If you’ve read and commented here in the past, you’ll have noticed we switched to Disqus to handle comments about two months ago.
Rich made the change, and I was initially skeptical because frankly I had no real idea of what switching would get us. Disqus has a few distinct advantages over the built-in WordPress commenting system we used in the past.
- It threads comments, making it obvious to whom you’re replying. This is more helpful when you have a bunch of comments.
- It centralizes your comments, which is only useful if you comment serially on sites that use Disqus.
- The plugin provides a flyout of the commenter’s profile and recent comments that you can view in the comment stream.
- Anyone can rate comments. Did you notice that? There are up and down arrows next to each person’s comment. Sure, you have to register with Disqus, but this nice for lurkers who don’t want to join the discussion.
Another nice plus is that you can add your Disqus account to FriendFeed, although this does tend to fracture the conversation even more.
Disqus does have two major gaps that have bugged me from the get-go.
- It doesn’t show trackbacks in comments, which is a critical omission.
- You can import your old comments into Disqus, and you can’t export them either.
While I understand that Disqus has no motivation to support exporting comments out of its system, importing old comments would a great way to become indispensable to the blog owner.
Another negative, not necessarily specific to Disqus, is that adding a commenting system increases the HTTP requests of your blog, slowing its load time. And you’re at the mercy of Disqus and its availability. So far, I’ve only seen a couple outages, nothing too long.
Overall, I think Disqus has promise, but it’s got some holes to fill. So why a whole post?
Disqus engages its users and responds quickly with help. About a week ago, Aaron Hockley tweeted at me that he wanted to comment on my Scariest Ride Ever post, but that we don’t use OpenID. A personal line in the sand for Aaron: he doesn’t comment on blogs that don’t support OpenID.
Anyway, Disqus does support OpenID, but its plugin doesn’t have an OpenID option, another negative. Long story short, I tweeted my frustrations with Disqus and forgot the whole thing.
Later that day, I get a reply from Daniel Ha, co-founder of Disqus, acknowledging the lack of trackbacks and pointing me to a WordPress hack written by Scott Jangro, an avid Disqus user. I implemented this hack yesterday, and it seems to be working fine.
So, thanks to Daniel for helping me and thus raising my opinion of Disqus, and thanks to Jason for hacking out a solid workaround for trackbacks. I now have a higher opinion of Disqus, and even though it has shortcomings, I feel better about them overall because they were responsive to my complaints.
Take note people. This is how you successfully do Intertubes.
- Track every conversation about your company.
- Engage everyone who mentions it, especially people who are negative.
- Admit shortcomings.
- Try to find a workaround or resolution.
- Rinse, repeat.
People are out there talking about you and your company. You should be in that conversation.
And while we’re on Twitter, if you’re new (or not), make sure your account is set up to show all @ replies to you. This makes it easier to communicate without having to follow everyone. To set this:
- Go to Settings-Notices
- Set @ Replies to Show Me: all @ replies