IntenseDebate vs. Disqus

Yes, today is one of those days —I awoke this morning with the itch. So I’m telling. Why did I install IntenseDebate on my blog and then, just 24 hours later, replaced it with Disqus? If the thought of externalizing comments on your blog has ever crossed your mind, you will surely have weighed these two particular options. You know they are roughly equivalent, feature-wise. I knew. I simply didn’t realize I’d have to take the drastic road and subject my fistful of readers to such instability due to a single un-feature of IntenseDebate.

IntenseDebate is a 7-bit ASCII service. Got it. I’m out.

Feature equivalence notwithstanding, I decided to go the IntenseDebate road due to two interesting factoids:

  1. It’s arguably prettier than Disqus. More so on the administrative side.
  2. A very high profile site, (the temporary Internet home of none other than Barack Obama) used IntenseDebate to power blog post comments.

You may argue the first one, but the Obama one is difficult to ignore. I know, and all. No authority should be able to bend your perception of reality. But the fact remains that, having no prior experience with comment providers, there was no reality for me to bend. designers might have considered all issues better than myself would ever do and thus have performed the right choice for me. Trouble was, they didn’t.

Although has some non-English content for Spanish speakers, it remains mainly an English-centric site. I knew of IntenseDebate’s lack of support for internationalization (as an aside, it feels mildly funny to think on I18N from the perspective of a foreigner, which I am —sort of; for me, text always had those strange marks and squiggles). I did not realize that it was not just the UI that was English-only, and therefore would have to blend into my mainly Spanish-written blog: there is no support for extended characters. Wait, it’s worse still. There is partial support for extended characters. As in ‘they sometimes work, and sometimes don’t’. When commenting from the web form, all is fine and well; my (few) readers can express themselves with the full gamut of Spanish diacritics and honest-to-goodness correction. Reply-by-mail, largely the most useful feature of external commenting systems as I see it, is totally broken with unreadable thingies where ás, ós or even ñs would go. So no España on comments when replying by mail. Sorry, that’s a fail on my book. At least Disqus knew they would have to compete in an (again) international environment, where those tiny un-features can make or break a deal.

Mine’s broken. Hello, Disqus.