Disqus API, Features Can Out-Open Facebook Comments

Adam DuVander
Mar. 02 2011, 12:48PM EST

With the recent unveiling of Facebook comments, many have questioned the future of Disqus, the previous comment widget darling. There are some advantages to each, but something Disqus definitely has going for it is its
Disqus API, as well as other features like email moderation.

Techcrunch enabled Facebook comments, which are added via simple embed code. Users then use their Facebook account to comment, meaning that what they write is tied to what should be their real identity. Optionally, the comment gets posted to that user's feed on Facebook.

"I really like Techcrunch's new Facebook comments," wrote tech blogger Robert Scoble. Scoble also left this comment on Quora:

Techcrunch's potential future audience is on Facebook and this is a good way to help make sure Techcrunch's articles get distribution on more people's Facebook accounts. Distribution = dollars for a media company. This is all about dollars. Disqus can't get distribution, Facebook can.

DisqusWhere Facebook is ushering more and more of the web into its playground, Disqus is providing developers more choices in displaying and interacting with comments. For example, the Disqus API allows developers to access the data generated by their communities. There is a WordPress plugin that lets Disqus take over for the default commenting system, while still maintaining a local synchronization of Disqus comments.

Further, with tools like email moderation and a choice of identities (including Facebook), Disqus is providing more options for both site owners and commenters. There's also the issue of email notification, which seems to be keeping at least one blogger from making the switch. Robert Holland asks, did Facebook just kill all other commenting systems? Like Scoble he mentions the viral distribution of comments. But so far it looks like there aren't enough site owner tools for Holland to make the switch. Expect some of these to be addressed by Facebook soon.

It's hard to argue with Facebook's distribution, but it may not have enough openness to be worth the switch for those who want the most control over how comments are integrated. That's the exact audience to which Disqus caters. And unless Facebook makes some changes, such as including all comments in its Facebook Graph API, it looks like there's still room for Disqus if it focuses on the openness that has got it this far.

Adam DuVander -- Adam heads developer relations at Orchestrate, a database-as-a-service company. He's spent many years analyzing APIs and developer tools. Previously he worked at SendGrid, edited ProgrammableWeb and wrote for Wired and Webmonkey. Adam is also the author of mapping API cookbook Map Scripting 101.

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