A Better Comment Platform Should Be Possible





Was looking into migrating to Disqus for a comment platform.  In doing so, I came across a page at the venerable Stack Overflow, which asked people to "share their experiences with the various commenting systems -- specifically, Disqus, Echo, Intense Debate, and Facebook Comments." It seemed to get bogged down around Facebook.

This post was originally my comment; it is by no means comprehensive. Just a few points.  


***

Having contemplated the wonderful pitter-patter of keyboards that, all-too-often, does not warm this blog from underneath, I decided renovation might be just the thing. Disqus has an overall style that definitely appeals to me. According to the brief overview I quickly search-engined for myself,  Disqus has problems with privacy and anonymity, just like (it should by now go without saying) Facebook.  The question, for me, is: exactly how close is the resemblance. 

And the real question is, how dissimilar can any data-mining, profile-generating, social-network-enabling corporate entity be from such creeping Evil. Breaches of privacy cannot be easily explained by accident, by exceptional circumstances, especially if they recur.  They are soon exposed for what they are: evidence of the sort of underlying motivations best met with corresponding breaches of trust.

I remain as yet unconvinced and undecided.

In case anyone in interested, these are the Disqus issues that my very brief search uncovered, with relelevant links, loosely seperated into general, pro, and con:
  • the accidental public disclosure of private information such as email address, photo, or real name, when signing up or signing in;
  • the forcing of users to enable 3d party cookies;
  • difficulty or impossibility of integration with exclusive HTTPS.






















There is the "Real names and identities greatly reduces the number of trolls and anonymous cowards in comments" myth. This is simply not true.  In fact, comments are enhanced by the confidence that anonymity gives (see above).

Trolls and spammers are easily exterminated by lack of attention, viz., low survival rates on forums with high user interactions (at least such has been my experience).

Which brings me to my soapbox:


Facebook is not there to serve the internet citizen, the so called end-user (you, or me). The service Facebook provides is not, as it would like us to believe, the facilitation of social networks (Douglas Rushkoff is more eloquent than I here; listen to the whole talk here).

Facebook is and always has NOT been the social networking tool of choice in the intelligent final analysis. Neither does it encourage anonymity, nor does it make the editing (much less removal) of one's online presence (comments, photos, website and email addresses) a process easy either to comprehend, or implement. Of course not.

Facebook's real end users are not people but corporations to which it proffers its true product. Common web surfers, more specifically, profile and demographic datapoints generated by their online activities, are what is sold, not to whom.

It is of vital importance to humanity today to preserve and nurture internet anonymity. 

This drives the ingenuity that powered the Tech revolution in the first place.



Actually, it is not strictly speaking my soapbox; I pirated it from Eben Moglen, and a speech he gave. It is Possibly The Most Important Thing You Need To Undertstand So Far In The New Millenium.  

Here is an introduction (via Boing Boing):

Last week saw the latest installment of David Isenberg's Freedom to Connect conference in Washington, DC. One of the keynotes came from Eben Moglen, formerly chief counsel of the Free Software Foundation, now the principle agitator behind the Software Freedom Law Center. Eben's keynote is one of the most provocative, intelligent, outrageous and outraged pieces of technology criticism I've heard. It's a 45 minute lecture with a 45 minute Q&A. I ripped the audio and listened to it while walking around town today and kept having to stop and take out my headphones and think for a while.



And here, a video of that talk (via one female Faust):









Be seeing you.

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