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openDemocracy comments moving to Disqus

Why we're moving commenting on openDemocracy over to Disqus

Expected launch: beginning of December.
Tony Curzon Price
Tony Curzon Price
29 November 2010

See below to get started using Disqus

One of the first technical changes I made to the oD publishing system when I came on board in 2006 was to add commenting under articles. Since then, we've attracted a really good comment culture, I think – at their best, they are real additions to the pieces, with respectful disagreement and a genuinely deliberative sense of moving something forward. And at their worst ... we (the volunteer moderating team, that is) moderate them!

There have been a number of nagging annoyances about the commenting system over the years: that it is hard to follow a thread by email; that log-in and identification can cause difficulties.

Not only that, but the nature of the web is changing. Conversation threads amongst friends on Facebook can be as interesting and compelling as they are under articles. Recommendations from tweets and re-tweets, from the right people, carry the kind of meta-information that comments also carry. 

This is part of the web shifting its focus from the page to the stream. Every piece of media we publish is like a small craft we push into the media torrent. After that, it lives in many corners, carried on eddies of email forwarding, republishing, tweeting, liking and linking. In many ways, I think the great value for an author of a platform like openDemocracy is that it gives a piece of media a really good launch into the torrent. Big enough, perhaps, that a piece of media finds most of its "natural" audience pretty quickly, whatever the mode of distribution.

In all this, comments and conversation can easily become even more fragmented. And this is what Disqus tries to deal with. Disqus not only implements all the nice features that one wants on a commenting system – login procedures that work, anti-spam, good moderation tools in the back-end – but it also makes it much easier to include the new social streams into the comment process. You can log in through Twitter or Facebook; you can post to those as well as to the article; and you can maintain a consistent commenting identity across many sites. Not all of these are indisputable goods, but on balance, I think it is a great system. I have been using it for a few months and like it very much.

This is why we're moving to Disqus for openDemocracy's comments. Here are some notes to help as we move to the new system:

  1. Create an account (it's very quick and easy).
  2. Old comments will be imported to Disqus, together with names, but not in specified Disqus accounts – so everything you have contributed in the past will be visible in the right place on the site
  3. If you are an avid user of the "track" facility on drupal – usually if you are a heavy commenter on the site, then can I recommend you get in touch with Julian Stern to get a full back-up of all your comments on the site.

Finger crossed for a smooth transition and for the comment platform choice working out for all of us and for openDemocracy.

[Please note, the initial launch of Disqus on openDemocracy will not include our Forum. But it is planned to bring it to the Forum in due course.]



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How to start using Disqus

Post a comment, when you click "Post as..." a box will pop up inviting you to add your username, or email. Or to register a new profile.

Or Click on the grey Disqus logo at the top of comments, then on the Disqus (or other networks if you have another network ID, eg Facebook connect). A box will pop up and ask you for your username or to Register a new profile 

Stop the secrecy: Publish the NHS COVID data deals


To: Matt Hancock, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care

We’re calling on you to immediately release details of the secret NHS data deals struck with private companies, to deliver the NHS COVID-19 datastore.

We, the public, deserve to know exactly how our personal information has been traded in this ‘unprecedented’ deal with US tech giants like Google, and firms linked to Donald Trump (Palantir) and Vote Leave (Faculty AI).

The COVID-19 datastore will hold private, personal information about every single one of us who relies on the NHS. We don’t want our personal data falling into the wrong hands.

And we don’t want private companies – many with poor reputations for protecting privacy – using it for their own commercial purposes, or to undermine the NHS.

The datastore could be an important tool in tackling the pandemic. But for it to be a success, the public has to be able to trust it.

Today, we urgently call on you to publish all the data-sharing agreements, data-impact assessments, and details of how the private companies stand to profit from their involvement.

The NHS is a precious public institution. Any involvement from private companies should be open to public scrutiny and debate. We need more transparency during this pandemic – not less.


By adding my name to this campaign, I authorise openDemocracy and Foxglove to keep me updated about their important work.

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