When The Desk launched two years ago, it did so without a discussion platform. And that was done deliberately.
The theory behind the choice was that The Desk would be a destination for original reporting, commentary and critique, and that conversations surrounding the stories published here would happen externally — primarily on communities and social media websites like Reddit, Twitter and Facebook.
Eventually, as an experiment, The Desk experimented with allowing on-site discussions using Facebook’s commenting system. The move was never intended to be permanent, but it proved to benefit both the audience and the website.
The problem with Facebook’s commenting system is that it’s limited to people who have a Facebook account (before the end of last year, it used to allow people to comment using a Yahoo or Aol account, but no more). This inhibits people who would like to have a discussion about a story or topic who may not wish to use a Facebook account or who may otherwise not use Facebook at all.
So, starting today, The Desk is adopting Disqus as the site’s new conversation platform. Disqus is used by many of the Internet’s top publications, including Wired, CBS Local and others. Disqus allows people who are already using a number of social media websites — including Twitter, Facebook and Google Plus — to quickly and easily log in, start a new discussion below an article or comment on an existing discussion. Disqus also allows people to sign up for a separate account if they don’t want to link a third-party social network, or leave a comment as a guest using just their name (real or fictitious) and e-mail (real or throwaway) for those who would rather not sign up for anything.
With this change comes the removal of the old Facebook comments platform from The Desk. Unfortunately, there’s no way to export comments from Facebook’s platform to Disqus, so any comments posted using the Facebook module before June 20, 2015 will no longer be accessible (your comments remain somewhere in the Facebook ether in the event The Desk ever decides to switch back, or if Facebook develops a comment export tool, whichever comes first).
Comments and commenting systems are complex and taxing. They involve spending a little bit of time to help foster the growth of a vibrant community with articulate and intelligent discourse, while weeding out those who seek to hijack discussions for their own amusement or personal benefit. Some sites have decided that amount of time is too demanding. The Desk is going to try it anyway.
As always, you can e-mail me with your thoughts, ideas or suggestions. Or you can express yourself in the comments below.