Disqus, the 2-person, YCombinator-funded, San Francisco-based startup I've written about before, has just opened up it doors to everyone. Disqus adds spice to blog comments with innovative comment display techniques including threading and comment rating but goes further than that by mirroring blog comments on a fully functional forum. I had the chance to speak with Disqus developer Daniel Ha yesterday about today's launch.
Disqus improves the commenting experience for both publishers and regular commentors. Commentors can setup accounts and track their comments. Users that haven't registered may still view all comments they have made with the option of later claiming an account. However, don't let my description bring back memories of all but failed blog comment tracking services. Disqus is a different service entirely.
Disqus has a Dashboard where blog authors may moderate their forum and comments. Comments are run through Akismet in the background but you still have the ability to have your way with comments as you please. This is handy for larger publishers that receive many comments and may want to give trusted readers moderation privileges.
It is trying to solve the disconnect established when bloggers create forums on their own. There is often little relation between forum content and blog posts other than manually created threads tied to posts. Disqus makes this seamless with their hosted forums while still providing the moderator control and basic forum features such as categories and forum styling.
Going back to the regular commentor's use of Disqus, each user has a profile page which displays comments from followed contacts in a river format (think Twitter). It works well and ties into the overall goal of Disqus, a global community of discourse and discussion. I can imagine the Disqus homepage becoming a Techmeme-like portal/snapshot of popular discussion on the web and I think that's where Disqus plans to go.
I was skeptical over Disqus at first and with good reason. Why would I want to let a third party host my comments? Well the answer to that is now apparent - to give me useful features and greater control. With sites like Digg and Engadget adopting threaded and rated commenting systems, it only seems natural for these features to trickle down to regular bloggers. I'll hold my final judgment on Disqus until they have a substantial user base and I can accurately assess how user's interact with the system. I would really like to see how their ideas about becoming a web discussion portal flesh out.
I've enabled Disqus for this one post so you can take it for a test drive. Let me know what you think. Do you see yourself using Disqus's comment tracking and aggregation abilities to view you and your friends's comments?