To call Disqus a commenting service doesn’t begin to describe its capabilities. This service can turn your blog into your own social network. A better way to describe it would be that it’s like putting a text conversation at the bottom of each post. Disqus can be connected to WordPress (self-hosted), Tumblr, Postach.io, Blogger, SquareSpace and other blogs to provide a commenting capability that functions more like a Facebook status update with likes and replies. You can even choose to allow your commenters to include images and links along with their comments.
Best of all, commenters only need one Disqus account to comment at any Disqus-supported site. And, you can keep up with the conversations at all those different sites from your Disqus profile and even follow other Disqus commenters.
Here you are looking at a sample post in my Moultrie Telegraph tumblr.
This is the comments section as a site visitor sees it. In this example, there are four comments but only three are visible. The reply to the top comment is still collapsed under the original comment. Clicking the Show 1 new reply link on the right will make it appear. There are also items for liking (∧), not liking (∨) , editing (if it’s your comment), replying and sharing this comment. Notice the dash and the flag icon to the right of the moderator’s comment. These allow you to collapse a conversation (the dash) or flag it as inappropriate. These icons only appear when you mouse over that area of the screen.
At the bottom of the comment area is a Subscribe link. You can subscribe to this post’s comments and receive notifications when others add their own comments.
This is the moderator’s view of the same post’s comments. The primary difference is that the flag icon has been replaced with a down button which displays a number of commands the moderator can use to manage this comment item. It can be moderated (if you’re using moderation), featured, marked as spam, deleted or the offending user blacklisted – all from the public side of the blog.
Every commenter either already has or is set up with a Disqus account and profile. If you are not a Disqus user, when you add a comment at a Disqus-supported blog, Disqus will ask you for a username, email address and password to quickly set up your account. You can then complete your profile with an avatar, link to your web site and other information if you wish. That Disqus account can then be used to comment at any other Disqus-supported site. And, you can even follow other Disqus commenters by clicking on a commenter’s avatar to display his or her profile. There you’ll find a list of his/her recent comments and a Follow button.
If you’d like to take a look at Disqus in operation, stop by Moultrie Telegraph and say hello.
So how can your society put Disqus to use? I can see using a Tumblr blog with Disqus as a Special Interest Group for a genealogical society. It is one of the easiest ways for people with limited tech skills to ask questions and get answers. Publish a Tumblr post to present a topic and then watch the Disqus conversation for that post to ask and answer questions, display examples and link to useful information. Disqus can support “live” events similar to the monthly Scanfest event hosted at AnceStories.
Because commenters only need their one Disqus account to comment at any site using Disqus, set up all your society’s blogs to use it and encourage your members to do the same for their genealogy blogs. By making it easier for members to comment, you’re likely to see some interesting conversations taking place.