Why I Rid Myself of Disqus and NetworkedBlogs

07/15/2011 By Shawn Burns

I noticed a little glitch as I was sending out yesterday’s post about my mom’s visit. When I clicked on the link to my post as it appeared in NetworkedBlogs, my Disqus commenting system wouldn’t load. NetworkedBlogs keeps readers inside their own link when they read your page, instead of just sending the reader to the post directly. This may have been confusing Disqus, which only wanted to load comments for people who were actually, fully, on my website. I’d never noticed this before, but that may be because I’ve never relied on NetworkedBlogs as much as I had been for the past week. I use NetworkedBlogs to share snippets of my blog with Facebook (instead of importing the blog posts entirely as Notes and then basically giving Facebook that traffic instead of using Facebook as a way to get people to my blog), and I just recently started letting NetworkedBlogs feed to my Twitter account too.

I had been using Feedburner’s built-in Twitter “Socialize” feature to send links to Twitter whenever a new post appeared in the feed, but while I was messing around with my Google Apps/Gmail Accounts and condensing or transferring ownership of different Google services to different accounts, I lost the ability to link Feedburner to my Twitter account while logged into my Google Apps account, which is the account managing Feedburner. (This appears to be associated with the Google Apps/Profiles problem that is keeping me from jumping into Google+, but it wasn’t a problem before, and I had been using my Google Apps account to access Feedburner, and its Socialize feature, the whole time. Now it seems to want me to have a Profile first before I can do that.) Whatever the reason for my inability to link Feedburner to Twitter, I needed another way to automatically push blog post titles and links out to Twitter. NetworkedBlogs has that capability.

I wasn’t entirely happy about combining those two streams, since I liked knowing how much traffic was coming from Twitter, and how much from my Facebook Page, and with both streams using the same NetworkedBlogs link there was no telling where people were coming from, just that they were all seeing the NetworkedBlogs link.

The Disqus comments failing to load may have been a new issue, a problem with NetworkedBlogs itself. Or it may have been an old problem, an interaction problem between Disqus and NetworkedBlogs, and I may not have ever noticed because I was only relying on it to send links to Facebook. I don’t know. But I wanted it fixed.

I have been a little bored with the Disqus commenting system for a while now, and wondering if I should change it to something else, or just go back to the regular WordPress name-email-website system. When I first installed Disqus, the point was to be able to reply to comments by e-mail and have them sent as an e-mail to the commenter AND show up as a reply to their comment on my site. I was pretty bad at replying to comments at the time (and I used to be AWESOME at replying to comments; I would reply to every single comment, even if it took an hour; but sometimes it DID take an hour, and then I started slacking off…) and I thought this would be a great way to get my comment-replying mojo back. But a weird thing happened: Having Disqus comments installed coincided with a significant drop in commenting on my blog. This could have been owed to me spending more time on Twitter, to people being annoyed that I wasn’t replying anymore, so why bother leaving comments, to me being way less interesting than before, to me not commenting on other blogs as much….or it could have something to do with Disqus.

Some people have complained to me before that they couldn’t figure out how to leave a comment. Disqus hides the name-email-website login screen behind its “Post as….” button below the comment box. This confused people in the beginning. Worse, many people have noted that they have problems leaving comments from their mobile devices. I can see the comment box on my Blackberry, but many people with iPhones have complained that they can’t see anything. Finally, some people just don’t like leaving Disqus comments, because Disqus saves a commenter’s profile and you can basically just go look and read every comment they’ve ever written on a Disqus-powered site anywhere.

With the problems loading comments in the NetworkedBlogs window yesterday, I decided to toss Disqus for the time being. I’ve reverted back to my old WordPress comments form. Maybe I’ll try out CommentLuv or LiveFyre or something later, but for now, this is fine. (Disqus had not made me any better at replying to comments anyway. That problem is me, and cannot be solved through technology.)

Then I started looking around for a way to push posts to Twitter without using Feedburner or NetworkedBlogs. I found WordTwit and decided to give it a try. This post will be the first it sends to Twitter for me, so I hope it works. On the Facebook side, in order to minimize my contact with NetworkedBlogs, I decided to try out Social RSS. It syndicates my blog feed, just like NetworkedBlogs was doing, but doesn’t interpose itself between the reader and the blog page. It may have other baggage that I’ll discover later, but I’m trying it out. This is the first new post it’s in charge of sending to my Facebook Page, so again, I hope it works.

If you are a NetworkedBlogs reader (that is, if you subscribed to my NetworkedBlogs stream because that’s the subscription service you prefer to use) I think it will still work. I’ll even leave the little window on the left if you are not a yet such a reader, yet hope to become so one day. All I’ve done is tell NetworkedBlogs not to send links to my own Facebook or Twitter accounts anymore; it should still pull the feed fine for others to read it.

So…how is your day? Have you broken your blog recently? I like to break mine every few months just so I feel stupid. It builds character.