Disqus - An Apology


Earlier today, I got an email alerting me to an angrier than usual comment on this website. It was a proper keyboard warrior rant accusing me of all sorts of misdeads revolving around “forcing ads down people’s throats”. I replied saying that there had never been any ads on this site, never will be and I detest the enshitification trend of the modern Internet too. I also have found much of today’s web unbearable without tools such as Pi-Hole and a VPN; I use Firefox with adblockers whenever possible and generally speaking, if a site forces me to disable my ad-blocker I’ll simply stop visiting.

Then I had a sinking feeling. Years ago, when I migrated this site from a PHP codebase to a static site generator, I’d enabled Disqus comments as it (at the time) seemed a reasonable alternative to dealing with all the spam, moderation, flame wars and handling user data that comes with a comments engine. I’d never really paid that much attention to it as it never got that much use, and I certainly had never noticed any ads or other junk being injected in amongst my content. But then I go to somewhat extreme lengths to avoid that sort of crap, and had a horrible feeling that maybe I’d simply just never noticed anything un-toward as I’d been blocking it.

So I downloaded Google Chrome (ugh!), and browsed to this site without any kind of protection or blocking, and was confronted with an absolute abomination of link-farm “chumbox” adverts littering the bottom half of the page. Even though I’m currently on holiday, I immediately disabled the Disqus integration (yay for GitOps and CI/CD pipelines!) and can only apologise for the eye sore and god-awful mess that I was unwittingly inflicting on people.

I’m not sure exactly when Disqus got that bad. It certainly wasn’t when I initially set it up, but I guess this is another example of why we can’t have nice things. So to my angry anonymous poster: You were right, I apologise (but you were still kind of a dick about it), and holy crap do I despise what we’ve done to the web.