Disqus "reactions" are fantastic

The first thing I really like about Disqus is that it brings community from other services back into my website. Disqus looks at Twitter, Friendfeed, and other services and pulls in "reactions," which are posts that contain links to a given journal entry. It will even resolve shortened URLs. Last week, I posted about a fun transaction between me and some of Tony's friends in Thailand. Tony commented on the journal entry in his Twitter feed, which was picked up by Disqus as a reaction:

This sort of feature is exactly the reason I moved over to Disqus from Wordpress' standard commenting engine. There is one issue, however. Because I use Alex King's Twitter Tools, each journal entry is also posted as a tweet to my personal Twitter account. Disqus picks all of these entries up as reactions, which is something I'd rather it not do. This would be a difficult thing to try to filter out, so I'm not expecting it to be added as a feature anytime soon.

Another feature that shouldn't be overlooked is that people can simply reply to a comment notification email to reply to a comment.

So far, so good!

New comment system on echeng.com

I met with Michael Topolovac today, who recently embarked upon a new project that requires a lot of research into social media and networking. During the meeting, Mike pointed me to Disqus, a commenting system that can easily be plugged into a variety of websites. Upon doing some more research, I decided that I wanted to use Disqus or a similar commenting system here on echeng.com. I read up on both Disqus and Intense Debate and chose Disqus (for no real reason).

Installation was pretty simple, but the first export of Wordpress comments to Disqus (which is called "import" in all of the documentation) failed (generic error -- "try again!" they said). The second export seemed to work, but I noticed that I lost the 1 comment still in moderation on the Wordpress side. Too bad.

Because Disqus keeps Wordpress comments and its own comments in sync, I should -- in theory -- be able to swap Disqus out for another commenting engine in the future. I've read that syncing breaks when users edit their comments or when moderators delete comments, but those issues will hopefully be ironed out as the product develops.

Let me know if you see anything strange!

Upgraded to Wordpress 2.9.1

I finally upgraded from Wordpress 2.8.x to 2.9.1. Luckily, I had checked Wordpress out using SVN, so all I had to do was issue the command: > svn switch http://svn.automattic.com/wordpress/branches/2.9/

... to upgrade to the latest version of 2.9.

I prefer to check out branches over tags because I am out of town so often and can't switch to different tags when I'm away. I have a cron job that runs 'svn up' regularly so my site is always up to date with security updates within a major Wordpress version, and I make the assumption that no -.-.x release will break my install.

Switching major versions is to big to do without my guidance, so I save those updates for when I'm sitting at my computer.

As a reminder, you should always backup your database and Wordpress files before doing any update. Alex King wrote a good blog entry about maintaining and upgrading Wordpress. It's worth reading.

Upgraded to Wordpress 2.6

Wordpress 2.6 was just announced, and I have upgraded this journal. It only took one command in the shell to do this -- I highly recommend using Subversion to check out / upgrade your Wordpress install. It's really the best way. All of my plugins re-activated successfully except for Alex's Popularity Contest, which simply required changing one line of code to activate.

Incidentally, I'm using Mike's modified version of Popularity Contest because it plays well with wp-cache. It seems to be working fine, and required the same code change as the original version in order to be activated without a fatal error in Wordpress 2.6.

Here's an interesting statistic on why no Wordpress installation should be without Akismet: in the 2 minutes that the plugin was inactive, I received two comment spams. They went into moderation, but I'd go insane if Akismet wasn't active in my plugin list.

Also, the iPhone Mobile Admin plugin doesn't work on Wordpress versions past 2.3, which is unfortunate. I found it to be really useful.

Finally, if you upgrade to 2.6 and have Google Gears installed, be sure to click on the "Turbo" link in the upper-right hand corner of your admin interface to enable Gears for the Wordpress admin interface.

Let me know if you see any anomalies around here!