Posted on October 24, 2013 by mls888
I’m Michael Son and I work with companies that use Disqus to build and participate in great online communities.
There are many stereotypes about people who comment online. In our own experience across the 3 million sites that use Disqus, we see more good than bad. Here’s one example: across Disqus, people can vote on comments to quickly show how they feel — 85% of comment votes are positive upvotes. But we wanted to seek out some independent validation and learn more about how and why you use Disqus everyday.
So we recently commissioned an independent research study (conducted by NetPop Research) to better understand you and how you use Disqus. Our thanks go to the 1,000 of you who took the time to share your thoughts. What we learned will help us make Disqus even better, for everyone.
What follows are some excerpts from the research whitepaper that we thought you may find interesting yourself. Let us know what you think in the comments below.
Geeks Searching for Stuff Worth Talking About
What we found is that people who are active on Disqus are more like “geeks” — in the best sense of the word. They have niche interests and passions. And a lot of times, mainstream content sources don’t fill their needs. So they consume more content on independent websites, the types of sites that use Disqus to make the community a part of the experience.
More specifically, Disqus users are visiting twice as many websites a month compared to the average person. They share and contribute 3 times more often. They tweet twice as much. And, as experts and geeks, they tend to have larger influence with more social followers than average.
Their personal motivations also run counter to stereotypes. It’s not about building a personal reputation or even to be entertained. They’re motivated to learn from others, contribute something that was missed and share an expertise.
Devoted and On the Hunt for More
Each of us knows a little too much about something that we’re passionate about (and may care to admit.) Maybe it’s comic books, celebrity gossip, fantasy football, modern art, or whatever else floats your boat.
Our study showed that people on Disqus are devoted to their passions and hobbies, exploring them online more than the average Internet user. They spend more of their time on smaller, organic sites that offer them the space to properly “geek out.” Each month, they are visiting 15 sites related to a specific passion on average, which is over 50% higher than seen with the typical user.
Consumption Habits: More Sites, More Sharing
Our research confirmed Disqus users simply spend more time online, seeking more news, information and social content across all areas of the Web. The data makes it clear: people who use Disqus visit nearly twice as many websites per month (23 total) than the average Internet user (13 total.)
Disqus users consume more. Here is why we know:
- They share comments and opinions 3x more often than the average Internet user.
- They consume more. They’re 2x as active on Twitter.
Participation and Influence Go Hand-in-Hand
The Disqus audience doesn’t just want to read the story, they want to be part of the story.
An especially compelling finding was around why people comment. It’s not about building their reputation of benefiting personally. They are motivated to share their expertise, influence opinions and contribute something that was missed or overlooked.
In addition, as experts and geeks, they tend to have larger influence, with over 100 more social followers compared to the average Internet user.
Natural Brand Advocates
A key challenge that brands face today is finding those who want to actively engage. Connecting with the people who use Disqus is becoming a core part of the modern brand playbook whether it’s by adding our discussion service to their content sites, participating in Disqus discussions or bringing scale to content-advertising with our ad product Promoted Discovery.
Our study revealed that the Disqus audience is talking about brands in more ways online than regular Internet users. They are more likely to take specific brand-related actions including commenting, writing reviews, providing endorsements, or sharing and posting links to content about brands and products.
That wraps it up at a high level. We invite you to request access to the full research report on our Advertising page.
Posted on October 16, 2013 by rogupta
We invited Fred McIntyre, of awe.sm, to give a talk at the Dataweek Disqus Summit about how they apply their social analytics technology to measuring “community ROI.” Below is a recap that awe.sm posted on their blog. Check out some new data they uncovered on the social amplification value of commenters vs. ‘regular’ visitors.
The term “social media analytics” is thrown around frequently, but publishers and marketers still struggle to find meaningful, actionable insights into how social media drives actual business results. This is the problem awe.sm is tackling.
For an example of the kind of useful findings that performance analytics can reveal, we analyzed commenting and sharing data collected by Disqus and awe.sm. Our findings revealed a huge opportunity for content publishers and their community managers.
The Publisher Funnel
Marketers are familiar with the concept of a sales funnel, but it applies to content publishers, too. Think of visits at the top of the funnel, page views the next level down, then engagement (comments) and amplification (organic sharing).
Filling the top of the funnel by acquiring traffic and increasing page views is a discipline unto itself. But we were interested in whether page engagement and amplification at the bottom of the funnel can help broaden the funnel’s top. Also, how are commenting and sharing behavior related to one another?
Case Study — Both Sides of the Table
When a website uses awe.sm’s earned-media measurement, we track every individual share of its content by site visitors: not just where it’s shared, but how many clicks it drives back to the site, and what on-site events take place after that. As we announced back in July, among the specific goals we can track is Disqus-powered commenting — i.e., which comments came from visitors driven by each Tweet, Pin, or Like?
One website that benefits from this visibility is Both Sides of the Table, the popular blog of venture capitalist, Mark Suster. Mark gave us permission to explore the sharing and commenting on recent posts to see what we could learn, and the results didn’t disappoint.
Let’s scrutinize a single conversation.
A few weeks back, Mark published this Tweet to over 125,000 followers:
Bring Me Your Accents. Immigration Fuels Innovation http://t.co/POZVvVRNAA— Mark Suster (@msuster) August 29, 2013
The Tweet brought 777 clicks to his post, and resulted in 3,978 pageviews, 5 new social followers, 13 comments on the original post or elsewhere on his blog, and 8 re-shares — social posts made by individuals who either clicked share buttons on the blog, or copied a page’s tracking link out of the address bar and pasted it into their own social workflow.
One of the shares was to a LinkedIn group for doing business in British Columbia. The LinkedIn post drove 122 clicks back to Mark’s blog, 156 page views, an additional Twitter follower, and this Disqus comment…which led to another LinkedIn post. That post drove 5 more clicks and additional page views.
If you’re keeping score at home, that’s a Tweet to a blog post, which led to viewing another blog post, which led to comments and a LinkedIn post, which sent more pageviews and comments on the blog, which led to another LinkedIn post…
…and this is just a single conversation path! For more highly-trafficked blog posts, it’s easy to amass thousands of nodes, four or more generations deep. The quantity of available data, potentially the relationship between every comment, every social share, and every pageview, is — (wait for it) — awesome.
Consider that these conversations already were taking place, without being attributed or adequately understood, and it’s possible to grasp what’s possible for the first time by using a closed-loop system to connect all the social dots. This level of visibility makes it possible to identify which conversations drive visits and pageviews, which social posts create value, and, ultimately, the ROI of each share.
What can we learn?
When we analyzed social posts, pageviews, comments, and organic sharing across a larger data set, we found two striking conclusions:
- Visitors who leave at least one Disqus comment on a site’s content are 23% more likely to share site content to a social network than non-commenters.
- Those commenters’ shares receive 80% more clicks per post than shares of this same content by non-commenters.
It’s not too surprising that people who engage with comments are more likely to share too. It is, however, somewhat more surprising that these commenters are also more effective sharers. Stay tuned for some additional data from Disqus on this…
Regardless, these figures quantify the relationship between engagement and amplification, and raise a huge opportunity for publishers and community managers. Now that we know that conversations drive amplification, and now that it’s possible to identify which conversations and participants are most influential at driving amplification, we have a powerful tool for optimizing conversations, nurturing influencers and increasing traffic.
Have you been able to quantify the value of your community? If so, let us know how below.
Posted on October 15, 2013 by samjparker
This marks the end of an era for Disqus. The remaining sites using the Classic version of Disqus were notified six months ago in April of a gradual end of life plan that concludes today, October 15. Prior to this final step, 95% of commenters had been seeing the newest version of Disqus.
For those sites and commenters who are a part of today’s transition, we want to make sure the update is as smooth as possible, so if you have any questions please don’t hesitate to reach out via Disqus Support or Twitter.
Completing this step means that all communities and commenters are seeing a consistently great experience that represents the usability, reliability, and innovation we strive for. Those new to the experience that millions of commenters and site owners have been enjoying since last summer will notice a number of upgrades, including improved comment voting and sorting, personal notifications and activity feed, enhanced profiles, and recommended content.
While we understand that this may be a bit of an adjustment for some communities, our experience with sites that have transitioned previously shows that the vast majority of commenters won’t skip a beat. After the transition, communities see increased engagement and new traffic from Disqus Discovery.
This consolidation into a single Disqus experience allows us to innovate faster, and create a better experience for everyone. Expect to see more improvements soon, notably with the mobile discussion experience.
But before we look ahead, let’s bid farewell to Disqus Classic. Known by the version codenames “Houdini” and “Narcissus”, Classic was for years the best and most flexible software powering online comments.
In memoriam, Disqus Classic.
Posted on October 2, 2013 by rogupta
We are very happy today to announce the Disqus Certified Partner Program.
Recently, Disqus became the #1 Distributed Content Platform on comScore. As Disqus has grown to be the connective tissue for much of the community discussion on the web, a lot of complementary services have found useful ways to plug into Disqus along the way.
- Setting up a blog and want to easily add on the leading discussion engine?
- Looking to pull your most active commenters into your CRM tool?
- Want to know which tweets end up resulting in the most comments?
- Need access to the largest public firehose of comments?
There’s a Disqus Certified Partner for all of that…and more.
The program was set up to better assist and showcase proven solutions that have integrated Disqus to create new utility for users, publishers and brands that use Disqus. Partners span five key categories:
We have an excellent group of launch partners, including: awe.sm, Batchbook, Gnip, Google Analytics, Janrain, Squarespace, Storify, Tumblr and WordPress VIP. Several more are in final stages of confirming their successful integrations, and we’ll continue to add others who qualify over time.
Let us also know below if there are other platforms or applications you’d like to see better integrated with Disqus in the future – we’ll see what we can do!
Posted on September 24, 2013 by mattrobenolt
As we’re approaching 8 billion page views per month and 45k requests per second, we’ve learned a couple things about delivering comments to a lot of different people. Disqus is very well known for using Django for almost all of our web traffic, and that continues to be a thing today. As with any web framework, there are inherent trade-offs: rapid development vs performance, familiarity for new developers vs something custom, etc. Disqus likes to lean towards rapid development and familiarity over performance, and something fine tuned for our exact needs.
So, why is a web framework slow?
On the surface, the first impression is that a web framework is slow because there is a lot of boiler plate and unnecessary code that is not needed for your application, and that is a valid impression. In practice, slowness is usually not a product of your framework’s bloat or the language choice. Slowness is likely a result of the fact that your request is communicating with other services across your network. In our case, these other services are PostgreSQL, Redis, Cassandra, and Memcached, just to name a few. Slow database queries and network latency generally outweigh the performance overhead of a robust framework such as Django.
To get around these latencies, people use various forms of caching. The most tangible approach would be to use the built-in Django cache library.
The common pattern for application level caching is such:
data = cache.get('stuff') if data is None: data = list(Stuff.objects.all()) cache.set('stuff', data) return data
If you are familiar with Django, this should be a pretty familiar pattern. This form of caching is simple and straightforward, and works really well for most things. Paired with Memcached, things are fast enough, but there is still a lot of work still being done to serve a request.
Dealing with 45k requests per second
We’ve cached our “slow” things. There is still a lot of unnecessary work that needs to be done at rate of 45 thousand times per second. We’re probably rendering some JSON, or rendering an HTML template, or simply parsing HTML and executing our Django middleware. The point is, we want to be able to short-circuit all of this work, and leave Django to do what it does best: serve unique data only.
Out of 45k requests per second, how many are truly unique? How many of those responses are actually different from one response to the next? Do we really need to keep doing the same work over and over again when the result is always the same? We really want to cache whole responses and skip all of the other work.
What even is Varnish? Varnish is a piece of software that sits between our load balancers and our Django backends and acts as an HTTP caching layer. What this means is that it can cache the entire HTTP response without even hitting a Django server, if we know that request won’t be unique.
Previously, Varnish was a bit of a black box to us. We installed it and configuration was very minimal, and honestly, this worked very well. But I thought we could do more.
I spent some time learning more about Varnish and some tricks that we could use. Over time, we were able to shave off several thousands of requests per second from ever hitting our Django servers. Today, out of the 45k inbound requests every second, only about 15k or so actually hit our app servers. The rest are absorbed by Varnish and served to the user very quickly and efficiently.
Since this has been very useful for us and a good learning experience, this topic has been the subject of a few recent talks of mine.
Most recently, I spoke at DjangoCon US in Chicago. This talk was aimed toward people who weren’t familiar with Varnish, with the hopes of inspiring and motivating them to learn more. For me, I was excited to give this talk because it’s a topic that isn’t explained very often to application developers. It’s a talk that I’d really liked to have heard a few years ago, and hopefully bridges the gap in understanding how HTTP really works and how you can manipulate it to interact with tools such as Varnish.
Prior to that, I presented at VUG7 (Varnish User Group) in New York, and went into details about some of the exact tricks that we use to help overcome some of our problems. This talk goes into a lot of detail about the specific VCLs that we use for each endpoint needed to deliver our embed.
Check out Varnish. It won’t solve all of your problems, but it’s something worth investing the time into learning about and evaluating.
If this kind of stuff is interesting to you, and you’d like to yell at computers with me at least 5 days a week, we are hiring!