Disqus and the comment-o-sphere

As a number of people — including Nick Gonzalez at TechCrunch, Dan Frommer at Silicon Alley Insider and Om Malik over at GigaOm (who I think broke the story first) — are reporting, the hosted-comments company known as Disqus has raised money and launched some new features. There’s a post by Fred Wilson at the Union Square Ventures blog, since USV led the $500,000 round. Disqus says it has about 4,000 bloggers using the tool now, and about 60,000 commenters in total.

I know that the “Comment 2.0” space has a number of players in it, including SezWho.com and Intense Debate, but I think that Disqus is a more interesting play in a lot of ways, so it’s probably not surprising that — as Adam Ostrow notes over at Mashable — I use them for the comments here on my blog. I like the interface, I like the fact that it handles spam almost effortlessly, and I like some of the new features like the “community page.” Most of all, as I’ve mentioned before, I like the fact that I can respond to comments as easily as I respond to an email (SezWho has a somewhat pissed-off response to the Disqus announcement).

As I mentioned in that previous post, there are a few quibbles I have — such as the lack of support for trackbacks, which CEO Daniel Ha has said they are working on a solution for — but overall it’s a solid service. It also supports OpenID (through ClickPass) which I think is important for any kind of centralized comment system. Some people don’t like the idea that the comments are hosted somewhere other than their own server, but I think that is actually a benefit in some ways, and in a comment on my earlier post Daniel said the service would soon support synching between your server and theirs, which would be a cool feature.

There are hints in Fred Wilson’s blog post about where Disqus might be heading with all this. For example, he says that he sees the company as doing for comments what RSS did for blog posts and other information, and that Disqus could be the one that “unlocks comments from blogs and brings them into the mainstream” and also “surfaces the most interesting blog comments and blog commenters.” All of that presupposes that everyone starts using Disqus, of course — a tall order — but it’s still an interesting glimpse of where blog comments could go in the future.

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About mathewi

I'm the chief digital writer at the Columbia Journalism Review in New York, and a former writer for Fortune magazine and the Globe and Mail newspaper.

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