the item in the "RSS feeds" folder, the comments showed up. Almost instantly after they were posted.
So if you want to know ASAP when a new comment has been added to a post, Outlook seems to be the way to go -- compared to Google Reader, at least.
Lastly, TypePad also has added a feature that is good or bad depending on how you look at it. The number of comments shown on one "page" of a post now is limited to 50. To see more, you have to click on "More comments."
On a few posts this will make it a bit more difficult to read the most recent comments. But if you subscribe to a comment feed for a post, as described above, this won't matter.