Disqus

October 25, 2012 in Resources, Technology

With a few quick steps, you can turn your old comment system into a new way to engage your visitors. From small blogs to massive websites, Disqus is [an easy way] to build active communities. It’s free to use and works with virtually any type of website.” Source: Disqus

Disqus looks to make it very easy and rewarding for people to interact on websites using its system. Commenters can build reputation and carry their contributions from one website to the next. Using the Disqus’ built-in network effects, bloggers and publishers can expect a higher volume and higher quality of conversations by using the comment system.” Source: Crunch Base

31 responses to Disqus

  1. To everyone, we’re wrapping up the live Q&A now, but feel free to post additional questions or comments. The live portion is over, but the conversation will continue. Ro’s going to check back later this week and answer any other questions we might have for him.

    Ro, thank you for responding to our questions about Disqus and online conversation.

    We’ll be continuing our Q&A series in about two weeks. Be sure to check the JA’s twitter or facebook for notifications about upcoming events. Thanks again, Ro!

  2. How is Disqus’ spam comment detection? I have not been happy with askimet on my wordpress sites.

  3. One of the questions I hear is the value of a comment system in building community. Many small sites struggle with traffic. In order to maximize the value of a comment system like Disqus is it necessary to have a community to start? If not, why not? And if so, what’s the critical mass to keep things going?

    • Hey Andrew – yeah the ‘cold start’ problem is a common one. And even though we are a software company, I still believe that software is only 50% at maximum of the equation. The rest is up to the site managers to have great content, commit to building a great community by being present both in their own comment discussion and others around the web (in a non-spammy way of course) and set the tone upfront and often about what the norms are (per an earlier comment I made).

      Nonetheless, I do believe Disqus gives you a big leg up, not just because of all the features, but mainly because of the fact that it’s the largest commenting platform on the web and is interconnected, so it makes it much easier for your site and your content to be discovered by the other hundreds of millions of users who use Disqus every month. In fact in the new Disqus, even more discovery and cross-pollination is a big area of focus as you’ll start to see more of on our blog (http://blog.disqus.com).

      • While we’re on the topic of building from scratch – what’s it take to get Disqus up and running? Is it something anyone can implement on their personal blog, or is it more suited for companies with a dedicated development team? On average, would you say it takes a day? a week? a month?

      • For most, it would take just minutes. Often there are handy plugins (e.g. for WordPress), or an easy way to enter your Disqus site ID and have it automatically pull Disqus in (e.g. in Tumblr) … but in all cases you can just paste in a few lines of our universal JavaScript. I could probably do it right now in about 90 seconds if you timed me ☺.

        There are of course more sophisticated implementations, e.g. integrating your own registration system, creating custom widgets, etc. but even those are fairly straightforward and can be done whenever convenient vs. all upfront, and usually in a matter of days. Some of those deeper integration capabilities are part of our premium add-ons or our VIP service for larger sites (http://disqus.com/for-websites/vip), but most of the core features are and always will be free, including all of those that we’ve talked about in this Q&A.

  4. Hi Ro, I’ve recently read about people who had Disqus running on their websites (I believe WordPress-based) and then decided to return to the native comment system. Their basic reason seemed to be an issue of control related to User Interface and design. I have 2 questions. 1. How much control do users of Disqus have over what comment-related content is displayed? (avatars, etc) And 2. How much visual control (CSS/skinning) can we use to make it look how we want?

    • Hi, Bert. The new Disqus was designed to address issues we saw with the older version where conflicting CSS or custom code in the theme editing tools would often conflict with a certain page element, break certain features and/or confuse users. So the new version uses an iframe approach, partly to address these issues and UX consistency reasons, but to capture a number of benefits having to do with security, SEO and performance.

      The research we did showed that admins wanted look and feel continuity but wanted to do less work to achieve it, so we instead designed the adaptive iframe to auto-inherit components of the page, e.g. dark vs. light palettes, link colors, fonts, etc. The HTML5 design also tends to render a lot better on mobile and tablet than the older, stripped down mobile theme, and is more or less at feature parity with the desktop experience (another thing we heard that users have come to expect these days).

      (tbc…)

      • …That said, we are building in more admin controls for added configurability. And indeed on example of that is we recently added more flexibility to the way our ‘Discovery Box’ (i.e. related links) is shown or removed.

        We’ll continue listening to feedback and add more configurability as appropriate. Please feel free to send us your thoughts at hello@disqus.com.

      • Thanks Ro. Helps to know that Disqus is trying to build “intelligence” into service to try and help adapt. And its good to know you’re receptive to feedback and input. Perhaps its buried in “advanced options” for those that want it, but I think the more you allow people the ability to customize the “content and presentation” of Disqus you may find it addresses a large segment of site owners and developers hesitancy to use the service on their websites.

  5. For members of our community, creating and augmenting streams of revenue is a high priority. Can you elaborate on how a comment system might drive revenue? Do you have specific examples or case studies that you can share?

    • Sure.

      There are a number of indirect ways. For example our data shows on average sites see substantially higher participation which correlates to higher time spent and page views per visit (2011 study: http://disqus.com/research/strong-communities-grow-traffic/; 2012 study showed in even bigger increase with the new Disqus: http://disqus.com/research/time/). For many sites, more page views means more advertising inventory. For others, more commenters means more registered users who are often the ones most likely to opt in to a paid service or product/event of some kind that the site may offer.

      More recently, though, we were excited to launch Disqus Promoted Discovery, which for the first time allows publishers to directly monetize their commenting communities and in a native way as opposed to just throwing AdSense or banner ads into the comment thread. More info on that optional program is here: http://help.disqus.com/customer/portal/articles/666278-introducing-promoted-discovery-and-f-a-q- for those interested. It’s an extension of the organic discovery features we’ve been continuing to build in to syndicate our publishers’ content links and drive more traffic to them.

  6. Can Disgus tell sentiment in someone’s comment through keywords or otherwise?

    • We have used sentiment recognition technology in the past. We mainly used it to help with moderation — i.e. to try and detect ‘abusiveness’ in comments so that risky comments could be flagged more efficiently for moderators. Today, we have a much more robust API, so we are working with some partners who specialize in sentiment recognition for other purposes. Can’t talk too much more about it now, but hopefully more to come soon on that..

  7. what is a good way to deal with people who start to bad mouth my company in the comments of a blog that is on our site?

    • Well that is a community management topic you could spend a lot of time talking about .. but in short we find one of the most effective things is to be very upfront and clear about the rules and norms in your commenting community, and be very present in the discussions yourself so that your audience can see that you’re enforcing and living by them. The thing is, those norms can vary highly.

      Some sites or companies welcome any and all participation, even if it’s critical or or even slightly off-color, but as long as it’s not abusive. Others, wish to enforce stricter rules or may even decide to pre-approve all comments. Don’t mean to be vague — depends on your goals and situation. In general, though, we most often see the former rather than the latter.

      Hope that helps a bit.

  8. Whether we started with discussions on the Usenet, message boards, forums, chat rooms, or blog comment systems, most of us have been engaging in online conversation for at least a few years. What drove Disqus’ decision to “reinvent the wheel” for online comment systems that people are already familiar with?

    • Our founders, Daniel and Jason, weren’t actually big bloggers, but they were very active in online communities — including some of the systems you noted above. They saw firsthand just how little innovation commenting had seen since essentially the beginning of the internet. There was a lot of low hanging fruit they addressed like fixing basic design and UX issues, bad spam filtering, clumsy admin and moderation tools, etc. But there was also a big vision they had around connecting users and communities via a common, networked platform vs. the isolated, disparate experience that commenting used to be.

      That was in 2007. Today Disqus is a 40-person company (looking to hire more!: http://disqus.com/jobs) reaching 900 million readers each month across almost 2 million sites that have installed the service. Now, we have a whole other set of pain points and goals we want to address, so the work’s never over 🙂

      • That brings up some interesting points. By creating a networked platform, that sort of eliminates the ability for users to retain anonymity when commenting. What are the pros and cons of eliminating anonymity for a site’s users? I would assume the frequency of comments might drop, but the likelihood of “trolls” would decrease. What’s the experience been with users of Disqus?

      • Actually we believe strongly in identity choice — particularly pseudonyms — as we’ve found many of the best contributions do come from those that aren’t necessarily using real names. We did some research on this a while back (http://disqus.com/research/pseudonyms/). Publishers can allow guest commenting if they choose in addition to the proprietary or social login options we offer.

        That said, we do think Disqus is uniquely positioned to help with quality control. In addition to all of the granular controls and settings in the admin panel (e.g. blacklisting, crowdsourced flagging, state of the art anti-spam, etc.) the new Disqus has a more sophisticated visibility and global reputation system built in. On the front end, our new default quality sort uses voting and other signals to understand which comments should be most prominent at the top of the thread vs. sunken below or collapsed. On the back end moderation dashboard, every comment in Disqus now has track record information about that commenter’s prior contributions, e.g. # of days commenting, # of comments, # flagged, # of votes, etc… not just for your site but for all the other sites across Disqus. (tbc…)

      • …We then roll that up into an overall reputation assessment – Low, Average, or High – and highlight that so that admins can more easily identify those contributors and streamline the moderation process. Since Disqus powers a large portion of commenting on the web these days, we think we can offer a lot here vs. the constant ‘whack-a-mole’ game admins often have to play. We think webwide reputation and accountability (or lack thereof) – even for pseudonymous or semi-anonymous users – will play a big role in consistently and sustainably high quality communities in the future.

  9. Hi everyone and welcome to the JA’s Q&A about online conversation and commenting. This is the fifth part in a series of live Q&A’s focused on resources for journalists and publishers. The aim of this Q&A is to dig deeper into the risks and benefits of using a third-party comment system. Answering our questions today will be Ro Gupta, the VP of Business Development for Disqus. Welcome! Thank you for joining us.

    • Hey everyone.

      • Will it support drag and drop images?

      • Yup. We released that feature shortly after the new version of Disqus was released earlier in the year: http://blog.disqus.com/post/27558936756/one-month-of-disqus-2012.

      • That is a useful feature for users who might not be familiar with HTML. Do you often incorporate feature requests from users? How frequently do you release new versions?

      • Thanks for answering. I do have another question: I am an Online Producer that handles a lot of different clients. If I were to use the program as to track my conversations with a client, would I have the ability to edit comments once they’ve been submitted?

      • Very often. In fact we have a perpetual feedback submission option in the gear icon when you’re logged into Disqus on a page. We push code everyday, sometimes multiple times a day, so there are always opportunities to tweak and add. But we try to deploy major new features very carefully to balance UI clutter, user and publisher expectations and of course our overall long-term priorities.

  10. Thursday, November 1st at 2pm Eastern, 11am Pacific: Join Disqus representative Ro Gupta in a live, online conversation about the potential risks and benefits of upgrading your comment system. Where is online conversation headed? How do you dissuade trolling? Should I use star ratings or thumbs-ups? Join us during the live Q&A, or if you can’t make it, post a question here before the conversation and we’ll be sure to bring it up in the live session.

    See you then,

    Jamie

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