Fun Friday: Discussing Disqus

Disqus launched a new homepage this week.

You can see it here.

Since this community is full of marketers and entrepreneurs and because we are among the most passionate users of the Disqus network, I thought we could debate, disqus, and decide whether the new positioning and messaging is on point.

What do you think?


Comments (Archived):

  1. jason wright

    i use Disqus. does that make me a Disqusto?

    1. Matt A. Myers

      You’re a disquisitive one aren’t you?

      1. jason wright

        i’m Torquemada’s ghost

  2. Matt A. Myers

    Are they A/B testing or are we all going to see the same?

    1. fredwilson

      I think everyone will see the same

      1. Matt A. Myers

        Did they show it to a smaller segment first or open it up completely right away? Just curious if this is common behaviour among companies …

        1. fredwilson

          I don’t know

          1. Matt A. Myers


        2. JimHirshfield

          Small cohort first.

    2. obscurelyfamous

      Everyone should pretty much see the same right now. But we did A/B testing and we’re data informed.

  3. William Mougayar

    I’m going to be short on this, and some may not like my comment, but I’m going to say it.It’s time Disqus gets some professional help with their marketing and positioning and messaging.They have a heck of an amazing product that’s the best out there, and with an incredible depth of potential, but to the outside world they look like a confused kind of company. I really don’t see how this new lipstick is going to help them get dollars into their monetization or how it will help me as a user to discover new conversations and be more engaged across their incredible community.I’m frustrated with them, but I still love them.

    1. jason wright

      how do they make money?

      1. fredwilson

        Lots of ways. They have a number of revenue streams but the main one is promoted conversations

        1. jason wright

          promoted conversations – is that transparent to the user?

          1. fredwilson

            I think so

          2. NYReader

            How does LiveFyre make money?

          3. fredwilson

            They sell hosted commenting software (saas) to large publishers who will pay for a commenting system

    2. fredwilson

      They have a full time marketing person. I suspect he believes he is a professional.Maybe instead of dissing people you could explain what you don’t like about the positioning and messaging

      1. William Mougayar

        You asked for feedback, so they should be able to take it. Having someone in marketing doesn’t mean you’re doing marketing right.I’ve tried to talk with them in private, but they don’t listen. It would take me a full day to analyze and suggest something meaningful and specific.”Positioning starts with your product, but it is not what you do to a product. Positioning is what you do to the mind of the prospect/user. This means that you position the product in the mind of the prospect. It’s like thinking in reverse. Instead of starting with yourself, you start with the mind of the prospect. You need to create a position in the prospect’s mind that takes into consideration not only your strengths and weaknesses, but also those of your competitors as well.(I wrote a long post on this: http://startupmanagement.or…Some specifics:- There is no clarity in their message, and it doesn’t speak to an audience. It talks features ahead of benefits, and there are too many messages. This isn’t Positioning nor Messaging. It should be very clear for a) publishers, b) users.- That’s a great value prop, but it’s buried somewhere: “Adding Disqus to your site turns comments into a community. Comments are no longer a costly burden, they’re an active asset to your site.” It should be front and center in big bold.- That discovery with bubbles is not usable. It’s cute and doesn’t work on mobile. We gave them that feedback a few months ago. I like to see the comments or the post they came from. They should have nailed Discovery and Search because it can drive a lot of outside traffic into their communities. They could have had an entry page like Buzzfeed.- Fix mobile. How many times do we have to say it? It started 3 years ago I think. Why do they say “Go Mobile” when their mobile experience is not there.

        1. fredwilson

          That is helpful. Thanks

        2. obscurelyfamous

          “Fix mobile. How many times do we have to say it? It started 3 years ago I think”I think the mobile chant requires at least 900k mentions before it materializes. ;)Hear ya. No excuse, we’re slow here. But I’m commenting using our new mobile right now and it’s making its way to people.

          1. William Mougayar

            LOL. Send it to me…or I will be really upset πŸ™‚ I’m on TestFlight already.

          2. ShanaC

            got an eta?

      2. kidmercury

        appreciating the aggressive tones here. would like to add some fuel to the fire and jump in this beef. gonna have to side with fred.simply because disqus is installed a lot, i see it everywhere. marketing is doing something right to achieve this. i don’t even think the product is better than others (though i do think it is excellent) so i think marketing actually deserves some props.

        1. William Mougayar

          I respectfully disagree Kid. They are installed everywhere BECAUSE they have a great product, and they get lots of referrals that way, and that’s how it should be. Kudos for them, but that’s not because of their marketing. It’s a great example of a product that almost sells itself. It iS better than anything out there. They totally nailed that part.

    3. jason wright

      Fun Friday: Dissing and Cussing Disqus πŸ™‚

      1. fredwilson


      2. William Mougayar

        That’s not my intent. I offered some constructive comments. Tough love is tough love.

        1. jason wright

          i know.i get the impression that the people at disqus have their noses pressed up too close to the product to be able to see clearly what it is to the user. someone needs to step back for the panoramic view.

    4. obscurelyfamous

      @wmoug:disqus! Sometimes I’m a frustrating person, but I mean well. :)I’m actually super happy with what we’ve been getting done on the marketing side. It takes time to built upon every step, and then real payoff happens, but I’m confident in where it’s going. I’m hoping that it’ll start to click soon for others β€” especially people like you who care about Disqus.That said, we may be wrong. But we’ve been wrong before and adapted ok.

      1. William Mougayar

        I can be difficult as well, so I can relate to that. Entrepreneurs are stubborn- that’s a common trait.The point I made earlier is that I regard you as a maturing company now. This means you shouldn’t have to guess or iterate on some things. Let go off Lean. As jasonpwright said, “it’s making your noses pressed up too close to the product.”Stand back, forget the product for a bit, and let’s talk about what Disqus means as a company, not as a product, what your brand means, and why you are the undisputed leader in this space. Your current website doesn’t reflect your leadership in the space. This is YOUR space, YOURS to claim, YOURS to own, and YOURS to lead in. No one comes close, not in their vision, nor in having a product that works like yours. I’d like to see stronger statements about your leadership. Not that you have 3 million sites or 20 million comments, but like: 7 of the top 10 Sports sites, or 8 of the top 10 tech sites, etc.. Slice it any way that benefits you.You have 2 audiences: Websites and End-Users. Make it very clear what the value prop is for each.a) For publishers: Benefits, your footprint, it works, why, etc…You’re everywhere, so you’re the safest choice.b) For users: Why, my friends, my discovery, ..and show me my Dashboard. You’re easy to work in. You make me part of communities I love.

  4. Fernando Gutierrez

    It’s great to discover some new content, but I prefer the emails they send. Something more tailored would be great. Also, focusing only in number of comments may not be the best tool. Sometimes 5 comments are more interesting than 200. I understand that’s not easy to flter, but you asked for opinions, not plans πŸ™‚

  5. WayneMulligan

    I guess it depends on the primary goal of the homepage. Is it to attract more blog integrations? Brand advertisers? Discovery mechanism for commenters?As it stands right now I don’t get a clear sense for which user group this homepage is trying to reach out to the most. Whichever one it is, the messaging targeted at that group/goal should be prioritized.If the goal is to attract more blog integrations, I’d think about bumping up the call-to-action and minimizing the conversation map. I’d also reduce the “community of communities” to a tag-line and have a clearer value proposition statement. Providing social proof is important but I think it can be done in a more direct way. I also think given how long disqus has been around most existing communities know about it, or at least know about 3rd party blog commenting systems.In other words, they’ve moved up a few levels on Eugene Schwartz’s “customer awareness” scale. Now they need to show why they’re THE solution to use, as opposed to something like LiveFyre.If the goal is to reach brand advertisers, then the conversation map makes a bit more sense, but then why have that messaging all the way at the bottom and the “Add Disqus to Your Site” call-to-action all the way at the top. Again, based on the goal I’d consider modifying the info-hierarchy. They might also consider adding a dedicated navigation item at the top for this group/goal.And if the goal is to get more people commenting and provide community discovery, I’m not sure if the conversation bubble/map UI is the best way to go. It doesn’t allow me – as a potential commenter and community member – to rapidly surface content that’s relevant to me. A newsfeed, twitter stream, etc., could potentially be more engaging as it would allow me to see more of the content people are commenting on (and comments they’re leaving) at a glance. Whereas right now all I can see are topics and general comment activity before having to click through to see anymore.Just my two pesos.

    1. fredwilson

      Noe that’s a great comment/critique. Thanks Wayne

      1. LE

        “I thought we could debate, disqus, and decide whether the new positioning and messaging is on point.”Generally when you throw something out there you have your own doubts already or strong feelings one way or the other. But it has much more impact on your investments if the AVC community appears to be “the dick” rather than you.When I was a kid I wanted a “mini bike”. Remember those? Briggs and Stratton engine – pull start. My father said he didn’t think it was good idea (but maybe) so he would ask the doctor his opinion. He did and the doctor said it was dangerous and my dad said “see there you go not a good idea sorry”. [1][1] So I bought one and kept it at a friends house in his garage.

        1. obscurelyfamous

          Ehh, Fred’s never had a problem being frank about his criticisms. We don’t have a problem hearing them.To be clear though, we are only slightly more mature than the kid who wants a mini bike.

          1. LE

            “we are only slightly more mature than the kid who wants a mini bike.”I bought a scooter (lean strategy) to do deliveries for a business that I had when I was very young (what is it with me and gas engines?). I actually drove it onto the elevator and rode the elevator down to the supply room to deliver. Was so well liked that my handlers didn’t tell the higher ups and I kept the customer until they went bankrupt 6 years later. A bit later I bought a truck. The scooter was fun though.

          2. obscurelyfamous

            No motorcycle?

          3. LE

            Fear of potential harm has over ridden the potential joy of having one.”Potential harm” doesn’t even mean death or even injury. It means injury enough to prevent me from doing what I do now exercise wise to maintain the balance that works so well for me. And not having to take any pain medications or anything like that.Once you get knocked out of orbit everything changes. As you get older you will see how this happens in people you observe over time. Like the guy who played football in high school and is paying for it every day for the rest of his life.

        2. fredwilson

          You are ascribing more motives to me than i actually had but I appreciate that you would give me credit for thatI like the direction they are heading in but like them i suspect i may be too close to thisIs there is a product/company that has more of me in it than this one I am not aware of it

          1. LE

            “but like them i suspect i may be too close to this”Reason for my comment elsewhere that they need to bring in someone fresh from the outside to think about things. Someone who doesn’t use the product, doesn’t know the product and all of that. (Assumption is that there is a problem to be fixed here of course.)”I appreciate that you would give me credit for that”With human behavior I take a “behave as if” approach similar to what some economists do to describe behavior in a market.While I did direct the comment at you, my feeling is that if we had (as economists might say) “100 Fred Wilsons” a large enough majority of them would have those “motives”.The “100” is what I base my decisions on when dealing with people. And it has proven to be correct enough amount of the time to point me in the right direction on a % basis.That said I was never saying (as Daniel thought) that you don’t tell investments how you feel. But it is also known that you don’t try to control investments by telling them what to do but rather by suggesting things. Along those lines putting something up for discussion on AVC can be either a conscious or sub conscious way of getting further compliance. Definitely a good idea.I have always been told that I “over think things”. But that’s what I do and over time it’s worked well for me in terms of decision making.NB: One of the things I suggested a long time ago was that disqus needed to figure out why people don’t comment at all and if there is a way to fix that to get more engagement. Figure that out and there will be more engagement (I have my theories of course).

          2. Drew Meyers

            “One of the things I suggested a long time ago was that disqus needed to figure out why people don’t comment at all and if there is a way to fix that to get more engagement.”There are many many users on the web — and many of them have never commented (or tweeted) and never plan to. I really don’t think there is anything we can do to change that. The only real alternative is “likes”, and over time, they end up meaning virtually nothing aside from “I read that”. FB likes mean nothing to me because it’s too easy for someone to do that. I may be an outlier, but I’d rather have additional engagement from the people who truly give a sh*t than trying to bring in people who don’t care. Too much meaningless noise will kill any community…this will be the downfall of Facebook, IMHO.

    2. Mike

      “If the goal is to attract more blog integrations, I’d think about bumping up the call-to-action and minimizing the conversation map.”That was my immediate thought as well. If I’m looking for a service like Disqus (but don’t know much about them) and I arrive on the website, would I immediately know what they do? The bubbles seem more focused on highlighting interesting conversations, but does that distract from the primary goal of increasing integrations (at least that’s what I assume is their primary goal)?

      1. LE

        “The bubbles seem more focused on highlighting interesting conversations”The bubbles are there because someone thought it would be cool to implement bubbles graphically on a web page. It’s focusing on something that you can do and is fun to do as opposed to something that is necessary and is either difficult or you don’t understand how to do.

        1. obscurelyfamous

          To be honest, most of what we do may not be “necessary” — but we think representing what we think is cool/fun is a big part of why we keep building Disqus.

          1. LE

            I’d have to know more but time is a limited resource.It’s not the same as Fred spreading money around to different investments with the hope that a few succeed. Or like wasting money when you have enough money to waste.Time is time and it’s limited.So the time spent on this by a programmer (or in reviewing by management) is time that could be spent on something more important. [1]That said I do see how doing things that are fun can have benefit. They keep you motivated and make the rest of the day doing the drudge (or more difficult work) better and perk you up.But like anything else you just have to be sure you don’t get addicted to spending to much time on entertainment and motivation. Just like you can’t be a perpetual student or planner you have to actually spend some time doing. [1] Like fixing the annoying problem of the cursor going to the wrong place in a comment box that several people have mentioned. Or providing away to preview a comment before posting so it can be easily edited. Etc.

          2. obscurelyfamous

            True enough. Something can’t add delight until it works. Gotta pace it well.

    3. obscurelyfamous

      “If the goal is to attract more blog integrations, I’d think about bumping up the call-to-action and minimizing the conversation map.”Agree – if our only goal was to up the # of people who go through the install funnel, we’d do exactly this (or not change the website at all).I think we have a pretty good hypothesis about the people who actually see (mostly not us on avc since we’re already using it). We tested this with data and are continuing to. Looks good so far, but if it doesn’t, you can be sure we’ll adapt.Good feedback!

      1. William Mougayar

        Maybe it’s semantics, but why are you still speaking in terms of “hypothesis” and testing, and iterating from low starting points?These are all Lean Startup speak terms, and Disqus is NOT a startup anymore. With millions of users and sites, you should be able to nail it. See my post on this exact syndrome of Lean being a Crutch.http://startupmanagement.or…You talk about the ideals of a Community, and here’s one right here- AVC as the model, yet sometimes I get the feeling that you don’t think we are representatives of your market segment.

        1. LE

          William – would be great if a 1 paragraph summary could go at the beginning of these posts. It’s suster length (which is great) but I’d like to get the gist if I don’t have the time to read the entire thing. (One of the things about HN is that you can get the important gist in a long posted thread by reading the first few top comments).Agree with what you are saying btw.I think they need to bring someone in from the outside to take a fresh look at things if what you are saying is correct.

        2. obscurelyfamous

          What’s the cutoff point before a company can’t have hypotheses about their business or product?I hope I’m reading it wrong, but seems to sound like you’re saying there’s a linear growth curve to a company… and after you prove something once you just keep growing and growing.

          1. William Mougayar

            Yes, you are in a very enviable position (and to your credit, of course) to have a very large and dedicated user base that is very engaged with your brand. Those millions of users should give you very accurate signals about what to do next, without any guess work on your side. That’s for the product side.As for testing the business/revenue model side, that’s another aspect- yes it requires some iterations.Let’s chat next week. We’re due to catch-up anyways. I’m sorry if I sounded a bit harsh earlier on. It’s because I love you guys.

          2. obscurelyfamous

            You’re very right! Also, I believe in listening to users, but I don’t believe that defines the product. Otherwise a product runs the risk of becoming soulless.Will hit you up to catch up.

        3. Ro Gupta

          “…AVC as the model, yet sometimes I get the feeling that you don’t think we are representatives of your market segment.”Actually that is a constant question we think about. AVC has been a gift as an aspirational model, and for really detailed feedback like you and so many others here provide regularly. But then again not every website can or ever will have an AVC-like community so we can’t just design with those unique dynamics in mind.That said, I do think you’ll see us starting to sharpen our focus in terms of target segments vs. trying to be a lowest common denominator.

          1. William Mougayar

            It’s kind of an oxymoron and I’m asking myself the same question. How can AVC be a model community, yet we don’t see too many other websites with a like-community?Is there only one heaven, one comments-paradise? Are we the only 1,000 nice people in the universe that come together this way?

          2. ShanaC

            no – i think niceness in part comes out of how people behave as a group, and that group itself needs to define itself around niceness.I’ve seen other nice communities online

          3. William Mougayar

            Maybe the AVC community is unique, but its people aren’t. We/I comment on several websites, so that makes us representative of your target segment. Don’t confuse the two.

        4. ShanaC

          it isn’t a big full company either. It’s middle sized

          1. William Mougayar

            I meant a grownup startup πŸ™‚

          2. ShanaC

            what do we call that

          3. William Mougayar

            i’m not sure….mature startup? mid-size startup? maybe small startup is under 20 people, 20-100 medium, 100+ large startup.

  6. Matt A. Myers

    – Nothing prompting us as to why we should care about the discussion community/interest bubbles; Tell us what the context the information we’re being displayed is in? Else we’re looking at floating bubbles, and might not even see “The Web’s Community of Communities” which IMHO is the wrong messaging, it’s not the why, which is what you need for us to care – they’re telling us the what with that statement.- “18 comments” seems vague, no context.- I preferred the ‘live’ Disqus comment box that used to exist, it was funny, added character, made me pay attention, showed use, etc.- What was their goal? Does this design reflect that happening in statistics?- Is this the right design and layout to lead to their goals?For deeper and more specifics suggestions, I should probably charge a consultancy fee – afterall I still am bootstrapping …

  7. Barry Nolan

    A) it’s a great product. They’ve surpassed FB, LiveFyre, google comment services.B) Web – no mobile execution. Dancing balls, no so sureC) message – vague. Needs to be simple and unbuzinessy. D) free, great. But be clear in how you make money.That said, very impressive stats. 3m sites, 500m engaged MAU. wow

  8. Kasi Viswanathan Agilandam

    Liked the color combination on the home page. Secondly good to see a AVC regular gets a mention on one of the page…may be @pointsnfigures can authenticate whether it is real πŸ™‚

    1. jbcolme

      I tried to look at it. It looks totally different. Maybe it’s because I’m in Italy and they haven’t roll out the change worldwide? However, the image I see on the post is MUCH better that what I got. So I’m guessing the change is for good.

      1. Kasi Viswanathan Agilandam

        It is not the landing page …try following link

  9. LIAD

    love disqus.1. hard to appeal to 3 different stakeholders on a single page. they actually do it very well.2. dancing balls a bit overkill. no real value/function. a cool animation in search of a use.3. gorgeous advertiser focused page. just shame image is of someone doing something solitary when the point of disqus is conversation – if i was product manager there i’d focus all my energies on getting iOS and Android commenting working up to speed. now it’s a real dog.Conclusion: they’ve come a long way. are heads and shoulders above everyone else. team seems down to earth and full of honest decent people. they’ll be just fine.

    1. Matt A. Myers

      1. Assuming you care enough to look for that or find it on your own (and not get confused or lost)2. Confusing because of not giving context, so no apparent value because not directed – it could work well

    2. fredwilson

      I totally agree with you about mobile. And they know that.

      1. jason wright

        point of extreme vulnerability to attack from nimble ankle biter

  10. Ed Freyfogle

    Who visits that page? I use disqus to comment on sites that have it, it works well enough. Why do I need to visit their homepage? What problem is that solving for me? Not trying to be dismissive, honest question.

    1. jason wright

      i only visit disqus when i get timed out and need to log in again to write a comment here. otherwise it’s not relevant to me, i never go there, and i receive nothing from disqus that prompts me to go there.the utility i receive is the thoughts of other users. that utility is priceless. disqus itself is an invisible framework. if it becomes too visible it will get in the way.

      1. JimHirshfield

        Publishers and bloggers go there every day to sign-up, en masse. cc @freyfogle:disqus

        1. Ed Freyfogle

          Then the page should focus on that audience, not make them click through to another page.

          1. jason wright


          2. Kirsten Lambertsen

            Agreed. If this is the publisher/blogger signup page, I think you need a clear compelling reason or two why Disqus is a must, and a single, clear call to action in the most important place on the page.I always think “what’s in it for me” is more powerful than “this is what we do.” But it depends on what you believe is the hottest button for your target.

      2. Ed Freyfogle

        yes, this is exactly my use case as well.

  11. Farhan Abbasi

    Dancing bubbles best part of homepage for me, and call to action is right below so I don’t see the argument that it’s not clear what Disqus wants from me.I’m just a user of their message boards, and will consider adding Disqus on a future website of mine if it calls for it. Not because of the bubbles but because of the features. But the bubbles made me think: “cool, entertaining, i’m intrigued” in a superficial and gut-reaction way. That’s a good thing.

  12. Salt Shaker

    I believe the thought bubbles are supposed to be sort of a Venn diagram, depicting how users can engage across a range of topics. Not sure that comes across as clearly as what was intended. Additionally, their positioning (as embodied in their tagline) has no benefit orientation. Disqus is all about building communities that stimulate participation, discovery and engagement. All that aside, it’s still a great product.

  13. danosipov

    That’s why I’ve been having trouble commenting on posts throughout the web… Hope they resolve their issues soon.

  14. Robert Holtz

    It is an ambitious home page trying to appeal to so many stakeholders in one message. That all said, I think they’ve overlooked the most fundamental thing which is Who is DISQUS?… What do they offer the world?I would add such an introductory statement as the very first piece of messaging immediately under the logo as the lead-in to the topic bubbles. I took content from their new About page and re-worked the wording (by the way all the text needs refinement in my opinion) to give you a verbatim recommendation for the intro text. It is as follows:”DISQUS is the web’s most popular online discussion community system, spanning millions of websites that cover just about every topic of interest imaginable.The DISQUS free service connects the world around the thoughts and ideas people are talking about…”I also think this particular brand, when used in the body of text, should always be written in all-caps. It reinforces the distinct spelling and it is a callback to the logo which is already expressed in all-caps.Will chime in with more as I explore the site further and participate in our lively DISQUSion. πŸ™‚

  15. laude05

    Ended up with a Discus account so I could add a comment to some blog years ago and never figured out what to do with it beyond that. If it has any other value, I don’t get it.

  16. BillMcNeely

    The tag line is spot on. My first reaction when I saw the “dancing bubbles” was GEN McCrystal’s it takes a network to fight a network concept.I like the road of discovering new conversations (blogs) and people that Disqus has the potential to do.Disqus should get themselves in front of the http://www.mcchrystalgroup….When you see their home page you will see what I mean.

    1. Robert Holtz

      I “want” to agree that it is spot on but ultimately my view is that the tagline is flawed because it positions the brand too much as an aggregator or meta-portal and not enough as an enabling service for website owners or for community participants.I really liked what @02a6435cb7efd4092727823f555eac3f:disqus had on this very point and I agree with her observations completely.Also ultimately a “Community of Communities” is a value proposition that doesn’t necessarily appeal to all of their stakeholders. If it were me doing their branding, I’d use that term but I’d use it more as a perk than as the companywide tagline. Their audience is larger than that tagline permits.To be clear, I’m not trying to be combative and you’re certainly entitled to your own views and opinions. But I thought I’d share this because I went through a bit of a transformation of my own.The first time I saw the tagline, I checked it off as good… then as I continued, I really found myself revising my own initial assessment.

      1. Peter Van Dijck

        The tagline is terrible. Feels like it comes out of a VC deck (and even there it’d be mediocre.)

  17. laurie kalmanson

    Audience– member user, me> dashboard link / login> top friends> top posts– individual thinking about joining> be part of conversations; discovery; here are some> categories, blogs, publications as entryways– blog / small, personal> add this and comments will grow into community that is easily managed– blog / publication> more better comments managed better = more moneyClarify those audience calls; the rest is commentary

  18. Robert Holtz

    It is an ambitious home page trying to appeal to so many stakeholders in one message. That all said, I think they’ve overlooked the most fundamental thing which is Who is DISQUS?… What do they offer the world?I would add such an introductory statement as the very first piece of messaging immediately under the logo as the lead-in to the topic bubbles. I took content from their new About page and re-worked the wording (by the way all the text needs refinement in my opinion) to give you a verbatim recommendation for the intro text. It is as follows:”DISQUS is the web’s most popular online discussion community system, spanning millions of websites that cover just about every topic of interest imaginable.The DISQUS free service connects the world around the thoughts and ideas people are talking about…”I also think this particular brand, when used in the body of text, should always be written in all-caps. It reinforces the distinct spelling and it is a callback to the logo which is already expressed in all-caps.Will chime in with more as I explore the site further and participate in our lively DISQUSion. πŸ™‚

  19. Trish Fontanilla

    As someone manages/evangelizes communities, I of course was instantly struck by the line… the web’s community of communities. It somehow made me think that Disqus was going to be aggregating people’s community information… like now they’ll be listing and featuring communities/sites that have Disqus so you could search by topic or if you like a topic find where people are commenting the most and be informed by your favorite topic that way. But when I go to click on the bubbles… I can’t click on the topics. So then I realize that’s not what it does. Then I kinda get lost.Don’t have too much time to go through, but I do like the For Websites and Using Disqus tabs better. Clean, understandable. Although Using Disqus sounds like a walkthrough or demo and that falls more under For Websites since they’re the ones installing/adding it to their platform. I would almost want it to be… For Websites and For Commenters… although that’s literally, it needs more oomph. haha

  20. kidmercury

    i think trying to become a destination for the end user is a mistake, and that they should be catering more towards media companies that install disqus. focusing on the end user is setting the stage for disqus to take the lunch of the folks who install disqus on their web site. don’t act like i never told ya.

    1. jason wright

      exactly (sentence one)

      1. kidmercury

        thanks although sentence three is actually most important

    2. William Mougayar

      I thought they could fuel the discovery fire further. They wouldn’t be taking anything away from their publishers. They would be SENDING traffic to them.Like TechMeme. They send tons of traffic out. Think about it. Their current discovery page is small step in that direction.I know there are tons of great discussions out there that aren’t being surfaced. We started to do this with Engagio. See attached screen shot.

      1. kidmercury

        problem is techmeme is not VC funded and did not start as a comment engine. it has different cost structure, economic requirements, and expectations from customers. disqus will start with the “oh this is just to help you get more traffic” pitch but eventually all the activity will stay on disqus. it will be probably have a governance problem bigger than twitter’s.

        1. William Mougayar

          OK. Let’s peel that onion.How about Comment Search that leads to articles and discovery, a bit like did and we had that too. We indexed 40 Million comments and with alerts.Don’t you want to know specifically who/where there are discussions that matter to you, and not have to stumble upon them?

          1. Vineeth Kariappa

            As a publisher, i want ppl commenting on content on my site n visitin more pages. I don really want them to come for 1 page n leave. want them to stay longer.

          2. William Mougayar

            That’s right. They will come to your site and comment there, and Disqus could send more of them your way.

          3. Vineeth Kariappa

            Their new home page appears as a destination site. They want people “there” (most probable reason; increase advert revenue). So, they want people to keep going back there. How will that help me? they are competing with their clients!

          4. William Mougayar

            Does TechMeme or HuffPo compete with the sites they send traffic to? It all adds up.Nobody can do Comments Discovery like they could. I KNOW IT, because we worked with their firehose API for more than a Year. There’s a ton of hidden gems in there.

          5. Vineeth Kariappa

            Techmeme n huffpo din start by offerin a commentin service for publishers.

          6. falicon

            These are two different challenges…getting them to your site, and then keeping them engaged in your site.Disqus actually has the ability/opportunity to help with both…but I think the more important one to nail first is ‘getting more to your site’.Right now they face a sim. fear/challenge that Google had at the *very* start…people were afraid to let Google index their content because it might steal their attention/traffic/value…but the truth was that it did the complete opposite (it actually brought you tons more traffic).As long as Disqus stays true to their core ‘why’, the websites that have it installed have no reason to fear them stealing attention or traffic away (and remember Disqus is always just as easy to uninstall as it is to install — they will always remain keenly aware of this).So I agree 100% with William Mougayar with proper discovery, Disqus would actually be an insanely powerful driver of traffic and attention to those currently generating great content in the obscure corners of the web.

          7. James Ferguson @kWIQly

            Being insanely great was something SJ recommended – I agree this seems to be a Disqus lost opportunity !

          8. ShanaC

            but then you are google’s bitch

          9. falicon

            Only if that’s the only/best path you’ve built to your business…

          10. kidmercury

            it all depends on how you start out and how you want to position yourself. who is your customer? if your customer is the blog star, you should advance them. if your customer is the end user, you should position accordingly and treat the blog star as a partner to help achieve this agenda. lots of companies try to do both, which i think will result in significant problems.

          11. LE

            Money is an important part of the process and I wonder where revenue fits into any of the points anyone is making for whatever road they are taking.

        2. ShanaC

          I’m not sold – I don’t think all activity stays on disqus – ive seen activity move to elsewhere – plus the better part of the discussion is that your traffic also gets stickier.

      2. Techman

        I’d like to see engagio return. I’m not sure why you would give up something you had so good just to see it shut down.

    3. fredwilson

      You kind of contradict yourself in this comment

      1. kidmercury

        how so?

        1. fredwilson

          You say the strategy is bad then you say it is good

          1. Robert Holtz

            The “Community of Communities” tag line positions DISQUS as a mega portal. While it can be said that the DISQUS Network spans across the web and beyond individual websites because of the single login and unified tools, that is more of a user convenience than an ideal stakeholder to market to.Kid is saying, and I agree with him, that many website operators might not like that positioning because they want to build community around THEIR affinity and they want all the traffic for themselves. The positioning makes it look like DISQUS seeks to be a destination on its own, as an aggregator of sorts, where it basically is appealing to an audience saying, come HERE instead of those individual sites… give US your page views. That’s what he means about eating their lunch. These website owners go out, get people engaged in content they create, only to build someone else’s destination the “Community of Communities” in which they derive no expressed benefit.In my opinion, that tagline is wrong for DISQUS. Not only does it not comprise DISQUS’ full audience or full potential, but it undermines one of the most important stakeholders which is website owners. THOSE are the folks who have a real call to action. THOSE are the people who might choose BRAND-X instead of DISQUS.In my opinion, the site’s current marketing message takes on more stakeholders than it should. And if DISQUS tries to be a DESTINATION and not just an enabling system, it WILL cannibalize other aspects of their success. Lacking more information, I can only say that does not seem advisable. The tagline addresses the wrong audience. As I said in another post here on this very subject, it is a great term and should be used to define a PERK (for users not website owners) but not the companywide slogan.

          2. kidmercury


          3. kidmercury

            i don’t think i said the strategy was good, but i agree with robert’s comment i think he fleshed out the perspective nicely

    4. Brandon Burns

      The problem is that Disqus is trying to become a destination with messaging, instead of building a product that, you know, is a destination.

    5. obscurelyfamous

      Hmm. @kidmercury:disqus – curious to hear the “trying to become a destination” part broken out a bit. Where do you get that impression?I think you may mean the front-and-center tagline which could represent some of that. But it wasn’t the intention (you could argue that it sucks, which is subjective). Sort of like Pepsi saying they’re the “voice of a generation” probably doesn’t literally mean they help people talk.

      1. kidmercury

        i think it is a bit like the criticism people have of google when goog puts youtube, google maps, google places, and google+ right on the search results page. i think disqus’ attempts at being consumer-facing will end up going down the same path, and that it may be more challenging to pull off without google-sized muscles.put another way, i’m skeptical/wary of attempts at growing disqus direct-to-consumer rather than behind blogs like this one.

        1. obscurelyfamous

          I’d paint this differently than “consumer-facing.” It’s doing more to make sure that people β€” not only people with websites β€” get value out of Disqus. A new design and new marketing copy doesn’t achieve that, of course, but we want to message in a way that’s true to what we’re building towards.”put another way, i’m skeptical/wary of attempts at growing disqus direct-to-consumer rather than behind blogs like this one.”Totally. I think it’s smart to be cautious when moving beyond core strengths.

          1. laurie kalmanson

            Discovery then of related content, as pinterest offers

      2. James Ferguson @kWIQly

        Please refer my comment elsewhere – I use Disqus on my blog and love it for the ease of commenting. (wish it could surface linkedIn comments;) BUT.I took the Fred invite at face value and immediately above the fold I see a comment surfacing abstraction. So its for me to find comments right ? Just what Charlie Crystle thought – except its curated and inaccessible – first emotion – it pissed me off !So if (this feature not Disqus generally) isn’t as good as @falicon:disqus ‘s (it isnt) and its better funded (as I suspect) – then why?Note I (and other bloggers) put on the face of my blog to help readers find Disqus comments – As they say if someone is trying to fix their own pain – there is probably a marketFinally a question – Is there a dedicated Disqus search tool and if so where ? – Meanwhile keep up the great work

        1. falicon

          I got nothing but love for you.No amount of points could be awarded to properly express my appreciation here.

          1. James Ferguson @kWIQly

            πŸ˜‰ – Humpph No Points again !!!

          2. falicon

            OK, OK — I award you infinity (and beyond)!

        2. obscurelyfamous

          Ah, got it. A bit of context setting: the homepage wasn’t really for folks like us in the avc community to dig in and get more value out of Disqus. That needs to come from the product.Good thoughts, thanks!

    6. nipulpatel

      Agree 100%.For me, the power of disqus is in the conversations that it fosters in the AVC community (and many others), not the conversation that it fosters in the disqus community. AVC gives disqus context and community. Disqus gives AVC a great way to let others join the community and share.Also, to add yet another destination for an end user to discover content is a steep change of behavior that would be hard to achieve. As a destination, I’d worry that I’m still missing out on content coming from websites that I visit and are not running disqus.

      1. CJ

        I want a way to discover content with Disqus. I want to be a part of all the interesting conversations going on throughout the web, I just don’t know how they do it without feeling spammy.

    7. Drew Meyers

      totally agreed. they need to figure out how to become so valuable that they get me (as a blog owner) to pay them — otherwise you’re right, they are set to flip the switch at some point and keep all the content on their own site and away from the people building these communities in the first place. I don’t really see any other path to monetization, unless they get into the data sales business.

    8. Techman

      Agree 100%. One thing that Disqus refuses to add is CSS support, and already a few big name publishers have dropped them because of lack of customization.

  21. Richard

    Exchange Traded PassionSponsored communication works for FB, Twitter. It could also work for Disqus.The power of discuss should be kept behind the curtain, with being a platform for advertisers to narrowcast in real time.

  22. Dave W Baldwin

    I don’t think @wmoug:disqus was dissing. To me, the problem is you have to go to all of those different pages to see the important bullets.The first page can be like a bubble, but I’d do the bullets (#users, important present users….) with a video message that is straight and to point with option to watch other short vids from the different important people.If you were to do that and had some of the explanation of bullets below, the person can scroll while they hear the vid.That way, you can be placing a promotion reaching all ends of spectrum.

  23. Kirsten Lambertsen

    I really hate to say it, but the more I look at the bubbles, the less I think they work. The overall effect is like wallpaper. If “Add Disqus to Your Site” is the primary action you want me to take on this page, then give me a compelling reason why and put that button in the most important place on the page. I don’t think the bubbles support that objective.I’m not sure about “The community of communities.” This sounds more like the VC and advertiser pitch to me than the user pitch.Here’s what I tell people when I’m urging them to use Disqus on their site: why would you just add comments when you can add a network that will find you new visitors at the same time?Are they hoping to attract new commenters via this approach? To somehow recruit commenters into the system, other than via a first comment on a Disqus enabled blog? If that’s the idea, I think it would make way more sense to launch a subdomain ( or something) that is a real content play page for the most interesting and important posts and discussions across the network. And then, don’t hide the info behind bubbles, but really put it on display with big images and highlighted comments that grab attention and pique interest.If they really want to stick with the bubbles – it would be more engaging to pull actual comments and the blog titles they are associated with. I’d be much more intrigued if I saw real current comments like, “This is hogwash!” or “Amazon will fail,” stuff like that in the bubbles. Specifics are always better than generalities, I think. Also, I’m on a big iMac, and those bubbles are small. Make them bigger, I say, and have fewer of them.

    1. Peter Van Dijck

      Don’t feel bad, the bubbles are useless.

  24. Jonathan GarcΓ­a

    Disqus is pretty but claim isn’t sexy. Disqus is clean and fast but home is plenty and slow. Dropbox style is much more catchy in my opinion.

  25. Robert Holtz

    Help! I posted a detailed comment that didn’t show up. I re-posted it and it didn’t show up either. Yet, a reply to someone else’s post DID show up. Confused. Fred, is my post caught in your moderator filter for some reason? I wonder if my re-post of the exact same statement caused the system to think I was spamming you. Please take a look at that Fred?… it took me quite a while to write out. Thanks.

    1. fredwilson

      It may beI will look into it

      1. JimHirshfield

        Approved. Should see it now. cc @robert holtz

        1. Robert Holtz

          Thank you both. It is there now. That was confusing.Well, I know today’s topic is about the DISQUS marketing/branding but I guess I have some slightly OT tech input now based on this little hiccup since I know folks from DISQUS are “listening”…If a post is blocked for moderation, the user should be notified the moment they post that the message is being held back for review. Further, if the user goes into their own dashboard, the post should be there in full text with a banner or header that says the message is pending approval by the moderator. Not seeing it anywhere at all immediately leads the user to believe that the post is “poof” gone.The admins shouldn’t have to do “customer service” on issues like that; the tech should handle that auto-magically.

          1. JimHirshfield

            Thanks. Great feedback.

          2. Robert Holtz

            Nice of you to say. Thanks for everything. Have a great day.

        2. ShanaC

          Do you know why this is happening in the first place?

          1. JimHirshfield

            That’s top secret False positives happen now and again.

      2. Robert Holtz

        Thanks Fred. πŸ™‚

    2. Trish Fontanilla

      I saw it Robert and then it disappeared. This is the comment about there being more of a tagline and intro right?

      1. Robert Holtz

        Thanks Trish. Yes, that sounds right.I also replied to someone citing something you posted on the subject… THAT showed up. But my initial comment about the intro seems to have vaporized. I didn’t even see it in my own DISQUS dashboard which is strange.

        1. fredwilson

          It was flagged as spam. I cleared it.

      2. Robert Holtz

        Thanks again for chiming in, Trish. @fredwilson:disqus looked into it and @JimHirshfield:disqus cleared it up. I guess my post was tangled in a moderator’s nest for some reason. All cleared up now. Appreciate your help.

  26. Shaun Dakin

    As a user (commenting) I love disqus because I don’t have to create an account for every blog and site I go to. That is it. Value is convenient commenting.As a publisher I like it because it drives more comments because it is so easy for mSo readers.I never go to the main page.And… The thing I hate the most about the red notifications on the dash board when I comment is the fact that when I click on an old comment it brings me to the article but not the comment. This is pretty much useless and I never do it anymore.So I don’t have any use for community on comments. Community is for facebook πŸ™‚

    1. JimHirshfield

      The links to comments should work. Please try it again, if you don’t mind. Please keep in mind that the publisher’s page you are taken to needs to fully load before the browser can take you to the anchored comment. IOW, depending upon the publisher’s site load time, there may be a slight lag before the browser takes you to the comment in question. Enjoy.

    2. fredwilson

      Really? Facebook? I get your point about Disqus but Facebook is hardly community

      1. kidmercury

        lol so much fb hating……i don’t like fb, but it is where a lot of people hang out with their friends and fam online. your friends and fam typically are your top psychological community.

        1. fredwilson

          Friends and family doesn’t feel like community to me. That’s friends and family. Community is like reddit or hacker news or stack exchange

          1. kidmercury

            fb is building out its subject matter groups, i’m a member of a few and they come through my feed. for a lot of people who aren’t passionate about anything, or only have a very mild interest, fb groups might suit them well. i mean it probably won’t be as awesome as goog+ but then again what is?

          2. Drew Meyers

            “a lot of people who aren’t passionate about anything”It still blows me away that there are people not passionate about anything. But it’s true…there are a lot of people out there like that – unfortunately for them.

          3. kidmercury

            i think i’m passionate about a lot of stuff, but there’s also a lot of stuff i’m only a little passionate about. musical acts is a prime example. i like to follow musicians on fb, just to get updates on new releases and the occassional fun status update, but for most i’m not passionate enough to join a community for them.

          4. Drew Meyers

            I’m 1000% in the same boat as you on that sentiment.

      2. Shaun Dakin

        Right. It all depends on your definition of community. My “community ‘ is on fb. I have no need to have yac (yet another community)

  27. Mike

    I’m always a sucker for putting your social proof right in the call to action. Something like, “Powering 100 million blogs around the world.”The conversation bubbles then add further proof to that claim.

    1. Peter Van Dijck

      Now that’s a headline. Simple but works. No bubbles required.

  28. Peter Van Dijck

    From scanning the comments a lot of the feedback seems negative. I have to agree, it’s a terrible redesign, sorry. Let’s see if I can make my feedback helpful.In short: 1. The writing is marketing-speak. Terrible. 2. The visuals don’t work. (stock photos of people by themselves in the park??) 3. The signup funnels are really bad. But mostly: the writing.1. The previous homepage told me what Disqus was, and showed off the product. On this homepage, on my Air, I only see bubbles. WIthout scrolling, there’s nothing there. I had seen the bubbles before when they lived on a separate page, and they’re not that cool. They don’t tell me anything.2. Visually, design-wise, it looks worse than the previous homepage. I know that’s subjective.3. “The web’s community of communities”. That doesn’t tell me what the product does, as a user or a publisher. It sounds like they’re trying to pitch a VC. But surely VC’s aren’t the target audience of this new homepage.4. Then, when I scroll down, the part where it is going to tell me what the product can mean for me, a publisher, the headline is: “For Websites”. I mean, what? For websites? What for websites? Is this going to drive traffic? Engagement? What does the product do? Terrible headline.5. Then there’s a section apparently aimed at users of Disqus? Called… “Using Disqus”. With bubbles. It’s meaningless. What’s the use of this? Who would ever use this? Who is this useful to? If this is supposed to be the signup page for a social network, it’s pretty bad. It leads to a page which again has some vague text but then nothing. No signup form. No signup funnel. FTW?(ps: I am being very harsh, but it’s because I really like their product.)6. Then “Brand Storytelling”. Aha, the other audience (brands). First: why isn’t this third audience reflected in the top nav, which only has two audiences. Goes to, which again is vague vague vague, doesn’t say anything.7. Images. Where is mobile? Where’s the screenshot of Disqus on my phone? Instead I get bland marketing images. Brands are represented by “Bighead Cola Co”? That’s insulting. Users are represented by bland stock photos. Eh, and an image of a living room?Final remarks: the copywriting is horrid. Vague vague vague. The signup flows to pull people in are horrid. The design is mediocre. And the copywriting needs work.This homepage doesn’t tell me what the product does (not for any of the audiences). It’s full of….. marketing speak!Ugh.

    1. Peter Van Dijck

      Just imagine what Steve Krug would say of this. First rule of homepages: what does it do? Who are you?

    2. obscurelyfamous

      “(ps: I am being very harsh, but it’s because I really like their product.)”Be harsh — no reason not to. Rather have people critique than not care!Totally hear and appreciate your thoughts here. We went out, did some homework, and came back with refined hypotheses about our users and market. It’s an evolution from yesteryear (as you rightfully pointed out, we more directly showed people the product in prior marketing).The good thing about our hypothesis is that it’s equipped with tools on how to figure out if we’re wrong or right. So far, so good — but we’ll keep learning.

      1. Peter Van Dijck

        Glad to hear you have the metrics πŸ™‚ Would love to hear what they are?I think I understand how you look at your market (brands/users/publishers). I just think the execution of speaking to them isn’t working. But I may well be wrong, wouldn’t be the first time.

        1. obscurelyfamous

          We have a few tools to look at this. The most important ones relevant here are our signup rate, install rate, and rolling engagement.

  29. Brandon Burns

    Disqus is a comment plugin. Just say that, clear and upfront, or risk confusing people.If the company wants to re-imagine itself as something more, its going to have to re-imagine the core offering. Messaging can only reflect your reality, not create a new one.Start with a redesign of the core product, and then create messaging to match.

    1. Brandon Burns

      And if the bubbles are supposed to be the new core product… does anyone actually think they’re useful? Feels more like home page art.

    2. Andrew Kennedy


    3. Andrew Kennedy

      Bingo ^ 2 actually. U nailed it here.

  30. Michael Ferrari

    Messaging aside, from a pure design perspective I like everything below the fold. The cluster graphic does not move smoothly, which makes it feel like it was developed with the wrong tools/technology or it is trying to crunch too much data at once and is slowing it down. It doesn’t feel professional and crisp as the rest of the home page beneath it. Also would have liked to see a responsive UI to support mobile. Viewing the site on mobile makes you feel like you are on dial-up and the site can barely keep up. Disqus as a product is slick and fluid. The user experience from connecting to social networks to posting to viewing comments is smooth and seamless. Their site should support that.

  31. falicon

    I’m a programmer not a marketing guru, so take the following thoughts with a grain of salt. That being said:Disqus is established in the market, so they can no longer dictate their message. The best they can do is hone in on the truth which the market already knows/excepts for Disqus. To me that is:1. For websites – plug-and-play modern web commenting system that opens your content up to being accessed and engaged with by a large, active, network of thought leaders.2. For users – A commenting system that allows you to build a reputation, identity, and friendships across many, otherwise disconnected, websites and interests.3. For brands – A system for identifying, and connecting with, engaged communities that would be of interest to their brand.These aren’t perfectly on point yet, but they are where I would start in this exercise.So – as others have mentioned, the next big thing to figure out is which of these three groups is the homepage really for?While I believe it’s the revenue stream you likely want to grow, I think working with the brands is more involved than just a self-service/education homepage…so I would not focus on that group here at all (at most I would put a small area/link for to direct the few leads that come in this way down the proper path there).That leaves the other two groups to pick from and I think historically I think the focus has always been on getting websites to install disqus, but again because you’ve got an established spot in market already (and I would say somewhat critical mass achieved) I don’t think this needs to be the case any more. In fact, I would think that what is primarily driving installs these days is word-of-mouth suggestions/requests from Disqus users more so than any specific feature-to-feature comparison or ‘selling’ points you might make to websites.If this is true, then I think the best way to get more Disqus installs is to fan the fires of your users’ passions. So again, I would only commit a small section or link for walking those interested in installing Disqus down the proper path.That leaves the focus on the users – which at this point I think is the area Disqus can see the largest growth and improvement. To do that, I think there are a handful of initial things to really think about:1. Fix mobile. For a user, a large part of the commenting experience is about sharing quick thoughts and ideas with others around a bit of content…doing this on-the-go as mobile allows is crucial. And as many know, the current implementation of Disqus makes you want to throw your mobile device. This isn’t just limiting the growth, it’s *literally* killing the Disqus brand for many. A must fix.2. Focus the message on how long term use of Disqus helps you build an identity and reputation across the Disqus universe (and why that’s a powerful thing to want/have — if you don’t know, just ask some of your power users how it’s personally benefited them).3. Highlight the friendships and real world connections that using Disqus has enabled and empowered. This is what conversations and community are really all about!4. Simplify and insanely improve upon discovery. Don’t accept the easy path here. It *must* be quality over quantity or revenue (think google ads vs. facebook ads). Think long and hard about how best to highlight a site, a post, a comment, and a user — we want to discover them all, and we have a never ending appetite for it if done well.

    1. Brandon Burns

      Each point so spot on.

    2. obscurelyfamous

      Yo @falicon:disqus Just wanted to say that this is one of the most on-point comments breaking down our hypotheses as well. Not 100% but you’re damn close.I’ve been our new mobile version almost exclusively to comment here (still in testing). It’s getting there. But just know that it means a lot to us and we’re making good steps.

      1. falicon

        Thanks – outside of @wmoug:disqus I have prob. spent more time than any ‘non Disqus insider’ thinking about, hacking on, and enjoying your business and space…so glad to learn we are like-minded after all that!…oh and for the record, not that you’ve ever inquired but you guys are one of the very few I would trust to acquire πŸ˜‰

        1. James Ferguson @kWIQly

          @danielha:disqus Hey you could do worse than use the AVC community to do some in depth foregone conclusion based due diligence πŸ™‚

      2. William Mougayar

        I sent you an email about 8 months ago with pretty similar points to @falicon:disqus

        1. falicon

          Timing is everything. πŸ˜‰

          1. Matt A. Myers

            You got 16 likes, all I got was your like! However, if you’re such a liked maverick by the community on here, then though your individual like of my comment means a lot. πŸ˜‰

          2. falicon

            Likes are nice and warm like smiles on the street but replies are the golden nuggets that help me grow.Your life philosophy, which comes through in all your thoughtfull comments here (and the other Disqus spots where we often intersect) always gives me a unique perspective to ponder and a reason to, at the very least, smile…which is my long winded way of saying THANKS!

      3. tony greene

        When you refer to the mobile version, are you talking about an ap that allows real-time conversation? Or are you talking about a rendering of the comment box onsite that allows for an easier commenting block?I’m all for the ability to reply on the fly with a mobile app but being as though I have next to no community on my site it would be great to allow good interaction within the reply email for now.

      4. Guest

        What happened to Disqus Mobile for me? I can no longer use it because I can’t find the link at the top of the thread.

    3. Dale Allyn

      Really well-said, Kevin. Thoughtful and wise.

    4. sigmaalgebra

      We’ve always known that being good atmarketing or strategy is not nearly enoughto be good at programming, but now weknow that a programmer can be goodat marketing and strategy. So, thepecking order is getting clear!

      1. falicon

        Kind of you to say but if it were true I would have a lot more successful projects in my history πŸ™‚

        1. sigmaalgebra

          No, that was some super good thinking andinsight into marketing and strategy.In information technology (IT) startups,problem selection, programming, strategy,and marketing are all important. Problemselection’s often not easy.Then there’s timing and the biggie, luck.Once I started, decided the idea wasn’tstill good, gave up, and later observedothers prove that the idea was good andthat I had given up too soon. And some ofthe detailed ideas I’d had early on didlook good and better than what was in thesuccesses.My current guess is pick a problem that isunsolved, difficult enough to solve that agood solution will have a good barrier toentry and is so big and important, with somany eager users/customers, that abusiness with a good solution should besuccessful with little doubt.The best example would be a safe,effective, cheap, patentable one pill curefor any cancer. There are also militaryexamples — H-bomb, SR-71, Keyhole,stealth, GPS, etc. — where the problemwas so important that the good technicalwork would lead to a success with littledoubt.But I believe that there are also some ITexamples.I admit that the remark today thatSnapChat should be worth $800 million is abucket of cold water over my head.

    5. Pete Griffiths


    6. ShanaC


    7. leigh

      To get simpler and at the heart of the matter, the benefit has to be the connection of things that are seemingly disconnected. Finding a consumer friendly articulation that what is missing. (community of communities is close but too cerebral for the average joe and sadly few blogs qualify :)I’ll add some more practical benefits …..1. for websites — repeat traffic, new visitors through recommendations and networks etc.2. for users — connection to content important to influencers (vs. your content to influencers ;), ability to track conversations over time 3. for brands — access to communities that are highly engaged and already exist (but that’s not particularly differentiated from FB or Twitter so maybe focus in on the influencer piece bc i would bet since you were early in the game, the type of user you have would be different than the FB user)

      1. falicon

        There is actually a lot of overlap in the magic of Disqus and Twitter (so prob. a lot that can be copied/learned from there).Both offer up the “holy shit, I can actually talk to Fred Wilson (or other respected author) and he might actually talk back!” and the “holy shit, I can be a fly on the wall during killer conversations between smart people I really respect”…when your product gives people a reason to say “holy shit”, you’re clearly in a position to win the market…you’ve just got to help lead more people to the ‘holy shit moment’ (easier said than done)…and I think that’s the real Disqus challenge right now.

        1. PhilipSugar

          That was really well said.

        2. abhisshack

          “Holy Shit” your comments and analysis are terrifically awesome !!!!!!!!!!!!!

          1. falicon

            well played my friend…well played indeed! πŸ˜‰

          2. abhisshack

            But I really mean it mate. Greetings from India, are you in Google+ ?

          3. falicon

            Thanks – I’m either falicon or falicon33 almost everywhere online (falicon33 in the Google universe because they required the number for some reason)…sure my ramblings get pushed into it from time to time, but I don’t actually *use* G+ yet…

    8. Sean Hull

      Great post @falicon:disqus and excellent breakdown. Completely agree on discovery as we’ve discussed this before. I’d also add that for me I can only use disqus on a laptop. It’s not practical on a mobile phone right now. Too many jumping back and forth etc.A mobile app would be a game changer. It would directly compete for my social media time, which now mostly goes to twitter. Currently disqus comment notifications go to email. This is really inefficient. Notifications and all in-app interactions with websites would be amazing. Tightly coupled with discovery features of course. That’s my dream.

    9. RichardF

      So spot on Kevin, The disqus mobile “experience” has stopped me commenting, I do so much browsing on my tablet now that the effort involved in participating in conversation using the current Disqus interface is just too time consuming.

  32. Zach Stevens

    Seems to me like the messaging “The Web’s Community of Communities,” positions them as a destination site, but I don’t think that’s what they’re trying to do – I think they’re trying to drive installations. Too abstract for me.I think the “For Websites” section should be the first thing users see – they’re actually showing the product and how great it is, they’d just need to refine the headline to something that concisely explains what it is.Ultimately, they should use something like Crazy Egg to see where people are scrolling on the page, and what CTA’s people are actually clicking on and optimize from there.

  33. Peter Van Dijck

    The lady cutting the sweet potato is a cute image but I really wonder why she’s there. Same with the empty living room and the lady by herself in the park.

  34. Bernard Desarnauts

    It’s a big miss for me as I just tried it on my iPhone and… No mobile version and no responsive design… Too bad

  35. mikenolan99

    I don’t like the bubbles… and they seem to burn a lot of processor speed. I just closed the window, and now can type at full speed. ( 2.7ghz i5, 8 gig, Firefox)Just yesterday I was trying to get my friend to install Disqus on her word press blog. She wrote a great post, and for the first time went over 2,000 unique visitors in one day. But her comment system sucks.She called up the discuss home page, and her first reaction was “I don’t have time for all this” and closed the window.Probably not the reaction one would hope for.

  36. Paul Sanwald

    my feedback:background is, I’m a occasional blogger who, like every software developer on the planet who blogs, rolled my own blogging software.I go to the homepage and there is a lot of stuff going on and I’m a little confused. However, I see I can add disqus to my site, so I click that button.I now have to enter my URL, a site name, a site shortname, and click a button. I have no idea what is going to happen when I click that button, so I don’t do it and close the tab.suggestions: make it clearer what “adding disqus to my site” means, explain why they are asking for a URL to my site and what’s going to happen after I enter it.hope this helps, not trying to be negative, but that’s exactly my experience and reaction when visiting their site for the first time.

    1. obscurelyfamous

      Hey @paul_cs:disqus, thanks for the clear feedback. The changes we made today were superficial, to be frank, and real improvements to that signup flow is forthcoming!

      1. Paul Sanwald

        great! happy to try out the new workflow (and potentially add disqus to my site).

  37. NYReader

    Apologies if this is taking a step back and looking at the commenting space as a whole- but how does Livefyre respond to this? How do Disqus and Livefyre make money if their commenting software is free? How did they make money as they were growing?

    1. Drew Meyers

      They didn’t? Funded by VCs for the long term potential win. I think πŸ™‚

  38. Tracey Jackson

    I am going to chime in with the layman view of this. Because my guess is the majority of their users are people such as myself. Active online life, but not in the investment and formulation of new sites. I know more than the average Joe and a ton less than any of you.I have two websites where we use Disqus. At one point, the guy who helps build the following on our Gratitude and Trust site was lobbying to switch comments over to Facebook. He felt there would be more public awareness and outside interaction with that. For many reasons I said NO. I am not leaving Disqus. I like it. It’s easy. As a moderator it’s simple. I like the the way the comments look. I’m used to it. And I’m sick of Facebook. I think having comments there does not look professional. Maybe in the back of my head was if Disqus is good enough for Fred Wilson it’s the right thing to use. Now this is coming from just a blogger, I have no dog in the fight. But sometimes a cigar is just a cigar and sometimes a comment page is a comment page. For me It is all I would use Disqus for. Make it easy, make it fast, make it look good. Unless they are going to promote my site, which it does not look like they are in danger of doing. I went and looked at the bubbles. First off I would not have known about the bubbles be it not for this blog. The average person online does not have access to this kind of info. One you sign up how often would you be redirected to the bubbles? I’m signed up, so I didn’t know about the bubbles. I thought the bubbles looked silly. If I was signing up for the first time, they might turn me off or they might lead me to believe if I were a good blogger I too could have feature in the bubble. But that does not appear to be the case. So I say hollow marketing tool.Then I went into several bubbles and they were impossible to navigate around in. Once I was there some article from Cosmo magazine was the first post. That said you need to be a big guy to get into a little bubble here. They really lost me at Cosmo. Then I could not get to another article or blog without going back to the homepage. Who wants to spend that kind of time? And honestly I’m not sure I would ever use the comments site for looking for other topics. I think people try once with these things and if they don’t like it they don’t go back.I would rather read my Digg feed for mainstream articles, or go into Flipboard to see what people are saying outside the mainstream media. I know you guys look at in terms of innovation and what to give people they want.I don’t know how many people would go to Disqus for that and as I type the word “that” I am unclear as to what that is, and i feel like with those bubbles they are unclear too.

    1. falicon

      This is such a great ‘regular’ person breakdown. I agree 99% with all your thoughts (and I’m not sure I could articulate the 1%) πŸ˜‰

      1. Cima

        Damn them 1 percenters! πŸ˜‰

      2. Tracey Jackson

        I’m really confounded as to why two hours after I posted the comment is “awaiting moderation” I describe myself as a loyal Disqus user. Are we only supposed to agree or are people not on the inside not credible commenters?

        1. fredwilson

          it got stuck in a spam filter. i released it. must have been some phrasing or word sequence that triggered that. it happens every so often. however i agree that a commenter with the reputation you have (and disqus assigns reputation to every commenter) should never have their comments go into spam. yet another thing to work on at Disqus

          1. Tracey Jackson

            Phew. Glad to hear that. Cause I have a really good time here in Wilsonville.

          2. mikenolan99

            Wilsonville… +1,000

          3. kidmercury

            pull a parker and you will get flagged

        2. falicon

          That confused me too – Without really knowing, I would guess it’s more about the formatting/length than the content.

          1. Tracey Jackson

            I write long though. If you see my other comments. It’s oddly still stuck there, but as long as I didn’t offend Fred. That is something I would not want to do. I like him. And I like Disqus.

        3. William Mougayar

          I will white list you Tracey. Sorry I didn’t see it either.

          1. Tracey Jackson

            Thank you William. It still says Waiting for Moderation.

          2. William Mougayar

            Check now. I saw it before but I thought that Fred cleared it so I didn’t touch it. It should be visible now. Did this happen to 2 of your comments today, or was this the only one?(Should be ok from now on, since you’re whitelisted)

          3. Tracey Jackson

            Only one comment was waiting. While we are on the topic of Disqus I will say the old way they had of whitelisting was much easier than it is now. They used to give you the option to whitelist someone as you were approving a comment. Now you have to click on whitelist later and it often doesn’t get done. I’m guilty of it too.

          4. William Mougayar

            I guess they make it a bit more difficult for you to do that to give you enough time to think about πŸ™‚

        4. ShanaC

          i approved it. I don’t get it – there are sometimes all these tweaks I need to do

          1. Tracey Jackson

            Leave it to a woman to get the job done!

          2. ShanaC

            super busy recently

          3. tony greene

            I’m definitely glad someone is “busy” in America.

    2. tony greene

      What are “bubbles”?

  39. James Ferguson @kWIQly

    Its attractive, but the top “bubble view” is screaming out for search functionlity – or did I miss it.Say I want to go to “energy” (as I often do) do I start with business, living,culture, news or tech.Unless a discovery platform (I`m sure that`s what this is) can be accessed from a clearly understood user perspective (that`s what does so well) I feel it is a less than useful feature

  40. LE

    “a new homepage this week.You can see it at“For disqus commenters or people w/o their own blog:Fails the “grey whistle test”. Doesn’t engage me at all. The value doesn’t jump out at me. Not to mention the fact that I have no reason to visit the disqus homepage to begin with.This needs to be boiled down to a simple non graphical presentation. Like techmeme or (where you sometimes read just the comments and not the actual linked story).Seems like the effort here went into making something that looks cool without any obvious functional value.For sites considering using disqus:I also don’t see how the “above the fold” stuff would make any potential site wanting to use disqus more likely to do so. It would seem to me that one of the ways to do that would be to highlight success stories of existing important websites (social proof).For example it says this:”If you’re passionate about writing and sharing, Disqus helps you build a community of active readers and commenters.”Why not show me what people have already done with disqus? I could start a disqus competitor tomorrow and say the exact same thing. It’s like saying “the leading web hosting company”. Not the same as saying “our happy customers range from Moms Bakery on main street to Mercedes Benz North America.

  41. Raph

    In Chrome, the smaller colored circles look laughably bad. Like really low quality jpegs layered on top of another : [

  42. andyidsinga

    I’m coming in on an ipad mini and there are issues …the bubbles are rendering sluggishly ..which makes everything else feel slow. its whiz bang but….also there are two black boxes near the bottom ( see screen shot )re on message or not : yes! ‘for websites’ is the first thing i see after the distracting bubbles.keep up the good work! i love love love disqus!

  43. Conrad Ross Schulman

    From a UI/UX standpoint, i would suggest that Disqus use this page as their homepage –>

    1. andyidsinga

      yes. that should be their homepage!

        1. andyidsinga

          ? i don’t see it…

        2. obscurelyfamous

          That’s Amanda and she’s got all sorts of cool rings.

          1. Conrad Ross Schulman

            ATTN: New Disqus Promo! Integrate Disqus on your website and win Amanda’s cool rings! #contest #winNot sure if it fits…

  44. James Ferguson @kWIQly

    OFF TOPICThis post and the great engaged feedback seen show exactly what having an influential investor can do for an investment *beyond the money* – Way to go Fred and Daniel

    1. William Mougayar

      True. Key is how they interpret it or act on it. This is very valuable indeed and I have also been the recipient of similar generosity, and I totally appreciate it.

    2. fredwilson

      I am really impressed by the quality and quantity if the feedback

      1. Dan


    3. obscurelyfamous

      The great thing about it is it’s not just soliciting comments from the avc community. I’m a part of this community too and I feel grateful for the thoughts that the folks here provide.

    4. ShanaC

      it is really hard to find those :/

      1. James Ferguson @kWIQly

        Yup – but nobody promised easy. If you keep getting up when they knock you down, stepping forward two steps when they push you back one someday someone will notice you are on top and out in front (naturally then, by the time you don`t need help you have also learnt to appreciate it !)

  45. Alan Warms

    couldn’t sign in on new home page from iphone this am – no way to get to sign in

    1. fredwilson

      I had that problem too

    2. ShanaC

      that’s bad – that’s the only way I can sign in on mobile

  46. Chris Phenner

    This homepage was brave. It obviously seeks to highlight the scope and real-time nature of the activity Disqus facilitates.My issue with the Floaty Bubbles upon mouse-over is this: Almost none of the image thumbnails, when you moused over them, gave an indication of which site Disqus is powering. And that made me not want to click on them.One bug I found: When I clicked on a Floaty Bubble, then clicked within the white circle on a ‘Read More’ link (and was sent off to the partner site), when I came back to I was unable to ‘un-click’ the Floaty Bubble that had originally taken me off the site.The ‘Add Disqus to your site’ button took three tries to actually advance me to the sign up flow (which is the KPI, after all), and that made the site (and company) feel slower and chunkier than I know it can be.That’s a lotta confusion for a two-second-long ‘whoa’ you get when you arrive.

  47. Semil Shah

    I love Disqus. A lot. With that disclaimer, I’d say (1) the new page is pretty but confusing to grock right away; (2) could maybe include a professionally done 30-second video of why Disqus helps and how to install it self-serve; (3) show faces of influential content creators who use Disqus; and (4) showcase stories about connections people have made by virtue of meeting others via Disqus. To me, Disqus is about building relationships through ideas with people:

    1. obscurelyfamous

      yo @2ff53f7e1cc86d3ebaa74bda2180f3af:disqus. Thanks for the thought. We tried doing some of that here: it get closer or further from what you’re saying?

      1. Semil Shah

        Step in right direction. I’d lead with faces, connections, and relationships (including brands) on the first page. What I tell people offline about Disqus is that I make great relationships through your product. That is powerful.

  48. Matt Zagaja

    I enjoy using disqus on the websites that have it. It looks clean and overall seems better than Facebook or other comments.Going to the home page made me wonder if the designer had Don Ho’s Tiny Bubbles (… going through his head as he put it together. It seemed to lag in Safari and was obtrusive. I also did not discern any sort of main point from it.The “For Websites” portion makes sense and I would move that to the top in some form.I do not think many users view themselves as disqus users. Rather they are commenters on the site that happens to use disqus. Sharing and replying to comments via e-mail are great features for users, but I do not think I’d feel authority to ask web masters to move from Facebook to disqus because of it.

  49. Tom Labus

    For the last few weeks on Fred’s Blog it always shows 0 comments but once open there are a lot.

    1. CJ

      I thought that was me because of my script blocker. Glad to know it’s not.

  50. Salt Shaker

    Kudos to Mr. Ha for diplomatically responding to the various criticism, as well as acknowledging the many accolades. It’s human nature to be protective of one’s baby and he’s responded with a congenial and appreciative spirit. From what I’ve gathered, DISQUS primarily targets two distinct verticals: publishers//brands. Consequently, home page real estate should be allocated based on the market and margin potential of each user group, unified behind an umbrella strategy that leverages the company’s core benefits (not attributes). I’m afraid “Building a Community of Communities” doesn’t accomplish that goal, well, at least for me. DISQUS is a brand-building platform that stimulates user participation and engagement among a cors community of readers and/or customers. This is strictly a b2b sell. I’m not sure how directly relevant b2c is in the sales equation, unless I’m missing something about the company’s biz model. Way too many comments on “thought bubbles,” vs. biz strat and sales prop.

  51. CJ

    I like and intend to steal the front page and repurpose for our ITSM solution regarding incident categories. That’s pretty kick ass.

  52. sigmaalgebra

    I’ve been impressed by Disqus at least assome good Web programming.As a business? Maybe it’s working, is nowbig enough. Maybe it is getting asignificant ‘network effect’. E.g., atany site that uses Disqus, it’s easy forme to post, usually much easier than atother sites.If blog software is making a good businessfor Disqus, then good for them, and Iconfess they fooled me: Early on Iguessed that such blog software would tooeasy to do to be worth a business or atleast would not have a significant’barrier to entry’. But no doubt blogsoftware as good as Disqus is not so easyto do, and so far they have few or no goodcompetitors.My first question now would be, can Disqusreally charge enough without causing theblogs to lose money from paying Disqusmore than the blog is getting from adrevenue? For a small blog, the ad revenuecould be tiny, and to avoid losing moneythe blog owner could not pay Disqus morethan just a fraction of the tiny adrevenue.One little issue is, for my post to AVCyesterday, I included four YouTube URLs.Then Disqus went to YouTube, grabbed animage from each of the URLs, and displayedit as a big picture below my text. Thosefour pictures were a bit much, andsomewhat smaller pictures would be better.

    1. Youssef Rahoui

      Problem is that bloggers don’t have money ; brands have.

  53. Patrick Woods

    There’s already plenty of feedback here, so I’ll weigh-in on something very specific, but also quite common, which is what I see as an overuse of the term “community” in almost anything web-related.Building community, community engagement, brand community, join our community, community of communities…These ideas are so soft that they barely carry any meaning at all. They don’t really tell anyone anything specific or unique. But startups use them ALL THE TIME.I encourage all that startups I work with to push past this jargony term into messaging that says something unique about their brand. Slapping “community” on something always seems like a copout or compromise. Like the team wasn’t willing to dig a little deeper into to uncover the honest truth about their brand.

    1. NYReader

      Totally agree. Community is cliche- what does it even mean at this point? Same as “social” and “realtime,” both are so vague that they carry little meaning.What do you think about LiveFyre? How do they make money?Also, Disqus is “realtime”- but it just feels like posts to me, how its realtime?

  54. RacerRick

    The homepage is a little confusing but I LOVE that they are finally showing off what conversations are happening around the web.I always thought that Chartbeat and Discus could have an awesome combined portal that would show exactly where things are happening across the web.

  55. John

    I still hate that disqus doesn’t support multiple personas. I think we all have multiple personas we like to use. One for work, one for play, one for each hobby, etc. I had a creepy situation recently where the overlap made for an awkward situation.As for the homepage, the idea of discovery around topics is good, but the implementation was terrible. I couldn’t figure out the UI quickly. Plus, I have a feeling that the results need to be more personalized.

  56. Youssef Rahoui

    Great comments. The first thing that crossed my mind was somehow unpleasant: I thought you were trying to build a kind of social network leveraging and somehow bypassing your users. I must be wrong but I really feel and think that you can’t win if your users (=publishers) don’t win and your homepage does not convey that belief IMO.

  57. ShanaC

    I’m not typical in my usage, so i shouldn’t comment

  58. William Mougayar

    Bit of humor at the end of this day. Challenges entrepreneurs have…



  60. Techman

    Disqus has already established themselves as the market leader in comment systems. Now they need to work on adding more features, and making things ever more stable.Like I have said numerous times, all they need now is CSS support. Give publishers full customization and they’ll instantly love your product. CC: @danielha:disqus @fredwilson:disqus

  61. Ciaran

    Coming to this discussion late (which often seems to be the case; maybe it’s because I’m not using Disqus properly!I think that @failcon nails a lot of this on the head. My issue here is that it feels like Disqus (and probably its backers) wants to be something that most users probably don’t need it to be – a hub or active social profile.As someone who spends their days helping brands to decide where to spend their marketing budgets online, I don’t think that Disqus is likely to jump onto media plans anytime soon, and I feel (though I know that Fred disagrees) that most people don’t have time to have a multitude of profiles active.What this means is that, in most instances, Disqus is essentially the digital equivalent of a utility – Steve Jobs famously disparaged Dropbox as a feature, not a product. The difference is that Dropbox is a feature that I would imagine people might pay for – Disqus is something that only publishers are likely to pay for; brands might pay for the data it generates. This, for me, jars with what feels like an attempt to become a consumer facing brand.

  62. William Mougayar

    That’s a good idea. I haven’t said half of it. In due time.

  63. ShanaC

    me too

  64. Kirsten Lambertsen

    I would love to be there for that.

  65. fredwilson

    Very helpfulThanks

  66. falicon

    +100 and a bonus +100 for the kind words and endorsement πŸ˜‰

  67. James Ferguson @kWIQly


  68. obscurelyfamous

    I mean, yeah, it’s all pretty much about us. It’s not a destination for users; it’s an about page for Disqus.

  69. Ernest Wong

    I don’t really see the cluster maps as being all about Disqus – they’re comprised of interesting discussions happening right now. I see the cluster maps being more about the users and the content at the centerpiece of their conversations.