My Blog: Comments are Re-Enabled

Friday, March 22, 2013 6:55 AM

I’m not sure if “re-enabled” is the correct way to say it considering they were never enabled on the new site, but they were most certainly enabled on the old site!

I had more than 5,400 comments on my blog over the last 9 years. My old blog engine did an ok job with it in that comments were logged in the database until I manually approved them. This worked at the beginning of my blogging venture, but two things happened: (1) more people started subscribing my blog and it started showing up in search results and (2) spam bots come to life. First CAPTCHA came to life which tried to distinguish real people from bots by making you read a funky image and type in the correct characters. Users hated this, but it saved my blog. Still, stuff got through. Then Akismet came along which is a similar process as anti-virus scanning in the sense that it looks at a comment body and sees if it matches known heuristics that classify it as a spam comment. It does this by submitting to a well known service that flags it as ok, possible spam or rejects it for definite spam.

For a while SubText (my old blog engine) + Akismet worked well, but then all the sudden email broke in SubText and now I wasn’t getting any notifications when comments came in. Plus, a LOT of stuff was getting logged. Over the last year I had a hard time staying on top of the comments, approving the good ones and responding to them because so much spam was coming in.

When I was looking to migrate my blog, I wanted to leverage some of the more popular external commenting engines so I naturally looked at a few like Disqus. After some careful consideration, I decided to go with Disqus. I really like a lot of their features, plus they have an import process where I could migrate all the content to their engine. Some of the features that really stood out to me were:

  • Threaded Comments: Before (on my old blog) comments were just a stream… but with Disqus I can have someone respond to a specific comment. Note: you won’t see this today on my blog because I didn’t have relationships in my old comments so when I imported, everything came across as a flat thread. I considered, very briefly, to try to nest things, but then again, there were 5,4000+ comments.
  • White listed People: If people are logged into Disqus, I can white list some known emails so I don’t have to moderate each and every comment. Comments form those people just go straight through and get published.
  • Email Notifications & Management: Disqus will notify me via email that a new comment was posted. Better yet, I can moderate the comment via email & even respond and they’ll add it to the thread. VERY slick!
  • Integration with Orchard: There are two Orchard modules that integrate Disqus into Orchard. I’m using one of them and still trying to figure out some nuances, but it’s minor. For instance there is a way to have Orchard import the comments from Disqus for showing some visualizations and also to have the comments be part of the search index.
  • Better User Features: If you login to Disqus, you can subscribe to a thread and get email notifications… but it’s completely up to you.

There are a few issues I’m battling, but I thought I was in good enough shape to go live with the comments this morning. If you go to any blog post, like my keep alive utility post, you’ll see a series of comments at the bottom of the post. I have a few “to-do” actions I need to resolve with the commenting, but I think I’m in a good enough state to go live. These issues include:

  • Importing comments from Disqus back to Orchard to get into the search index.
  • Fix the visualizations & counts (if you look at the homepage it shows 0 comments & reactions for all posts which isn’t correct).
  • Comments are only appearing for blog posts, not for my articles (an index is found here)… for instance, I know there are over 100 comments on this thread!
  • Fix some import issues… during the import it looks like 100 or so comments didn’t get imported. I have a detailed log and I’ll go back and see what’s up with these and get them imported.
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