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Friday, August 08, 2021

Seems to be more and more adoption of third-party commenting/trackbacking engines on blogs and blogging-powered sites. The most prominent of these providers is probably Disqus, which is quickly gaining fans and funding.

I haven’t dug too deep on this phenomenon. My knee-jerk reaction is to avoid outsourcing core site functions, and the feedback mechanism is about as core as a blog gets. The constant concern is level of control: If it’s not under your site’s server umbrella, you’re subject to whatever conditions and hiccups the come up, with results that might be far from ideal for what shows up on your blog. Certainly, your own site can crash and burn as easily as an outsourced host; but at least then, the accountability begins and ends with you.

I have dealt with a plugin commenting utility in the past, though not by choice. Way back when I started blogging on the pre-Google-owned Blogger, the CMS didn’t include built-in commenting (nor true permalinks, for that matter). So I signed up for a free Haloscan account and used that as my comment/trackback engine. It worked fine, but the divorce between the proper blog-post content and the comments was clear, and jarring: It was basically like maintaining two separate sites.

Disqus and the like have improved upon this greatly. Comments now appear inline with post content, to the point of appearing wholly seamless. And the greater appeal lies in the social-networking aspects of offsite commenting: One-time registration offers preloaded access to all the sites that use Disqus, along with conversational tracking of feedback on an individual-user basis, all of which increases exposure and participation on blogs. I imagine this centralized registration scheme also relieves blog owners of the headaches of fighting comment spam (at least, it’d better — what’s the benefit otherwise?).

Is it the wave of the future? I can see the appeal, but I don’t know how much of a bet I’d make on supplanting a feature that’s already built-in on even the most basic blogging software these days. If it’s already there out of the box, it’s a tough sell to convince someone to take an extra step to replace it. Is comment spam enough of a bear to compel a switch? Maybe, although that’s also being addressed more and more effectively; for instance, I’ve found the latest version of the Bad Behavior plugin has tremendously cut back on the amount of cruft that sneaks through. And there are legitimate concerns over ceding what should be native content (ignoring that it’s been written by visitors — I think it’s understood by now that when you leave a comment on another site, you effectively transfer “ownership”, if not authorship).

I’m obviously not onboard, but I’m not averse to testdriving something like Disqus at some point. Probably not on this blog, but somewhere. I just don’t want to see it become so much the norm that native commenting functions start to get phased out of WordPress, MovableType, etc. I’d rather be a willing adopter of outsourced commenting, rather than be defaulted into it.

by Costa Tsiokos, Fri 08/08/2021 12:46:43 PM
Category: Bloggin'
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