Disqus

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Not to be confused with Discus (website).
Disqus, Inc.
Disqus logo official - white on blue background.png
Type of business Private
Available in Multilingual
Founded October 30, 2007; 9 years ago (2007-10-30)
San Francisco, California, U.S.
Headquarters San Francisco, California, U.S.A
Area served Worldwide
Founder(s) Daniel Ha
Jason Yan
Key people Daniel Ha (CEO)
Jason Yan (CTO)
Industry Internet
Employees 61 (2014)[1]
Slogan(s) "Discover your community."
"The web's community of communities."
Website disqus.com
Alexa rank 593 (March 2016)[2]
Registration Optional
Users hundreds millions
Launched October 30, 2007
Current status Active

Disqus (pronounced discuss) is a worldwide blog comment hosting service for web sites and online communities that uses a networked platform. The company's platform includes various features, such as social integration, social networking, user profiles, spam and moderation tools, analytics, email notifications, and mobile commenting. It was founded in 2007 by Daniel Ha and Jason Yan as a Y Combinator startup.

In 2011, Disqus ranked #1 in Quantcast's U.S. networks with 144 million monthly unique U.S. visits.[3] Disqus has been featured on many major publications, such as CNN, The Daily Telegraph, and IGN, and about 750,000 blogs and web sites.[4]

History[edit]

Disqus was first developed in the summer of 2007 as a Y Combinator startup headed by Daniel Ha and Jason Yan, who were undergraduates at the University of California, Davis. Disqus was first incorporated and launched on October 30, 2007.

In early 2011, Disqus raised $10 million in funding from North Bridge Venture Partners and Union Square Ventures.[5]

According to a study by Lijit, Disqus was used by 75% of websites in March 2011 who used a third-party commenting or discussion system.[6]

Technology[edit]

The Disqus comment widget is written in JavaScript and is powered by a back end primarily written in Python using the Django framework.

Business model[edit]

Disqus previously operated on the freemium financial model similar to Dropbox and Evernote. The service is free to use for both commenters and web sites.

In November 2010 Disqus began officially offering three add-on packages for web sites: Plus for $19/month, Pro for $199/month, and VIP starting at $999/month.[7] In mid-2011, the Plus package was removed and Pro was increased to $299/month.

Starting July 2012, Disqus offered just two premium packages, the VIP package and a single-sign-on-only package for $99/month.

Premium packages were quietly phased out beginning March 2013.

Currently, Disqus does not offer paid accounts and generates revenue through its advertising service, Reveal.

Functionality[edit]

Language support[edit]

Both the Disqus site and comment system were translated into more than sixty languages in 2011. With the introduction of the new Disqus in 2012, language support dropped to seven languages[8] and even though Disqus accepts applications for new languages,[9] only one has been added since bringing the current number of supported languages to eight as of 2013.

Criticism and privacy concerns[edit]

Privacy issues have been noted as inherent in the use of services like Disqus, which serve their content through third-party JavaScript widgets.[10][11][12]

As with other embedded web widgets, such as like buttons, the Disqus widget acts as a web bug which tracks a user's activities, even when they are not logged in, across different sites that use the Disqus commenting system. Information tracked by Disqus, which may be disclosed to third parties, includes pseudonymous analytics data, such as a user's IP address, their web browser version and installed add-ons, and their referring pages and exit links.[13] Although these data are referred to by Disqus as "Non-Personally Identifiable Information", such data, when aggregated, has been shown to be usable for de-anonymizing users.[11]

Disqus has also been criticized for publishing its registered users' entire commenting histories, along with a list of connected blogs and services, on the publicly viewable user profile pages.[14] The option to keep profile activity private was later added.

Users wishing to avoid these issues may opt to install a privacy-enhancing web browser extension, such as Ghostery, NoScript, or DoNotTrackMe, which identify widgets such as Disqus as web bugs,[15][16] and allow them to be blocked; this renders Disqus-powered commenting sections unviewable.

Disqus does not moderate communities which use its service,[17] leading to controversial moderation in some communities. Disqus only intervenes when the Terms of Service have been violated, leading to criticisms that Disqus allows racist and otherwise offensive content to be created on the platform.

Disqus also was criticized for not giving users control over who follows them. Prior to 2014, any user could follow any other user, but a user being followed could not control or block who was following them, which led to harassment among some users.[18]

If Disqus shuts down, hundreds of millions of comments would be wiped away from a wide range of sites, since by the very nature of the service, comment content is not being managed locally by sites implementing the service. However, it is possible for site administrators to export all of their comments as an XML document which can then be ported into other commenting systems.[19]

In September 2014, it announced an update to its privacy policy: "Disqus will be using anonymous interest data for content personalization and ad targeting."[20]

2013 security breach[edit]

In 2013 a Swedish group called Researchgruppen obtained and exposed a large number of anonymous Disqus identities through the application programming interface (API).[21] The group cooperated with the Bonnier tabloid Expressen, who subsequently visited some of the commentators in their homes, confronting them with allegedly racist, misogynic, and derogatory sentiments. Researchgruppen, which includes people from the far left, said their database contained millions of comments from Disqus users around the world who are at risk of de-anonymization.[22][23][24] In March 2014, Expressen and Researchgruppen won the investigative reporting award Guldspaden.[25]

Issues with delete button[edit]

For years, the Disqus user interface showed logged-on users an Edit button and a dropdown menu containing a Delete button next to each of their own posted comments. If the user clicked Delete and then a simple confirmation, their comment disappeared from the page. But, upon refresh of the page, the comment was still there, credited to Guest. Instead of deleting their comment, Disqus "anonymized" their comment, immortalized the body of their comment, and hid those actions in the short term. The user forever lost the ability to edit or delete the comment, with no warning of what was actually about to happen. To effect true deletion of a comment, the user had to first Edit the comment to remove the undesired content, and then (optionally) use the "Delete" button to anonymize it. But users only learned of the failure to delete after the fact (if at all). Their only recourse was to flag the comment and/or contact the moderator of the host web site and ask them to delete the comment,[26] though many sites' moderators are invisible or non-existent.

In April 2015, Disqus revised their Delete button to completely delete a comment from the website.[27][28]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Disqus team member tweets current headcount". Twitter. Matt Robenolt. Retrieved 15 November 2014. 
  2. ^ "Disqus.com Site Info". Alexa Internet. Retrieved 2014-03-10. 
  3. ^ "Disqus Network Traffic and Demographic Statistics by Quantcast". Retrieved October 18, 2011.
  4. ^ "The Numbers of Disqus". May 4, 2011. Retrieved October 18, 2011.
  5. ^ "Commenting startups Disqus celebrates its birthday with $10M more". May 4, 2011. Retrieved October 18, 2011.
  6. ^ "Lijit Study Shows Publisher Adoption of Social Media Tools Grows 80%". March 2, 2011. Retrieved October 18, 2011. Archived July 5, 2013, at the Wayback Machine.
  7. ^ "The new DISQUS: Add-ons, Analytics, APIs, and more". Disqus Product Blog. November 17, 2010. Retrieved October 18, 2011.
  8. ^ "What's New for the New Disqus". November 8, 2012. Retrieved January 23, 2013.
  9. ^ "What languages does Disqus support?". Retrieved January 23, 2013.
  10. ^ "#5667 (Is DISQUS a solution for spam-free comments?) – Support" Retrieved October 18, 2011.
  11. ^ a b "There is no such thing as anonymous online tracking", Stanford Center for Internet and Society. July 28, 2011. Retrieved Jun, 10, 2012
  12. ^ "Disqus Spies On You!", June 8, 2011, Retrieved June 10, 2012
  13. ^ "Privacy Policy" Disqus.com Retrieved June 10, 2012
  14. ^ Thomas Baekdal, "The First Rule of Privacy", February 25, 2010. Retrieved June 10, 2012
  15. ^ "Disqus – Analysis by Ghostery" Retrieved June 10, 2012
  16. ^ [1] Retrieved July 1, 2012
  17. ^ "How Moderation Works on Disqus Channels" Retrieved May 11, 2016
  18. ^ "How do I block people from following me?" Disqus Help Pages Retrieved June 14, 2013
  19. ^ "Comments Export". DISQUS. 
  20. ^ https://help.disqus.com/customer/portal/articles/1670950 (Archive: https://archiveDOTtoday/ZosDE)
  21. ^ "Statement in Response to a Report of 'Cracking Disqus'", Disqus, December 10, 2013
  22. ^ Landes, David (12 December 2013). "Swedes uncover Disqus user security breach". The Local. Retrieved 17 July 2014. 
  23. ^ "'I hope they starve' post fells Sweden Democrat". The Local. 10 December 2013. Retrieved 17 July 2014. 
  24. ^ "Expressen-artiklar får Disqus att uppdatera" (in Swedish). Computer Sweden. 11 December 2013. Retrieved 17 July 2014. 
  25. ^ Byttner, Karl-Johan (24 March 2014). "Expressen-grävaren om Guldspaden-vinsten" (in Swedish). Resumé. Retrieved 17 July 2014. 
  26. ^ "Why when I delete a comment from sites does it then come back as a guest comment?". Disqus knowledge base. 
  27. ^ "Disqus - You can now delete your own comments". Disqus. 
  28. ^ "Remove and edit your comments". Disqus knowledge base. 

External links[edit]