We've done a lot of talking about the democratic benefits of the 'net. Because it's so easy to become a web publisher, everybody's got a soapbox, right? But what can web two-dot-oh do for opinionated people who don't blog and have no intention to start? coComment may answer that question.Since the last time we gave the comment outsourcing firm a glance, coComment experienced some changes. To parse those out, I got on the phone with a few minions: CEO Matt Colebourne, and Marketing Director Kristina Serafim. According to Kristina, coComment was born on the backs of pro bloggers and online journalists. Now it's focusing on reaching the "casual commenter" -- people who do a lot of online reading, and might leave the occasional response (or more likely, a heated reaction) on a NewsWeek article, for example. "The comment sphere is kind of where the blogosphere was years ago," she said. "People [...] go from being readers, to commenters, to developing a reputation as contributors [themselves]." With those grand ideas in mind, we discussed the release of coComment v2, which boasts: * More social focus. While v1 was merely a central tool for tracking comments you made on other sites, v2 makes more of an effort to replicate "conversation" in the offline world. This is done with the help of the Sidebar, which I'll explain more in a bit. * The ability to form public and private groups. The latter provides private sharing/conversations/comments -- good for a collaborative enterprise environment. * More functionality for bloggers, with display options so people can access your last comments, most popular commenters, and other iterations. * A search commodity, which helps for product or brand research. Now users can tag conversations in the comments section. And when users query a tag, relevant discussions from all over the 'net will pop up. coComment is also working on an analytics feature to better define and quantify the content of conversations. That's in beta now. I was pretty fascinated by the Sidebar. Its purpose is to unite coComment's function with your current commenting activities. If you want to join a conversation taking place on someone else's blog, you obviously have to leave the coComment i-face and visit the site itself to leave a message. The Sidebar enables you to split your screen: coComment's tracking features appear on the left side, and the site you're visiting appears on the right side. This feature is cooler still with AJAX: Not only does your comment appear instantly on a site using coComment, but it also updates instantly on your coComment interface. You can actually watch discussions bloom as you have them, and track them all in real-time. The tag-and-search function is also interesting. According to Kristina and Matt, tagging comments enables brand-builders to track what they call "the Zeitgeist" -- real people's opinions about a given product or service. So if you want to find out what people think about the new widget or doodad you released six months ago, run a search for it on coComment. The results will give you comment threads about the product -- discussions that are more natural than market research because everyone is just speaking their mind. In a way, distilling the opinions of everyday people may be more valuable to marketers and brand-conscious enterprises than the views of large-scale bloggers or journalists. This is because comments are more organic. When the average reader makes a comment in response to something, that person is expressing a view that no publisher had any intention of publishing. And for that reason, maybe they are most in need of reading. coComment's hope of bringing these conversations to the forefront could become a powerful leveraging tool for the everyday guy whose voice should be heard, and for the product or services merchant who needs to hear it. At the time of the call Matt was in Ukraine, where he was helping coComment's new tech team get on its feet. The company -- which launched this year! -- has ballooned to 21 people, a big reason why the firm's begun looking beyond Swiss borders for inexpensive but intelligent help. The site currently supports over 600,000 users and 3 million unique visitors a month. In toto, the offering supports 12 million conversations. Since the launch of v2, new user acquisitions jumped 45 to 50 percent. "It's classically viral," Matt explained proudly. "Once you get the content, the sites, the users, they in turn bring more people on board and become more interesting. We're in the classic phase of growth where we start to grow a lot faster." If you're thinking of implementing coComment, you'll be happy to learn it don't cost much. The service supports itself with simple display advertising, but users can pay US$ 5/year if they don't want to deal with the ads. Convinced? Check coComment out. Critical? Drop us a line.