Disqus – The Story So Far

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

Bedford MK Truck

But understand that time marches on

MAN Armoured Truck

Thanks for perseverance.

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March 26, 2014 8:19 am

Is it just me or do replies go right under the replied to post and so the comments get shotgunned throughout the thread?

March 26, 2014 8:31 am
Reply to  Phil

I second the question. There is a handy count of new comments, but finding them seems to be a bitch?

The count changes above and under the hover line…I don’t get the benefit of a mouse-dragged elevator, which might be more exact as to which comment made the relative counts change as you move along the chain.

Some sort of indicator,like a red dot for the current date’s comment , would be a great help.

March 26, 2014 9:04 am

Coming along nicely.

Users can access their Profile Settings (for merging, etc) by clicking your account name above the comment box and selecting from the dropdown.

There’s a speech bubble to the left of your log in name that gives access to notifications/replies.

The Other Chris
March 26, 2014 9:06 am
Reply to  Guest

Above was me by the way, I attempted to delete the comment (in order to edit the screenshot) and it merely stripped my account from it.

March 26, 2014 9:14 am
Reply to  thinkdefence

As there is no “quote” feature, the nested comments help to keep the story & added angles/ detail short.
– but finding them, when the threads get to their good-pld length is a daunting task.

So no “freshness” indicator, like ” In the last 24 hrs” possible in Disqus then?

March 26, 2014 10:28 am
Reply to  thinkdefence

So this should go here

March 26, 2014 10:28 am

But this here

March 26, 2014 11:21 am

The speech bubble is nice (stops one from coming across as rude, by bypassing evrything anyone has ever commented on one’s earlier comment), but the access to comments generally, from the top bar, is a life saver.
– all this said from the point of view of a mobile interface
– then all yhe other readers will have to suffer is the hopeless typing throigh a “sticky” and too small interface.

March 26, 2014 12:40 pm

Ermmm, merging? Oh f**k what happened there….

March 26, 2014 12:41 pm
Reply to  Phil

No… Not here either…..f**k

March 26, 2014 12:45 pm

Piece of cake?…..my a**e!

March 26, 2014 1:38 pm

Prob with disqus and accessing my profile- despite me registering when you first mooted this move- I still can’t actually access my profile to merge my comments…

They must be the Environment Agency in disguise….

A seriously disgruntled DH

March 26, 2014 4:26 pm

The reason I called adding the Comments button to the top “a life saver” is that the “more” button on the side, after the latest 5 comments does not do anything??

March 26, 2014 6:06 pm
Reply to  thinkdefence

Works now!

March 26, 2014 7:31 pm


March 26, 2014 8:20 pm

Jedi being technically savvy… He has already hacked Disqus, and has almost 30.000 upvotes!

Or maybe he is just popular on other fora.

March 26, 2014 10:27 pm

Hmm, the “collapse” function next to each nested level of comments should take care of comments that wander off under the burden of multiple replies, and leave anyone free to read the main flow of comments . . . but what does the “flag” do? Does it flag the comment in your Disqus account for later reply? Or flag the commenter as a “durty troll” to be kick-banned by TD Admin at the earliest opportunity? Oh, and could have fun with up and down votes, as someone who loiters here but doesn’t often have time to formulate a cohesive and knowledgeable comment!

March 27, 2014 9:42 am
Reply to  thinkdefence

The voting system is hilarious: I went to see “who on earth could have voted this one up?” And the next I know, my vote had been added!
– the price to pay for being nosy?

Peter Elliott
March 27, 2014 4:26 pm

Have to say TD – don’t like the new format. Gave it some time to settle down. But things I don’t like:

There seem to be fewer words per comment on the comments summary. So to get the sense you more often have to navigate to the thread.

When you do click on a comment it doesn’t take you to the comment, it takes you to the top of the thread and you then have to hunt for the comment.

You can’t then scroll straight to the bottom of the thread. You have to keep clicking ‘more’

The nested comments. We tried that before. It annoyed me then, it still annoys me now. The comments don’t appear in the same order as on the comments summary. It interrupts the flow.

The new comments box is at the top of the page not the bottom. So once you have caught up reading to the end you then have to go and find it. (I wouldn’t submit a nested comment without reading to the bottom of the thread in case someone already answered my question.)

So overall I would prefer to revert back to how we were. Maybe because I never had too much trouble with the spam monster but I just don’t see enough upside.

March 27, 2014 6:12 pm

I must say, the lack of link from “Latest Comments” to the actual comment is pretty irritating. Predominantly this is because of the nested nature of the comment, in which case the comment might have been made way, way down the page.

I’m happy to navigate to the actual article and then go to the comments heading to see the latest X comments, but when (as above) they are nested against a discussion going on way, way down the page (needing lots of [more] > [more] button clicks) I simply can’t be bothered to go there.

Perhaps this is a good thing as it forces people to read/comment rather than argue/discuss. However, with a name like Disqus you’d expect the opposite.

March 27, 2014 6:30 pm

Am I being simple but on the Tanks thread I see the same comments appear more than once?

March 27, 2014 6:49 pm
Reply to  Simon

I find that if I click on the text of the comment in the “latest comments” and wait, it does eventually jump to the comment.

March 28, 2014 11:46 am
Reply to  thinkdefence

Android +chrome not qjite there yet (but I trust it woill come) RE
“Direct to the actual comment.

Have changed the comments page so it displays the full comments and having just tested it again in different browsers, clicking the comment text takes directly to that comment, clicking the thread title takes you to the top of the post, NOT, the comment”

March 28, 2014 1:00 pm
Reply to  mr.fred

Mr Fred,

You are right, so it does.

I’m happy again :-)

March 28, 2014 1:43 pm

Been away for awhile, what have I missed – war with Russia; third carrier ordered; TD sorted out smiley faces yet? Not much then.

If we’re isolating Russia, how do we propose to get our people on and off the International Space Station? Just a thought.

March 28, 2014 2:11 pm


I’m sure your silverback pic looks better now we’re using Disqus ;-)

It appears smileys do not work :-(

But the edit function does.

March 28, 2014 4:08 pm

“What I was not expecting was new commenters who already had a Disqus account joining in.” – New recruits for the frigate mafia. Splendid.

I’ve noticed that if you hover over the “vote up/down” arrows, it tells you who has voted. Which is worth bearing in mind [insert smiley face here].

March 28, 2014 7:40 pm
Reply to  Simon

But not if you view in a Feedly news aggregator, where there is a “headline” but no “body” option to click.
Can that be fixed TD?

March 30, 2014 3:00 pm


April 2, 2014 8:35 pm

I fear I have come to a conclusion:
Disqus, though superior for TD and prevention of SPAM, is bollocks for following the comments.
As such, I can’t be arsed any more. No doubt I shall still read – the content is what brought me here in the first place – but knackers to commenting.