On Tuesday, blog commenting add-on tool Disqus is launching version 2.0 of its free service. Many of the biggest changes are on the back end, but the user-facing elements have been given many small tweaks that should make it a faster, more approachable solution for the mass market.
I chatted with co-founder Daniel Ha about it on Monday, and he says one of the biggest changes blog owners are going to notice is the plug-in support. The plug-in with the most improvement is WordPress, which can now be moderated from inside of WordPress' admin area instead of on Disqus alone. (Download WordPress from CNET Download.com.) All comments are also synced up both locally and to Disqus' servers, so if Disqus goes down your comments won't. Likewise, you'll be able to copy over Disqus comments to your existing system if you decide to ditch it later on down the line.
For commenters, the experience has also been improved. Gone is the up and down voting system, which has been replaced with a simple up button to give a good comment a nod, and smarter tools to flag offensive or otherwise spammy comments. Commenters who write a veritable opus can now turn that nine-paragraph work into its own standalone blog post that lives right on Disqus' servers, where other users can comment and interact with it. Ha says he's not trying to take away from existing platforms, but give these really good, in-depth comments their own place to start another conversation without completely thread-jacking the conversation that's going on there. Think of it kind of like FriendFeed, but using the same engine people are used to.
These are just some of the improvements with the updated platform. Disqus comments are now SEO-friendly systemwide, so your blog posts will be indexed both by content and discussion. The administrative area of Disqus has also been tweaked slightly to be simpler to manage across multiple blogs, although there's still no way to mass delete messages via search query, or select multiple messages from a list like you can in some blogging tools' stock comment systems. After having used Disqus to power our Webware 100 2008 award pages, the lack of mass edits and deletes was one of the only weaknesses that really bugged me. Luckily it's something Ha says is working in testing and will be coming soon in another update.
Disqus is currently in use with about 30,000 blogs and competes with tools like SezWho, IntenseDebate, and JS-Kit to enhance the built-in functionality found in mass-market blogging platforms. To play around with the new system I've embedded it below. You can also check it out by visiting one of our Webware 100 2008 winner profile pages.
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