Do you have a challenge keeping up with all social media tools? I certainly do. And maybe I need help.

Clearly I’m somewhat in overload, going by an experience this morning of trying to subscribe to one and finding I was already subscribed. In fact, when I got them to send me my password and then logged in, I found I had set up my profile there, with a photo and the usual “about me” stuff.

I also realised I didn’t have much more than a slight clue about what the service does or why I joined – other than the usual combination of fascination with bright, shiny things and a fear of missing out on the cool new app.

There was also the challenge of not knowing how to pronounce the name of the application, Disqus.

DisqusMy inclination was to pronounce that like the thing that gets thrown, the discus, which I thought was a fair guess.

But no, it’s supposed to be pronounced like that thing that mature, consenting adults do, i.e. “discuss”.

So what does it do? What purpose does it serve?

Here is what the About page says:

Disqus, pronounced “discuss”, is a service and tool for web comments and discussions. The Disqus comment system can be plugged into any website, blog, or application. Disqus makes commenting easier and more interactive, while connecting websites and commenters across a thriving discussion community.

So far, so good. But what does that really mean? What was I supposed to do with this tool and what benefits would it deliver?

I knew, mainly from what I’d read on Twitter, that several people I respect spoke positively about Disqus, so rather than spending time hunting around for a guide, I would work through what was on the site. Experiential learning. Or reckless experimenting, depending on your point of view.

Anyway, as a next step I went back and checked the website and found that I could apparently do two things:

  • add my website to Disqus (whatever that meant)
  • “register as a commenter” (whatever that meant)

I chose to add my website first, clicked on the install on the website link, provided the site URL (, site name (Des Walsh dot Com)and a unique identifier (deswalsh) to form the Disqus URL for my own home page on the Disqus site.

The next screen gave me a set of platform options: WordPress, MovableType, Typepad, Blogger and “generic”.

I had read positive things about the WordPress plugin, so clicked there and went through the usual processes of uploading, installing and configuring the plugin. There are a number of options, under the several headings/tabs of Moderate, Settings, Tools and Permissions. I’ve been through to do some basic configuration, including setting moderation permissions as on for all comments.

I’m wondering whether the moderation permission options are adequate for me, or retrogressive for this blog. The situation till now has been that  once people have had a comment approved, subsequent comments from those people are not moderated automatically. But that option does not seem to be available with Disqus. As the screenshot below shows, the permission options are:

  • No – i.e. no moderation
  • from unregistered people (which presumably means people who have registered as readers – very few do this)
  • from everyone

I’m not sure how Disqus could fix this, but I believe it would be in their interest to do so: I quite like the idea that people who have had a comment approved should be trusted to leave non-spammy, non-inappropriate comments in future, without their having to be moderated each time.

There is also a widget to highlight commenters: I’ve installed that. And a Seesmic configuration, which means that people can leave Seesmic-enabled video comments. Maybe even Loic would care to leave a video comment! That would be nice.

Back for a moment to that personal page on the Disqus site. I find it somewhat disconcerting that on that page now are displayed, in excerpt fashion, a bunch of posts from this blog from April this year then going back. Nothing more recent. Also the leading post is from what was meant to be a private page. Mysterious. Maybe there is a refresh coming up which will bring the data up to more recent postings.

I regard this installation as an experiment and my priority is for user convenience over other issues such as possible increased traffic. So I welcome feedback, positive or negative.

Update: I’ve de-activated Disqus, for the time being at least – see my comment below of August 28, 2008

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