Mining Consumer Opinion in Comments

An interview with Daniel Ha and Steve Roy from Disqus on mining opinion in comments. 

Commonly known as a comment system, Disqus facilitates comments from over 2.5 million sites. The team at Disqus, Daniel Ha and Steve Roy, like to think of themselves as a community of other communities. But how do they distinguish themselves?

 Communities and Identity

Any discussion that happens on Disqus, by its nature is its own community. Disqus found that the majority of users’ time was spent below the fold, in the comments. Part of what fuels this is the ability to act under a pseudonym. Disqus maintains that by embracing a pseudonym, people can act as their “real” self. They find that people who embrace a pseudonym reveal a more passionate interest than they normally would. It gives people a voice they wouldn’t typically be able to use, enabling a user to pursue things that mainstream media may not be covering, or to be part of a community they couldn’t otherwise.


Brands can tap into Disqus in a couple ways:

  1. On their properties utilizing Disqus: Brands like HP have launched destination websites with Disqus to participate in the conversation naturally happening.
  2. Disqus’ ad product: Brands can pay to have a presence in other websites (like a Tumblr blog) and place their content above the comment feed. The response to this placement of content is higher as well because it’s located where the audience is more engaged.
  3. Learned Insights: Brands can use pattern detection to learn stories about their brands. A great example of this is when there needs to be a product recall, because a lot of this type of discussion takes place in these stories.

Data Learnings

Disqus recently achieved a major milestone, reaching 1 billion monthly unique visitors. Often considered US focused, the majority of their growth in recent months is international. Disqus supports 40+ languages worldwide. Through its many users, Disqus has been able to understand the behavior patterns on their networks and noted 3 things in particular:

  •  Comment Length: The amount of characters can tell a lot about the level of interest in users. Steve says 57% of all comments are essentially the lengths of Tweets (under 140 characters) and not using links.
  • Time of Day: The worldwide pattern for commenting shows a peak in volume at 10 am in every time zone. Not only does this mean more people comment at this time of day, they also engage with other comments and read comments then too.
  • Categories: Disqus buckets their sites into about 45 different types. Each category has various statistics associated with their category as well. For instance, gamer sites average about 10 characters per comment. Religious sites, on the other hand, average closer to 600 characters per comment. As a brand, this is valuable data that can help shape how they engage with users.

Disqus is proud of the use cases of their data too. Several examples were mentioned, like Gooqus, a search engine utilizing both Google custom search and Disqus.This allows a user to not only see the top Google results, but also add a layer of richness, allowing for more sentiment to be derived from the data.

Big Boulder is the world’s first social data conference. Follow along at #BigBoulder, on the blog under Big BoulderBig Boulder on Storify and on Gnip’s Facebook page.

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

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.


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.

Big Boulder is the world’s first social data conference. Follow along at #BigBoulder, on the blog under Big BoulderBig Boulder on Storify and on Gnip’s Facebook page.