I don᾿t like centralised commenting systems like Disqus and IntenseDebate. I am disappointed whenever I see a site using them; I want to use this post to explain why.
The Attraction to Centralised Commenting
Services like Disqus and IntenseDebate are marketed as being ‘better’ platforms for enabling commenting on blogs and articles. You essentially outsource the comments on your blog or website and have them handled by the service.
It is an attractive idea because you can outsource the more difficult things like handling spam comments and so on, and because it allows users to have a single identity with the commenting service and then use that single identity on many sites.
Making Commenting on the Web Proprietary
The primary reason that I do not like such services is because they seek to make commenting on the web proprietary. The web should be open. The web is open, for the most part, and I think it should remain that way.
Centralising commenting on your site is taking the control over the discussion over your content and handing that control to a third-party.
I think comments on blogs and so on should be as open and as simple as possible — enter a name and email address and just write a comment. Yes, that way of doing things is more open to absue such as the misuse of identity and spam and it doesn’t have the advantages of being able to connect comments from a single person together.
I understand that some of these commenting services do have a ‘Guest’ mode, but I still am concerned that users feel pressurised into getting an account with the service for fear of their comments otherwise being seen as potentially less valuable or somehow not as legitimate.
I don’t think you should feel obliged to sign up for yet another service just to make a comment on someone’s website. I don’t even think that you should feel obliged to sign in with something such as your Twitter or Facebook identity, just to comment on a website.
I would be more inclined to accept OpenID as an authentication means in this case, because that does seem an ideal use case for the technology, but I keep coming back to my fundamental point.
I think internet commenting should be as simple and as open a system as possible, encouraging as much discussion as possible by not making it at all difficult or at all burdensome, even despite the issues with accountability and abuse that this approach raises.
For better or for worse, the web is open. I seek to keep comments in that same spirit.
This point is less general and more of a specific issue I have with Disqus. Other centralised commenting systems might handle this better.
The other issue I take specifically with Disqus is that they require you to enable third-party cookies in order to log in to the service.
I think it is disingenious and misleading to imply that your browser is broken and needs to be ‘fixed’ if third-party cookies are disabled.
I understand there might be technical reasons why this setting is a requirement to log in to Disqus, but I assert the right to browse with that cookie setting disabled and I, again, resent the notion that my browser is ‘broken’ if I have done that.
- I think commenting on websites, blogs and articles should be open and as simple as possible.
- Services such as Disqus and IntenseDebate seek to make internet commenting proprietary and threaten both the openness and simplicity that I believe in.
I would encourage anyone with a website or a blog to make sure that their comments are under their control and that they remain as accessible as possible, readable to all visitors without having to jump through hoops.