Disqus? IntenseDebate? Nuts to both!

“Who does this Open attitude dude think he is? I’m going to give him a piece of my mind…!”

“Wha? Oh, um… Let’s see…”

“I don’t have an intensed-ebate account, whatever that is — or WordPress or OpenID…”

“I am on Twitter but is this blog going to steal my password or something? And why do I have to log in and give my name & email too?”

“Nuts to this, I’m outta here.”

I can only imagine how many times this has happened over the last seven days. All I can say is, I’m truly sorry. Just like the typical Apple user I used to be I got so caught up in geegaws that I lost sight of what’s truly important — your valued feedback on my posts.

The tenuous agreement between you and I has proven to be surprisingly robust over the three months. You understand that I moderate comments to keep out the spam and trolls; I understand that the email address you give me might not be legit — I honestly don’t even care, so long as your comments are sincere (though with a working address you do the opportunity to subscribe by email to new comments, should you so choose).

For some of you (Kevin Neely) it would be more convenient to have comments go live right away so you could Tweet your replies right after you post them; unfortunately the cost is too great for everyone else, me included. Other would-be commenters would have to endure that retarded login field or worse, sign up for a third-party service just to write in. And what I have to deal with on my end isn’t any easier.

Disqus is perhaps slightly less of an affront to your eyes, but it’s slow as fuck to load onto the end of posts. In the few days I had it running here there were lots of issues, from missing comments to broken links and widgets.

IntenseDebate, on the other hand, doesn’t even feel like a finished product. I wrote a support email with two simple questions:

  1. Seeing how I’m handing over my comments database to you, will my 200 or so comments on this blog ever count towards my ID reputation?
  2. More importantly, can I stop links in my comments from opening in new windows and instead make them behave in accordance with the rest of my blog?

The answer (provided many days later) was no and no. No reasons given.

Oh, and I got a nice little parting gift for deactivating the IntenseDebate plugin: the links I had put in my comments while running it all broke in exactly the same way, like this:

http://openattitude.com becomes http://openattitude.com

Classy, huh?

Both Disqus and IntenseDebate seem virus-like in their behavior, while running or when removed — at the very least they’re a solution in search of a problem. Maybe if you’re a site like Mashable, with potentially hundreds of comments on each post, an external commenting system might make sense. But at that point you’re likely not paying attention anyway, so why have comments at all?

I think it’s best if we keep things simple ’round here. After all, our friends on Mippin might want to comment too. And who are we to stop them?


  1. An interesting experiment. I’m sorry it didn’t work out and am willing to take all the blame for the failed efforts and user frustration. Personally, I like to selectively tweet my comments when they somewhat stand on their own and i hope to draw others into the conversation. Maybe it doesn’t work like that. Maybe I just miss the good ‘ole days of real conversation on Jaiku.

    In any case, thanks for giving it a go and choosing what works best for the site.

    (I suspect that URL munging is actually bad coding, as it looks like they are (poorly) escaping the slash, rather than being malicious. I could be wrong, but like to think the best of people)

  2. No no, it’s my fault.

    I actually thought there might be a way to “whitelist” your fine self and the other fine regulars here, based on your IP addresses. Maybe there’s a plug-in for that…

  3. Hey Oa,

    We’ve been having some scaling hiccups lately with our growth and I’m sorry that you’ve had a bad experience. I just wanted to thank you for trying our service and if there is anything I can do for you in the future just shoot me a message.

    Have a great weekend,


  4. Thanks for the nice note.

    I’ll assume that since you said nothing about Disqus and its competitors being a solution in search of a problem that you’re in agreement with me on that?

  5. Thanks for the advice. I guess you’re right. KISS is always the best. The last couple of days I’ve been switching between DQ and ID and the native WP comments on my blog, trying to figure out whether I should jump the bandwagon or not. after reading this post I am inclined to revert back to how it was: native WP. With the odd number of comments I get, I don’t think DQ or ID are worth the headaches they give me:

    ID does not go well with my theme. Comments are turned off on pages, but the ID comment box is still there, but saying “comments are turned off…please leave a comment”. Duh…

    DQ does not go well with my theme either. The DQ “Comments (#) and reactions (#)”-link in my post heading does not link to the DQ-container, so what perhaps makes people interested in my posts and want to see what others have said is only accessible through scrolling instead of direct link. Strangely enough, this does work with ID, though. And the “reactions”-part seems more like a show-off than actually useful.

    Anyway, in essence, if I want to keep ID or DQ I have to switch theme, which I do not want because of its outstanding built-in functionality.

    Again, thanks for some sound advice. Now off to my blog to delete and never reinstall neither DQ nor ID.

  6. I gotta say that I much prefer the simple WP comments. I don’t want to have to sign in to make a quick comment on a post for anyone. Plus, I always forget what user name I have for each of Disqus, OpenID and Intensedebate resulting in several of each defeating the purpose of all of them.

  7. I prefer using a server side language like PHP as in the case of WordPress to store the comments on my blog. However, sometimes, as in the case on tumblr. You can only play with client side languages. So you are kind of stuck with disqus or Intense Debate.. I like the fact I.D. has automattic behind it.. but it still comes down to which one stays the most hackable and lets people use the technology on their own.

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