Ever notice how some blogs are filled with mean-spirited, crude or self-serving comments, while others have few comments at all?

Palo Alto’s SezWho, a service that lets you build a reputation based on the quality of your online comments, thinks it can change that. It launched a test version publicly last week.

The company offers a widget that plugs into a blog’s comment board and adds the question “Was this comment useful to you?” after every reader’s post Each commenter has a rating of 1-5, represented with small boxes next to his or her name.

Jakob Nielson, a respected pundit on web behavior, has written that when it comes to posting on blogs, 0.1 percent of the readers contribute the vast bulk of comments. The idea is to offer readers a chance to get recognized for their insights, giving them a new incentive to post. However, it could chase away those commenters whose rankings sink. Readers have the option to filter out the comments from posters with low ratings.

To leave a comment, you enter your e-mail address, and from then on SezWho starts building your reputation and creating a profile. You also have to give your e-mail address to rate a comment because SezWho gives more weight to your rating if you have a strong reputation, and less if you don’t.

Your profile, which others can access by clicking on a link to the right of your name, contains links to all the posts you’ve commented on in the past. This, says SezWho’s chief, Jitendra Gupta, is key to the service’s value for bloggers: It will leverage the contributions of their most prolific commenters, drive traffic to their older posts, and increase page-views overall.

If you want, you can add a picture to your profile, some brief information, and a link to your own blog.

One neat aspect is that your profile is portable, meaning your reputation goes with you to other blogs that have the widget installed. However, these reputations are context sensitive, so if you’re reputable on a tech blog, for example, your reputation won’t necessarily be strong on a blog about sports.

SezWho expects to make money from subscription fees — paid by bloggers who use the widget on their sites. The prices of the subscription, which range from free to $200 per month, depend on how many times commenters’ profiles get viewed. For its paid plans, SezWho guarantees it will increase pageviews by five to eight percent (depending on your subscription) or give you your money back.

SezWho also plans to use the reputation system it builds to identify influential contributors surrounding any given topic and offer marketers the ability to reach out to them. This will be opt-in only, however, so if the commenter doesn’t want marketers to have access them, they won’t.

There could also be some targeted advertising involved.

SezWho faces some competition from reader-centric blog widget, MyBlogLog and tools like Co.mments and coComment, which help you keep track of your commenting around the web, but SezWho is different and well-executed enough to possibly make a mark. Right now, it only works on WordPress, but we’re WordPress users and are thinking about giving it a try.


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