Never heard of Disqus? Think you've never used their service? You're probably wrong, and have used many websites with Disqus, even if you don't yet realize it.
As long as "social media" has existed, I've been a proponent of openess on the Internet. The quality of discourse goes up dramatically the instant people start using their real names, attaching a picture, and even listing where in the world they are. Of course I recognize that security should be a concern, and that there is value in your family not knowing what you're buying them as gifts before they open them, but in most cases, the Internet is a much better place when there is openness.
Two of the most successful social networking sites are built around this openness, Facebook and Google Plus. It's unlikely that you've come across, or regularly interact with, a user on either network that you don't know. At the other end of the extreme are the myriad of blogs and websites that encourage interaction via comments. Unfortunately, the vast majority of these comment sections become cesspools of angry, hateful speech directed at no one, each other, the publisher, or the world at large. Need an ugly example, go to any local paper's website, find either their standalone comments section, or the comments at the end of an article, and read as far as you can.
In addition to the unpleasantness that often goes along with anonymous commenting, the user is left without good tools to follow-up on the discussion, and any identity across websites that they may frequent.
Enter Disqus, pronounced like "discuss." Disqus is a feature-rich commenting system that administrators can integrate into their existing sites. At first, this might sound unimportant and unexciting, but in use, it is phenomenal. I've been using Disqus on a few sites this summer, and it has become an important part of my daily routine. The beauty of Disqus is that once a user signs up, either through the Diqus site directly, or by connecting with another social media provider, all of their comments are stored, and organized. I no longer have to bookmark an article I comment on and check back in to see how the conversation is going. I no longer have to register for a commenter account at every website I wish to engage.
Some of the huge plusses to Disqus that have become apparent as I've used it:
- The quality of comments is consistently higher on sites that use it,
- I'm more likely to comment, since I'm already logged in know how the system works,
- I can get notifications months after I leave a comment if someone adds something to the conversation,
- It no longer matters how large a website is, a common system makes a niche site as useful as one with thousands of daily users.
I assert that Anonymity was a brief blip of awfulness on the Internet. The age of phonebooks full of names, numbers and addresses, and signed letters to the editor, will transition fully to honest, credible Internet engagement. Disqus, and its future competitors will bring to the majority of the Internet, what Facebook introduced many of us to: Each Other. Will Disqus be the next tech company on the tip of everyone's tongues? I hope so.