Could WordPress.com Create a Disqus Killer?


Disqus is an application that hosts comments for blogs, applying some nice features to improve and make more social the commenting process. Here’s what Fred Wilson said recently:

Since I converted from TypePad comments to Disqus last August, the number of comments I regularly get have gone up by a factor of at least five and maybe ten. It seems that each week I have a post that gets over 100 comments (not this past week though). That never used to happen. And the discussions in the comments have improved dramatically.

Fred Wilson, A VC, Three Reasons To Use Disqus

Automattic, the company that runs WordPress.com, has not enabled disqus to work on its blogs (including this one). Here’s what Robert Scoble reported about that:

I’ve been talking with Toni Schneider, CEO of Automattic (the folks who run my blog) and they are looking at a raft of things to do to make commenting better for WordPress.com users.

So, let the commenting wars begin!

Robert Scoble, Scobleizer.com, Seesmic & Disqus add up to video comments and more

Scoble’s update is intriguing. Commenting wars? Might WordPress.com have something in the works that could undermine Disqus?

What’s Cool about Disqus

Because I don’t have disqus implemented on this blog, I’m a bit handicapped in my assessment of disqus. But here are the things I like:

  • Easy to track where you’ve left a comment
  • You can follow others, and see their comments across various blogs
  • You can create an RSS feed for your disqus comments, and pipe that into FriendFeed. Vastly increases the social nature of blog comments.

Here’s a screen shot of my comments on several blogs with the disqus commenting system:

Four comments, across four different blogs. Really nice to see that. You’ll also see a couple people that I’m following, on the left hand side of the disqus profile.

And here’s what a disqus comment looks like as it comes through FriendFeed:

As a commenter, you can extend your conversation outside the blog. Notice the ‘Likes’ and Franklin Pettit’s comment. And as a blogger, all the conversatin’ showing up in FriendFeed gets your blog post much more play.

Alas, disqus is not enabled on WordPress.com.

WordPress.com Snuffs Out Disqus?

Which brings us to Robert Scoble’s update. Sounds like the folks at Automattic aren’t sitting still. And that could be bad news for disqus. Why?

Volume, volume, volume.

On disqus’s site, they say that over 4,000 blogs are using their commenting service. Fred Wilson said it was over 10,000 blogs using disqus. Neither number compares to all the blogs hosted by WordPress.com.

If Automattic turned on similar commenting capabilities for its blogs, you’d have a sea of comments on that service. Take a look at the number of comments made on WordPress.com blogs each day:

Imagine if a lot of those folks streamed their comments into FriendFeed. The viral nature of FriendFeed would be an accelerator on that volume. A WordPress.com commenting system would dwarf disqus.

WordPress.com has the built-in advantage of already hosting millions of blogs and comments. Disqus is still in its infancy in acquiring new blogs.

If Automattic is serious about this, they should enable a new commenting system to work on non WordPress.com blogs as well. As a blog reader, once you have a profile set up, you’d like to use it everywhere.

Final Thoughts

Disqus has done an amazing job of customer service so far. That’s worth a lot of goodwill right there. I also love the upstart companies who show the world new ways of doing things.

And who knows? Automattic might be thinking of integrating disqus as one of the “raft of things to do to make commenting better for WordPress.com users”. I know I’ve requested the addition of disqus.

But if Automattic smells a good opportunity here and recognizes the value of its huge user base, then as Scoble says, “let the commenting wars begin!”

*****

See this item on FriendFeed: http://friendfeed.com/e/b0d09b39-26e0-2681-7b58-8fc234709b30

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About Hutch Carpenter
Chief Scientist Revolution Credit

15 Responses to Could WordPress.com Create a Disqus Killer?

  1. Why is this categorized mba ?

    By the way I have not used wordpress.com

    Is the categorization of all wordpress categories intentional or is it by error ?

  2. The seesmic/ disqus association that may have put on a raising direction … i think.

  3. Rob Safuto says:

    I’m always amused at people wanting to claim all of their comments as their own content. I take a different view of the situation.

    When a person contributes their opinion via a comment they should act as if they’re giving a gift to the site on which they’re commenting. For some people that’s not good enough. They must have control!

    The best way to retain control over your comments and retain your brand is to write the comment in a blog post and link back to the original post they are commenting on. Alas, Disqus doesn’t support trackbacks. That’s because Disqus wants a bloggers users to have to interact with their system.

  4. @My Blog Posts – the MBA category is my owen internal blog category. I categorize pots as either Geek or MBA. Geek for posts that delve into functionality. MBA when I’m talking about more business-related aspects. My tags are specific to the post and describe the posts more directly.

  5. @Frédérick 2 Baro – We’ll need to see how viedo comments fair. I think they’re interesting, but I’m not sure about how widespread they’ll become. Part of it is that they take time to watch/listen. Contrast that with quickly reading comments.

    But I do like the experimentation behind disqus/seesmic.

  6. @Rob Safuto – that’s a good perspective. As a commenter, you’re a content creator, like blogging or twittering. Disqus lets you see your content across sites. I don’t need control, but it’s really interesting my comments collected in one place. Creates a ‘comment blog’.

  7. Hutch, I may have missed it, but why aren’t you using Disqus here? I can tell you for a fact that it has increased my commenting on blogs.

  8. @Vince – WordPress.com doesn’t allow disqus right now. Maybe if someone was using wordpress.org? But since I’m using WordPress.com’s hosted service, it’s up to them to enable disqus.

  9. Phil Butler says:

    A very nice post Hutch.

    I am a little amazed at the press that Disqus is getting these days, almost as if someone is “pushing” from behind the scenes. There is in point of fact already a Disqus killer out there and one that reaches much farther afield.

    JS-Kit launched some months before Disqus did and is currently utilized (unofficially but in reality) on over 50,000 blogs and sites. Recent or upcoming news will reveal that JS-Kit is penning deals that will soon take its user base way over 20 million users engaged.

    Aside all this rather unnoticed news, Disqus has several problems that cannot be overcome in any short term. Disqus uses a rather proprietary approach to everything from login to data storage and portability. Beyond these content ownership and usage issues combined with multiple sign in aspects, the monetization scheme is flawed (and invisible now).

    JS-Kit is almost open source (or soon will be) and is achieving a level of compatibility that Disqus may never even want to, given their current plans. It appears that Disqus is essentially approaching “locking” users into using them because leaving Disqus spells disaster in as far as comment content and its inherent SEO value are concerned. Kit by comparison, can be dumped at any time without losing data or SEO.

    It should be noted that content stored on Disqus is not even crawled for the resident blog, but on the Disqus index pages. People should pay closer attention to what they are getting when signing up for these services to be blunt. Big deal, 4000 idiot bloggers signed up to have their content robbed, to have to use multiple signins, and for a monetization model that is at best “hidden”.

    I was perhaps the first blogger to test and review Disqus when it came out. Their PR essentially asked me to do a writeup and I did. I found Dan and his innovation to be exceptional, but this was before some of these issues came to light. If your data is on Disqus and you decide to drop the service, it is just so sad so sorry for your reader’s contributions.

    Just yelling “Yeehaa!” and diving into something because BOB next door says so is not always the best choice given the effort people put into their blogs. What if Disqus decides to start charing $20 a month to use their service? I know, you can holler WTF and go install JS-Kit. Unfortunately, Disqus will have already derived value from your user content and you will never get it back…even if they wanted to give it back.

    Always,

    Phil Butler

  10. Phil, I notice that you leave out that JS-Kit will require running ads (which they claim will give you a currently undisclosed rev share), and if you don’t WANT them to run ads, then you have to pay them a subscription fee to remove them. That’s not open source in any way, shape or form (Open Source Initiative). Disqus also allows anyone to export the comments (http://disqus.com/help/#faq-6) at any time, so claiming that you lose content if you drop Disqus is false. Is there some sort of personal interest in JS-Kit? I’m all for competition, but not when it’s at the expense of disparaging another company with false information.

  11. Daniel Ha says:

    Phil,

    Always a pleasure to meet you in these public forums. Too bad the blog isn’t using Disqus though, so this conversation would be easier to follow. 😉

    Your “critical feedback” has become more and more disparaging as you continue “crawling” the web for any mention of our service. I have corrected your inaccuracies on numerous occasions, and I would appreciate you addressing them.

    You need to disclose that you are a PR/media consultant for JS-Kit. It provides some very crucial context to what you say.

  12. One thing. WordPress will not offer their “disqus-killer” to non-WP users which is more than the number of WP users. So it’s not and won’t be a disqus-killer.

    If WP wants to create their own closed world, so be it. For the rest of us non-WP users, we’re open and we welcome new innovations.

    The day will come when Blogs, Forums, and CMS will start stripping down unnecessary features (by then its unnecessary) like Comments System in favor of services like DISQUS and FriendFeed. There’s just no point keeping those built-in features if your users are using third-party services already.

    And I believe a SezWho+DISQUS+FriendFeed power-trio is very possible. Can’t wait for Outbrain to join the picture.

  13. And too bad. I don’t know if I’ll be back here to read comments. WordPress.com is “disconnected” from the world.

    :p

    That’s WP 😉

  14. Meryn Stol says:

    “WordPress will not offer their “disqus-killer” to non-WP users which is more than the number of WP users. So it’s not and won’t be a disqus-killer.”

    This possibility can’t be excluded I think. It would actually be a pretty interesting move, a “WordPress.com” plugin for the open source WordPress.

  15. Pingback: Wordpress Acquires Intense Debate. Disqus Just Got Big Competition. « I’m Not Actually a Geek

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