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Show HN: Remarkbox – Hosted comments without ads or tracking (remarkbox.com)
233 points by foxhop 28 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 44 comments



How long will you be able to sustain this? I have a fairly small site that has virtually no traffic, so I would love to use this but what happens if you end up with a large number of sites using this? And assume that the donations don't cover the expenses. Do you have a fallback plan?


I've optimized the codebase to scale.

Please use it on your small site with no traffic for free.

My biggest hope is for a large number of sites to use this.

I've been operating Remarkbox for the last 5 years.

Plan is to grow and try not to burn a bunch of money.

Fallback plan is open sourcing the codebase.


> Fallback plan is open sourcing the codebase.

I think the main concern for would-be user websites is not the code, but what happens to all of the comments if you shut down.

Worst-case one might not notice you plan to shut down before you turn off the servers and all comments are lost.

Do you offer downloads of comment archives for user websites so that they can download the comments in a convenient format for backup?

That would be a relief for some people to have mayhaps.

Edit: I see that this has been addressed already and indeed you do offer that. Excellent!


Hi! Sorry if I'm missing something. I do not understand how to pay you? Clicked around the site for a bit and couldn't find some self evident thing I can do to send you any given amount of money; my employers might find the idea of this being a paid service a bit more easy if I try to push this to them for use on some of our microsites


Go to https://my.remarkbox.com and verify your email. From there you should see options.


Thank you for the follow-up. This + your other comment showing that there is an export to JSON option make me feel a lot better.

I will set it up this weekend and see how it goes.


Awesome. Good luck.


Are you trying to make it a business? Or is it more of a hobby project?


It's both to me.

But now it's also hopefully going to be a utility people can count on.


... here's a weird thought. Could you have a free and paid tier split based on overall traffic, but pass the paid tier cost onto the user? ie, when the quota is reached (say an article trends on HN surprisingly), the comment box pops up a paywall, but any user can foot the bill, and then everyone else gains the benefit, including the site owner?


No, no pay walls. No.


You sound like me with every product i try to build.


This idea of anyone can pay is actually really compelling for a service like this.

Not just giving a boost to small passion projects, but I’m thinking about stuff that’s abandoned by the creators for whatever reason. Community could simply keep things going in their absence and that is interesting.


I really like the idea and the implementation looks nice! But not having any type of spam protection is a deal breaker for me. Even if links are set to nofollow, it's still a big opportunity for bots and spammers to abuse this system and spread their links, similar to what is happening to misconfigured wordpress sites.


Thanks for the feedback. I'll add Akismet integration to the backlog for people with the same objection. Allowing people to pass an API key to their Namespace shouldn't be too difficult but I'll need to build out a UI for separating ham versus spam which might take more work.

In the Namespace settings you can force all comments into moderation before displaying to the page. This would be the best option for you in the mean time.


One quick win that might catch most of the bots is using CSS to hide an dummy form input.

No human will see it if their browser properly renders, but bots using CSS selectors might fill it in. If you see that field is filled in then you have a high probability of it being a bot and can drop it.


Regarding the hidden form input, make sure you aren't blocking screen reader users/the visually disabled accidently. Make sure you can't end up in that input with the tab key.

I've found that comments submitted in less than 7 seconds from page load are spam. On a few low traffic sites I just discard anything faster than that.

A few bots seem to load a page, wait a while, then come back to it. But by and large they seem to try to submit the comment immediately after page load.

Mind you, this was on low-traffic sites. High traffic sites I'm sure see more varied techniques.


`aria-hidden` and `display: none` should effectively hide it from screen readers and you shouldn’t hit it with tab.


Do you need both, or is `display: none` enough?


display: none should be enough.

If you notice issues while testing, aria-hidden is a good thing to have in your back pocket


I like this. I'll add something like this to the backlog.


This is trivial for most bots to bypass nowadays with headless browsers and such.


yup. This really works for dumb bots.


I love the project but consider integrating oopspam (https://oopspam.com) instead of Akismet. Akismet is basically adding a tracking. People from the EU cannot use it with Akismet.


Something that may be useful here: https://stopforumspam.com/


But when Remarkbox disappears, so do your comments? Is there no self-hosting version possible?



Great answer, thanks!


I’m currently using https://commentbox.io for my static sites, I’ll have to try yours out!


On this page you’re currently including the comments section twice in the absence of JavaScript:

  <noscript>
    <iframe id=remarkbox-iframe src="https://my.remarkbox.com/embed?nojs=true" style="height:600px;width:100%;border:none!important" tabindex=0></iframe>
  </noscript>
  </div>

  <noscript>
    <iframe id=remarkbox-iframe src="https://my.remarkbox.com/embed?nojs=true" style="height:600px;width:100%;border:none!important" tabindex=0></iframe>
  </noscript>


Oops that's a painful mistake. Fixed.

Reference: https://github.com/russellballestrini/www.remarkbox.com/comm...


If you are a Python engineer and want to hack on the Remarkbox code base, please reach out to me.

For more info please watch this thread: https://meta.remarkbox.com/12d31ca6-680c-11eb-8f71-040140774...


Unfortunately I remember Disqus as doing the exact same thing when they came out of the gate. “It’s awesome: you can now have effortless comments on static sites!”

It got installed everywhere, they trojan horsed ads, and I feel like they might be the grandparents of those 6-panel “one weird trick doctors don’t want you to know” boxes.


Sorry but I don't trust this product anymore than Disqus when it comes to privacy etc unless it's open source.


Here is my very personal answer to that question: filmed over my lunch break

https://youtu.be/RD0FZ-ddido


Thank you for posting this. The project looks promising. You do you. Godspeed.


This is a really nice piece of software :)

It got so easy to build a dynamic, privacy-friendly, kiss website nowadays.


Thank you!

Agreed. Let's continue building some cool stuff and make it accessible!


How does it compare to commento.io ?


Does it auto-identify the page by URL, or can I specify an ID of some sort in the "code snippet" vaguely mentioned? I do have canonical URLs for all pages [1] but some pages have more than one URL.

[1] As in <link rel='canonical'>


Yeah, if you click setup and follow the prompts, the service will give you a snippet of HTML, drop that into your pages and it should work.

If you want to see the snippet, view the source code of any page which has Remarkbox embeded for an example.

It will use the URL to determine the thread by default, you can hack this code and provide an id instead, but please make sure you Namespace the thread_uri with your domain, otherwise you will not be able to moderate the comments.

Finally Remarkbox works without Javascript, and will enhance the experience when Javascript is enabled.

Supporting `<link rel='canonical'>` sounds like an interesting idea though, we should build that into the snippet or back end.


I would also recommend to take a look at https://remark42.com if you are looking for adsfree and self hosted comments


I've been using utterances (github issue tracker powered comments) on my website. Seems better than Disqus (lighter, less tracking) but it requires a github account.


How do they make sure that ads don't appear in the comments in the form of spam?




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