Commenting systems

Published
2014-10-19 00:00:00
Category
meta

After migrating from Wordpress to Jekyll, the one feature that was fundamentally lacking is the lack of a commenting system. It is impossible to add dynamic content directly into the static content of Jekyll; you would need to add either JavaScript or server-side scripting like PHP. Either way, additional complexity is unavoidable.

The most common solution seems to be relying on Disqus to outsource all commenting functionality and data. Disqus is simple to install and maintain, but I am loath to use it because I disagree with giving one's data to a commercial third party in principle, whether or not Disqus uses that data improperly. I have no qualms with the design of Disqus itself; I would use it if there were an open-source equivalent that was easy to self-host.

There are other alternatives that are open source, with varying degrees of complexity, but ultimately, I decided to not include a commenting system for now.

For what use is a commenting system? A commenting system allows readers to discuss articles on the site. However, I feel that this is not the right way of doing discussion. The right way is to hold the discussion with the community of your choice, by linking the article on Reddit, Facebook, Twitter, IRC, or your preferred forum. This way, people who evangelize one side can do so peacefully in one place, people who evangelize the other in other, and people who are looking for an open discussion somewhere else. I do not see a compelling reason to include a commenting system on the article itself, unless the site has grown big enough to sustain its own community, of course (although I find that such communities tend to devolve into cesspits: see YouTube comments, for example).

There is one other use for a commenting system: contacting the author of the article or adding additional relevant information or corrections to the article. Both can be done better by emailing the author than a commenting system.

Thus, I will be sticking to the tried and true "contact the author or maintainer" model for my blog. It is, in my opinion, The Right Thing.