Big Boulder: From Monologue to Dialogue with Disqus

An interview with Daniel Ha and Ro Gupta with Disqus about how to engage using comments.

Big Boulder Panel at Disqus

Today Disqus is one of the most widely used discussion platforms on the web. Small blogs to large media brands use Disqus. Daniel Ha says Disqus likes to talk about how people don’t know their brand, but they are familiar with Disqus’s core discussion engine. When Disqus launched four years ago, they didn’t know anything about blogs, comments or publishers. Instead, Disqus wanted to tackle online communities to build more loyal audiences. Today audience development is equally as important as content.

Launch of Disqus 2012

The Disqus team wanted to analyze how they would launch Disqus if it were a new product in 2012: How would they build it?  Disqus knew their value was with their users; they knew 98% of people would never comment online, so they build a product for people who get value from lightweight engagement. “Comments” is very broadly defined. Over time, Disqus wants to move away from comments and move to how discussions power communities. Disqus knew the user experience and were able to produce Disqus 2012.

But they’re also providing hard metrics for publishers. With Disqus 2012, publishers saw a 41% increase in engagement across sites. They also have an incredible new feature in their real-time view of users on Disqus. You can view it at http://map.labs.disqus.com/

Social and Disqus

Daniel says, “Disqus has been described as a social commenting system, don’t necessarily agree with it.” Social adds an extra dimension that wasn’t available 10 years ago. Disqus fosters relationships and more topic-centric conversation. It’s not necessarily between friends, but rather connecting people on a common topic.  So yes, it’s social commenting, but it’s much deeper than that.

“Discussions have always part of the promise of the internet,” explained Daniel. He then gave the analogy of communities being like your favorite local bar.  Sure, you can anywhere to get cheap drinks and get hang out, but you have your favorite bar because you know that’s where you’re comfortable and you know the people there. Disqus’s communities attract experts and novices who want to come together and connect on a common theme.

Anonymity

As with any social platform, there’s a concern with identity and the intersection of level of engagement. Disqus has found there’s a middle ground of users who have an identity, though it’s not specific to their real identity. They provide high quality comments and many. Some level of identity choice is important in communities. It’s not about hiding something, but it allows a multi-faceted approach to expression. When there’s more freedom in the expression, Ro says, “Real insights can be drawn from the data.”

Fun fact about Ro Gupta; he coined the “Big Boulder” name. Cheers to that!

To end the session, Chris Moody also announced an easier way to filter comments from Disqus. More information will be available in the near future.

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