I’ve written before about my love for Disqus. I’m not an investor – I just love the product.
So now Facebook has a new commenting system. They’ve been around for a while and when they first announced this initiative I knew the day would come when people would start saying, “should I replace Disqus?” I started telling people privately that I thought Google should buy Disqus for the same reasons Facebook wants to own commenting in the first place. Commenting on topical blogs is a form of topical social networking in the same way that Quora is. It’s a highly engaged audience and the content generated from many of the blogs (not all) are highly valuable.
TechCrunch switched from Disqus to Facebook. This had generated a ton of posts both for and against. I’m too busy this week to find all the links for you but a quick Google or TechCrunch search should reveal many.
So should I switch? Me thinks, not. Here’s why:
1. I still heart Disqus
If you use any standard commenting system on your blog or website you’re sub-optimizing engagement. What I get at Disqus (longer explanation in the thread linked in first sentence) is a highly engaged audience that can respond to me or each other in a threaded conversation with real people. Many of the people who post use real names, real pictures and have links back to a website. I think it’s something like 40-50% of all respondents are registered with Disqus. The reality is that I’ve gotten to “know” many people who comment on my blog when they are registered. I see their faces all the time and their names. I often click on a link of somebody new to see who they are.
Disqus emails me when somebody puts a comment on the blog or when I put a comment on somebody else’s Disqus blog and if somebody responds to me. So I never have to go back and check. I have a log of these. Disqus gives me other things like the ability to shut off commenting after a set number of days. I like this because I don’t want to constantly go back and check comments for articles I wrote a year ago and to be honest if I leave them open for longer than 30 days is when spam starts to creep in.
2. I’m not looking for comment links out of context into my or anybody else’s Facebook stream
I don’t like the idea of pushing my comments into Facebook or Twitter. I know Robert Scoble says people don’t care whether they do or don’t. That may be. But I’m not one of the people who “doesn’t care.” I’m one of they guys who signed up for Facebook when they told me it was a private place to communicate with my friends & family. I set up a BothSidesoftheTable Facebook account so that I don’t have to “spam” my F&F with business stuff. They want to know about when my son scores a goal (ok, probably not) not when I’m debating somebody online about the future of social networks.
And I am one of those who is concerns about Facebook overreach into the rest of my life. I’m not a Facebook hater, to the contrary. But I don’t want it becoming the web. I want it to be a part of the web. Not the part that has its tentacles into my blog and is linking comments back into social graphs. I’ll skip any extra traffic that might have generated for me to preserve my reputation of not spamming people inadvertently with comments.
3. Yes, I hate anonymity
I understand the TechCrunch problem. I hate seeing all the trolls there, too. I personally hate when people hide behind anonymity. I occasionally take on controversial topics or make bold statements. I try not to be too offensive when I say something that friends might disagree with. But I will say them under my personal name and stand publicly behind anything I do say. If I have an opinion I’m both willing to share and willing to be challenged. I’ve written about this topic before.
I’ve been persuaded recently that there is a middle ground. I’m interested in the topic of “reputation management” as espoused by Honestly.com. The idea is that people may have reasons for being anonymous (e.g. some employers don’t want employees leaving comments on some topics) and yet we could still know that a commenter has a high reputation. Maybe commenting systems could sort by reputation? Maybe Disqus could integrate with Honestly? Maybe we could filter at a blog level to say, “no commenters who don’t expose their names OR have a honestly reputation score above X.”
4. But I don’t currently have a big troll problem
In the rare instances where I get a troll I’m able to delete their comment and block them by email address or IP address. I’ve done this 3 times in 2 years. I get that TechCrunch had this problem, I don’t think most of us do. So I’m willing to live with the benefits I get of my beloved Disqus commenting system rather than throwing more to Facebook.
5. If I did I’d prefer to see Disqus solve them
I think if I did start to develop a problem I’d rather get Disqus to fix the problems with new tools (easier to block people, new rules for who can comment, integration with reputation management systems, whatever). I want to stay independent. I hope others will, too.
6. Maybe Google should just buy Disqus?
More broadly I’ve been saying since the date of the first Facebook announcement about commenting systems (maybe a year ago?) that Google should just buy Disqus cuz I saw this battle coming. Disqus is a “social network at the blog or topic level” in the say that Quora is. Disqus has tens of millions of registered users. Disqus communities are highly engaged. Disqus users talk to each other frequently around similar topics. Disqus is my vision for the future of social networking in which we gather around audiences to have social networks rather than one big blob where I mix pictures of my kids with debates about NoSQL vs. MongoDB.
What think you, oh loyal Disqus / BothSidesoftheTable commenters? Feedback welcome. In my Disqus comments system.