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More Criticisms of Disqus

Further to my post explaining why I don’t like centralised comments systems such as Disqus, this blog post by Jacob Barkdull echoes some of my opinions on the service — both from a technical point of view and from the ideological standpoint that for something as critical as comments, if it’s on your website, it should be under your control.

Disqus is one central controlling entity, if Disqus decides to do “maintenance” or they begin to have server problems, everyone using Disqus comments now has not only no way visitors may leave comments, but also no way to display previously posted comments. And if worst comes to worst and Disqus disappears (as is possible with companies) everyone is left without comments, unlike if the comments are controlled by each “webmaster”.

I find issue with the added near 4 second pause on every page just to display Disqus comments, Disqus handles this well, but not well enough in my opinion. Because when pages load with Disqus comments there appears a little “Loading…” message, that eventually gets replaced by the comments and the form to post comments, the problem with the way they do this is when you refresh the page it jolts, kicking the scroll down the length of the comments until Disqus has loaded where it then kicks the scroll back up the length of the comments.

On Centralised Commenting Systems — Why I Don’t Like Disqus

UPDATE, 2011-08-29: Ben Vinegar, a Front-end Engineer at Disqus, has responded to this post. It is apparently possible for users to export their comments to a local database, display them for users without JavaScript and it is mentioned that the “scary red error box isn’t sending the right message”. These are welcome steps forward to addressing my dislike of the service.

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.

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