It has been a bit of a bumpy ride but we are more or less there now. Over the weekend I implemented a third party commenting system called Disqus with the primary aim of improving the commenting system especially with regard to false positive SPAM marking, comment editing and ability to sort comments.
Disqus is not perfect but of all the third party commenting systems available seems to be the one with the momentum.
Database Sync and Comment Display
There are actually two comment databases in use, Disqus and the native Think Defence database.
Although the Disqus comment panel uses the Disqus database other site functionality (displaying comment count on posts for example) uses the internal database and so the system provides for synchronisation between the two.
This has been lagging during the transition phase so although comments appeared in the Disqus box they did not show up in the Comment RSS feed, latest comments page or on the front page display.
The problem was simply one of scale, the comment database is a big old beast, allowing the system to catch up and stabilise took time.
I have also changed the way the last 50 comments and latest comments displays, drawing directly from the Disqus database instead of the native database because synchronisation happens on an hourly basis so the two might still be out of step during the interval.
This synchronisation process also means that should we all decide Disqus is not good, I can revert without too many dramas.
Synchronisation was a problem, it isn’t now, although there might still be a slight delay.
Comment Anchor Links
This was a trickier problem than might be imagined and needed quite a bit of tweaking. Disqus uses a different definition for comment anchor links so when clicking on the post meta data (comment link) that would normally scroll the display directly to either the top of the comment panel, or the individual comment, it just sat there like a dummy.
This is now fixed, for single posts, archives, the front page and latest comments, anchor links should scroll directly.
Claiming Your Comments
During the import process Disqus registers everyone as a guest account.
Then, when you register a Disqus account it allows you to see all your comments in your control panel EXCEPT those that have been imported.
So, if you have made a thousand comments on Think Defence before registering for your Disqus account they will all be orphaned and your admin panel will only show those made since registering.
You need to claim them.
Fortunately, this is a piece of cake to do.
Go to the Disqus home page http://disqus.com/home/ and if you aren’t already logged in, do so.
Click on the Edit Profile menu and there will be an option called ‘Merging’
Click on this and your old comments (made with the same email address) will be there to claim, follow the prompts and after a short period (depending on numbers) they should all be there in your admin panel.
This is easy, you should really do it.
More information here
A few people have voiced concerns about Disqus security, like any system, the old Think Defence database included, it is attractive to hackers.
Some have even told me they will no longer be commenting which is very sad, am sorry to see them go.
Hopefully, they will be back as Disqus evolves but I would add that many millions of people use Disqus on a regular basis and free web email addresses are child’s play to set-up, concerns about security are real but I have to have some perspective and balance the functionality and time I was spending on the old system against the functionality and time I will be spending on Disqus.
Despite the few teething troubles Disqus seems to be coming out on top in that regards so security issues have to be viewed pragmatically, no system is ever 100% secure.
I fully expected the number of active commenters to dip (although traffic has remained about the same) and this has happened, gotta roll with the punches.
What I was not expecting was new commenters who already had a Disqus account joining in.
Welcome to Think Defence.
To summarise, not a perfect or simple migration and not an absolutely perfect system but so far, no SPAM false positives and some nice features that were not available in the old system.
I know some of us might have a soft spot for one of these
But understand that time marches on
Thanks for perseverance.