Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The Great Comment Controversy
Conversation & Community

I'll preface my announcement by saying that I've, again, been looking all over the blogosphere these last few months -- attempting to find the best way to handle blog comments. Commenters are all so different. For example, many of you don't want to subscribe to a full comment feed for each post you comment on (don't blame you a bit, by the way) so you leave a comment and assume the blog author will respond personally via email. Some of you don't have your profile email enabled on google/blogger so that blog authors can simply hit "reply" and respond privately (you may have reason for this, I won't judge ya). Some of you don't leave comments, but you do read the comment questions and wonder why the blog author didn't answer them publicly. And some of you actually DO keep coming back to the original post over and over and over to check on what the blog author had to say to each commenter (wow, you guys are sure committed).

So how do I handle everyone's needs and expectations without bending over backwards???

I'm seriously considering moving to Disqus for all blog commenting options. I've noticed a number of blogs now use this comment service and once I saw how convenient it was and how many options there are, I was like Um, why wasn't I invited to the party?

I've had many issues with the traditional comment system.I used to respond to all comments inside my own comments, but as I mentioned above, loads of you don't want to subscribe to the whole comment feed or keep checking back for 2 or 3 days. So after seeing that most of YOU have been responding to my comments via private email, I totally jumped on that bandwagon. HOWEVER:

(1) to other readers, it looks like I didn't answer those who asked public questions here and...

(2) Oh, I wouldn't dare mention any names (Amanda, Sujata, Juli, Lisa, Becky, Willow and more - LOL) :wink: but a number of my dear friends don't make their email addresses available through their blogger profiles (sometimes for very legitimate reasons, mind you).

I KNOW I'm not alone in this reply issue because I see many of YOU are writing blog posts about your commenting frustration, as well.

I'm relieved to find that Disqus appears, at least, to fix all the issues I'm having daily. You can reply to a comment directly on your blog and it simultaneously privately emails your response to the person you're responding to. Readers can still subscribe to the whole feed if they'd like, as well.

Second, I recently clicked on the Disqus website and it immediately took me to my own disqus account where I could instantly see every single comment I've left for ANYONE using my Disqus account. They're all there -- so I can see where I've been and what conversations I'm involved in all week, month, or year long. And this is pretty useful because there have been comments I've written, in the past, that I've forgotten where I left them and I wanted to borrow pieces of it for a future post (and yet I don't want to subscribe by email to every single post I leave a note on). Now, as long as I use disqus to comment, I have a great overview of my year. How nifty is that?!

Third, it also has an option to lay out all comments like a discussion board so you can see who the author is replying to. Pretty nifty and all compartmentalized like us librarians and educators deeply appreciate. ETA: Check out Lisa's (from Crazy Advent. in Parenting) Disqus comments from earlier this week HERE.

Fourth, I like that I'm reading that Daniel Ha, of Disqus, continues to ask "How can we make Disqus work even better for you?" And as I'm looking around blogs who are writing about questions they've had about Disqus, I'm seeing more comment replies directly from Daniel. He even TWEETED me on Twitter when I mentioned Disqus. How great and attentive is THAT?!

Fifth, you can still personalize your account just like you did elsewhere with a picture, website address, etc.

There's plenty more...but I won't go through the entire list of great options. I guess I'll end with my final thrills: It's easy to use, painless to sign up for, and FREE. This seems like a no-brainer.

Oh yeah, Daniel, if you ARE listening, I am wondering: Can EVERYONE see my comment history or is it just me? I'd like to be the only one with access to my own comment history?

By the way, I found the following write-ups (both positive and negative) for anyone else considering making this change:

25 Reasons to Use Disqus

Comment Control with Disqus

Why Disqus is Winning the Web Comment Battles

Should You Use Disqus Comment System?

And if anyone wants to jump straight to the Disqus Wiki, you can do that HERE.

Anyone out there use Disqus and care to comment here? Pluses you've experienced? Negatives to warn about? I'd love to hear more before I decide to make any changes to my settings.

Disclaimer: Disqus has IN NO WAY suggested, encouraged, or prompted this post. They have no idea I'm writing it or even who I am. If a representative from Disqus happens upon this post, it's solely due to their brilliant search skills (and desire to serve their customers). In other words, it's completely coincidental. :)

Please click ♥ thoughtful comments ♥ (below) to let me know you stopped by. If you don't have a google or gmail account, just choose "Name/URL" or "anonymous" before submitting. THANK YOU!

32 ♥ thoughtful comments ♥:

Andy C said...

Thanks for the link. I've used Disqus for a while on my blog and like it.

The biggest problem which Disqus continue to fight is spam. Although they promise that V3 (due next week) may address this by hooking into Akismet + custom code.

Interesting point about 'hiding' your profile. In actual fact, this is quite contrary to the whole ethos of Disqus where you are supposed to actively build a network of friends with common interests and be able to browse what blogs they read and have been commenting on :-)

2Shaye ♪♫ said...

Thank you, Andy! And touche, I just knew some brilliant soul would point out that what *I* want runs counter to the ethos of Disqus. I also realize that it would be ideal to feel completely open to sharing all of my thoughts and comments on every single blog with those who are interested. I mean, they ARE public comments so anyone could hunt them down anyway. So...why it feels so creepy in Disqus, I really don't know. But I'm still slowly adjusting to the idea and to what it means for blogging openness, integrity and accountability. The most honest form of true networking, right?

Thanks again!

Dr. Wifey said...

Shaye, I am with you on it being a little creepy having all your comments in one spot. i mean, sure someone can hunt your comments down, but it Disqus may make it much easier. The reason I even bring this up is because recently I was doing an online white pages search for someone and when their address was brought up, it had a link to do a personal check. I did my name for kicks and it came up with some blog comments I had made and associated with my email address! I am thinking of changing my email address and having one just for blogging.

2Shaye ♪♫ said...

Yeah, it's sometimes scary seeing how many things are associated with our names in a good search. It's all really out there!

I really like Disqus--I barely even skimmed the list of options in my post, too. It really simplifies and yet offers a lot of other more advanced options for those so inclined. So I'm torn on how I feel. Seeing that everyone ELSE can see what I've said in every nook and cranny of the blog world initially freaked me out. But at the same time, I want to be real. I want to be open. I want to be honest. I guess I'm kinda wondering why it would bother me. Like, I'm having to ask I really think I have anything to hide? Because if I wouldn't feel comfortable with anyone reading my comment, maybe I shouldn't be making it. As IF my blog isn't honest enough as it is. LOL

I'm still mulling it over and may drop Daniel an email asking about the possibility of a future option to make a private comment here or there in some extreme situation where I wanted it logged in Disqus but also didn't want it thrown in with all of my other comments. But even as I type that, it sounds so shallow. Why don't I like this??? Argh. I should be able to stand behind anything I say in public, right? Someone help me out here.

Sakshi said...

Came all the way from Sujata's awesome blog :). That was quiet an info you have given about Disqus. I think this is what I really want, considering the amount of comments I put everywhere it would be nice if I kinda had an inventory of my own comments and the responses. I usually come under the category of people you said who hits a blog like mad to check for the response :) and sometimes I do subscribe to the comments too.

Will be here again for sure and thanks for the tips. Have a great day

Deb said...

Hi Shaye ~ Well. For someone who is happy to even find where to leave the comments on some blogs, this whole Disqus concept sounds a tad confusing. I will probably continue as I currently do - sometimes I email a commentor, sometimes I leave comments within my comment box and sometimes, if life is hectic, I unfortunately do nothing. I know that is rude but I do the best I can - and remind myself that blogging is not my life, just a fun hobby. And I understand when people do not respond back to me directly or indirectly. We are all doing the best we can - and I have decided that you are now my computer mentor! Lucky lady! ;0

septembermom said...

Shaye, you gave me a true Disqus education today. I really was clueless about this whole following comment option. Thanks for the links. I'm going to seriously consider it.

2Shaye ♪♫ said...

@Sakshi~ It's nice to meet you! I hope you'll let me know how it goes. I'm going to give it the next couple weeks to think it over. Also, Daniel sent me his phone number just today so that I could hash out any Disqus concerns voice to voice. Sounds like fun, eh?

2Shaye ♪♫ said...

@Deb~ Oh no. I hope I didn't make it sound too confusing. It's meant to be just as simple as adding blogger comments (once you sign in, you're in), but it even simplifies things more for replying and organizing comments from the "user" end. I'm trying to think of some blogs that have it...oh, like Crazy Adventures in Parenting (click HERE to see how the thread looks like a discussion board) or even head to Andy C's blog (the first commenter on this post) as he uses Disqus. It's easy to see who is responding to which comment.

And LOL at computer mentor!! I think many of us are navigating these unfamiliar waters together, my friend. I'll make many mistakes along the way, I'm sure!

2Shaye ♪♫ said...

@septembermom~ I wish I had put several links to other bloggers who use Disqus. In case you don't already know of some, I put the link to one of Crazy's comment threads above. But really, it's easier to just create an account and play around with it. I have an account but I haven't added it to my blog, yet. Still mulling it over. :) I think it's worth it for people to at least know of the option. Who knows, in a few months it may be the main comment option being used!

Farmgirl Paints said...

Wow girl you have put a lot of thought into this. I didn't even know it existed. I hope you do it and let us all know how it works. I know I could definitely use a better system for managing comments.

It's a little overwhelming at times. As my comments grow I feel an increase in the time I spend responding and connecting with people...if there were an easier way that would be great.

Anonymous said...

You mentioned my lack of email address... I actually had no clue that it was an option that could be enabled/disabled. I usually leave comments with the "OpenID" option so it will link to my blog, and there's nowhere to enter an email. Is there some other way to do it? (Feeling silly b/c I just can't figure out how to enable my email address. Really, I've looked all over, and I can't figure it out!)

When I leave comments on blog posts, I always assumed that people would just leave responses there & I'd have to check back (or click a box to have all the comments sent to me).

You've opened my mind to other comment options! Off to check out my blogger profile & see if I can add my email there...

Lisa H.

Jess said...

2Shaye *I LOVE THAT, BTW* -

Thank you for all the investment of time and effort into this Disqus thing. Comments are frustrating for a lot of bloggers, so I am grateful for something that may be an answer to some of those concerns.

Our kids are gearing up for the first day of school tomorrow -- I envy you being able to home school -- not sure I could do that; you're much more patient than I am -- I love my kids more than peanut butter and jelly on wheat bread, but I am grateful that someone else gets to work some energy out of them for a few hours a day. I'm sure that will all change eventually, but I'm glad they're returning to school. Maybe I can get my classes finished up, now, too!

Anyhewz, hope all the kiddos are doing well. Love, love love blogs for keepin up on people we just don't seem to see enough of!!

Hugs to all --

Mama Nut said...'ve brought up some good points. I think it says a lot about you that you are so considerate of your readers/commenters.

2Shaye ♪♫ said...

@Farmgirl Becky~ And boy, you sure to have a lot of comments each day. I'm only looking at an average of 10-15. But I'm still all for simplifying. Guess there's only one way for me to really find out how it works. But that means that anyone who comments on my blog will also have to try it out if they're going to leave a comment. At least I won't be alone. :)

♥ Boomer ♥ said...

First I ever heard of this! Frankly, I'd hate to see and be reminded of some of the dumb comments I've made in the past! **chuckling to myself**

I was on a teleconference today with IRS - forum involved identity theft ... kinda scary that everything you ever write/comment/post, etc., is 'out there' for the whole world to see. As I was always told -- never say (write) (comment) (post) anything you wouldn't want published on the front page of your hometown newspaper...

I often subscribe to the comments, especially if I've asked something or am concerned about the issue or person who wrote it.

And definitely, definitely ... only use an email address solely for blogging! Keep your personal email out of sight.

Interesting post. When I have much more time, I may explore Disqus. I'll be interested in Daniel's answer to everyone's ability to view all of your comments, versus only you seeing them.

♥ Boomer ♥ said...

Oh -- and I love you. ♥

2Shaye ♪♫ said...

@Lisa~ Ya know, I'm not sure how it works with Open ID. The blogger reply thing is run through a Google log-in, I believe. But now that I type that, I want to say that even my Wordpress visitors have email enabled. Hmmm...I hope someone else can jump in here and answer this because I know many others are trying to figure out their email configuration so they can get their profile to allow emails even if they don't sign in through google.

This is just one more reason why I like the idea of doesn't seem to matter what blog you're running.

2Shaye ♪♫ said...

@Jess~ Mainly, I just don't want anyone to feel missed or ignored. It takes more time (for me) to respond via the comments section, but if I email then no one else finds out the answer to a question. I like the community-type atmosphere that Disqus promotes, at least.

Oh and I TOTALLY agree with you on blogs helping us keep up with one another even though we live just 4 blocks from each other. I don't even REMEMBER the last time I saw you face-to-face. What's WRONG with us??? LOL

2Shaye ♪♫ said...

@Mama Nut~ Well, with adorable bloggers like you hanging around here, do you blame me? :wink: However, I have to admit that I'd be doing this more for me than anyone. Simplify, simplify, simplify. Right?

2Shaye ♪♫ said...

@Boomer~ Yeah, it's all out there. It's pretty much impossible to hide anymore. Even having an unlisted number doesn't do much for those wanting privacy. I think it's probably much easier for us to just be who we are meant to be...straightforward and honest.

I try to subscribe when I ask a question. But there are days that I ask several questions and then so many comments come through on that list that I eventually forget what I was waiting for and I unsubscribe to stop the email insanity. LOL

I have two emails connected with my blog. I've used them both and even switched my blog over to a new email address which was crazy work. Seriously, I'd not want to do that again if I didn't have to.

sujata said...

Shaye am such a dud when it comes to technicalities..i do keep hopping comittedly as you say..i have not completely understood the disqus thing yet, but seems interesting none theless. If you are happy with it, lemme know will go on then.

FranticMommy said...

wow. Great research Shaye. i didn't even know all those cool features were possible. I may have to check that out. My only and only Comment Box wish....Spellcheck.

Andy C said...

Hi everyone

It's funny. I mix in circles where people are very technical and they raise a whole bunch of very different objections and resvervations to Disqus (not owning your comments, what if Disqus site is down, what if Disqus goes bust, exporting/sync'ing existing comments etc etc) but I have never heard the 'Private' comment thought before.

In actual fact, you still can comment on a Disqus site without it being added to your Disqus profile. You simply logout of Disqus and comment anonymously (leaving your Name/URL as normal).

I once read some great advice about blogging which was 'Imagine your Mum is reading the blog and would you feel comfortable'. This is why I (try) do not use profanity and try to write with some sense of responsibility.

As for comments, I tend to have the same approach although I'm probably slightly less bothered and more spontanous as they are scattered all over the blogopshere.

I still find it slightly curious and odd why you find the prospect of all your comments aggregated and visible in one place so disconcerting.

Having said that, I write a semi-anonymous blog - mainly to protect the identity of my family - so who am I to talk.

Nice dropping by and enjoying the ongoing conversation about Disqus and comments in general.

Herb of Grace said...

Hmmm. A lot to think about.... I tend to reply to comments by commenting on that person's blog. That way I'm sure they'll receive a reply.

I may have to look into Disqus...

Sarahlcc said...

Hi Shaye! Disqus sounds like fun, although I do have the same concern as you, it would be nice if everyone were not able to see every comment!!! I may take the plunge with you and put it on my blog as well, it sounds like it would make the commenting process even more interactive. (((hugs))) Have a wonderful rest of your week! I'm looking forward to anything else you find out about Disqus.

2Shaye ♪♫ said...

@Frantic~ The more I read, the more impressed I am. I think Disqus may already provide a spellcheck option, but for comment box spellcheck across all platforms I simply use Mozilla Firefox as my browser (all unrecognized words are underlined in red and if you right-click you're provided alternates). I firmly believe Internet Explorer is a dying breed (and for good reason). The Google Chrome browser also does auto spellcheck any time you type anywhere. If you're still clicking on the little blue "e" to get to the internet, try out Firefox or Chrome for just a week and you'll never go back. You can thank me later. :)

2Shaye ♪♫ said...

@Sujata~ You really are committed and it shows wonderfully!! Coming to your blog each day is like coming into your home because you're active and present in your comments. :)

In general, I used to subscribe to all the comment feeds I commented on (using the "email follow-up comments to" option below where I leave a comment), but then my email box was filled with everyone else's comments every hour of every day. Now I only subscribe to comments when I ask a question or am particularly interested in what everyone else is saying about something close to my heart. I frequently subscribe to your comments because over time I've learned that you're faithful about responding within your own comments and I enjoy hearing what you have to say to everyone.

Responding to comments via personal email seems to be the growing trend, but again, not everyone has enabled their email through blogger. And before I started responding via email, I also had to subscribe to all of my comments by going into my blogger SETTINGS then to the COMMENTS tab and then add my own email address at the very bottom of that screen before hitting save. Once all comments started coming in via email, I simply hit "reply" and write a personal comment back. I didn't even have to keep visiting my own blog.

Unfortunately, this means that I've failed to respond to a hand full of friends who leave comments without a way for me to contact them. I'm hoping that something like Disqus will simplify things so that I can respond to all people the same way. And since everyone's email stays private, I can still respond in private if it's about a personal matter. We'll see how it goes.

Have a great weekend, my friend!

Lisa @ Crazy Adventures in Parenting said...

I love it, actually. Yesterday was a first for me in which it hiccuped, and they explained it was because them 'tweaking the servers'.

I love the interaction I get from it, and I love being able to track down whether it posted properly - I love being able to edit my comments, too. And rating them and all the cute gadgets, like top commenter, too.

I say, DO IT! ;)

2Shaye ♪♫ said...

@Frantic~ I think Disqus may already provide a spellcheck option, but for comment box spellcheck across all platforms I simply use Mozilla Firefox as my browser (all unrecognized words are underlined in red and if you right-click you're provided alternates for mispellings). I firmly believe Internet Explorer is a dying breed (and for good reason). The Google Chrome browser also does auto spellcheck any time you type anywhere. If you're still clicking on the little blue "e" to get to the internet, consider trying out Firefox or Chrome for just a week and you'll never go back. You can thank me later. :)

@Herb~ I've met a couple other bloggers that do that, too, just to make sure they get a response. But then I'm left with the possibility that other readers don't see the response and wonder what the answer is.

@Sarah~ If you do, we'll both be wading the waters of newness together! :)

@Lisa~ YAY! And thanks for stopping by. I'm glad to hear that you're so pleased!

2Shaye ♪♫ said...

@Andy~ Sorry I'm responding so late. I just realized I forgot to mention more of my concerns.

I totally get the idea of community and accountability and even appreciate it when it comes to mainstream conversations like, as you mentioned, technology. But there are far more things to be concerned with than profanity or commenting responsibility. Many comments are completely appropriate and yet are sensitive to certain audiences.

Take my position, for example. I only allow one of my blogs to show up in my profile because it's my main stompin' grounds and I openly welcome anyone because I feel this is a safe and non-offensive blog for my family and for most surfers. But I also own a handful of blogs and also a couple websites and I comment on a wide variety of other blogs from crafts, to children's literature, to giving birth, to teaching, to breastfeeding, etc. Two of my blogs are places for young children and their parents to visit (For example, as a former classroom teacher and librarian, I review children's and young adult literature). Yet I also write and comment on a large number of other women's health and mothering issues from reproduction and fertility to breastfeeding. If I respond to a couple having a difficult time conceiving a baby, my comments may include helpful information including applicable s*xual positions, s*xual frequency, menstrual cycles, lubrication, org*sm's affect on conception and even v*ginal, uterine, and sometimes p*nis issues.

I'm not bothered, in the least, for my own mother to read this information. I'm speaking at a midwifery conference next month and so those who know me understand this is an area I'm highly passionate about--my friends know and respect that. These subjects are all completely appropriate and have their time and place in the public sector of the blogosphere. Nevertheless, the little 6, 8, or 10 year old (some that I know personally) who frequents one of my other busy children's blogs would NOT be a good candidate to click on my Disqus profile and read some of my other comments that may come up through my other areas of passionate interest and experience. And while I imagine their parents are already carefully monitoring their online surfing, they certainly wouldn't expect that a children's literature website would provide a direct link to some of these more mature topics.

As far as I understand, Disqus' only solution would be to require I keep 2 or 3 different accounts open and log in and out depending on where I'm visiting and commenting (if I desire to keep record of what I say). OR I would forfeit one of the primary benefits of Disqus (aggregation) by being required to log out completely just because I communicate with different audiences.

For those of us addressing both delicate and adult audiences for various purposes, I really think this would be at least one argument for having an option of privatization. And I don't think I should have to give up aggregations just because I have a large number of children viewing some of my blogs.

Whimsical Creations said...

That you for writing this and giving the links. I really need to look into doing the same thing. I was just thinking about this subject earlier today.

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