Back in May 2008, I tried out the Disqus (pronounced “discuss”) commenting system here on TPREG. That test failed for several reasons, primarily I didn’t like the fact that comments were stored only on the Disqus servers. I was concerned what would happen to the 13,000+ comments here should I wake up one day and Disqus was gone. Another show stopper for me was for someone to subscribe to comments, they were forced to join Disqus (which is free, but still).
A lot has changed with Disqus in the past 14 months, so I’ve decided to try it again.
- Comments are now “synched” with and retained in my WordPress SQL database. They are served from Disqus, but I can turn it off with a keystroke and revert instantly to the standard WordPress commenting system.
- The ability to subscribe to comments without having to join Disqus has been added. (and comment subscription is “double opt in” ”“ you’ll get an email asking you to confirm your subscription. This prevent losers from subscribing you to stuff you don’t want. Trust me, it happens.)
How to Comment with Disqus
It’s really no different than it used to be, though you have many more options. Here’s what the comment area looks like:
If you so desire (it’s completely your choice) you can log in via Disqus, Facebook, Twitter or OpenId. Using these services has benefits ”“ it will pull in your avatar so we can see your smiling face and you can post your comment to your Facebook profile, Tweet it, etc. This also helps with “community building” and exposure. It’s the web 2.0 way.
If you prefer, just as in the past, you can enter your name, email and website (optional) and leave a comment that way.
With a webcam and a Seesmic account, you can leave a video comment.
Cool Disqus Features
There are some pretty nifty features available with this system. Those that chose to get a free Disqus account will have links to their various social network profiles available to all readers:
All the comments you leave on Disqus enabled blogs (and there are a LOT of them) are saved to your Disqus profile. Ever left a masterpiece comment on a blog and forgot where it was? Or worse yet, the blog goes offline into the ether? No more worries, your comments are yours to keep and savor.
Click on the “Expand” link and a shadow box pops up with the commenters most recent comments.
Here is tdhurst’s full Disqus profile. It’s basically a collection of Tyler’s musings across the internet. Kinda cool.
In theory, this helps you “build your Twitter presence” and followers. It could also (selfishly) drive traffic back to the blog you’re tweeting from (the link in the Tweet points to your blog comment).
But wait, there’s more!
An oft requested feature that I’ve never been able to figure out how to do is provide the ability to subscribe to comments without having to leave a comment. Now you can do that. You can also subscribe to comments on specific posts via RSS. You can tag comments you “like” and even report them to the blog author (useful for helping your friendly blogger kill any spam that slips through). You can even change the sort order of comments.
Disqus from the Bloggers Perspective
Here’s a list of benefits for bloggers from the Disqus About page:
- Threaded comments and comment ratings
- Powerful moderation and admin tools
- Filter out spam, trolls, and unwanted commenters
- Enable your visitors to become a real community
- Moderation by email or mobile
- More comments and increased engagement
- Connected with a large discussion community
- Increased exposure and readership
Spam control looks to be very good. Several systems are used, including Aksimet (which most WordPress bloggers use). The comment admin interface is powerful, yet intuitive. And I love being able to administer comments via email!
One of the nice things about implementing this is the heavy coding is done by the experts at Disqus. Ever tried to get Facebook Connect implemented on a blog? It’ll drive you to empty a fifth of Jack Daniels. Now the real programmers do it and I just upgrade a plugin when they add new features.
The Drawbacks of Disqus
Learning to type “Disqus” instead of “Discuss” is hard.
Disqus comments are “nofollowed”. I’m not sure if this is good or bad. I did have comments “dofollowed” and the amount of spam I had to deal with increased significantly. It was becoming a huge time-sink to manage comments. In order to “share the Google love” with commenters, I’ll be installing a dofollow comment widget of some sort. I just need to find the right one.
The CommentLuv and KeywordLuv plugins don’t function in Disqus. These pulled in the commenters last blog post (most of the time) and allowed “hot linked” keywords in the commenters name field. Both also seemed to attract spammers by the boatload and didn’t really increase the frequency of quality comments. The CL “latest post” links were rarely clicked. Unfortunately, the old latest post links left behind some HTML in the Disqus comments. It’s cluttered, and I’ll be removing the extraneous HTML as time permits.
CommentLuv may return as that plugin’s author appears to be working to make it compatible with Disqus.
For those leaving comments here solely for the link love, sorry. But honestly, that’s a pretty lame reason to leave comments anywhere. Comments do help drive traffic to you and give you exposure, regardless of whether they are followed or not by search engines. Leave comments on blogs to engage with and enrich the community, and yourself, not just for a link that has marginal worth.
If you’re a blogger and you want to use (or try) Disqus, it’s pretty simple. Plugins and instructions are available for many blog platforms including WordPress, Blogger, Tumblr, Movable Type, Square Space, Drupal, Joomla and more.
So Give it a Whirl!
Do me a favor if you have a moment. Play around with the new commenting system. See if you can break it. Let me know what you like, and don’t like.