I’m not involved in the tech side of RedState. I don’t have the skills or the interest to acquire them. On occasion, though, things chap my ass to the point where I have to speak out. This is one of them.
Unless things change in the next week I feel confident in proclaiming our use of Disqus as a commenting system a failure and I am not sure I would recommend anyone use it.
Without getting into all the promises that were made to us during the run up to the new design I will point out what I see as the major failings of Disqus.
1. There is a blithe disregard for the personal privacy of anyone who uses Disqus. In the past if someone wanted all my comments they would have to register on the site, log in, visit my profile, and copy my comments one by one. Their alternative was to use Google to search for my comments. While my comments were open to view, my privacy was protected as it took a substantial investment of time. Why do I care? Because comments, used out of context, can be made to prove anything. If you think that using comments out of context isn’t a problem I encourage you to review what happened to Josh Trevino this week.
What Disqus does is give any other Disqus user the ability to “Follow” you. This means all of your comments, on every site you visit using Disqus, are aggregated for them. You do not have the ability to block “Followers.” So if someone is stalking you in the comments, every time you post a comment your stalker is notified.
Disqus refuses to acknowledge that the political blogosphere is populated not only by passionate activists but by a sizable cadre of vicious and stupid gits who think nothing of harassing your employer or SWATting you at home.
2. Apparently every Disqus user everywhere has the ability to rate comments Up or Down even if they are not RedState community members. Yesterday I sent a troll packing and got 14 “Down” ratings in just a couple of minutes. I’m fairly confident those votes did not come from site members.
We all know what is going on here. The jerk offs at Daily Kos are used to rating comments down to make them disappear. That doesn’t work under Disqus, so far, but it is annoying. You can override what they are trying to do by setting your default to view comments in chronological sequence rather than by rating.
On the positive side, it keeps them from stealing hubcaps or molesting parakeets or whatever they do when they aren’t trolling us.
3. There has been a trend in comments being reported for Spam or Abuse when they are neither. Just this morning I removed about 15 comments, some from long time RedState members, from the Spam folder. Like I said, I’m not a tech guy and I don’t know how this is done what I do know is that it is unsatisfactory.
So right now, I would recommend that anyone who has a website and is considering using Disqus as a comments moderation platform give it serious second thoughts. There are good sides but for a high visibility political blog Disqus, as it is today, is a horrible tool.