Recently I discovered that more and more Blogs I visit start to use Disqus. And I don’t understand, why.
As Tim Bray said: “Own your space on the Web, and pay for it. Extra effort, but otherwise you’re a sharecropper“.
I read it as this is not just about owning your own ‘real estate’ on the web, but also owning your content. There is a saying going through the net (I couldn’t discover the original source, but it’s quoted like hell out there): “If you’re not paying for it, you’re the product“.
What’s this Disqus thing in the first place?
Maybe the reason that I can’t understand why everyone starts to use Disqus is, that I didn’t get the Disqus concept right myself.
For me, Disqus is outsourcing the discussion part (read: comments area) from your blog (or website) to a third party. Completely. Including the user-generated content in these comments.
Disqus offers itself as an easy way to build up communities. It’s targeted at advertising, so everything you post in your comments via Disqus
may will be used to target ads.
If your read through their terms and conditions, you will notice that your personal identifiable information you and third parties (like Facebook, when connecting to Disqus) pass to them may also be sold, together with any information you ‘publicly share’ via their service (read: your comments).
What’s so bad about it?
Well, you may decide for yourself if not actually owning your own content is okay for you. You may decide to share your comments on a site that uses Disqus or you may decide to NOT share your thoughts there.
But making this decision for your Blog is making this decision for all your visitors and everyone that want to comment on your posts is forced to share their comments with Disqus – or not share their thoughts with you.
The latter is the real problem with it. I won’t comment on sites using Disqus. So you won’t receive feedback from me. Okay, some people would rather say that’s a good thing ;-), but others would be pretty happy about what I have to say.
The technical debt
On several occasions I noticed that the Disqus service isn’t that reliable. I am commuting a lot. Right now I’m sitting in a train and have tethered internet connection. Mostly, Disqus doesn’t load at all for me. I can’t tell why. Especially not why it mostly happens when I’m on a tethered connection. And honestly, I don’t care.
When using Disqus for your site, you’re not only sourcing out your comments and your user’s content, but also the continuity of your service. What, if the Disqus API changes? You need to react, or lose you’re comments. What, if they decide to shut down the service? You lose your comments. Maybe you’re able to export all ‘your’ stuff previously. But then you’re on your own how to import that stuff into your own system again.
In my opinion, the price you pay with using this service is too high. You may loose participants in your discussions, you loose control over your content and you loose control over the availability of parts of your service.
Oh, wait. I forgot to mention the advantages you have from giving up your control. Erm.. Okay. Maybe someone tells me? I can’t find any.
Update: Fixed a typo. Thanks to Bob for the heads-up.