Bye-bye Disqus

For several years now, the comments on this blog have been powered by the third-party service Disqus. Last Saturday, I received an e-mail from them:

Hi there,

You’re currently on our free Disqus Basic plan, which is our ad-supported tier that comes with only the most rudimentary features.

Ads will begin appearing on your comment section shortly.

By sheer coincidence, I’d been tinkering with the site recently, and I noticed that the Disqus widget was interfering with some other JavaScript on the site. I could have tried to fix my own JavaScript, but this lock-in to a third party had been bothering me for a while. So I decided to see if I could replace Disqus with something self-hosted.

After some searching, the prime candidates were Isso, written in Python, and Remark42, written in Go. I decided on Isso because it was present in the apt repository of the server, which meant it would be kept up to date with security patches automatically. As it turned out, the version in apt was way too old and buggy so I had to install it manually through pip anyway – with hindsight, I would probably have chosen the more feature-rich Remark42 instead. But anyway, after a few hours of tinkering, I got it running, integrated it with the site, imported comments from Disqus, and styled it properly so it looks better than Disqus ever did!

Screenshot of the new commenting form

At the time, it felt like a lot of effort for a small thing, but then came the announcement from Disqus and I felt immediately vindicated. No ads for you, dear reader!

If you notice anything amiss with the comment section, please let me know through some other channel.