July 12, 2010

Connecting to and using Disqus

In the last article, I described some of the features of the Disqus commenting system. In order to benefit from those features, you'll need to set up a Disqus account if you don't already have one. About 500,000 sites use Disqus, including Mashable, UK's Telegraph, The Atlantic, La Prensa, and El Heraldo as well as some of the 'big' blog sites. You may find that you already have a Disqus account.

Oh, I know, I know! We'd all love to be able to participate in forums, leave comments, access services, or whatever without having to sign in. But this is the internet and a few (or many) bad apples have spoiled it for everyone. The truth is that the internet would sink to its lowest common denominator (social misfits) and most websites would be overrun with spam and inappropriate comments if they didn't have some sort of control over who and what can be posted to their website. Garbage posted on websites reflects badly on the website administrator. Readers don't come to the Blogicito to find p()rn sites, buy the v-drug, or find a Russian girlfriend and I'd like to keep it that way.

Long time readers will remember that the Blogicito didn't even use captchas, much less moderation, for many years. Writing the Blogicito is a joy for me and getting feedback from readers is, too, even when readers don't agree with me. But as the Blogicito has grown, it has now gotten to be a job to manage spam comments every single day — and an unpaid one at that — so I hope that you will give Disqus a try.

Getting set up

Keep in mind that the initial set up could be a bit confusing, so please have patience. I think it will be worth it in the long run, especially if you choose an OpenID since it can be used at millions of sites.
I'll also answer questions and give a few tips about 'connecting' in the comments, so check those out, too.

Maybe the easiest way to start would be to look at my Disqus profile:

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My sign in name is 'lagringalaceiba' because 'lagringa' was not available, however, I changed my 'display name' to 'La Gringa' which you can see in the upper left next to my hammock avatar. I encourage everyone to make sure that your screen (or display) name is the one that you want use and that whatever profile you decide to use shows only what you want to be public.

Note that your email address will not display on the public profile.

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This is the page where you make those "public info" selections. Only the "Display name" is required.
I have included my location since it is already well known, but there is no need to fill out the location, website, or short bio if you don't want to. The Disqus settings are very simple and easy to understand so just explore the pages of your profile to make sure it is the way you want it to be.


You can connect your Disqus profile with your own blog (on any platform), website, Twitter, Facebook, or other social media accounts and display your own screen name and avatar, making commenting a much better social experience, and eliminating the need to type in your email and website each time. If you have any specific questions, please leave a comment and I'll try to find an answer.

Tip: if you already have a Google, Blogger, Yahoo, Wordpress, Flickr, or one of several other accounts, that is your Open ID. Check out that link and many of you won't have to set up a new account.

I've chosen to connect with Twitter, Facebook, OpenID, and my blog. You can choose to connect with any or all of these or nothing at all.

If you don't have and don't want any of that, you can set up your profile to just display your screen name with no links, just as before with Blogger's system, with the advantage that you don't have to sign in each time you want to comment. You set that up once, and you are done, but you have the ability to change your settings at any time.

If you don't want to connect to any social media sites, skip down to "Too complicated?" below.

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When connecting, each individual site (Twitter, FaceBook, OpenID, WordPress, etc.) will ask you in a pop-up window to verify that you are the owner by requesting your log in information — that is to protect you from someone who could impersonate you by, for example, listing your Twitter page as their own. That information (password, etc.) is not going to Disqus. You'll only have to do this once.


Twitter seemed the easiest to connect to. Sign in to your Twitter account before you try to connect to your Twitter page. If it doesn't work the first time, or if you connect to the wrong account, just unconnect by clicking the box and try again.


Before trying to connect your account to Facebook, make sure that your Facebook settings allow it. Choose Your Privacy Settings > Basic Directory Information > Search for me on Facebook > set to "everyone". This setting only means that your Facebook name is available to anyone in a search of the Facebook directory, not that all of your information is available. Note that you can (and should) manage the Facebook security settings to control information that is shown in searches. In most cases, your settings will already make your Facebook name available to everyone in a search.


I also connected my Disqus account with my OpenID and listed a link to my blog. OpenID was the most complicated for me, but I've since found a site called OpenID Explained which does just that — explain it. That site also rates the various ID providers on security, ease of use, and services. And, of course, the biggest benefit is that OpenID can be used at millions of sites.

As mentioned above, you may already have an OpenID that you can log in with. If not, you can set one up at many sites. The site that I found easiest to understand and most customizable was MyOpenID.com, which was also one of the highest rated providers. If you want to connect your comments directly with a Blogspot blog, you'll need to use OpenID.

Another benefit to MyOpenID.com is that you can set up "personas" which means that you can choose to use a full profile or a more limited one, depending upon where you are logging in. The first time you log into a site, you'll be asked which profile you want to use. I'm skimming over a lot of OpenID details, so please feel free to ask in the comments section if you need more help.

Too complicated?

I'm sure that all that sounds complicated to many of you who don't have such an extended internet presence. Not to worry! If you only want to comment and be able to use Disqus features, it is much simpler. In order to be able to explain it, I decided to set up a Disqus profile using my "throwaway email" address that I use for signing in to websites that I may not visit frequently or those that might send unwanted email. Surprise, surprise! When I tried to set up the profile, I found that I already had a Disqus profile using that email address:

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At the top there is a message that says "Profile found!" You can see that this one is bare-bones and that there are no links (connections). I did not upload an avatar because I was in a hurry that day but I hope that you will if you are a frequent commenter at the Blogicito.


Avatars help readers and me to remember previous commenters.
Don't let the word 'avatar' confuse you. The avatar doesn't have to be your face. It can be any image from your computer, a pet, a flower, an icon, a cartoon, anything, including a drawing that you make yourself, like the one I did for the guest commenters. (Funny picture, huh?) ;-D

Almost done!

Whichever method you choose, when you have completed it, take a moment to look at your public profile page to see that it displays only what you want it to display. If you have connections, click the links to make sure that they go to the the correct websites. With the exception of OpenID, it took me much longer to write this than it did to do all of it!

If you have already commented as a 'guest', you can easily "claim" those comments and set up your profile the way you want it. Just click on the guest avatar and click the link in "If this is you, claim it now to manage your comments".


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I'm going to run through the comment area. Don't worry, you won't be given a test. Heheheh. ;-) It looks awful, but chances are that you will only care about a few of these features. Just click! Nothing is going to bite you and nothing can't be undone.

If your display name and avatar (1) are not showing, you can log in before or after you comment (use the Disqus link (2) ). I like to log in first. My data is always already there so all I have to do is click 'login'; no typing is required.

Type your comment in the box (3).
Click 'Post as yourname' (5) to post it. If you are not logged in, you will see 'Post as ...' (5). Click your choice of profiles (Disqus, Facebook, Twitter, etc.) to log in and post the comment.

To share your own comment on your Twitter and/or Facebook page, click the appropriate icon(s) (4) before you post.

Click 'Subscribe by email' (6) or 'Subscribe by RSS' (7) if you are interested in being informed of future comments on that article. The Subscribe button will change to an 'unsubscribe' button.

To later
edit or remove your comment, click the 'edit' link (14) beneath your posted comment. This will be a 'like' button on other people's comments.

When viewing the other comments:

Click the 'Sort by' box (8) to arrange your view of the comments by newest, oldest, or best rated.

Click on a commenter's avatar (9) to view his/her public profile

Click on a commenter's name (10) to go to the website he or she has connected with.

Click on the date/time (11) to obtain a URL for the comment.

Collapse a comment thread from your view by clicking the minimize button [—] (12) which will appear at the right of the commenter's name.

To 'flag' (13) an inappropriate comment or to 'like' (14) a comment, just click. No sign in is required. The 'flag' button will appear when you run your mouse over the comment.

To post a response to a specific comment, click "Reply" (15) at the lower right of the comment to which you want to reply.

When viewing the Recent Comments widget in the sidebar:

Click the avatar (A) to view the commenter's public profile.
Click the commenter's name (B) (if it is a link) to go to their connection page (Twitter, blog, etc.)
Click the article title (C) to go to the beginning of the article.
Click the time (D) of the comment to go directly to the complete comment.


The reason for this hideously long article is that I want readers to have a good experience with this. A few readers commented negatively about Disqus when I first installed it, partly because there were some malfunctions in the beginning, partly because of not understanding how it worked, and I guess partly because no one likes change. I thought that it needed some further explanation so that commenters can use whatever features they are interested in to their fullest.

I'd love to hear your feedback on this new system, but to give it a fair shot, you'll need to make two comments — the first where you set up your account — which might be a pain in the neck — and a second one where you will see that you don't have to type in anything, just click the Discus (or other link) to be recognized.

If you have problems of any kind, please try to be as specific as possible so I can try to troubleshoot. Try out the features mentioned here and in the other article, Trying to love the Disqus commenting system. I invite you to try it out on this post, even if you only want to say "testing!" You won't bother me at all and it will help me to test the system and figure out where readers are having problems.
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