Introducing Our New Comment System

You may have noticed something different about Streetsblog’s comment system this morning. We’re doing a tech upgrade and introducing a new commenting platform called Disqus, which we hope will enrich the conversation here and make it easier for you to connect with other readers.

Disqus is a popular commenting platform and you’ve probably seen it on other sites already. If you’re new to Disqus, here’s how it’s going to change things at Streetsblog.

  • Threaded comments: You can now reply directly to someone else and have your reply appear indented below the original comment, instead of adding your thoughts at the bottom of the thread. The idea is to make it easier to track different discussions within a single comment thread. To reach a happy medium where the discussion doesn’t get too fragmented, we have the system set up to allow one level of replies, but not more than that. (So we won’t have endlessly indented threads delving into ever-more-off-topic digressions.)
  • Your identity: Disqus has some nice features that allow you to link your identity on Streetsblog to your accounts on social networking sites. You can now create an account with Disqus or use your Facebook, Twitter or Google accounts to identify yourself when you comment here. Your photo from this account will be pulled in beside your comment and other readers will know where they can look you up online. If you want to post anonymously, you still can. We have never and will never share your email or IP address with anyone else.
  • No more LivableStreets.com: Now that we have these better ways for commenters to identify themselves, we are going to finish shutting down livablestreets.com, where we’ve been hosting personal accounts for readers to share a little bit about themselves. A number of readers use those profiles to post comments here, but this is largely redundant given the integration between Disqus and other social networking platforms. If you have a livablestreets.com account, you will be receiving more information on this shutdown before it happens.
  • Adding images: You can now insert images into your comments. Once you start typing, you’ll see the “add image” button appear on the bottom left corner of the comment text box.
  • Liking and flagging: If you think another reader’s comment is spot-on, or is a nice addition to the discussion, you can now “like” it. The new system also lets readers help moderate the comments. If you read a comment that you believe should be removed, click the flag icon and a site editor will be notified. We do not want this feature to morph into a way to negatively rate comments that people disagree with, so here are three questions to ask before you flag a comment: Is it spam? Is it a personal attack? Is it hopelessly off-topic? If it falls into any of those categories, go ahead and flag it. If not, please leave it be.
  • Sorting: Streetsblog’s comment threads have always shown the oldest comments first. That will still be the default setting, but now you can choose to organize them so that the newest ones, or the most “liked” ones, are the first ones you see.

For now, we’re launching Disqus on Streetsblog New York City. If all goes well, we’ll be rolling it out on the other Streetsblog outlets soon. Thanks to Streetsblog technical director Chris Abraham for getting everything up and running.

There are bound to be a few hiccups as we settle in to this new system. Please report any bugs to tips@streetsblog.org. If you’d like to give us feedback on the new system and how you think Streetsblog can make the most out of the Disqus features, please leave us a comment below.

  • molly

    will comments show up in search results now?

  • Comments will not currently show up in search results using the Streetsblog built-in search. That’s on our list, however, for when we improve the search.

  • Comments will not currently show up in search results using the Streetsblog built-in search. That’s on our list, however, for when we improve the search.

  • This Sux

    Boo!

  • Driver

    I just discovered one downside, if your name is already taken you have to come up with a new variation. Think there’s already a Joe R. on Disqus?
    -Driver

  • Your username may be taken on Disqus, but once you register with a different one, you can change your “Full Name”, the one that is displayed, to whatever you want.

  • Driver

    Good to know, thanks.

  • Gowanut

    This, unfortunately, is becoming a trend. I realize outsourcing the commenting system simplifies site administration, but what are the pitfalls?

    You have handed over control of your primary source of reader feedback to a third party, for profit, company. They give away a nice commenting system to sites for free. Why do you think they do that?

    “We have never and will never share your email or IP address with anyone else.”
    That’s great, but what about Disqus?
    Read their privacy policy here:
    http://docs.disqus.com/help/30/

    How do you think the generate revenue?

    “If you aren’t paying for the product, you (or in this case your readers) *are* the product.”

  • Matt BK

    I have to agree. Aside from the obvious problems inherent in now having an entirely different company (on a different server) running the comment system, the privacy concerns are probably valid. Additionally, I had to turn off my ad blocking software in Opera 11 to even see the comments, which is one more step toward getting me to interact.

    Changes like this are why I stopped reading Lifehacker, unfortunately. It’s too bad that you guys probably won’t listen to readers on this issue though.

  • Mark Walker

    A new adventure.

  • Anonymous

    nice!. I love discus!

  • Anonymous

    you can search on google with site:streetsblog.com

  • Eric McClure

    I’m starting Neighbors or Better Comment Systems.

    Just kidding. I’m open-minded.

  • Eric McClure

    Or Neighbors FOR More Accurate Typing.

  • Does this mean that http://www.streetsblog.org/comments/ is dead now? I hope not, because it is/was a great place to make sure I wasn’t missing any comments, especially on older threads.

    Other than that, I think Disqus is a plus, especially because now we can edit our typos — yay! (Hi Eric!)

    (Also, it took me a while to realize that the Logout link is on the Disqus Button at the top of the thread, in case anyone else wants to “switch” identities but can’t find it.)

  • The “recent comments” page and comments RSS feed should start syncing with Disqus soon, then we’ll have that functionality back up and running.

  • Glenn

    Checking to see if this works

  • Blah

    this SUCKS why did you mess with it?

  • The syncing should be working now. It’s not immediate, but new comments should show up on that comments page and in the RSS within a few minutes.

  • dporpentine

    Yay–I get to feel like a subversive! I had my earlier comment on this thread deleted!

    It was a single sentence from the Disqus privacy policy. So possibly that sentence was viewed as an obscenity or something.

  • The biggest complaint I have is when long comments are abbreviated, and you have to click on “show more” to read the rest. Being that I have a tendency to write very long comments, this will affect most of my comments.

    And by the way, apparently I’m now posting as Joseph instead of Joe R.

  • Anonymous

    This is good news, Ive been having a LOT of problems with the streetsblog comment system over the past month, and Disques is pretty reliable.

    However, I do know of one website that had to abandon disques because it was making load times on the entire website terrible. Hopefully thats not the case here.

  • Onward into the future!

  • Thanks, Ben and Chris!

  • Driver

    It no longer says the number of comments, just “view comments”. Viewing the number of comments makes it easier to see when someone has contributed to the discussion. Any chance we can get the number of comments back?

  • Love the ability to edit my comments after it’s been posted and I notice some glaring typo. However, I was sort of hoping to reduce my Google presence. Maybe its time I came up with a disqus screen name.

  • Albert

    Agree that being able to see the number of comments without having to actually go to the comment is useful.

  • Where are you seeing “View Comments?” For me it always shows the number. There’s sometimes a small delay, however, as it has to pull that number from disqus.

  • Albert

    Wow! Fixed already! That’s responsiveness to customer base!

  • That’s all true enough, but it may have been a situation of Disqus or no comments. Or to put it another way, when you donate to Streetsblog do you want your money going to deleting spam comments or to investigative journalism?

    Spammers don’t give up, they just get smarter. Lately I noticed them copying and pasting parts of the comments of “real” Streetsblog readers just to get in their stupid links in to whatever site they are paid a dollar an hour to give a short-term pagerank boost to. The only cost-effective solution may indeed be pooled commenting systems like Disqus, ulterior profit motives and all.

  • Alon Levy

    Ugh. TTP tried to switch to Disqus once. It was a complete disaster. The threading order broke and comments disappeared, making it impossible to have any discussions in the comment threads. We complained, Yonah reverted to WordPress within a few hours, and all was well.

    Market Urbanism still uses Disqus… and the only way you can have coherent discussions there is if they’re back-and-forths within just one subthread.

  • Glenn

    No emails on threads anymore?

  • Ah, that feels better – logged in through Twitter.

  • You can subscribe to threads of comments by email by clicking the “Subscribe by email” button. See screenshot.

  • Gowanut

    @Nathan, you make a valid point, in which case i would expect the announcement above to say something like, “We are spending an inordinate amount of time and resources combating spam, so we are switching to a comment system that has better anti-spam tools.”

    Instead, the stated reason for the switch is Disqus will “.. enrich the conversation here and make it easier for you to connect with other readers.”.

    If Disqus and/or Streetsblog wants to make money from data mining reader comments, thats fine, just tell me that up front.

    I guess i just expected more transparency/disclosure from streetsblog.

    Ok everyone!, back to the discussion about what color the reply button should be.

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    Amazing write-up! This could aid plenty of people find out more about this particular issue. Are you keen to integrate video clips coupled with these? It would absolutely help out. Your conclusion was spot on and thanks to you; I probably won’t have to describe everything to my pals. I can simply direct them here!

  • The latest version is better than old one, I like its spam comment system because I don’t wanna spend time to remove them. It is automatically removed. 

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