The goal was speed. Performance.
I tell people all the time – I'm horrible at optimizing my own personal blog. The SEO sucks. The performance isn't amazing. As an evangelist for WordPress (not an official job), I know I should spend more time making my site better.
But I don't.
Because I spend my time helping other companies get better. I help WordPress freelancers, small shops, and product companies. All while I now help a larger agency and their staff optimize how they support large enterprises adopt WordPress.
So the extent of what I was doing to help my little blog along was these three things:
- Host it on a WordPress managed host
- Write fresh and useful content daily
- Move my comments to an off-site provider (Disqus).
That last move was driven by a desire for speed.
The logic was pretty simple. If the servers didn't have as much to load, they would be faster. And if your browser got to load different content from different servers, it would do it faster (more asynchronously).
Some folks hated Disqus. Others loved it. People predicted my comment traffic would drop. Or grow.
For the most part, comment quantity remained about the same, though it might have been different people commenting.
So I was happy. And I hoped it was helping performance.
I didn't turn on ads
One of the things I'd heard people didn't like about Disqus was the ads. You know the stuff at the bottom of the content that listed “other articles around the web.”
I didn't like it much either and turned it off. Not only did I not want ads, but I work hard at creating specific and useful content and I didn't want the latest pop news to show up on my site. So I thought I had killed anything ad-related on my site.
They weren't showing up so I thought I was fine.
There was something I didn't know
What I didn't realize or pay attention to was that Disqus might have its own agenda and one that wasn't aligned with my own.
Sure, they're focused on helping me with comments. And the hope is that it will also help my site's performance.
But that's not how they get paid.
They get paid when they can leverage what they know. And they just announced how they plan to do it.
This is what the general manager of advertising David Fleck said “We have the largest and deepest audience profiles on the web,” which I first read on Matt's blog.
Wait a minute…what does that mean?
It means, I think, that even though I might have turned off the ads on my own site, the people coming to my site, and commenting, were having that data aggregated by Disqus to turn into a profile to be used for placing and selling ad space.
That means my visitors – without knowing and without me warning them – were getting tracked while on my site for something Disqus planned to do.
And I hadn't realized it.
So I just killed Disqus commenting on my site.
I'm sorry. No amount of performance gain is worth it. None.
There's nothing I can do about what's already happened, but what I can tell you is that your comments, going forward, on this site, aren't getting monitored by Disqus any longer.
And if you're using Disqus right now, you might want to think about this too.
By turning off the plugin, I have gone back to the native commenting system that comes with WordPress – and it works just fine. And it never will have ads in them, nor will it track you. So go ahead and comment to your hearts delight.