my recent reads..

Moving to Disqus for Comments

I recently moved this site's commenting feature to after listening to the great interview with Daniel from Disqus on net@night#53. I see I'm not alone..

You may think A Blog Without Comments Is Not a Blog, and most people have reviewed Disqus in terms of the improved commenting features it provides.

There is another point of view that really hit home for me as I considered the move.

I remember the pre/early web days when I was a very heavy nntp (news) user. In the job I had at the time, it became my lifeline to various specialist groups where I would share the little I knew and was able to draw on the sometimes instantaneous feedback from a global community of peers. I think those days still rank as the best and most productive community networking experience I have ever had.

As the early web came to life there were many areas in which we took short-term hits for (hopefully) long term gain. We moved from (pre-Domino) Lotus Notes to web publishing for example, not because it was better but because it represented a broadly accessible, stanadards-based platform. Web 2.0 is I think only now starting to surpass the degree of interactivity you could achieve with Notes circa 98.

IMHO, collaboration is another area that's been through a similar process. Simplifying somewhat, I saw blogs and web-based forums as a bifurcation of the old collaboration experience I had with nntp. Blogs at least did a decent job of allowing anyone to publish what they thought was worth sharing. Web-based forums never really tickled my mustard however.

Implementations have never been quite as efficient for greasing collaboration as nntp, and they lack the universal federation model that nntp has always had baked in. It also meant that forum discussions and information publishing (via blogs etc) became divorced.

So when I look at Disqus (and other similar offerings), I see a scheme to finally re-unify the publishing and discussion worlds. Disqus provides the forum capability integrastes with tyhe blog publishing world, eliminating the question "should I blog it, post it to a forum, or both?"

As you can tell from my little diagram above, I don't see much role for web forums as we know them today in the new world of collaboration. Maybe I am overly negative, but it does make me smile/cringe whenever I hear someone talking about "web 2.0: you know, forums etc..."

Notes on integrating Disqus with blogger

I'm using blogger. Since there are various guides around for the manual integration of Disqus, I thought it would be worthwhile to report on how the process went for me.

I'm using customised blogger layouts for my blogs, and actually found that the automatic integration support built into the setup process on Disqus worked very well.

Just a few things to note:

  • I used the "upload template" feature to load the version modified for me by Disqus. I think because of this, I had to "expand widget templates" and save the template again after the upload to have it take effect.

  • There is no import of existing comments yet (future feature), but it is possible to go back to old posts that do not yet have comments and switch them to Disqus mode by selecting the "Don't allow" reader comments post option.

Postscript: as I noted here, I've unfortunately had to drop my disqus experiment because it just isn't proving easy enough for people to use. Shame .. for now!