1. nudelzrulez

    How Paleo Food Made Strangers Into Friends

    Posted on May 13, 2014 by nudelzrulez

    We had a hypothesis that needed testing at Disqus — would people that love to talk about their interests online, do the same in the “real” world? As it turns out, they do. And with vigor.

    Online communities are our focus at Disqus. But to the average person, they may not be the most approachable or natural space to convene and connect. So we wanted to explore ways to tell the story of our communities by putting them in their natural, off-line environments. Think of movie buffs at a premiere of an indie flick. Or car fanatics at the local car show.

    This past weekend we hosted our first Disqus IRL event in collaboration with Michelle Tam (and her husband, Henry Fong). Together they run the popular Paleo food site Nomnompaleo. When Michelle and I first chatted about hosting an event for her online community members, we weren’t sure how it would play out. Would a bunch of strangers really be able to hit it off? We decided to say, “Screw it, FEED THEM AND THEY WILL COME” (I’m paraphrasing a bit here.)

    We gathered up 20 guests (via a giveaway on Michelle’s blog) for a family-style dinner at the gorgeous Cookhouse, in North Beach, San Francisco. The lovely and talented paleo chef Diane Davidson, of Cast Iron Kitchen, prepared recipes from Michelle’s book. The only thing left to do was test our hypothesis, and get our little group of paleolithic eaters together in real life!

    Most of our guests were from the Bay Area, but we were lucky enough to entice people to come from as far as Park City, Seattle, and Los Angeles. And once people started to arrive, it was obvious we were onto something.

    These people were excited. One woman literally squealed when Henry offered to sign her Nomnompaleo cookbook. I thought glasses might crack when eruptions of laughter periodically tore through the room. I’m not a Paleo eater myself, but after seeing people make instant, enthusiastic connections, I considered converting then and there. I wanted to be part of the tribe.

    One of our guests, Kim, summed it up best when she said, “It was really surprising at the time (but not so much in retrospect) how passionate we all were about Paleo cooking and Michelle’s blog. It was neat to connect with people in real life over a shared interest.”

    Sitting down to dinner only fueled the discussion further. As each dish came out, people exchanged recipe tips and resources on where to find good takeout Paleo food. (Along with a little lamenting over why the recipes didn’t taste this good at home.) At one point, Lisa, one of the guests, said, “I was so surprised to see fish sauce and ghee on the counter, but then I remembered where I was — it’s awesome.”

    Much like Kim, I was initially surprised by how easy it was for people to strike up a conversation. But it soon became clear that whether people were online or off, a good community is a good community. And that means people from all walks of life sharing the same interest, getting together to share an experience and talking to whoever they’re next to with ease. Another guest, Jill, said “I knew the Nomnompaleo followers had to be a good crowd, but I had SO much fun and have some new connections.”

    One of the original promises of the Internet is the opportunity and ability to connect with people who love the same things you do. This is the core of our mission at Disqus. And for the first time in the real world, the Nomnompaleo event delivered these same connections in spades. The only thing sweeter than playing Paleo Matchmaker were the Mexican Chocolate Pots de Creme we had for dessert.

  2. simpsoka

    Featured Comments: The Best of The Best

    Posted on May 7, 2014 by simpsoka

    Earlier this year we released an update that lets moderators feature comments — essentially, a way to make sure the best or most important stuff always gets seen. Since then, we’ve seen Featured Comments used in some really brilliant ways: to highlight a popular opinion, provide an editorial update, set the tone for a controversial discussion, and display release dates — to name a few.

    We’ve seen so much success that we’ve put together a Featured Comments Showcase. Check out the best of the best and get inspired to start featuring comments on your own sites! Here are a few that we love:

    We all know that Healthcare.gov has had some difficulties, so they used featured comments to give tips to readers on where to get help:

    image

    Armor Games used featured comments to provide moderation help:

    image

    Eat Your Kimchi knows when a great gif needs to be highlighted:

    image

    Want to know more about how to feature a comment? Check out the video below to learn how to feature and unfeature comments in less than 20 seconds.

    Have you seen (or highlighted your own) Featured Comment, that beats the ones we’ve showcased? Share it below.

    Or, post a comment yourself and try to get featured. Let’s see what you’ve got.

  3. davidericfleck

    Heads Up: We’re Testing a New Form of Advertising

    Posted on April 7, 2014 by davidericfleck

    For the last month, in very small numbers, we’ve been testing out a new advertising format: Sponsored Comments. We’re expanding that test based on early, promising results. So soon, it’ll be more likely that you come across a Sponsored Comment.

    In fact, you may see an ad like this across Disqus this week:

    image

    It’s part of how we’re introducing this concept to sites that already use advertising on Disqus. (If your site has ads turned off, this ad will not appear.)

    Why Sponsored Comments?  

    We launched Featured Comments earlier this year. Featured Comments are a way for publishers to highlight the best of the best at the top of a thread. This can be done for any number of reasons: to highlight a popular commenter, to highlight a particularly insightful comment, or to steer the discussion in a particular direction. This feature has been very popular in the communities which have adopted it. Here’s a good example on World Star Hip Hop. And here’s a quick demo of how you feature a comment.

    Also, because Disqus now helps websites make money from engagement and discussion, a natural question came up - can we use the concept of Featured Comments in order to allow brands to reach specific audiences? This was the idea behind Sponsored Comments.   

    So, What Are Sponsored Comments?  

    Sponsored Comments let businesses deliver a message to the people they need to reach. A Sponsored Comment can use all types of media to get their point across, just like any other Disqus comment. But they’re not part of the discussion happening on that thread or community itself. That’s too disruptive.

    So instead, they’re pinned to the top of the discussion environment where things are just getting started. It’s like movie previews. It’s not the thing you came for, but if done well, it adds a little bit to your experience without being intrusive. We’re testing whether or not we can make this true.

    Our Goal: Ads We’re OK With

    We have a lot to learn about advertising within Disqus. We want to understand what kinds of sponsored content will work well versus ones that won’t be so great. But the overarching goal is straight-forward: ads people are ok with. If we can complement the experience people already enjoy using Disqus, while at the same time helping businesses reach the people they care about, it has a lot of potential for us and our publisher partners.

    So how are we thinking about the overall experience?  

    Quality - Businesses don’t want to ruin your fun.  We have a team that is continually refining our approach to advertising content so that it’s in keeping with the site you’re on. 

    Positioning - Sponsored Comments aren’t there to interrupt the conversation.

    Feedback - We want to hear from you.  If you have feedback, please provide it in the comments section of this post.  

  4. annmony

    Disqus East: The Birth of a New Office

    Posted on April 3, 2014 by annmony

    Disqus is headquartered in San Francisco, but I’m proud to say that we now also have a permanent office in New York City. Goodbye co-working spaces, hello beautiful new office in “Silicon Alley!”

    image

    Who cares? I care because I’m the Office and Operations Manager at Disqus (I manage everything tangible in our offices from equipment to food to decor). My East Coast colleagues care because they now have a space where they can be the best Disqussers they can be. And you should care because I have two big takeaways that can help you build a better office.

    It is possible to build out a beautiful office on a small budget

    Disqus is no longer a scrappy startup, but we still avoid unnecessary lavishness. Not a small feat when our offices are located in the two most expensive cities in America. New York City’s real estate market is brutal, so we kept all avenues open while searching for a space. We ended up finding our little slice of heaven thanks to a flier a friend of ours sent us. Thanks, friend!

    image

    I then kept my budget small by designing the space myself and purchasing retail furniture. Since I had decorated our San Francisco office it was fairly easy for me to maintain a consistent design, and frankly, making design decisions was one of the most pleasant parts of the whole project.

    image

    The corporate furniture business is surprisingly similar to the wedding industry in terms of inflating prices. Shopping for items online, assembling them on-site, and timing deliveries is a time-consuming hassle, but it can save you tens of thousands of dollars. Here are a few of my top choices when outfitting an office:

    • Art and signature furniture pieces: Etsy
    • Conference room tables: Ikea
    • Desks and chairs: Overstock and BizChairs
    • Breakout furniture: CB2, Crate & Barrel, Ikea, and Target
    • Electronics: Amazon Prime
    • Office supplies: Amazon Prime
    • Maintenance and cleaning supplies: Home Depot

    I also set up our internet myself with the remote help of our CTO, something which I recognize is not always feasible depending on a company’s wiring and IT needs. Labor that we paid for, and that proved invaluable, consisted of professional movers and TaskRabbits hired to assemble the furniture.

    image

    It is worth it to adapt the design of each office

    My philosophy is that cookie-cutter spaces are appropriate for restaurant chains and retail stores but not companies that value their employees’ individuality. Granted, an office should reflect a company, the guests who visit it, and even potential new employees. But I’ll go one step further and say that an office should reflect the people who work within that particular office. Is your office in London and filled with young gamers? It it in Portland and filled with health-conscious bikers? Not only does our new office feel Disqussy, but it also has a subtle New York flavor with a dash of sales.

    image

    The space is vibrant, polished enough for a legitimate tech company, but humble and homey enough to make everyone feel at ease. Gone are the days of general malaise born of working in a co-working space! From impromptu meetings in conference rooms, to quietly working from soft seating, to having a conversation around a pod of standing desks, everyone can look forward to enjoying a good day at work. Best of all, now that we have large communal tables, people are actually sitting down to eat lunch together! Since moving into our new office the increase in team cohesion and general energy has been palpable.

    image

    I flew to New York City twice in one month to set up our new office. It was a lot of work within a short period of time, but it was all worth it to see the delightfully surprised look on my CEO’s face when he first walked in and saw the place humming with happy activity. “It feels like Disqus.” Mission accomplished.

  5. rogupta

    New Disqus Certified Partners: Zapier, Typepad, Keepcon

    Posted on March 25, 2014 by rogupta

    After launching our Certified Partner Program in October, we saw and continue to receive a large number of inquiries from other potential partners. Often, as a result, we find out about nifty Disqus integrations that we didn’t even know existed.

    In fact, the primary aim of the Certified Partner Program is to make our community aware of some of these complementary services that they might not know are out there, or don’t realize work well with Disqus. I’m very happy to announce the latest group of terrific partners.

    We often say building a community with high quality discussion is only partly about the right tools — quality content combined with consistent community management are always most important. That said, there is some really sophisticated technology out there that can ease the burden of moderation, especially for high volume sites. Keepcon incorporates natural language processing and machine learning to help moderators efficiently understand what kind of content fits with a given set of editorial guidelines. NPR recently incorporated Keepcon’s Disqus API integration to aid in the management of their various sub-communities, with great results. If you are looking to further automate or reduce the moderation workload for your site, get in touch to find out more.

    Typepad was a pioneer in personal web publishing and continues to host some of the most devoted communities in the blogosphere. They recently made it simple for their bloggers to install Disqus and import prior Typepad comments into Disqus, all from within the Typepad admin tool. Already, they’re seeing the benefits of being able to tap into the Disqus network.

    Zapier is a service that lets you connect and automate over 280 of the web and mobile’s most popular apps by making APIs and other developer tools more accessible to non-technical users. They made Disqus the finale of their “28 Apps for 28 Days" campaign in February. In doing so, they cooked up some cool ways to trigger an action on a new Disqus comment or flag, e.g. backing comments up to Google docs, being notified of a keyword mention in chat apps like Slack or sending key comments to help desk systems like Desk. Head on over and check out more pre-made ‘Zaps’ or create your own.

    Let us know what you think and if there are other integrations you’d like to see in the future. And if you represent a service that meets the criteria for the Certified Partner Program, please reach out and tell us more.