Today on our Disqus Blog, we are starting a series of blogs that spotlight some of our favorite community blogs and websites. We want to be able to showcase awesome publishers on Disqus that use the platform in their own unique ways. Publishers who are able to engage and interact with their audience, and really use Disqus to its fullest potential. For our first Disqus Community Spotlight we have Android Police owner Artem Russakovskii.
Hello Artem, thank you for taking some time to answer these interview questions. Your website, Android Police, has always been a great example of community engagement through comments and the Disqus platform. Would you like to introduce yourself and how your website started?
Hi Michael. Sure, I'm Artem, the sysadmin, developer, chief editor, and founder of Android Police. I started the site back in early 2010 after blogging on a personal level for 4-5 years, so it's been live for a little over two years now. Android Police has a close-knit team of amazing writers working in a fun and highly sarcastic environment (Eric and David take the cake for the latter). It's really a one-of-a-kind, rewarding jo..., errr experience - I can't even call it a job.
One quality of Android Police that we see at Disqus, that stands out in particular, is that you are not just the owner and designer of the website, but you are a very engaged member of your own blog. You interact with your community through the comments on the Disqus platform. Was this something you have always done intentionally, was there a specific reason in really replying to so many of your users comments and opinions? Or has your interaction been subconscious and driven by your passion for Android products?
This one is easy - I started my personal blog to share things I spent hours figuring out so that others can benefit from my findings and hopefully save quite a bit of their time. Likewise, I started Android Police out of my uncontrollable desire to share. Responding to comments is an integral part of sharing and building a community, so it's only natural that I want to engage our readers not only through my writing but through comments.
After moving to Disqus, I found my participation rate went way up too, since Disqus allows responding to individual comments directly via email replies. Because I get a notification of every comment (and read each one), it's only a matter of using the right Gmail keyboard shortcut ("r"), and I'm typing away a comment that Disqus will instantly post. I can't go back to Wordpress' built-in commenting system after this, no way.
Do you think of your interaction with commenters as an author-audience relationship, are you the expert on Android products? Or do you feel like you learn a lot from your audience?
Oh, it's definitely both. If I post about something, I tend to either spend a considerable amount of time using the product at hand (and providing feedback to its makers) or researching it, so I definitely view the commenting system as a way to provide more extensive coverage after a post goes live, in case I didn't think to mention something or people ask for further clarifications. The other side of the coin is equally as important - nobody is perfect, so we value every comment that points out inconsistencies or mistakes, or provides further feedback. We have a pretty good following now, and seeing all this engagement every day is a huge part of what keeps us moving forward. It's truly inspiring.
Are there any regulars of your site that you have come to recognize? Are there specific users whose insight you really enjoy or highly respect their opinion, due to consistent, quality posts?
Absolutely, there are many readers who have been with AP for years and observed its transformations. Some of them even became writers due to their participation levels. I'm not sure if you were looking for specific names, but one particular commenter I wanted to highlight was Cody Toombs. His comments are always level-headed, detailed, and intelligent. He's a model commenter.
You have been a more recent adopter of Disqus. What was the biggest reason that you decided to use a third-party commenting platform? And what are your opinions on the pros and cons of using Disqus?
Indeed, though I started trying to implement Disqus over a year ago. There were many hurdles, all of which were finally overcome a few months ago, and Disqus finally went live. I blogged about our reasons to use Disqus, its pros and some cons in detail here so I won't repeat it.
Disqus 2012 is something I'm very excited to upgrade to as well, but it's still not ready for public consumption because it's currently missing a number of important features. I will be upgrading to D12 as soon as they're sorted out.
If there is a feature you would like to see added? Is there anything you miss about your own, native commenting system?
I've provided a lot of feedback along the way already, including patches to the Wordpress plugin, and the Disqus team diligently and patiently responded along the way. However, I do feel like a better support system that can track tickets for those who reported them, in a single location, where the whole lifecycle can be monitored, is important. Right now, the official support channel is limited to email, which doesn't benefit the public and doesn't let me easily track how many issues are unsolved, how many had been forgotten about, etc. At the same time, there are a number of places where Disqus accepts support requests in addition to that (Wordpress plugin forum, Github, D12 feedback form, and probably a few others). I feel like some of my bug reports end up falling through the cracks, and without a good way of tracking them, I am less inclined to provide useful feedback in the future.
But going back to Disqus, one missing feature really stands out. Wordpress will send comment notifications only to authors, on their own posts, but right now Disqus isn't aware of authorship, and either sends nothing or everything to each moderator. There's no easy way I'm aware of to make me receive all comment notifications and, say, my writers to receive only notifications of comments on their own posts.
Last question: Thank you so much for speaking with us, we really feel like you have done a fantastic job in engaging your community and developing and using Disqus in an ideal way. Do you have any last comments or words you would like to add?
So far after moving to Disqus a few months ago and evaluating some of the competition, I've been very happy with our decision. Disqus is the Blu-ray of commenting systems - currently, it's a clear winner. Whether this will change in the future remains to be seen, but I don't see the Disqus team lazily resting on their laurels, and that's a great sign.
I want to thank Artem for being our first interview guest for the Disqus Community Spotlight. Please take some time to follow Android Police on their social media websites:
And as always, follow us as well, for news and announcements relating to Disqus and online commenting all over.