The gist: Stop focusing on the FF extension -> provide the same functionality to Bloggers w/o the extension + let them expose DotSpots to their audience instantly.
I’ve played around with your service quite a bit but stopped updating my extension after I kept having to update it time after time.
I think it would be a good idea to experiment with a version of DotSpots that bloggers can “install” by including a JS file (like Google Analytics and similar tools) to allow the visitors of the blog to enter comments, corrections, etc (same functionality that you provide now) without the extension.
Implementation: What I’m suggesting wouldn’t intrude with a bar. The blogger could either just paste the code to apply to the whole site or the containing div of the blog content that you want the DotSpots functionality to be enabled for. In terms of the magnitude of intrusiveness, the closest example I can think of would be like when you highlight a word on nytimes.com which I find very useful (example to the right). Nothing to do for the user but to actually use the functionality. Nothing to install.
Adoption: When it comes to early adoption of tools that heighten user interaction, I would bet on bloggers. A good example would be of the now ubiquitous “share this” buttons and now we’re starting to see the adoption of the Meebo bar that allow you to drag and drop pictures from articles. I’m sure there are a lot of better examples out there. When they paste that line of code, they’ve exposed DotSpots to all of their readers and if enough blogs use it, it’s possible that some of the more savvy larger publishers will try it as well. It could set DotSpots up for a very organic growth path.
The extension should be supplemental, not fundamental: When I think of adoption for a service like DotSpots given how it is technically setup, the first major hurdle is the installation the the extension. It trumps any value proposition because of the market size of the users that understand and/or willing to try extensions. StumbleUpon is about the only Firefox extension that I can think of that has been successful as a tool mostly extension dependent. There aren’t too many other examples that I can think of and if I remember correctly, they had to craft themselves some pretty sweet distribution deals with FF (bundling it with a version of FF) in order to get the momentum they needed.
Thanks for creating the service. I think the world can really benefit from DotSpots.