I love Disqus. It’s made managing comments on my blog pretty easy, between that and Facebook, I feel like I can engage with the people who read my posts pretty well. I own the conversation. I can’t always control where the discussion goes, and nor do I want to, I’m not a dictator but it’s on my turf.
I’ve been railing against sites that made it difficult to add comments on their site for a while – my instances of twitter to and fro with Kara Swisher are legendary (if only in my own mind), where the highlight for me was when she called me the #1 guff giver (I took it as a compliment). I’m glad that AllThingsD eventually went to Disqus, I thought it was a good move which will hopefully allow them to own the conversations around their posts.
The Economist on the other hand doesn’t own their discussion. I came across this article on the Economist from Lucy Kellaway discussing the end of the MBA*. There are 10 comments on the post. 10. That’s it. I found a much richer discussion about the article on Hacker News! There is an actual discussion happening there, 52 comments and more coming. It’s a proper discussion not just a couple of blow-hards shooting their mouths off. And the community wins.
The difference between the two is that the Economist has made it really difficult to comment, and as a result you get a lot of the same people commenting and not really reading the other comments. Where as Hacker News and a lot of blogs/sites which use Disqus, make it easy for readers to reply and manage discussions rather then just allowing people to shoot their mouths off.
Whatever system you use for commenting, you need to make it easy to manage a DISCUSSION. Allowing users to reply and follow a CONVERSATION is a much richer experience than having a couple of “comments”.
*For what it’s worth, I think MBA’s are good for some people but not for everyone. Mine was definitely ROI positive already, and I don’t mean just financial returns. Mark Suster has a great post on MBAs for start ups / VCs which is a pretty good read and goes through what you get out of an MBA later on in the post – read through long enough and you’ll find a comment from yours truly – Mark uses Disqus, go figure.