The Cost of Free Services
Like most bloggers, I’d rather concentrate on content than administration. I don’t want to worry about handling user accounts or patching vulnerabilities in commenting systems. Disqus comes to the rescue, providing a commenting and feedback system that takes over these and other boring tasks. It’s even free to use!
Disqus and Privacy
If you don’t pay money to a company, they have to find some other way to make money from their relationship to you. These days that’s done by showing you advertising, gathering information about you, or both. At that point you are not the customer; you become the product that is sold to advertisers or other companies.
I found out that Disqus automatically loads a bunch of tracking systems onto any page it’s used on. This allows them, and other companies such as Google, Quantcast, and Scorecard Research, to mine behavioral information from visitors, even if they never post a comment. I don’t use such trackers on my site1, and I especially don’t want others to inject them into my pages.
From now on, Disqus will not load automatically on this site. As always, you can still send a tweet or email.
However, you can use Disqus if you wish. Simply go to any individual post and click the “Enable Comments” link. You only need to do it once and the site will remember, but you have to do it that once.
The Big Picture
I know that my decisions won’t affect the Web. Many big news sites and popular blogs use Disqus. However, the popular choice is often the wrong one especially if you care about others.
Your privacy still matters here, as long as you want it to.