Thursday, May 22, 2008

Disqus And Profy -- First Step To Totally Portable Blogging

I am in Blogger jail right now.

And the capital "b" in Blogger was intentional. I mean the blogging platform from Google called "Blogger."

I feel like I am in jail because I want total blogging platform portability. I want a product that will allow me to suck in everything I have written in Blogger into an independent database. I want that for my comments as well. Then I want that database to be able to save my blog universe to Typepad, or Wordpress, or whatever.

Disqus, is an interesting commenting system that allows you to provide much more full featured threaded discussions in place of the default commenting system on standard blogs. Disqus is particularly interesting to me because their commenting system is totally disconnected from any specific blogging platform. As such, your comments are not in Wordpress jail, or Blogger jail or whatever. You can take your blog to another platform and your comments can come with you.

There are problems with Disqus such as the fact that if people search for a word that is in your comments those hits will go to the Disqus web site and not to yours. That of course is good for Disqus and bad for me. I have heard that they are going to fix that and I hope they do.

If they fixed that, to get me as a customer all they would need to do is be able to suck all of the old comments that people have made directly on my blog into Disqus. Then I would have a totally portable commenting world, and I would really love that.

All that would then be left for me to achieve blog portability is moving my actual articles. In this regard it appears that there are at least decent tools for moving from Blogger to Wordpress. I suspect other permutations are also possible, but this is, for me, only half a strategy.

One of the more interesting products in this regard is Profy. Profy is a blogging platform that has lots of cool tools that I havent yet explored. But the feature that really intrigued me was their concept of writing your blog in Profy and having it output to other blogging platforms.

When twittering with Cyndy Aleo-Carreira, Profy's blog spokesperson, I asked her about whether they were going to be able to go in the other direction and actually suck blogs into Profy. She did not promise but seemed to hint that might be something they are going to do.

If Profy did that, I think it would radically change the blogging landscape. It would make things much more competitive. I know that is the kind of thing that would really make me feel like I own my blog. Right now I feel like I write the blog but Google owns it. And so, the whole situation just leaves me with that "not so fresh feeling."


  1. Hi Hank, Svetlana from Profy here. First of all, I wanted to thank you for this post as it really explained a lot to us about what exactly some bloggers feel like when using a platform such as Blogger. And a good thing about Profy is that we are so new that we can go in absolutely any way if we feel the bloggers really need it.

    And I can definitely confirm that we do have plans to actually enable you to do "all things blogging" on Profy - no matter where your current blogging activities are based now. And while right now we only enable crossposting from Profy to other platforms, we will certainly give bloggers more control of what they do with their content in the future - we just can't seen to be able to roll out everything we want all at once.

  2. Svetlana,

    Thanks for the confirmation. I look forward to that feature, but fully understand that these things take time!

  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

  4. Don Dodge made a post on Disqus and Intense Debate you might find interesting:

  5. I've been contemplating jumping ship from Blogger for a while. I just don't feel like it's remaining competitive. The comments were aggravating and so Disqus was a welcome but partial solution.

    Thanks for the link to Profy. I will check that out. Have you given any thought as to whether working through the FriendFeed API and keeping some kind of clearly owned repository of that content might at least give you long term ownership even if you author through a given platform at any time?

  6. Hi Hank,

    As a fervent blogger (TypePad), I think that there are two salient pieces to this post. One, which you eloquently cover, is the whole issue of data/service portability.

    The other is what I call the need for social map-lications to emerge that do a better job of connecting the dots between my various posts, pictures, videos, comments, tracked discussion threads, playlists and profiles.

    A social map-lication, as I envision it, would have an importer type of function so that I can maintain local copies of all of the online blogging fodder that I have created. It would also have the ability to plug into my favorite apps on an export basis so migration, while not painless, is at least not prohibitive.

    More to the point, because the social map-lication is my web front aggregation point, it gets a lot of the page view goodness.

    Here is a link to an article that I wrote on the topic:

    Envisioning the social map-lication:

    Check it out if interested.


  7. Mark,

    Very interesting read. Part of the reason it is interesting is because a big part of the vision for the database my startup is developing is to provide the underlying enabling technology to deliver what you speak of. We are not implementing dashboards or any of the interfaces you describe, but the key to everything is being able to store and link the data in a way that would support the experience you describe.

  8. Thanks, Hank. I think that the bucket of content aggregation, content routing and how this ties into social maps and analytics around same is a lot of plumbing to most but where a lot of the serious game changing action is going to occur over the next 18 months or so.



  9. Oh another example of how 'Free' stuff sucks us in for the kill. We get used to the 'FREE' blog platforms. Develop a community of people who support our views and make comments on our pages. It grows. We feel important. Our views matter to the world. Life is grand. Until they are crushed by the 'Goggle Bot'.

    We have to support the little guys out there. If you Call/E-mail Google about a problem you might as well bang your head against a wall. You'll a least get a reaction from the wall. I've been in the flooring industry for 15yrs & took over a flooring company 5yrs ago. About 1mil in sales. I also manage the small network of 6 computers here. I've found the best service is from the little specialized companies that still take you on trips, out to dinner return your phone calls and actually care and get to know your business. Big companies give you lots of fancy promises, assume you’re no different from the rest, get you to sign the dotted line and lay down the law when you least expect it! When you strip down any of these promises you usually find the little guy can easily match these and give you way more Freedom and input. You just have to locate the right little guy. Plus you can establish a long term business relationship with a real person. In big business sales reps jump from company to company forcing you reestablish the relationship all over again... eeerrrrrr!!!

    I read a book called 'Search' about google history. Google was the work of one 'Master Mind'(Can't remember his name). Google was great because it was people like you & me developing and tweaking a pet project from a 'Master Mind'. Not many boundaries and the sky was the limit. Tons of young techies were being hired by Google. It made Web-Surfing efficient. Then Google was sold a while back. I have a feeling they are still playing the 'We work for the people' card. The guy who originally designed Google had a vision for the internet future. He is like a guru in the computer world. He sold Google because it got so big he couldn’t control anymore and implement his own ideas. Now Google justs market the hell out of itself. On a money hungery quest. Everyone has links to Google on there pages because it will rank better. How conveniently ‘FREE’ advertising for Google. Moral of the story..... Support the Little Guys. They are out there. They are probably just buried about 10 pages deep on Google searches now.
    Bla Bla Bla!!!

    Papi Julio

    My Password Won't Work

  10. Hi Hank, thanks for the mention.

    You made some excellent points about the ability to move your contributions with you, and obviously I agree. You also mentioned the oft-mentioned issue with search indexing - we are working on possible solutions now. It's one of the most important things we're dealing with right now.

    Daniel @ Disqus

  11. Hey Hank, Jitendra from SezWho here...Check out SezWho...Good point about indexing of your content and benefiting from having the content on your site.

    We bring universal profile and community to your site without taking over your content - so no SEO implications and no data lock-ins into a walled garden...Check it out and let me know what you think?

    Thanks, Jitendra

  12. All you need is Wordpress and host it yourself.

    Disqus is jail for your comments. I have several thousand comments, do you think I want to give them to Disqus for free? Do I trust Disqus? No.

    Keep your content on your own domain, it's the only way you'll stand the test of time. Even, do you think it will be around forever, will they choke it full of ads like Myspace, will they change their policies? Maybe far fetched, maybe not. Why risk it?

    Get your own domain, host your own data, then you don't have these problems. Or you can learn the hard way.

  13. I love the Disqus integration in my FriendFeed. It seems like a perfectly natural content source for a lifestream app.

    @ferodynamics: Paranoia is good. But, it also inhibits new ideas.
    Disqus addresses the comment ownership question pretty clearly in their FAQ.
    The 'Export Comments' feature is currently available as an XML file or an RSS 2.0 feed.
    Trusting them to stick to their word is upto individual choice. (I haven't read the EULA/TOS yet, so don't sue me :D )

  14. Hey mallugeek,

    Good point re:open mind but giving up your content and community for it? Not sure I agree...

    The content ownership issue is interesting. Even thought the FAQ says that you own the content, try asking Disqus not to index it (They benefit in terms of SEO juice via Google) and not showing your content on their pages.

    Also try exporting the content from Disqus and importing it back into your system. See if that works. Just exporting content is a proprietary format does not mean you can get it back into your system.


  15. @jitendra: I personally dont have a problem with Disqus using the seo value of my comments to monetize their product. Its just a couple of steps away from google's adsense, except that they probably wont build their own ad-serving solution.
    As for the lack of SEO value in the current situation, the dev's promise to fix the issues and release a WP-plugin version for Disqus comments that lets your Wordpress installation serve the comments on your pages.
    Once again, letting disqus manage your comments is a matter of faith in the developers. So far, they've been a pretty solid act; lots and LOTS of interaction/feedback with the customer community.
    as i mentioned before, XML1.0 is an export format choice. Its not that hard for other CMS developers to write XML parsing plugins to import the Disqus exported comments.
    Check out an example pastebin from my account.
    I have only one comment. (from myself :D)

  16. mallugeek, indeed is a matter of personal preference and smart users like you can certainly make an informed choice.

    Its still important to make sure everybody understands the risk/tradeoffs.

    BTW, did u try importing your xml back into your blog...Let me know how that goes and if you succeed at all?

  17. @jitendra: XML is machine-readable and platform-neutral. Its the simplest way to export structured data. Are you skeptical about XML now?

  18. Mallugeek,

    I am not skeptical about XML but I am skeptical about importing the XML you have into your blogger blog.

    the issues are related to blogger profile mapping, translating emails into openid/urls etc.

    Without such import you are essentially locked into having your data in a walled garden.

    thanks, Jitendra

  19. I have a custom built platform for blogging and am now intersted in the buzz surrounding Disqus. At this time I'm not clear on the value for someone like me who owns my platform, my content and my user list and user comments.

  20. Yes this is true. Definitely agree with what you stated. Your explanation was certainly the easiest to understand. I tell you, I usually get irked when folks discuss issues that they plainly do not know about. You managed to hit the nail right on the head and explained out everything without complication. Maybe, people can take a signal. Will likely be back to get more. Thanks.

  21. I like disqus for commenting. In disqus we can use different theme also.

  22. I am going to switch to Disqus because when posting comments on blogs, quite often the standard comment system on Wordpress leads to a blank page after hitting the submit button. It never happens with Disqus.

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