Disqus Amongst Yourselves

This blog now has comments!

This site is running on Anchor CMS and while still in its infancy (version 0.9.2), I absolutely love Anchor for its simplicity. It comes with a basic comment system out of the box, which I considered using. For built-in comments, nothing trumps WordPress, but when all you want to do is run a small-to-medium site with or without a blog, it’s just too big. So I had to decide between Anchor’s built-in and very limited option or a 3rd party.

Upon the recommendation of the very talented Miguel Perez (twitter), I looked to Disqus to add comments to my blog. Miguel had been using Disqus on his site since he redesigned it and started blogging and while I’m normally not a fan of 3rd party, JavaScript features, I can’t say I ever found the implementation distracting or unattractive. In fact, I thought it complimented his posts.

screenshot of a hero banner on the Disqus homepage

Right on their homepage, Disqus promotes itself as a community building tool as well as a commenting tool.

From Comments to Community

So I was on-board and ready to sign up and get commenting onto my blog. During the process of setting up an account, I came to realize that Disqus was bigger than a simple comment tool. More than just comments, Disqus provides an all-in-one solution to a few problems I had with my upstart blog.

Comments

Obviously, I needed a commenting solution, and Disqus provides that. Along with it, I get a fairly simple interface to moderate comments and discussions (posts where comments are enabled). I can blacklist words, phrases, and commenters and control who and how people can comment on my site. These are all a big step up from the basic implementation with Anchor’s comment system.

Content Promotion

screenshot of a post on Miguel Perez's website

Promoted discussions below the comments on Miguel-Perez.com. See the page here.

Aside from the blog landing page and next / previous links on post pages, I don’t really have a good way of encouraging visitors to check out other posts. As my blog fills up and I get better at posting more frequently, I’m sure I’ll be making references to recent posts within my text. But that’s not as engaging as the “You Might Also Like:” and “More From Around The Web:” sections you see on gossip and news sites. Whether that content is BS or not, it’s hard not to click. I could use a little enticing for more viewership on my site too.

The Disqus comment block includes a section underneath that showcases similar and popular discussions from your site. While it’s really just sharing the active comments, by clicking on one of the showcased items, you’re effectively taken to another post. So it helps spur discussion as well as promoting more of your site to your visitors.

Subscription

This one really excites me. Remember when RSS feeds were the big thing online? Remember when Firefox was including RSS readers and services and Google Reader still had a pulse? Yeah, it’s been a long time since RSS feeds were given any love. While some people still use them, in my experience, most people use Twitter and Facebook and in some cases Instagram to keep up with the blogs they’re interested in today. I don’t know how successful they are, but email subscription signup forms are frequently found in the footer of blogs as well.

Well Disqus gives us another option. When a visitor leaves a comment, they can check off if they’d like to be updated with followup comments for that post. Disqus users can also subscribe to a post or a site to be reminded when new content is available. Sure it requires an account and a little intent on the part of the visitor, but it’s better than nothing, or worse: bothering my site’s visitors with pleas to follow me for updates.

Getting it Working

Implementation time! It wasn’t too difficult to install, but there were a few hiccups along the way. I will outline the process and what I learned in my next post. Stay tuned and feel free to leave comments below! If you have any questions about Disqus or Anchor CMS, I’d be more than happy to answer them. And I’ve also turned comments on for my most recent posts – so if you had anything you wanted to add to those, now’s your chance!