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Disqus Ads Are No Longer Free to Disable (kinsta.com)
65 points by brianjackson on Feb 13, 2017 | hide | past | favorite | 72 comments

The Mozilla Foundation's Coral Project has a full-time team building an open source comments system with no ads. Follow the repo, forum, and/or slack for updates. https://github.com/coralproject/talk https://coralproject.net/

Is it really a complete alternative? It looks like you have to host it yourself (one of the main appeals of Disqus was that you could add comments to any static page).

Also, it would be nice if they supported a SQLite backend, which would probably make more sense for small blogs running on very weak shared servers.

Take a look at my toy project:


You can see them in use on my tweaked site, e.g:


Isso (https://posativ.org/isso/) is a possible alternative that only requires Python and SQLite.

I've looked into using things by The Coral Project before but their documentation is just not there, there don't seem to be that many sites actually using their software yet, and their architecture is plain too complicated: it's split up into a bunch of microservices that aren't well documented.

I launched a service a while back that provides the infrastructure to do exactly this. Check my profile for a link of interested: hosted sqlite available over CORS. We're looking for early adopters.

Using a Mozilla product that isn't Firefox is a great way to have a crucial piece of your web infrastructure discontinued about three months before it's production-ready.

They seem to be the kind of advertisement I wouldn't certainly want to be associated with ("Earn money online fast", "Doctors hate this new method of losing weight" [1]) so it looks like I'm turning off comments in my blog. Does anyone know a good alternative for static Jekyll sites?


[1] https://twitter.com/amitbhawani/status/828554455876505601

I don't run an ad-blocker, but I blocked Disqus in my hosts file ages ago (as a side effect, I don't see comments on sites that use Disqus; this has not affected my life so far). Them and Taboola have always been the unabashedly scummy bottom of the barrel: even before native ads were ubiquitous, they were way ahead of the game with running extremely low-quality scam ads disguised as publisher content.

So they basically distributed the product as „free“ to install on millions of pages with the intention to turn them into an ad-network after some time? Smart move...

I don't disagree, but this is basically the MO of almost every "free" social network, messaging service, or image or content host since forever.

How else is it supposed to work? Other than selling your browsing habits to third parties so they can advertise to you.

Start with a free product, and then add optional paid features onto it.

This article appears very WordPress centric. While I assume they'd add ads to the Javascript downloaded and run on the page, there is a possibility of this only applying to the plugin, does anyone know for sure?

I use Disqus on a static Jekyll generated page and adding ads to my blog saddens me. My blog doesn't get much traffic, but it's always nice to see an email when someone cares enough about what I wrote to comment. I fear I'll have to migrate to something else if this holds true. Alternatives for my low traffic, low touch (I'm not a web dev) blog?

Hi there, I work at Disqus. Just wanted to clarify that Disqus will continue to be free w/ optional advertising for small / non-commercial sites. This makes up the vast majority of total number of sites on our network.

Here was a comment related to this topic on the blog post https://kinsta.com/blog/disqus-ads/#comment-3153203837

We're planning to post an update clarifying this on our blog soon.

It appears very WordPress centric because this was posted on a website targeting WordPress hosting for business. But they'll affect anyone using the Disqus widget in their sites.

This affects everyone, not just WordPress users unfortunately.

Maybe muut.com?

This looks interesting. Have you used it?

No, I don't really enjoy Web based comment platforms (including hn, but there's no denying the positive network effect :-) - and would probably self-host if I wanted one.

I've looked a bit at riot, their js framework though: riotjs.com.

The best minds of my generation are thinking about how to make people click ads—and that's ok: https://www.ybrikman.com/writing/2014/08/10/the-best-minds-o...

Also relevant: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2011-04-14/this-tech...

I don't understand this obsession against ads on HN. The only countries that don't have ads in the streets are North Korea and before that the Soviet Union. It's a great way to let people know about your business and participate peacefully into the free exchange of goods and services with our other fellow human beings. And in computing it allows to offer amazing services to the poorest for free (google, facebook etc). In Peru for example where I used to live, students had to buy expensive books before or just couldn't find good source of education for free easily to help them with their studies, they now can and it really changed people's life (eg my wife's :)).

Edit: no need to downvote just because you disagree...

The problem I have with ads right now is that the ecosystem for web ads specifically is poisonous. People who have ad inventory don't manage it well or respect the product they are making in enough cases that it hurts the market as a whole. On the other side I can't name an ad network that does web advertising in a reputable way. Furthermore there are some bad actors who exploit technology to abuse advertising on top of the product owners and the ad networks. With traditional media advertising was always a weird market but there was a respect of the product/business ad inventory that caused a push back. There is also a lot of sponsored advertisements right now which is a decent go-between but also is managed poorly. It's very easy to burn both sides of the bridge.

Admittedly having worked in advertising to an extent it's always going to be a grey market, but web advertising just seems to be a bit darker. There isn't enough money going around to refuse dodgy actors on the mid-low scale and that hurts the whole market.

Internet ADs in real life would be like having cardboard banners appear in the middle of the street, and you would need to change car every 5 years as the banners get thicker and harder to penetrate.

Everybody has different concerns and constraints.

I run an ad blocker because I mostly want to stop third parties tracking me around the web. Then, after I ran an ad-blocker for a while, I got used to the web feeling zippy.

Aside from privacy concerns, there are also security concerns. Ad networks have been used to distribute malware.

I had my kids to install ad-blockers on their phones because they share a pool of data. It's not that unusual for a page containing a few kilobytes of text and images to contain twice as much ad related bloat.

Because most ads are done poorly, are manipulative, and hide the "real" cost of a service. It's also based on an increasingly outdated economic system that needs to change.

How is advertising outdated? It's basically as old as capitalism itself. Have something to sell? You need to advertise it.

The financial side is. We no longer need most things to be subsidized by advertising.

Really? That's still how most people consume content (news, social media etc) on the internet. You'd be shocked to learn that most people in Latin America for example use the ad supported version of Spotify and those with no Spotify in their country use ad supported pirate sites.

We still can have those or equivalent services without advertisements. We only use them because it's the model we know, not because it's the most appropriate model.

How do you know it's not the most appropriate model? Do you think Facebook and Google wouldn't switch to another more appropriate model? Whatever that means.

Online advertising is is a collective delusion where ad networks collect more and more personalized metrics about a particular session-device pair, so that they can hoodwink their clients (i.e. people who want to advertise) into paying more for "targeted" ads, while the viewers of those ads are inevitably confronted by one of the following outcomes:

a. they ignore the ad

b. they ignore the ad and think negatively about the product

c. they mentally register the ad and it builds positive brand awareness but don't click through

d. they clickthrough if the offer/proposition was compelling enough anyway

In effect, online advertising is like being paid to be promoted on a dating site: if you're attractive or interesting enough on your own, you probably don't even need it but it may help you get matched with a different user than if you hadn't gotten promoted; and if you're not very compelling you're quite possibly flushing money down the drain while your competitors are eating your lunch. It fools the hopeless and the underdogs, while creeping users out, and ultimately affects the landscape little; it's the ultimate rent-seeking.

Whatever happened to paying for services? I can't even do that now if I want to avoid staring at what someone else thinks I'd spend money on.

I agree, online ads are annoying for a number of reasons. I'm curious what pay model you're envisioning. Content providers paying Disqus? Disqus users? I can see the former possibly working, as Disqus is providing the service to them.

Frankly, I can't tell you the last time I found comments on an article to be valuable. I spent the last half hour trying to work out the model before realizing I wouldn't pay a dime for it.

But I'm also not the likely demographic, so I'm left with my foot in my mouth! I can say I would pay for HN if it came to that, weird as that would be, preferably in a flat fee because it's easier to budget. HN is the only similar service I use.

Most people worldwide don't even have a credit card to pay online. If anything you should celebrate the fact that you are so privileged that you would rather pay for something most could not even dream to afford.

Those folks aren't the target of ads in general, either.

The problem is that internet ads are very different to IRL advertising. They are executing code in your browser, and have been a source of countless exploits. Not to mention that they are incredibly bloated.

Reddit does this correctly -- they only self-host ads that they've vetted. I have no problem unblocking ads on reddit, but that's the only website I can think of which has non-scummy advertising practices.

I feel sad when I see Disqus enabled on some of the honest and serious platforms, where conversation can be civil (and is generally civil) and manageable (you get a sense of authentic participation and dialog). I most often do not bother to login to participate because of these creepy issues with privacy (tracking) and Ads. I understand they have to provide value and make money, but ...

I only notice Disqus when it doesn't work—missing comments, broken links, terrible Javascript loading, etc. So my impression of Disqus is their failure case. I have no sense of implementations when it works well, let alone "long-tail" issues like privacy or advertising. I just see the Disqus logo and think, "Ugh... Discus."

Thanks for the feedback. We care about our user's privacy and provide a way for anyone to easily opt-out of data sharing here https://help.disqus.com/customer/portal/articles/1657951 (also accessible via the Privacy link at the bottom navigation of every Disqus comment embed. We also honor the Do Not Track setting if you have it enabled in your web browser.

One would expect a large platform to be able to filter "My xx makes yy$ an hour" on every instance, yet the only thing they've done is making guest posting harder.

As comment sections become increasingly toxic it seems discus won't be here for long.

They seem to be an ok company, but their business model is a sinking ship

I hadn't heard about this until now. And in my case, I'll be disabling Disqus on the site I use it on. We don't have enough activity to justify a $10/month charge, and I am not at all fond of their ad system. I totally understand the reasoning, it just doesn't work well for us.

hosts file disqus.com

also - to make the internet better http://someonewhocares.org/hosts/

I don't understand why everyone is shocked, this is a good decision for the company to generate more revenue.

I see this decision as good in the sense that it allows the people hosting comments sections to pay Disqus directly, allowing it to be somewhat more independent.

The more I learn about advertising, the more I find arguments against it compelling. Disqus is a comment system that facilitates the free exchange of ideas. If it relies significantly on ads, then advertisers can begin to police it by threatening to pull sponsorship. This eliminates productive discussion that threatens the interests of advertisers. For instance, advertisers don't like placing ads alongside people that care too much about things, they prefer people to be lightly entertained and in a buying mood. They also don't like placing their ads alongside controversy, as it can negatively impact their brand.

Thus reliance on advertising introduces an interdependency on a relatively small set of giant corporations' goodwill, even for niche activities and will, which when push comes to shove, substitute their positions for the managers' of Disqus. Allowing advertisements to be turned off actually immunized Disqus somewhat from this problem, but having advertisements on everywhere enables it. Allowing users to pay to turn them off probably more than offsets this, though it does impact exceptionally poor users (who, for some reason, are probably more likely to dissent controversially). That could be ameliorated by case-by-case ad waivers if the issue comes up, though it does come close to Disqus endorsing a controversial issue.

Maybe this seems like a minor issue, but Disqus provides a platform for debate, and advertising can act to bound the limits of debate for better or worse. I would prefer if the Disqus managers could act according to their own moral compass when under pressure.

Good decision for the company, but no upside for the user.

I have a strong policy against inline ads, so I may have to reconsider using Disqus for my blog if this goes through. (Unfortunately, the only competiton left is Facebook Comments)

Spot.im is a direct competitor to facebook, disqus and livefyre comments. https://www.spot.im/features/

Suggestion : consider disabling comments on the blog.

I noticed that on most technical blogs, the discussions in the comments are either non-existent or an "Awesome post" type response. The real discussion happens on sites like HN, reddit.

There is no real downside to disabling comments altogether on technical blogs. Just leave a PS asking for comments to be sent over email.

The upside to disabling comments : way faster load times and less data transfer per request. Disqus makes like 30 odd requests to load their comments.

Disqus also does some creepy things : when my blog experienced a spike in traffic, Disqus suddenly decides to run ads on my blog without explicit permission.

Regarding Facebook comments : :|

That's the case with Medium comments, but comments on my site do occasionally point out holes/mistakes in my posts. Removing comments is certainly an option, though.

Facebook domains are the first thing I'd block.

As more, and more people are installing plugins just to hide comments, I can't see this going well.

I feel conflicted right now. On the one hand, I'm really happy to know there are plugins that I wasn't aware of to disable comments. On the other hand, I learned about it from a comment...

... on a site where you come for the commentary. (And, by extension, that commentary is healthy and helpful.) Those comment-blocking plugins just keep you from being tempted to read the comments on other sites where the idiocy, toxicity, and trolling is just mind-boggling.

Just give it a shot for a week, it's cathartic.

No need for an extra plugin even. Just a custom list for uBlock Origin: http://mute.bradconte.com/

Another solution is to use uBO's "firewall" to block disqus.com everywhere, and to enable (temporarily or permanently) on a per-site basis where needed with a mere point-and-click interface.[1]

[1] An example using facebook.com, can be applied to disqus.com or any ubiquitous 3rd-party out there: https://github.com/gorhill/uBlock/wiki/Dynamic-filtering:-to...

What you just sent me is an extra plugin for Ad Block Plus. No where on that site are the words uBlock or Origin even mentioned.

Edit: I see below what you're referring to. However I'd rather have a separate plugin where I can easily selectively turn it on(Hacker News).

Not a plugin (does uBlock / Adblock even have a concept of plugins?), but rather a simple blocklist.

Just checked, and this list doesn't block comments on hacker news or reddit, just like it doesn't block the wall on facebook or posts on a forum. It would be pointless, because the whole point of those [social] sites is the comments.

I prefer this way because uBlock Origin is already installed and is quite lightweight, so the incremental performance hit is less. I can see your point about UI convenience too. Everyone has their own priorities!

I mostly use it for blocking comments on news and video sites [in my experience typically 99% noise]. Whitelists can be added for individual sites, in the same way that any blocking rule can be whitelisted with custom filter rules.

Here's how to get this (or really any other list) added to uBlock Origin.

* Navigate to the uBlock Dashboard > 3rd Party Filters > Custom.

* Add the line: http://mute.bradconte.com/mute.txt

* Click `Parse` and the `Update`.

Because ad block plus is the de facto standard and ublock Origin is compatible with adblock plus subscriptions.

Wondering if this is an opportunity for something that can 1-click deploy to a $5 Digital Ocean account would be worthwhile.

hmm, they have a paid plan WITHOUT ads. Isn't it the kind of model everybody wants? free with ads, paid without ads?

That's a fair point.

I've been wrestling with why I feel so uncomfortable with this move. About the best analogy I've come up with: this feels like I've been using a maid service for years. They've done a reliable job keeping my place clean for when I have guests over. They decide that it is time to raise their rates, but rather than come directly to me to negotiate a pay increase they decide that they can just sell billfold space in my house when they clean.

It seems like a violation of a social contract, because my blog is my house and I don't intend to have advertising there, even if I did I'm too small of a fry to make any money that way.

I realize that no one wants to raise rates, and this sort of business model if I had been given the choice up front I'd probably be fine with... If I wasn't also growing increasingly weary of the race-to-bottom-feeding, increasingly toxic ad markets, which has been a concern worrying me the last few months and I haven't had any good ideas, but I certainly don't want my blog participating in that for what tiny bit that is worth.

Read the blog post and it does sound more reasonable that they mention planning to talk to existing sites about the change before introducing ads everywhere, which weakens my analogy a bit. Still doesn't assuage my secondary concerns.

You could see them going this route, so it isn't surprising.

But, I wish their product, which now requires ads or dollars, was actually decent. As an unpaid/no-ads alternative to rolling your own it's barely passable. But paying real money or serving ads, for this junk? No way.

It's a good thing I've had ' disqus.com" in my host file for years, then.

As of this morning Disqus doesn't seem to be loading at all on my blog (http://blog.mattcrampton.com). It was working fine a week ago.

I hope this change will result in fewer sites using Disqus, because I really hate that you have to enable Javascript just for reading comments.

Looks like this might be a good day for muut:


(Not affiliated, nor a customer - just became aware of them because of their open source js framework, riot (riotjs.com)).

there are still some people surfing internet without adblocker?

ublock on desktop, adaway, netguard or dozen alternatives on mobile

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