Tuesday, September 21, 2010

A Note On The New Comments System

Okay, now that I've switched over to the Disqus comments system, you'll notice a few changes in the way you leave comments on this blog from now on.

First off, even though I've explained it once before, here again is the lowdown on what Disqus does for you:


Disqus moves the load of managing all you comments (which includes moderating and cleaning up spam) off the Blogger site and onto a remote, web-accessible site with an easy to use interface. In addition, once you sign up for Disqus, you can view and manage all the comments you make on any and all websites which also use the Disqus UI. Comments can be viewed at the main Disqus website, or via your own e-mail account. Being able to see and respond to comments without actually being on your blog is a boon, let me tell ya.

Now, what does all this mean for those of you visiting my blog? Not much, really. As before, anyone can click on the "Comments" link at the end of each of my entries and leave me feedback. Unlike the previous built-in Blogger comments that I've been using since the start of this blog, however, you won't need to jump to a new window or enter a funky security passcode to make comments once you're already in this section. What you will have, however, is a few options for logging in to make comments if you want to use any of your existing account profiles you might have under Facebook, Open ID, Twitter, or if you have your own Disqus profile (highly useful; more on that later).

The big change I regret, however, is that none of my followers who are also on Blogger will be able to use their existing Blogger ID and pic to login as before. This is a major bummer, I'm sure. But I do have a solution if you're willing to take the extra steps:


Basically, create a Disqus profile! You can do this either by going to the main site at http://disqus.com/, or by simply clicking on the Disqus login button in my comments section and following the instructions that pop up for registering as a new user. You won't need to convert your own blog to Disqus to do this. Just enter your username, password, and the screen name you want to use to access your profile. Once you have a profile, you can upload your own photo to appear whenever you make comments. And, also, have access via the Disqus website to any comments you make anywhere (not just this blog) under this profile from then on.

However, if you don't want to be bothered with any of this, or if you are a new guest to my blog, follow these rules:

1. Write your message inside the blank box located at the bottom of the "comments" page.

2. Hit the "Post As" button.

3. A pop-up box will appear asking you to fill in your e-mail (if you want to) and also asking for your name as you want it to appear in comments.

4. Hit the "Post Comment" button.

This easy method are for those of you who don't have existing Disqus, Yahoo, Facebook, Twitter, or Open ID accounts with which to establish your identification. So this is the default method. Alternately, you can choose to leave the name field blank and appear as "anonymous." I would recommend that you let me know who you are, though. Anonymous comments are most likely to get deleted by me.

Now, in addition to all the above info about leaving comments (which is really far simpler than I make it out to be, honest), the other new change is that the comments are now threaded. Which means that you can make general comments about the blog article you just read, or reply specifically to individual comments made by other people. I predict that this function will be used mostly by yours truly to reply to everyone -- but feel free to comment on a friend's comment, too!

Lastly, if you are in the comments section, be sure to hit the "Like" or "Dislike" button. You can do this even without leaving a comment, but especially if you are leaving one. You can also Like or Dislike individual comments made by me or others. Try it out sometime (I get bonus user points if you do! No, seriously).

My old "Reaction" buttons will remain where they are at the end of each blog entry, for those of you who read The Bimillennial Man from the main page and who don't want to bother clicking into the separate comments section to leave quick reactionary feedback.

See, I've thought of you all! Because you're special. Yes you are.

Let me know if you have any problems. I expect this may take some getting used to. I can't even rule out that I won't return back to the old system someday. But don't get your hopes up. Right now this new system is terribly convenient for me, so I'll be reluctant to go back unless it becomes a real pain in the rear for reasons I can't imagine right now.

We shall have to wait and see . . .

9 comments:

Rodney said...

Hello, world!!

This is a test comment from Rodney.

David J. Batista said...

Hey, man. Thanks a lot for testing this out for me! As you can see, Disqus allows you to reply to individual comments, which shows up as an indented thread.

Did you sign in via any of the social media buttons, or just a straight up "guest" reply?

Laura said...

A second test for the Millennium Man using the guest reply.

Lkelly1 said...

P.S. It does make you enter an e-mail address to post.

Ian said...

Hi David,

Finally squeezing in time to give this a try after first abortive attempt. Problems I hit first time around:

1. I couldn't work out how to use my blogger ID. I'm rather attached to that one for use on blog forums. However you answered that one already: this system doesn't recognise it, which is a shame.

2. I then tried to use "post as" without selecting one of the login options. The form insisted I supply an email address. Sorry, but no. I've been very protective of that and don't intend to give it out to some unknown (to me) software provider just 'cos they say so. Certainly not without some reasonable explanation as to why they want it. And if I don't believe they have a legitimate reason for asking for personal info I won't supply it. If necessary, I won't use the service. So, why do they need my email address for an anonymous post?

3. Once on that form, and having decided that I didn't want to proceed, I tried to back out of it. No can do. It won't close. I was stuck on the form and had to restart my browser. This may sound trivial, but as an applications developer myself, trapping a user on a form with no backout option is one of THE cardinal sins of UI design, and sends up a HUGE red flag about the overall competence of the developers in question. Which only lends weight to my reluctance to entrust them with personal info.

So I'm giving it a go with my Yahoo account in order to provide you with some feedback. Even here, I'm unhappy with the level of access Disqus demanded, way out of proportion to the task in hand. All I want to do is post a comment for heavens sakes! Right now I have no interest in all the advanced features being thrust at me, and until I go into Yahoo and have a look at my settings I actually have no idea as to what I've just "agreed" to.

Maybe I'm just an old fuddy-duddy paranoid, but I am fairly protective of what information I release out to the whole wide world (despite possible appearances on my blog) and I don't enjoy feeling out of control of that process.

There. Rant over! ;-)
Ian

David J. Batista said...

Yes, I too would like for visitors (including myself) to be able to use their Google Blogger login info to leave comments. I hope Disqus is working on this, although I doubt it. Seems the only options are related to popular social media services.

As for leaving your e-mail . . . that is indeed troublesome. However, this system is widespread for comments UIs, and not just for Disqus. Wordpress uses this same setup -- although, hmmmm, now that I think of it I believe it's optional. I'll try rooting around my settings and see if I can make that an option for my site as well.

Realize, though, that your e-mail is only visible to the blog's administrator -- which is me. And this info (along with your IP address) is what I use to mark as spam or outright ban certain malicious users. And although I'm sure that Disqus administrators potentially also have access to your e-mail, I doubt they would sell it out to anyone or use that info for dastardly deeds. I'm sure they're as trustworthy as any other sites you've signed up with and given your e-mail to -- such as Blogger, Yahoo, etc.

But in the meantime, if you're uncomfortable, continue using your Yahoo ID to login. I have the option to use mine as well, and have done so in fact when first testing out the comments here. Remember, like I mentioned in the above blog entry, you also have the option of signing up with Disqus yourself for free. This way you can always login and moderate your own comments with no problem.

Of course, you'll be submitting your e-mail to Disqus anyway, so maybe that's not a satisfactory solution at all.

Well, bear with me then. Like I said, I'll do a search and see if I can figure something out re: the e-mail situation.

Thanks for leaving feedback, Ian!

David J. Batista said...

Thanks, Laura! I'm curious . . . can you see your e-mail? Because as an unregistered user, I can't. So I doubt anyone else can see your e-mail even though you entered it in order to leave these two comments.

One I login as the site's moderator, however, I can see everybody's e-mail and IP addresses. However, I use this info only in the event that I might need to ban someone for spamming my comments box.

I also have the option to "whitelist" trusted commentors to my site, such as yourself and Ian. What this means is that, once I whitelist you, you will forever be a trusted user and your messages won't need to be approved by me first before publication. They already don't, but I might set this as a security feature in the future.

I'm going to whitelist you now, however, and see if maybe this exempts you from entering your e-mail. I doubt it will, but please leave another comment and let me know.

You used two different e-mails for your two replies I see. I'll go ahead and whitelist both. Let me know if this changes anything.

Ian said...

Well, I gritted my teeth and tried setting up a Disqus account and hit all sorts of problems. BTW, you do realise you have the user from hell here :-)

First of all, I couldn't tell whether or not it had worked, because when I clicked the "continue" button, nothing happened. Then I assumed it had set me up but kept saying "invalid password", even though I know for sure it was the one I'd used. So I followed the help that suggested checking my browser settings, and the help itself was plain wrong, referring to settings that don't exist on the tab it said to go to. So I tried following the instructions to reset my password. Then I realised that I'd given it an invalid email address (.com instead of .ca) so I was never going to receive the emailed instructions to reset my password. So I went back to the beginning trying to register myself with the correct email address, but no can do because the username now already exists. So I think I'm hooped. And I didn't really want to go down this path in the first place because I already have way too many usernames/passwords to keep track of and can really do without adding to the burgeoning family. Oh, and along the way it seems that NONE of those pop-up windows can be closed using the "close" button.

None of this is your fault, David, but none of it bodes well for the future of this company. I am desperately unimpressed with my experience so far.

Back to the email address debate: the usage and visibility you described is fair enough, but they should state that up front when they prompt for the info. And too right the administrators will have access to whatever's stored on their database. I don't think there's much likelihood of the owners doing anything underhand with the information, but if their public interface is so riddled with issues it does make me wonder how well-secured the back end is. In my experience, it is fairly easy to build a nice-looking and feature-rich system. The true test of professionalism is what happens when Average Joe User strays off the happy path like I tend to do (did I mention that I'm the user from hell?) So, on the whole, I'm not too happy to entrust my personal details to these guys.

Looks like I'll keep using my Yahoo ID for now, then. That is my "disposable" account that I'm not too attached to if anything untoward happens to it.

David J. Batista said...

LOL! You're not the user from hell, just rightfully unforgiving with crappy UIs. But if you can continue logging in with your Yahoo ID, then I'll continue to see what I can do on my end to make this system more user friendly.

Funny coincidence: my Yahoo ID is my "disposable" account as well. I only use it to access our crit group, and for the rare occasion a site allows me to login with that info.

Thanks again for the feedback, though.

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