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Why Disqus comments have left reality blurred

Why Disqus comments have left reality blurred

Update, April 30: Disqus just started running its advertising on comment threads, so I’ve removed Disqus comments. (The ads continue to be of poor clickbait quality, and that is not acceptable to me, as I explained below.) I continue to look for non-Facebook commenting options, and look forward to your comments and our discussions.

Earlier: For the first nine years of its life, reality blurred didn’t have comments. When I added them in 2009, I did a lot of research to find the best possible platform. That was Disqus, and I’ve truly appreciated the conversations made possible by the platform, and also appreciate that it has been a free service.

Alas, Disqus has told publishers that it will be forcing us to either pay for its service or run ads. I understand this; they need to make money, and I have benefitted from their free service. I have no objection to this in principle.

However, I have tried their ads, and they are not only usually low-quality ads, but they are often toxic: clickbait links to fake news and/or scam marketing web sites. The first ads I saw suggested the actor Melissa McCarthy was dead, all to get people to click.

I’m glad to run an ad; I won’t allow that kind of garbage to sit next to words I want people to trust.

I’ve previously communicated with Disqus about improving ad quality, and appreciate their efforts, but it has not improved. I tried again this week to see if the ads improved; they had not, and I saw ads for things like “How to Improve Belly Fat” and a fake news story about Dr. Phil’s relationship with his wife.

Meanwhile, Disqus has made other decisions I don’t agree with, primarily taking comment threads and headlines from reality blurred and other sites and turning them into discussion pages they host—essentially creating their own version of Reddit by using my headlines and your comments. They did that without permission and without the ability to opt-out. That won’t change even if I paid. And the company’s future and focus are unclear to me.

It seems like Disqus is a solid product hobbled by bad decisions. I wish them well.

What’s next for reality blurred comments

A lot of media organizations have abandoned comments over the past few years, both because conversation has shifted to social media, and because comments became difficult to moderate. I’m thrilled that was never a problem here; we’ve always had great discussions, even when there’s been disagreement.

That said, there has been a definite shift, with more and more people commenting via Facebook-powered comments, which I’ve had above Disqus comments for some time now. I know these are 1) not ideal for those who don’t want their real identity connected to their comments, nor are they 2) free, either, in that Facebook collects its usual data as we all use things like its commenting system and like buttons.

But the discussions on its platform have been near-universally positive and productive, and so they’re absolutely staying.

I’m looking into other options—suggestions are welcome!—but as of right now, don’t have anything to replace Disqus, which will go away in early February. You will still be able to access your comments and account:

Even though this particular service is leaving, I’m committed as ever to making sure your voice is part of our conversations about reality TV, and always welcome your feedback, criticism, debate, and suggestions (you can always reach me directly).

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About the author

  • Andy Dehnart is the creator of reality blurred and a writer and teacher who obsessively and critically covers reality TV and unscripted entertainment, focusing on how it’s made and what it means. Learn more about Andy.

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