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Removing Comments and Disqus

After moving away from Google Fonts, Google Analytics, I also removed Disqus comments from my website. Instead of implementing an alternative commenting system, I decided to remove it altogether. I will be covering why I did it, and how I’m showing the old comments from Disqus statically on the website.

Why am I removing the comments?

This was not a very easy decision to take. But finally I took the decision to remove the commenting system, and here are the reasons:

  • Comments add an obligation to reply, and can be distracting.
  • They are hard to manage and keep up with (although I don’t have that many comments as of now).

While thinking about all this, I also realized that I haven’t received many comments in the last 2 years on my site. At least none of which were actually good discussions. On the other hand, I had a couple of discussions over Reddit. Here are some other thoughts I had:

  • What if someone wants to discuss or give feedback?
    They can do it on platforms like Mastodon, Reddit where the post has been shared, or reply via email. This method adds some friction to the process, resulting in better discussions from people who are really willing to talk.

  • What if the discussion on the other platforms is something which the reader of the post should checkout?
    That can still be done by updating the post with a small excerpt and link to the discussion.

What about the alternatives?

Before taking the decision of removing comments completely, I considered a few alternatives to Disqus. Following are the things which I considered:

Other hosted services

Other privacy-friendly hosted services are relatively costly, which I can’t afford. Some might be free now, but there is possibility that it changes later.

Self-hosted tools

Self-hosting and managing a commenting system which is not used that frequently is unnecessary effort. It comes with overhead of managing the user data, and privacy concerns around that as well.

Display replies from other platforms

There are tools which can show comments from Mastodon, GitHub etc. on the site. These require JavaScript or frequently building the site, both of which I don’t want to do for now. I might consider the Mastodon based one later someday.

IndieWeb Webmentions

Initially I was looking at implementing the IndieWeb Webmentions, but sooner I realized the complexity, and decided to not do it. Things might change later, so I still have hopes for having something similar, as I really liked the concept.

Posts related to this by Kev Quirk and Ru Singh.

Removing Disqus

Now, coming back to removal of Disqus. The main reason to remove it is privacy concerns. The widget is also blocked by Privacy Badger.

I still wanted to show the existing comments on the site. I had seen Kaushal Modi’s site, where he shows old comments from Disqus statically. So, I just took his disqus-json.html partial, and followed the steps given there. I had to make the following change at two places, as there seems to be some change in the XML to JSON tool.

- (index $comment "message")
+ (index $comment "message" "#cdata-section")

You can take a look his full diff of this change in the commits: site, theme.

I also took the email template from Sacha Chua’s site, it adds link to the post in the subject and asks to add name and message in the body.

I’m looking forward to discussions on platforms like Mastodon. You can find me on fediverse


Comments are not enabled on this site. The old comments might still be displayed. You can reply on one of the platforms listed in ‘Posted on’ list, or email me.