Random Thoughts – Randocity!

Why you should NOT use Disqus on your site!

Posted in botch, business, california by commorancy on October 26, 2017

What is Disqus (pronounced discuss)? This is a service that purports to offer an embedded comment / discussion service to your blog or website. Seems like a good feature, but let’s explore why this service shouldn’t be used.

Discussion Forums

Any good blog site or article site should offer a way to allow for comments. However, I find far too many sites that don’t offer comments at all. This is not the focus of this article, but it is one of my pet peeves. Should you choose to add a discussion or comment service, you should not consider using Disqus at all. Why?

Every good discussion package should offer a way to moderate posts and see every post that’s been submitted to your article. I believe that while Disqus does offer moderation, it also has a built-in spam detection package that hides posts from you that have been detected as spam. The problem with using Disqus, is that not only is their spam detection heinously faulty by filtering out many valid posts as false positives, Disqus does nothing about it. This means that as a site owner, you could be losing many, many valuable and valid comments to Disqus’s spam detection system.

As a site owner, you won’t even get to see those detected posts to know they were even there. They are simply hidden in the user’s profile on Disqus who posted their comment. Secondarily, the person leaving the comment can do nothing to get their comment unspammed. Once it’s detected by Disqus’s spam filter, that comment is lost for all eternity. Disqus staff not only does not monitor these failures,  they do nothing about them. Disqus offers a comment platform and they can’t even do that job.

If a user clicks on the This is not spam button, nothing happens. The post is not reposted. No one at Disqus looks at the comment. No one approves it. So, the comment remains in perpetual limbo solely on the user’s Disqus profile.

Disqus as a Discussion Service

As a site owner contemplating embedding Disqus as a comment platform for your site, you want to know that your reader’s comments appear timely and fully. This is guaranteed not to happen with Disqus. You don’t want to use a half-baked discussion system thinking you’re actually getting to see all comments on your posts. With Disqus, I’d guess at least 50% of all comments left on an article are lost to Disqus’s extremely stupid spam filtering system. That number might even be higher than that. If you actually want to see all participation on your posts, you should find another system to enable comments on your articles. DO NOT rely on the Disqus platform as they WILL lose valuable comments from your readers… comments that you will never see.

If you really value reader feedback and participation, do yourself a favor and DO NOT USE Disqus as a platform. Until this company actually gives a damn about your users and actually gives you the tools to manage every user response (spam filtered or not), you should find another service to add discussion feedback to your articles that you post.

Better, lead your users your other social media site where open discussions are, in fact, permitted without the draconian spam engine that Disqus currently employs to hide and censor valid and valuable comments from you.

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10 Responses

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  1. libertyandfreedomguy said, on July 26, 2018 at 8:53 am

    I’m waiting till President Trump’s administration comes down hard on Facebook, Twitter; and I might as well add Disqus, since they all are into shadow banning and spam banning. What is the sense of writing a novel with political overtones, and promote it on social media, if it’s going to be banned to death.

    Like

  2. Ron Lyons said, on July 26, 2018 at 8:47 am

    I am waiting for the Trump administration come down hard on Twitter and Facebook, also add Disqus to that list, before I do any further work on promoting my book. Why should I write a book with a political twist and promote it on social media, only to have it shadow banded and labeled as SPAM.

    Like

    • commorancy said, on July 26, 2018 at 9:33 am

      Thanks for the comment, Ron. The problem with private business is that the First Amendment doesn’t apply. The First Amendment free speech rules only apply when speaking out against the government or when acting as a journalist, yes blog sites are also considered journalism. When using private business services not operated by the government and where you are strictly under a EULA for using that service, there is no such thing as free speech. If the business feels that your speech isn’t appropriate to their business agenda, they can edit it, mangle it or remove your speech at their discretion.

      On the one hand, social media does want you to use their services to promote things. On the other hand, if the thing you’re trying to promote is not something they want you promoting, they also have the right to remove it.

      As far as Disqus and Facebook comment systems, site owners should stop using them immediately and find some discussion software that they fully control. The problem particularly with Disqus is that their software spam detection is overly zealous to the point of being broken. I’d say that Facebook’s system is only slightly better, but you’re forced to have a Facebook account to use it. If a site operator chooses to use these systems, then that operator must take the bad with the good. And believe me, the bad is so bad with these comment systems, that whatever little good comes from it is not worth it.

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  3. Justin Ayers said, on April 26, 2018 at 6:02 pm

    Disqus literally had one of its staff claim that the stricter the rules are for a discussion forum the better — and that that’s not censorship! This person claimed that having strict-as-possible rules isn’t censorship as long as those rules are published. It sounded like the kind of reasoning one would find from North Korean state media. Having people like that in charge of moderation is a recipe for failure.

    My comments are frequently labeled as spam now if they are too politically important. I quipped a long time ago that the rule of forums is that if you haven’t been banned it’s because you haven’t said anything new there. The tolerance for critical thinking only stretches as far as what people consider too weak to change the status quo. One of the variations on this theme is that if a person writes a comment that’s particularly well-written they’ll be accused of copy-paste. Anything to evade the message.

    My likes to comments ratio is above 50% (despite not pandering to the likes count by posting on less-read sites and not pandering) and I’ve been commenting via Disqus for years, yet the censorship of my posts as “spam” now is becoming very common. Editing a comment now gets the spam filter slapped on it, frequently — so forget about correcting those typos. There are other strange behaviors, too — like comments that only show up in my profile, looking like they were posted, but which don’t show up on the page, comments that show up on the page but not in my profile, etc. Another irritation is the way that the system appears to prevent a person, or at least certain people, from responding to the same person more than a few times.

    Disqus really needs to have a feature that lets a person place a visual indicator by a post to indicate they’re going to ignore further comments, as a way to make it clear that they’re not “losing” a debate because they didn’t respond to a further comment. Sometimes disengagement is the only valid path because of trolls and astroturfers.

    Liked by 1 person

    • commorancy said, on April 26, 2018 at 6:40 pm

      Hi Justin,

      Thanks for reading and and taking the time to comment. As you can see by my blog articles, I’m fairly a verbose writer. As a result, whenever I write comments, they tend to be on the longer side (to wit 👇).

      While I’ve not found all of the things you’ve found when using Disqus, I have experienced some of these issues. I’ve also pretty much stopped commenting on sites that use Disqus. It’s too much of a hassle. In my experience, I’ve found that length is a common factor in whether something gets marked as spam. It has nothing to do with content, only length. If it’s longer than about one paragraph, the comment gets marked as spam. Sometimes editing causes it to be marked as spam, but I’ve only found that about 50% of the time. If I’m editing a smaller comment (slightly longer than a Twitter-sized comment), I’ve had no problems editing a comment… multiple times in a row. If then I try to edit a longer comment, it seems to have a higher probability of being marked as spam. Though, I don’t think it’s actually the act of editing that’s triggering the problem.

      I have found that it can take upwards of 5-15 minutes (maybe longer) before Disqus finds and marks a comment as spam and hides it from the site. For example, I’ve submitted comments and had them appear on the site for at least 10-15 minutes (sometimes longer), even refreshing the page several times to ensure the comment was still there. Then, I come back the next day and the comment is missing. I look at my Disqus profile and the comment has been marked as spam by Disqus. Sometimes the comment is marked as spam while I’m in the process of editing it.

      My problem with this whole situation is that once Disqus marks it as spam, there’s no way to undo that. There’s no appeals process. You can’t contact Disqus. Disqus offers no reason why. You also can’t contact the site that uses Disqus. In fact, I’ve tried the latter only to find that the site moderator cannot even see the comment to do anything about this situation. The comment is just lost with no way back.

      I’ve tried copying the content from the spam area and pasting it into a new comment, rewording it, cutting it down and even removing whole paragraphs. Sometimes this works (if I can get the size sufficiently small enough), most times it doesn’t and the new comment also gets marked as spam. Length of the comment is obviously the biggest factor. Apparently, Disqus only wants comments that fit within 200-400 characters. Longer than this and it doesn’t get through.

      As I said, I’ve stopped commenting on sites that use Disqus. If I have the time, I’ll attempt to find an email of the site owner and contact them sending them a link to this blog article (or via Twitter). I just don’t have time to waste trying to fight with Disqus over a system that should simply “just work”. In reality, Disqus is likely to die the silent tech death of so many startups before it. I’m of the motto, “If you can’t do it right, don’t do it at all”. I’m pretty sure Disqus’s death as a company is imminent.

      Thanks again for your reply.

      Like

    • KYLE J HILL said, on June 22, 2018 at 5:43 am

      Problem is many blogs use Disquse such as the SCS Software for the Truck Simulator and it’s a pain to comment there but no other choice. Comments randomly get filtered and if you edit the comment kiss it goodbye!

      Like

  4. Chris C. said, on October 27, 2017 at 8:47 am

    Well said… I see this problem mostly as one of deliberate censorship, mainly. On some sites, it’s a real plague; just spread the word on other platforms and people will eventually stay away. And I’m talking MAJOR news outlets here. Then again, what else do you expect from sites that claim to be the sole bearers of ‘truth’ and ‘information that matters’? So, Kudos for saying out loud what, I’m sure, more than a few people have been thinking for quite some time. Keep up the good work!

    For those who are dismayed at their input being deleted so unceremoniously, let me give you some good advice: NEVER use a browser comment form to voice your thoughts – compose it in Notepad or some other offline editor so that you may have an actual ‘hard’ copy of it should you wish to try again.

    Like

    • commorancy said, on October 28, 2017 at 11:11 pm

      Hi Chris, thanks for your comment. You don’t lose your own posts on Disqus, but you can’t get them unspammed either. This means you can go to your profile and see them on Disqus. This also means you can copy them. However, if Disqus spammed filtered it once, it’ll do it again. So, it’s never a good idea to copy and paste into a new Disqus comment form and expect any different results. Because Disqus doesn’t tell you what triggered the filter, you can’t even fix the post to get it past their filters.

      As to whether it’s a form of censorship is anyone’s guess. Though, I would doubt that it is. Disqus doesn’t keep track of any site’s content enough to filter out something that could be negative about that site. It’s more likely that Disqus’s spam filtering engine is just overall crappy (not every programmer in the SF Bay Area is actually talented) and catches far too many false positives. Any site that I find using Disqus as their primary comment system I simply avoid commenting at all. It’s way too much of a hassle to deal with. I’d prefer to leave a comment to the author directly on Twitter or Facebook instead.

      Worse, Disqus never informs you as a comment author (or the site operator) that your post has been spam filtered. It just disappears when you refresh the comments. You’ll only find it was filtered by Disqus after viewing your Disqus profile and reviewing your content. The site owners have no control over this, which is all the worse. As a site operator, you want the ability to 100% control everything that your readers post (spam or not). If it’s spam, then mark it and tell the site operator that it was spammed. Let the site operator decide if it’s actually spam, not Disqus. However, Disqus insists on sending detected spam into a hidden bucket that only Disqus manages. The site operator doesn’t even know the comment ever existed. That the site operator can’t manage every comment is the primary problem with Disqus and the single reason that site operators should never use the Disqus platform to host their reader’s comments.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Justin Ayers said, on April 26, 2018 at 6:12 pm

        Censorship is definitely part of it. I put the word “politics” in two posts and Disqus on PCGamer flagged them as spam. There is a nonsensical assertion in parts of the tech enthusiast world that it’s possible to discuss things, particularly tech news, without politics being involved. So, it didn’t surprise me so much, even though it’s idiotic.

        Another thing I discovered is that, after having tackled a particularly censorship-attracting topic, my posts now get labeled as spam if I edit them. I used to edit posts often for typos and to add further thoughts. But not now! It’s clear that the “automatic” spam filter has different options Disqus staff can set to increase censorship.

        Liked by 2 people

        • KYLE J HILL said, on June 22, 2018 at 5:44 am

          They are mad about Trump and want to censor the truth about Liberals and political correctness. Get ready for a Russian Revolution when they have exhausted all over options.

          Like


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