Alternative to Disqus Needed More Than Ever

Now, if only Disqus would implement webmentions! :wink:

E.g. finds interesting posts from here, & shows reply notifications from here.

That’s exactly what Webmentions are. […] Using Webmentions, I show mentions made to me and my tweets about my blog posts

That covers a part of the reply notifications thing. Actually that’s like 0.3 % ? of all features & benefits I would be interested in. (When I wrote “E.g…” above, I didn’t mention like 99.7 % of all features & benefits … I couldn’t do that because I’m not good at listing things :- P and don’t know about everything that’s needed … also would have taken rather much space)

Try to build a hybrid Facebook + Slack + Reddit + Discourse client, with email & mobile phone push notifications, & private messages & that understands groups, & per group + category permissions, user karma & trust levels, … using Webmentions. Not possible (without adding 999 999 new concepts & things to Webmentions).

(And instead of connecting to only big companies like Facebook, the client would connect to different mini communities. That offered FB & Slack & Discourse etc like functionality.)

A problem to me, with Webmentions, is privacy. Apparently I reply to others, by posting things over at my blog, and pinging the blogs I reply to. But this leaves a publicly visible trail, of everything I’ve said, at my blog (right?). Feels as if I’m enabling strangers to stalk & supervise me.

I do like having a combination of blog comments, + webmentions, at one’s blog. So the visitors can choose how they want to reply :- )

I recently ran into the same issue on the project our volunteer commuity is building to try and transform homelessness https://brightertomorrowmap.com. I found so many developer scomplaining about Disqus data abuse of users and the lack of a perfect alternative.

Discourse is the perfect solution, it’s absolutely what we all want in a commenting system. what if we all got together and built a proper Discourse comments plugin? A lot of people on their meta forum also want to see that plugin created and will hopefully join.

I’d recommend the 23rd and 24th this month, if enough join in we could have a beautiful, open source and well supported comment system to plugin to the website.

Andy

Disqus selling out. GitHub selling out. Facebook selling us all out all the time. The web was not supposed to be like this. But we are all complicit when we continue to use these solutions because it is easier, disregarding the damage they are doing to the web and society. We not only need to be looking for and developing alternatives, we need to educate people to use the alternatives even if there’s a sacrifice involved (leaving Facebook means leaving a huge network of family and friends).

I’m trying to spur a movement around this temporarily based at https://gitlab.com/upend

1 Like

Sorry to disagree here but it isn’t. Disqus is the Facebook of the commenting world. In that it has a set of strengths and weaknesses. It’s strength is that I only need a single login to be able to provide quick feedback to dozens or even hundreds of websites - something that I would never want to do if I had to create a login on each (or was forced to use another common identity such as Google or Facebook). But that strength is also a weakness since, just like Facebook, it means that Disqus also have more data about me.

I already have to log in to 2 or 3 Discourse forums and it is a pain. And that’s /with/ me using the same (GitHub) login for both. So no, not actually ideal for all circumstances. But certainly for some.

In addition, I don’t see any way of connecting Discourse entries to blog posts - please correct me if I’m wrong there? If so, that’s even less useful.

Just like many people are not willing to throw out Facebook entirely (I’m one) because it is useful, so not everyone is willing to throw out the benefits of Disqus.

What we need is a viable and easy to use alternative so that people have choice.


I also forgot to talk about the other advantages of Disqus. Namely that it has pretty good spam suppression. This can be a nightmare for any site so that is a major advantage - of course, some other tools may have similar options but once again, its reach is an advantage in this case since it can use that data to its (and our) advantage.

Ok, so here is a crazy idea I had the other day; could the fediverse (Mastodon, Pleroma, PixelFed etc) be integrated as a comment system for static blogs? It would be an open source solution and you could use your existing account(s). You could associate a blog post with a toot (tweet in Mastodon-speak), and see / follow the discussion on your other platforms as well as on your blog.

I have no idea how this would be implemented, but I can’t see why this shouldn’t work. To me, this seems like a reasonable way to escape the many walled gardens of today’s internet.

tl;dr Yes.

You just need an ActivityPub endpoint to process the ActivityStreams replies coming in, and to let subscribers (on Mastodon or any other compatible platform) know when you publish new content. That’s basically what a blogging platform like plume does.

You just need to integrate your static build chain with your ActivityPub endpoint. This can be achieved by exporting from a db to static files, or by writing an endpoint that works directly with your hugo content directory.

So that’s a lot of “you just need” right here. It’s not hard, but it’s no simple or quick task. There’s several approches to be taken and lots of ActivityPub/ActivityStreams documentation to read. I’ll probably try to implement something in the next months. I hope more people will do the same on their side so we can share our experiments and produce better federated free software :grin:

1 Like

:wink:

Hopefully, some clever people will sort out the complexity for us just like Bep does with Hugo!

What is it that you like with Discourse as a commenting system?

Do you have in mind that it would look and work like Discourse forum topics? I.e. flat layout. Or indented-threaded and best comments first?

Talkyard (which I’m developing) has an option to not require people to create real accounts. This typically works okay for smaller places that don’t get many comments. (Spammers? Somehow there’re really many spammers at Disqus although Disqus requires “real” accounts. I think a better solution is manual approval of the first say 5? comments by each new user. If they actually say something meaningful and that adds to the blog post — then most likely not a spammer.)

Sorry but I’m unsure what “connecting a Discourse entry to a blog post” means? If you have time maybe you’d like to clarify?

If you have any thoughts about how Talkyard (link in my profile) can be improved it’d be interesting to know :- )

I’d like to have the commenting system auto-detecting and auto-posting links to discussions happening at places like Mastodon, Pleroma — and also Reddit and HackerNews. These links would be posted as comments. So the blog author would get auto-notified about them. And the blog readers could upvote those link-comments. This combined with best comments shown first —> others readers would easily find interesting discussion happening in, say, a sub-Reddit.

And the blog author could reply to the link-comment with a comment that summarizes the discussion happening over at e.g. Reddit or Mastodon about the blog post (so blog visitors needn’t go to discussions happening at all those different places and find out him/herself). — If a discussion over at Reddit was “destructive”, the blog author could just delete that comment.

1 Like

I think that you need a few options. The ability to link to 3rd party auth via OAuth, etc is great for sites where you are happy that you are commenting from your public personas and this can cover Facebook, GitHub, Google, etc. The ability to as you describe is also good. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution by any means.

So when you use Disqus on a blog or similar site, each post has a separate “discussion” that is linked to that post/article/page. When you use Discourse, each discussion thread is its own thing, not linked to a post/article/page. So Discourse is a forum system whereas Disqus is a comments system. Two different sets of requirements.

I would agree with you that it would be great to have a commenting system that could also “absorb” as it were comments from elsewhere as well as direct comments. Under Wordpress, I used a plugin that incorporated Tweets that contained a link to an article in that article’s comments. You also get pingbacks and I could show those as well.

Above all, though - it all needs to be simple to implement, run and maintain.

You can have a category in Discourse set for external posts, then each new instance created (blog post, event created, etc) would create a thread within that topic. Essentially creating a modular comments section that can be set to copy the title of the page it’s created on.

Replies would be ordered by most recent, as our replies here are. That could mess up the home page in the forum as many comments wouldn’t make sense without the context of the page get were posted on. Fortunately Discourse has the ability to hide categories from the main homepage, so with that set they wouldn’t be visible there.

The main advantage honestly, is the Discourse community. You can’t easily replicate that many people actively supporting and developing a smooth, functional and beautiful open source project. Anything we built or found here would almost certainly be lacking that.

But how would the thread that belongs to a page be shown on the page itself - in context? In Disqus - which, despite any privacy issues, is the de facto standard to measure page/article/post discussion tools against - this happens automatically via a minimal set of JavaScript. Does Discourse have anything similar?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not “dissing” Discourse, it is a great open source project and a nice environment for discussions like this - just trying to highlight the differences between a forum/community discussion tool and a commenting tool. While there are some common requirements, they are not the same thing.

it doesn’t exist yet, but there are a truly staggering number of people asking for it on their forums. perhaps we should bring everyone together to build it, or chip a little in a crowdfund it?

1 Like

I too have quit Disqus. First contemplated the AWS API Gateway + Lambda + DynamoDB approach, as well as the StaticMan approach.

Then I came across https://just-comments.com/ and really like it’s simplicity and low cost. It’s not free, but nothing is really free, even Disqus. The creator is German and has GDPR covered.

Example on my blog: https://jiridj.be/posts/working-remote/

3 Likes

Hypothesis.is looks interesting. It’s an annotation engine, which basically means comments wherever people want to put them (doesn’t Medium have something similar?). I don’t know if there’s a way to pre-provision a comment space at the end of a post, or if that would just have to happen organically (if people can comment anywhere, they can comment at the end).

The JS embed is only about 5 KB, but I think it ultimately brings in a bunch of other stuff like Angular, KaTeX, and some of the KaTeX fonts for math or formulas that people want to type. The good news is that KaTeX is much smaller and faster than MathJax.

2 Likes

I lost track of what the consensus was about Isso. What’s wrong with it? Is the Python stack too heavy on the server side? Does it use a f***-ton of JavaScript on the browser side?

I’ve been exploring the Discourse option and it seems a fairly modest API upgrade to their current comments plugin would give us all a robust opensource alternative, backed by one of the best open-source communities on the web. Its exactly what everyone here is asking for.

If you want to bring this into reality you can join in the development, or donate a few coins so we can set up a bounty and have it built.

Come over and share your opinions and hopefully coding skills. If enough people join in we’ll all have this tool available by the end of next month!

1 Like

If anybody’s feeling adventurous, you can try Stapsher. [Disclosure: I’m the developer]

It’s like Staticman but with some differences in the features.

I launched it mainly because Staticman currently only supports GitHub (so, no private repositories for free). Stapsher supports both GitHub & GitLab ( BitBucket support planned for future).

2 Likes

What’s the difference between Stapsher and Staticman?

1 Like