Metapost: Disqus Update

I am tired.

I have spent literally all day trying to get the people at Disqus to do one thing, and that has been to help me fix the Disqus-to-Blogger comment back-sync on their end so that I can explore more migration options because pretty much nothing accepts Disqus comments as an import.

Unfortunately, because Disqus migrated everyone on earth to their new system last night, they've been swamped with emails and tweets and have only been able to tell me that they're "taking a closer look into this". I don't know if that means they're looking at my problem specifically, or or multiple people are having problems with the back-sync or if they're just thinking about whether they'd like to address this someday.

So yay.

The options, as I can see them, is to either (1) stick with Disqus and learn to live with their comment threading (as they've strongly stated several times now that they really, really don't want to change it) or (2) migrate to Intense Debate. There is a demo board up here. Here are some concerns:

Intense Debate Pros: 
- Nesting is less painful for me to read.
- Comment box is at the bottom, like nature intended, and there is less of a temptation to use "Reply".
- Downvotes can be turned off.
- Upvotes do not mess with the order of comments.
- CSS customization is allowed, but how flexible it is I do not know.
- There are smileys.

Intense Debate Concerns: 
- There is still nesting, it's just less horribly painful for me to read. Example.
- There does not seem to be a support team or at least not one that has responded to my emails. (Note that this is also a problem with Disqus.)
- There either isn't mobile commenting/moderating or I can't figure out how to turn it on. (Note that this is also a problem with Disqus.)
- Migration could mean losing some comments; potentially the last 4,000 comments which are still not back-synced to Blogger.
- I don't know of a Recent Comments widget for this system. 

Disqus Concerns: 
- The comment box is trapped between the post and the first comment, which makes it hard to find if you want to add to the existing conversation. Example.
- Upvoting/Downvoting affect comment order from mobile devices (and for new commenters who don't know how to change the default sorting).
- Downvoting cannot be turned off, despite being an anxiety trigger for many. 
- I literally cannot read the threads without getting really painful headaches.
- The comment notifications sent to the moderators are poorly formatted and hard to read now.
- Em and Strong are not supported in Disqus, and this is an accessibility issue for some. 
- Disqus has implemented ads at the bottom of the page some of which may be triggery. (Such as weight loss ads on the fat acceptance posts.)

General Concerns: 
- Comment moderation is now harder to accomplish in both systems. Specifically, moderators can no longer moderate from the same page as the discussion -- we have to go to a whole 'nother panel to make edits, like adding content notes. This means, frankly, that comments which used to be borderline on the edit-or-delete conundrum are now going to be deleted rather than going through a bunch of panels to fix.
- Comment flow is now harder to follow in both systems. We'll have to rely on people to remember to not "Reply" to comments.
- OpenID has been disallowed as a login for both systems, which sucks mightily.
- Mobile commenting and mobile moderating are not very functional in both systems.
- No robust support for both systems.

I think that pretty much sums up the situation and the decision I'm facing. It sucks.

On a side note: I have been dealing with this literally all day and I didn't sleep last night for real anxiety over this. There have been times today when I have felt like just throwing in the towel and not blogging anymore because I feel so frustrated and anxious about having my community physically barred to me over this accessibility issue. I'm deeply frustrated that so many online businesses are so cavalier about information processing disabilities, and I hate-hate-hate my body right now. And that is not conducive to stress mitigation. I just had to get that off my chest.

I want to also note that every member of the moderation team has been amazing supportive through this and I love them all so much. Thank you.


Teal said...

Your observation that you literally cannot read the comments on Disqus without getting an intense headache sealed it for me. ID isn't perfect, but it isn't guaranteed to cause you pain.

Brin Bellway said...

Bit weird that it's not showing icons. I know I've seen other instances of Intense Debate show them.

*offers hug*

Baby_Raptor said...

In my mind, it all comes down to what you deem best. For your health, and for other reasons. I know that's probably really unhelpful in the way of solid answers helping you decide, but I just don't want you suffering to make this work. That would be really, really bad and unfair.

Brenda A. said...

I noticed that the comments on this post are being shown in reverse order. That's another thing that can make it hard to follow the conversation.

AcyOS said...

I don't have strong preferences myself, I'm just commenting to offer my sympathy in this shitty situation.

Ana Mardoll said...

There may be other issues with Disqus and/or Intense Debate. Please feel free to test the test board and let us know here. Thank you.

AnnaLK said...

On top of the comment thread, at the right, I have a little "options" button (looks like a cog). Clicking this reveals a drop-down menu in which there's a "send feedback" option that takes you to a survey. I've filled this in asking for flat threads to be re-implemented. Poking around some more on the Disqus website, I found a second survey that's specifically about new Disqus vs. old Disqus and asks "how can we improve Disqus 2012?" Once again, I've filled it in asking for the return of flat threads and the ability for siteowners to turn off downvoting on their sites. If anyone else wants to do likewise, in hopes that enough voices will convince Disqus to do something, you can find the survey here.

Ana Mardoll said...

Test comment.

esmerelda_ogg said...

Ana, I have no idea what your best available solution is and wouldn't
presume to tell you. I did want to thank you and Kristycat for the
tactic of using the comment box instead of reply - at least that gives
us a more readable format (though I miss being able to identify whose
comment people are responding to, but I suppose commenters could explain
that in the body of the comment).

I hate this update. Blah. Wish I could do more to help you than sympathize. :(

Ana Mardoll said...

This is a comment from mobile.

Ana Mardoll said...

This is a reply from app.

AnnaLK said...

I also noticed that Shakesville have managed to get transferred back to Disqus classic - sounds like it's temporary, but if Disqus can be persuaded to do the same thing here, it'd at least buy you some time to look into other options.

Keeping my fingers crossed that a good solution will be found soon, and with many hugs for Ana.

Aashyma Never Would said...

I too am voting for the "whatever is best for Ana" option-and whatever you pick, I will continue coming to this awesomely safe and intelligent space.

Dav said...

I support whatever you need to do for the least pain.

I'd advocate for a little post-reminder for not "replying" to people, because I seriously am having trouble retaining information short-term right now (brain chemistry + new medications = FUN!) and am likely to forget.

Silver Adept said...

@Brenda A. - The default for new Disqus is to display the comments that are "best" first (most upvotes), then newest. You can change that ordering by clicking/tapping on the "discussion" button and choosing "oldest", which will story all the comments from oldest to newest. It's the closest someone can get to old Disqus.

Brenda A. said...

Ah, thank you. I had guessed there would be some way to do that but didn't know where to look.

graylor said...

Whatever works best for you, Ana. For those who might be considering a switch to Firefox to get rid of the ads, FF, or, at least, my FF, hates Disqus, yes, yes we does my precious, we hateses it. It's always been a little balky with Disqus, but now? It is to laugh. (Two minutes to get this far into this comment, because it keeps locking up, and I'm a fast typist.)

Constant error messages when Disqus is 'helpfully' trying to tell me 'there's a new comment above, omg', refusing to load outright (although normally on bigger blogs than this--a hundred comment thread kills it dead), etc, etc. But, by god, there are no ads. (seven minutes to get this far with editing as I go) I get the impression Disqus wants to load lots of information, most of it irrelevant--name and comment, please, what more do you really need?--when you get right down to it, and I suspect folks on dial-up (they do still exist) might just stop trying.

Do the Disqus designers even use this system? It's awful. (posting now at 2:01, having spent eleven minutes babying this through--let's see how long it takes to post.)

Thomas Keyton said...

Based on what it looks like and less Ana-pain I think I have a preference for IntenseDebate, but whichI'm happy with whatever solution works best for Ana and general mod-and-community concerns.
Also @ AnnaLK, thanks for the survey link.

Gelliebean said...

@AnnaLK - thanks for the head's up on the feedback form, I have done the same.

Hyaroo said...

I think personally, I like IntenseDebate better... even if that's not a very ideal system either, it does seem like the lesser of two evils. (Let's just say I'm not optimistic about Disqus's "looking into it," though I am willing to give them the benefit of the doubt.)

If it helps, Ana, I think we're all behind you no matter what you decide. I know I am.

Baby_Raptor said...

@AnnaLK:disqus Thanks for the link to the survey. I filled it out, and I will be posting it around. *Lots* of people are not happy about this at all.

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