Why I Don’t Like Disqus

I was chatting on twitter with Jeremy Vaught today, talking about Disqus. I’m interested in understanding why Jeremy likes it, and he’s interested in understanding why I don’t. So this post is mainly to get my whole Disqus malaise off my chest and share my perspective with Jeremy, who is way more of a social media guru than I ever want to be. Consider this the perspective of the average, somewhat clueless person.

My first experience with Disqus was at Brent Spore’s iBoughtAMac.com. When I went to make a comment there, this dialog popped up for Disqus. I didn’t know what it was but it was clear if I wanted to leave a comment, I had to go through this thing. Since I didn’t have time to look into it right then, I just didn’t leave my comment. This happened several times.

Finally, I wanted to leave a comment enough that I clicked on the Disqus logo, where I read that it was a tool for web publishers to use for managing comments. I noticed you could create a profile, and that somehow would help an individual manage or track their own comments across different sites. At the time, I didn’t feel a need for help with this. I still don’t. I pretty much know where I comment and what communities I belong to. I didn’t look much further into it. But I understood “this thing adds value for the site owner, but not for me.”

One problem I have with the Disqus dialog is that, even though it allows you to comment as a guest (instead of connecting to Twitter, Facebook or OpenID) by entering your email address and name, just like a WordPress installation that doesn’t use Disqus, it interrupts my thought process. A pop-up opens with these options, and I have to think about it and make a choice before I can leave my comment. Since I don’t encounter Disqus every day I have to remember what it is, or look it up, decide whether I have an account, remember how I answer the dialog, and if I don’t remember right away, suddenly I’m wondering why this thing is in my way, and what implications the posting choice I make will have for my privacy, online identity, etc. I just want to leave a comment, yo.

When I do comment through Disqus, I use the Guest option. But it recognizes my email and pulls up a profile picture. I don’t know where that comes from. I think it’s getting it from Gravatar, or maybe at some point I created a Disqus profile, but I’m not sure, and the Disqus dialog doesn’t explain. So if I want the answer to that question I’m going to have to go dig it up from the Disqus site. I don’t really want to spend my time trying to figure this out, so I don’t. But every time I comment through Disqus and it recognizes me, I’m left with a vague creepy feeling that becomes part of my commenting experience, and thus part of the feeling I have about sites that use Disqus. I always have in mind that if I’m using a service I don’t pay for, I’m not the customer. I’m the product. I just want to leave a comment, not wonder who’s tracking me and how they use information about me.

Also, say I don’t know a person well, but find my self at their blog. Maybe they motivate me to engage. From my point of view, I’m there and commenting because I want to enter a relationship. I feel like we have something to say to each other. When I go to leave a comment, and that Disqus box pops up, I feel like the underlying message to me is “Hi. I don’t trust that you’re not a spammer. So if you want to start a relationship with me, I’m going to require you to be involved with this 3rd party, too.” But, but… I just want to leave a comment. I don’t use Disqus on my site, and other plugins take care of spam just fine, and it’s hard for me to see the need for this.

And so I guess my dislike of Disqus comes from never having realized a benefit from it myself, but knowing it’s keeping track every time I comment through it. If someone showed me a reason to love it, maybe I’d change my mind. But for now it’s come to leave a negative aftertaste. I view it as a comment deterrent. If you see a Disqus-powered comment from me anywhere, it means at least at that time, the relationship I wanted to create with the site owner was more powerful to me than the vague “ick” I feel when I see a Disqus dialog.

This entry was posted in blog, blogging, Twitter, web. Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to Why I Don’t Like Disqus

  1. Thanks so much for this post, Cheryl! I fully admit I’m eyeballs deep in this stuff and have to step back to get the “perspective of the average […] person” as you described yourself. So in that light, I totally appreciate it.

    You’ve got me thinking. I’m going to do some research to see how widespread your opinion is on this before I do anything rash. But I’m fully willing to change things up if I find I’m not getting comments because my intended audience is too intimidated by Disqus to post.

    One of the things I appreciate most in life is being challenged to make sure that what I think is the most correct answer for a given situation. Many many things I’ve found, we hold a belief on, but don’t know where that belief came from. Accepting the challenge to find out why we believe that is an important one, and even more so, accepting that we might have to change our opinion and/or actions based on those findings.

    Reading that last paragraph back sounds a bit over the top to me, and I wrote, but I’m leaving it because I’m serious. From abortion to blog commenting systems, I want to hold beliefs that are thought out. I like to be intentional.

    Thanks for getting me to think about this.

  2. Cheryl Colan says:

    It didn’t really sound over the top to me, Jeremy, but I like to be intentional, too. In fact your liking of Disqus encourages me to reexamine it. I dug further back and realized I had formed my first impression a couple years ago and haven’t really reevaluated since then. It’s not my habit to decide and never think about something again, so I’ll be taking a fresh look.

    Cool. Learning!

  3. Daniel Ha says:

    Hi Cheryl, my name is Daniel and I work at Disqus.

    These are good thoughts, though they represent ideals that Disqus doesn’t agree with. Disqus is more about making contributing more rewarding for you — if we’re not doing that, we’re not doing our job right.

    The “made you feel ick” part stood out to me. How can we prevent that from happening?

  4. Cheryl Colan says:

    Hi Daniel,

    I hear you’re good people. :)

    I’m not sure I’m representing any particular ideals. My concern has generally been that I don’t know what information about me is tracked or how it is used when I use Disqus. Meaning, I don’t know the Disqus ideals. I admit I have not lived up to my full responsibility to find out by reading your Terms of Use or Privacy Policy. Of course, that’s because my eyes glaze over at the legal lingo. But the “ick” feeling specifically comes from me not understanding how the Disqus service is mutually beneficial to both the commenter and the site owner, and me wondering how my information is tracked/used but not finding a simpler explanation than the TOS and Privacy Policy.

    Honestly I don’t see how using Disqus rewards me or makes my normal activities easier somehow. I’m looking at the benefits described at disqus.com/profile:

    • Claim my comments? I use my real name, so I feel like that claims my comments for me. I’ve never had anyone impersonate me. Is that really a problem? And could Disqus prevent that anywhere that Disqus isn’t the comment engine?
    • Connecting multiple social networks identities isn’t for me. A whole different crowd follows me on Twitter than are my Facebook friends. Both groups would probably find crossposting annoying. This isn’t something I see myself needing. I could be wrong, but I’d need to be shown how it benefits me.
    • Delete or edit my comments? I hope I never consider doing that. I don’t like the idea of censoring conversation after the fact. I can see how it would be useful for some, but I wouldn’t want to remove something I say on a blog. It feels dishonest to me. You can’t go back in time and un-speak a verbal utterance. And I guess I feel that same way about participating on a blog. Think before you speak, no take-backs.
    • Track and subscribe might be interesting, but I can’t figure out how to do it, at least not by logging into Disqus and quickly looking through my profile options. But I didn’t look hard. I may have missed it.
    • Easiest way to comment? I don’t see how commenting through Disqus is any easier than normal WordPress comments. If it removes the captcha it might be 5 seconds quicker to comment on a site like Blogger. But if it changes what I’m used to, what I’ve learned, then it’s also confusing.

    I’m not trying to be dense. I really just do not get it. Maybe I have a distrustful or cynical streak, but I feel like these are kind of manufactured benefits. Like someone is trying to convince me I need something when I don’t. But I’m willing to be open minded, or be convinced. As I said earlier, I formed an early first impression and haven’t reevaluated in the last two years. If I could see how someone else (like Jeremy) uses Disqus and hear them telling about why it makes their life better, the light bulb might go on.

  5. iConJohn says:

    I totally agree with you Cheryl that Disqus is a bit much to just leave a comment. But on the other hand, I rather put in the extra effort for a very important comment (and usually I just skip making one) than those jive “reblog” or “like buttons on Tumblr blogs.

  6. Myrna Duran says:

    Thanks so much for this post, Cheryl! I fully admit I’m eyeballs deep in this stuff and have to step back to get the “perspective of the average […] person” as you described yourself. So in that light, I totally appreciate it. You’ve got me thinking. I’m going to do some research to see how widespread your opinion is on this before I do anything rash. But I’m fully willing to change things up if I find I’m not getting comments because my intended audience is too intimidated by Disqus to post. One of the things I appreciate most in life is being challenged to make sure that what I think is the most correct answer for a given situation. Many many things I’ve found, we hold a belief on, but don’t know where that belief came from. Accepting the challenge to find out why we believe that is an important one, and even more so, accepting that we might have to change our opinion and/or actions based on those findings. Reading that last paragraph back sounds a bit over the top to me, and I wrote, but I’m leaving it because I’m serious. From abortion to blog commenting systems, I want to hold beliefs that are thought out. I like to be intentional. Thanks for getting me to think about this.

  7. Joshua Rodman says:

    My personal view is: Disqus doesn’t work unless I trust that domain to execute code in my browser. Why should I? Is it better to have to make extra round trips to the domains and execute arbitrary code to view static text? I contend that it’s much worse, and that having the comments be part of the initial page load presents a far simpler, more efficient, better user experience, that’s more secure to boot.

  8. Ryan says:

    I hate Disqus and won’t comment on sites that require it. I’ve never seen any option to post as “guest”. Instead it requires me to provide information about me (yahoo, google, twitter, etc.).

    Not cool.

    My goal in life is not to help Disqus founders get rich collecting on my browsing/commenting habits.

    Basically, websites that use Disqus are websites I no longer spend much time at. Anyone worried about how Disqus either does use, or at some point may use, this information would do well to avoid them all together.

  9. FYI. Discus is censoring my comments to energy sites. Twice comments have been posted and immediately removed by Disqus. The comment today “There are other ways. Visit byronwine.com”. Seems the truth is too much for Disqus.

  10. corinthian says:

    Cheryl Colan expresses my own sentiments. Two of my favorites political websites where I regularly comment have acquired Disqus; I have yet to comment under this new programming.

    I am most uneasy about this “convenience.” I do not see any real advantages for me to be able to collect and catalog any and all comments I make on any and all given sites on the Internet. In fact, I searched “Disqus and the NSA” because the only reason I can see for such a “convenience” is spying…

    I am sorry to say that I will no longer be commenting on the Internet. Nor do I anticipate my fears being allayed by the increased, and unavoidable usage of it by others.

    Ms. Colan said it best: if I am not paying for the service I am using, I am not the customer. I am the product. To be packaged and sold…..to whom?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>