Heads up! We're moving this humble blog that has served us well over the 5+ years to a new home. We have way too many blogs running around and will be merging them all so that they will eventually live under the same roof blog.disqus.com
For those of you following along on Tumblr and would like to continue subscribing, you have a couple options:
We have some exciting plans for the blog ahead and would love to have you join us. If you're a publisher, commenter, or lover of the Internet, you can expect to see posts dedicated to helping you grow your audience and community online, updates to Engage & Reveal, and more. See you on the other side!
As the web's community of communities, we pride ourselves on values that allow us to shift perspectives and share in diverse discussions. These values are an integral part of how we operate internally, and are key to the way we make decisions about our products, our business, and our company. One of our core values is making an impact: we make an impact at work, online, and IRL as well.
Because we believe that small improvements can create big opportunities, Disqus understands the importance of exposing local San Francisco students who are interested in tech and computer science to Real Live Professional Engineers. If we're going to grow our community, let's make sure we're building on a firm foundation right?
Flash Back to 2015: We partnered with the Maven LGBTQ Youth Tech Camp to host several days of their summer camp, which was a total success! Three days of high energy teenagers in our office made a huge impact on us, and we hope on them as well.
Fast Forward to 2016: A Maven participant is serving as a Teacher's Assistant in a computer coding class at City Arts & Tech High School through CodeHS, courses created to spread the knowledge of computer science, and they have their teacher contact Disqus because they know that a field trip to Disqus would be epic!
This group of CodeHS students, who were crushing their curriculum and coding like champs, deserved an opportunity to gain real world insight, so we set up the event and prepared our office to host 17 future engineers. We had a great time, and we think the students did too! Thanks to City Arts & Tech High School for coming to hang out to learn about Disqus.
You get a Swag bag & You get a Swag bag! Students and teacher were equally impressed!
Once they'd gotten their fill of swag, the class was split into sections and began a comprehensive review of key roles here at Disqus.
Disqussers from Data to Frontend Engineering were happy to be involved.
From discussions with CEO Daniel Ha and CTO Jason Yan, to workshops with our Frontend, Backend, ata, iOS and Design teams; we were able to give them a detailed look into Disqus, the startup world and life as an engineer or designer.
In the last year Disqus has been proactive in inviting and engaging local San Francisco students. I think it's awesome because you get to show kids what's possible and it has huge value. They might not understand it right away but I hope it inspires them.James Mayagoitia, Office Manager at Disqus
We really impressed the teens with our foosball and our fish (and our food, of course).
It was beautiful to see the students able to connect the concepts from their studies in the classroom to the ideas Disqus continues to build in-house daily. Many students left with a greater understanding of the industry as a whole and the ability to understand the ease of a tech workspace (including, of course, the foosball, ping pong, and unlimited snacks...always favorite with teenage visitors to the office).
We hope that we've been able to expose the students to a side of the field that entices them to be greater and follow suit by making an impact. Thanks for visiting us!Thanks to Recruiter Whitney Reed for her contributions to this blog post!
2015, where did you go? Is it me, or does each year seem to go by faster and faster? It certainly went by in the blink of an eye for me. One interesting thing to note, is that Disqus's Community Service Program has been going strong for 1 year! Go Disqus!
We marked our 1 year of community service initiatives by volunteering in the prep kitchen at GLIDE Memorial Church. What is GLIDE Memorial Church you may ask? The Volunteer Resource Program at GLIDE places about 10,000 volunteers each year, totaling 65,000 hours of service. This program requires 85 volunteers each day to fill the breakfast, prep, lunch and dinner shifts, 364 days a year. With volunteer assistance, GLIDE can serve up to 2,400 meals per day to our community. Volunteers assist with everything from serving food, to bussing tables, to handing out silverware and condiments. More info about GLIDE can be found here on their website.
For this activity, I was accompanied by my fellow Disqussers Rachel, Fonda, Talton, and DMatt, to whom I must give a HUGE thank you for taking time out of their busy schedules to volunteer. Generosity is one of our core company values and it is obvious that this is an intrinsic part of our culture. We all met outside GLIDE and immediately went inside as soon as our shift started. We were directed to the prep kitchen, which is located in the basement of the building, where we were put to work as soon as we set our belongings aside. Normally, organizations who recruit volunteers to help with operations, guide you through some sort of orientation, but there was no such orientation at this facility and we were immediately asked to put on a hairnet, gloves, and an apron, and assigned different work stations, along with volunteers from other local companies. Rachel was assigned to the pancake station, Fonda at the sandwich station, and Talton, DMatt, and I were assigned to the carrot slicing station.
Our prep kitchen coordinator, Bobby (who preferred to go by his nickname: Bernie Mac), was a very "no fuss, no muss" man, but also had a great sense of humor and made sure we had all the tools we needed. I could tell he was very passionate about his job and he wanted to make sure everything got done in a timely manner.
Here's what Talton had to say about his experience:
As someone who's been meaning to volunteer for a while, I'm glad that I seized this opportunity. It was great being exposed to the scale of work that the team at Glide undertake on a daily basis in trying to provide so many meals to people in need.
Here's what Rachel had to say:
I walk past Glide Memorial Church almost every day, but I had no idea the scale of their operation. They serve more than 2,000 meals each day, which means there’s no time to waste in the Glide kitchen. Our coordinator, Bobby, made sure that everyone always had a job, which for most of us meant chopping carrots-A LOT of carrots. My volunteer partner was very speedy so we got to try out lots of different tasks. We got to prepare pancakes and slice bread loaves the size of sofa cushions. We chatted with other volunteers and sang a few Christmas carols, and before we knew it, we had prepped a dozen turkeys, hundreds of bread rolls, and more carrots than I can count. It was a great experience and I was amazed that the staff at Glide does it 3 times a day!
Here's what Fonda had to say:
Volunteering at Glide was such humbling and rewarding experience. They open their door to serve meals daily and the tremendous amount of food we had prepared in a span of 2 hours was only enough to feed the homeless for two meals. This had me realizing how much assistance our local community requires to make a difference. Overall, this really sparked my interest in volunteering to raise awareness and inspire others.
By the end of it, I couldn't believe how much work we had accomplished, considering the combined group of volunteers was probably about 12 people. I definitely think we'll be returning to GLIDE, since it was such an easy process to get involved, although next time, I think I'd like to serve food, so we can really connect and serve some deserving members of our local community. Stay tuned for the next community service blog entry in the New Year! Happy Holidays!
Last night at Disqus HQ, we hosted our fifth Game Night event. For those unfamiliar, Game Night is our quarterly board game event where we welcome folks for a night of board games, food, and drink. While we host an internal event for Disqussers every month, it's the public events with the local community that I look forward to the most.
Titles like Pandemic, Web of Spies, and Duck Game were notable hits and stole the night away. I was caught up in a game for new arrival Jenga Ultimate. Weighing in at over 30 pounds and a starting height of roughly four feet, this monolithic symbol of egregious excess won my heart. In a gripping ten minute battle, this beast quivered and shook at its core before the laws of physics took over and everyone braced for impact. After the dust settled, I was able to escape with some critical footage to remember this incredible game:
(If you're on your phone, I recommend watching this full-screen on portrait mode for maximum effect)
Thanks to all that joined us for an epic evening here at Disqus. If you stopped by last night, feel free to post your photos/videos from the event below!
Here now are some highlights from the event:
Hello site founders, admins, and moderators!
The bottom line: This updated code helps you tighten your Disqus integration so that your site doesn't create duplicate or invalid Disqus threads. If you last updated your install prior to 2014, there are other updates that are critical.
First off, it's important to note that this update of the embed code doesn't affect how Reveal and Engage look on your site. In summary, this update does two main things:
Recommended Configuration Variables
The code now includes 2 important configuration variables (url and identifier) that we strongly recommend that you start using if you aren't already. These variables give your site full control over the Disqus threads your site creates and the data used for those discussions.
For more information on why it's important to explicitly set your discussion URL and identifier, see Use Configuration Variables to Avoid Split Threads and “Missing” Comments.
If you decide not to use these configuration variables, this section of the code is commented out and you can simply leave the embed code as is.
Have questions about this update? Leave a comment below, or get in touch with us at [email protected].
Starting today, all Disqus customers will see an updated navigation in our publisher admin that better organizes commonly used features to better support the modern digital publisher.
In the complex world of online publishing, many publishers operate multiple content properties. Each site is often a little different. sometimes with one shared team, sometimes with different team members for different sites, and often with slightly different options configured. We've seen the number of multi-site Disqus customers grow significantly in recent years, so getting this right matters more than ever.
The most visible change is the new top navigation that groups features by our major products: Engage (comments and engagement features) and Reveal (monetization).
The publisher admin navigation also now includes notification alerts in the upper right, unifying alerts across all Disqus features, including the Engage embed in publisher pages. That should mean faster updates with less email.
Publishers can now be confident that the right people are seeing the the right features, once team roles are configured. Team members with "can change settings" permission can see all features and update key configuration options.
Team members who have access to more than one site now see the site picker in the top navigation. Sites are grouped by publishing organization (also known as "primary moderator"). Right now, most pages only affect one site at a time (the moderation panel is the key exception) but in the coming weeks, we plan to release support for seeing analytics for all sites in an organization.
In order to help publishers get the most out of Engage and Reveal, this release also opens up access to the Disqus learning center, a central repository for learning about product features, best practices, and helpful technical articles, which will expand over time.
This interface update represents a new foundation for future improvements and required major changes under the hood, so we'll be rolling the change out progressively as we gather feedback.
If you experience any issues with this update, you can temporarily opt-out during the transition period by clicking this button:
Let us know what you think in the comments below or via our feedback form here.
At Disqus, we understand that publishers are constantly under pressure to produce content, attract readers, and find ways to make money–all of which takes a lot of time and is increasingly expected to be done with fewer and fewer resources. To make it easier for publishers to measure whether their efforts are working, in the coming weeks, select publishers will start receiving a weekly reporting email from Disqus.
If you're an Engage customer, you'll see the number of comments and votes across your site, while Reveal customers will see these metrics along with weekly earnings and monetizable impressions.
Our initial version will include engagement and revenue statistics for a single forum. As we iterate, we'll include multiple forum aggregate metrics for those larger publishers who run multiple sites.
As always, we want to know what you think. Share your thoughts on the new reporting email below.
This past Friday, a few employees from Disqus and I volunteered our time to pack food boxes at the SF Marin Food Bank. You may recall that a few Disqussers participated in a similar activity at the SF Marin Food Bank last December, but what was different this time around was that we partnered up with a group called Startups Give Back.
A little more info about Startups Give Back...
Startups Give Back is a volunteering event where people in the startup community get out of their offices and actively work together to help non-profits, causes, and the community around them. It's an opportunity for employees to get away from their desk and make a meaningful difference -- immediately. It is also a new way to network. Instead of standing around with a beverage in hand, like traditional networking events, you meet people in the startup community while actively making a difference. This was a highlight of the experience for me personally, because it was really inspiring to work on a mission much larger than ourselves with the some other members of the tech community.
A little info about the SF Marin Food Bank...
Their mission is to end hunger in San Francisco and Marin. It’s a huge job that’s only gotten harder as our community struggles with a prolonged period of economic distress and record numbers of people are pushed to the point of hunger. Thankfully, thousands of caring donors and supporters have rallied around the Food Bank and enabled them to scale up their operations to meet the need. With 130 employees, 25,000 volunteers each year, and 450 partner organizations throughout the community, the Food Bank is vital lifeline for people in need of food assistance.
When we arrived at the SF Food Bank I was quite impressed with their facilities. It was a very modern building with a nice design and kept impeccably clean. I can only imagine that this would have to be the case since it is a facility that stores and distributes food. We were one of the first groups to arrive, but soon we were joined by horde of other tech workers.
We were then given a quick tour of the facility along with some information about the mission of the SF Food Bank. After this brief tour we were immediately put to work. Our entire group was assigned with the task of packing and shipping supplemental food boxes for senior citizens. Each box contained crisp rice cereal, pasta, canned tomatoes, canned apples, peanut butter, apple juice and a can of beef. According to our team leaders, the food in these boxes would supplement a senior citizen's meals for an entire month. How amazing is that?! We were set up in groups along a conveyor belt and each group was responsible for a different part of the packing process from building the box, to filling the items, to quality control, to taping and to loading it on the shipping pallet. After two and a half hours of work, our entire group managed to pack 1,625 boxes!
Here's what Helen had to say about her experience...
"It was a lot of fun to work with a larger group of volunteers – I got to meet a few new people from other companies like LinkedIn and TradeShift, and during our break I got to reconvene with Disqussers and compare experiences. And the experience itself of packing boxes was almost meditative – at least to start. After our break, we got a little competitive and more than doubled our packing rate across the assembly line (about 500 boxes were packed before break, and about 1,200 boxes were packed after in approximately the same amount of time). It started to feel a little bit like this old I Love Lucy sketch! Fortunately, we had a few eagle-eyed volunteers on quality control, so every box was packed with the right items to supplement a senior citizen’s regular food intake for about a month. All told, 37 people were able to pack 1,652 boxes – over 46,000 pounds of food!"
Another Disqus employee, Jono, had this to say...
"The tech industry often gets a bad rap among people that aren’t in it, but Startups Give Back shows that’s not true. They made it extremely easy for us to come volunteer at the food bank and it was awesome to see how many pounds of food we were able to pack for the needy. It was also extremely easy: all we had to do was show up and everything else was taken care of. There really isn’t an excuse for anyone not to do it. Overall it was a great experience and meeting people from other companies was a lot of fun too."
Nic, another Disqusser, had this to say...
"Volunteering at the SF Food Bank was a great experience. I had no idea beforehand what to expect, and I was pleasantly surprised when we arrived to see the number of volunteers from other companies. The Food Bank was prepared and organized for our group and we were made useful in no time…the leaders from the Food Bank kept us motivated, laughing, and aware of exactly how much we had contributed at any time. The time flew by, we were done before we knew it, and we had a great understanding of how essential groups like ours are to the Food Bank and other charitable organizations."
As you can tell from my colleagues, we had a really great time and it was satisfying on so many levels. It's really wonderful to see my coworkers to be so inspired by this activity. I can't wait to partner up with Startups Give Back for our next activity!
This summer I was lucky enough to work as the Community Manager Intern at Disqus. One of my main roles was to help moderate the channels alongside volunteer moderators. I helped grow new channels such as Pet Pics, Hash Brown Party, and Art Show into active communities. I also helped launch the celebrity channel called On The List and recruited user, @oliiviaxxo, to help moderate it.
Eventually, I mustered up the confidence to ask for more creative work. I was given the chance to take over projects that would have been sent to the freelance graphic designer. Once users were given the ability to create their own channels, I emailed new channel creators and asked for permission to make banners and tiles for their channels. I created graphics for user-created channels such as Wanderlust, Horrific Ventures, Laugh Track, and Retro Tech. My photoshop skills were nowhere near professional, but I quickly realized this was something I loved doing.
Thinking back, I was a nervous wreck, but everyone at Disqus was so awesome and welcoming. I'm grateful for being a part of this team and working with passionate people who have inspired me to be just as motivated and hard-working as they are. This summer internship was more than I could have hoped for. I have many fond memories that I will never forget, including the Community Team offsite to Pier 39. I am sad to leave, but I will be leaving with a newfound motivation to figure out what lies on the road ahead, all thanks to an eye-opening summer at Disqus.
As we mentioned last week, we've been in the process of updating Reveal revenue analytics. Well, today, we delivered!
Starting this week, Reveal publishers will now see a completely revamped analytics and metrics as it pertains to below-the-fold monetization. Most analytics focus on topline data, but with Reveal, and the focus on below-the-fold earnings, we give you the data that makes most sense for evaluating this kind of performance.
As you can see, we've focused a lot on viewability. This is because below-the-fold performance depends on viewable impressions. In the future, we plan to make additional improvements to help publishers up their viewability percentage.
If you're a Reveal publisher, we encourage you to take a look by navigating to your admin panel, clicking on Analytics and then on Revenue.
And let us know what you think about the new Reveal analytics either in the comments below or by filling out our feedback form.
At Disqus, we use data intensively to optimize Engage and Reveal for maximum impact. We believe it's important to not just look at how numbers change day-to-day but also to understand how to make decisions based on data.
Understanding how Reveal performs best for publishers starts with the visibility of the Disqus embed on a website, in both mobile and desktop layouts. Secondly, what features are enabled (such as ad types, sponsored links placement, image-optimized or not) has a big impact. And rounding out the big three is looking at the audience of a website, such as geographic distribution, device trends, and engagement habits.
Today, we're giving some publishers a sneak peek of the upgrades we plan to release soon for Reveal revenue analytics. After a limited test period, we'll release the upgrades to all active Reveal publishers.
These new analytics offer more detailed information about viewable impressions, clicks, and a more complete picture of Reveal earnings. We're actively listening to early feedback to tune what metrics we're showing to attempt to provide more of the kind of actionable insights that are so valuable.
And of course we're improving the availability of data across wider date ranges, a basic feature many have been asking for. This will come to Engage analytics soon as well.
Stay tuned. And let us know what you think so far.
Today, we're letting the world know about two important changes to the products publishers enjoy.
The first is our introduction of Reveal – the first all-in-one, below-the-fold monetization solution for publishers.
We built Reveal based on the belief that publishers deserve a below-the-fold monetization solution that is easy-to-use and provides higher quality ways to monetize engaged readership. That's why Reveal gives publishers access to programmatic inventory for native content and premium ad units, like video and native direct response ads from leading brands.
Our second update is about comments. For a long time, publishers thought of Disqus as only a commenting platform. That's no longer true. Not only do we offer comments, but we now also have numerous other features, like Disqus Channels. So we decided to give our commenting platform a name that highlights how Disqus comments drive engagement and recirculate traffic.
And we're calling it Engage.
In the coming months, we plan to make several improvements to Engage. The goal is improve upon the features you know and love today while also giving publishers a way to fully understand the value of commenters on their site.
As part of these changes, we put up a new site for publishers, take a look here.
Stay tuned for more updates about Engage and Reveal in the coming weeks. If you have any features you'd like to see added to Engage or Reveal, let us know on Discuss Disqus or in the comments below.
Earlier in 2015, we updated the Disqus homepage to focus more on notifications--one of the most used features by publishers commenters alike--and to highlight content from across the Disqus network. With these changes, we heard from publishers that the publisher tools got buried and were harder to find.
Today we're releasing the first of many new features to make it easier for publishers to get to the comment moderation, engagement analytics, revenue features, and other tools for their sites.
There's a new start page highlighting all the major publisher features, new color coding for pages aimed at publishers, and cleaner navigation there from the homepage.
We're renaming Disqus comments and revenue features so we can be more specific and clear about what's what. Learn more about Engage and Reveal.
There's much more to come in August and the coming months, including upgrades to the revenue and engagement analytics. With new metrics and more flexible date controls, the upcoming analytics upgrades will made it easier to see the value of Engage for commenter engagement and traffic growth and the results Reveal brings in terms of tangible revenue earnings.
What else are you looking for? Tell us in the comments below or on Discuss Disqus.
Here at Disqus, one of our values is being colorful. Our product is designed to let all sorts of people from all over the internet find each other to have great discussions. We've often said that Disqus is the web's "community of communities" - an environment where all sorts of communities can gather and thrive. We believe that colorful characters are what make the internet a special place…and the same goes for our company! Employees are encouraged to share their whole selves with us, whether that means bringing their expertise from previous workplaces to their projects or teaching us how to juggle (seriously, we've had Disqusser-led workshops in everything from bike maintenance to ballet to brewing…and things that don't start with "b" too). A diversity of opinions and experiences makes us a stronger team, and sharing our passions with each other helps us remember that we're all humans :)
Because it was just recently Pride Month, and our home city of San Francisco is full of rainbows and love, I thought I'd share a little bit about what's been going on around these parts, in terms of celebrating our communities.
Earlier this month, we hosted a group of super awesome teens from Maven's Queer Youth Tech Camp for three days of their two-week camp. On the days the teens were here, they made our office their home. They camped out in our biggest conference room and in some of our common spaces, and we embraced the wild and crazy energy that is inevitable when you have 18 enthusiastic teens building and learning together! I was absolutely impressed with their curiosity and talent - they asked some very insightful questions about what we're building, and we even got a little bit existential about the nature of communities on the internet. And when I saw their final projects, I couldn't believe the computer games and apps they had developed in such a short amount of time! These teens are serious business, y'all! Blew. Me. Away.
Aaaaand the teens voted us "Best Tech Host Site" and awarded us this sweet wooden robot trophy! I'm all verklempt :)
As a small tech company, we don't always have the resources to give as much as we'd like to, but we do have great office space and big hearts! :) We encourage employees to host meetups and community events here in our SF office, for their own communities (like our Board Gamers and HR Meetups) or for those we're connected to (like Cassandra or the IGDAF). We believe strongly in the power of community – and the need to create space to allow those communities to flourish authentically on their own. It's what we're doing with our product, and what we like to do in our offline lives as well.
We also joined our friends at SoundCloud (we're backed by some of the same investors) to march with their employee group, the QueerClouders, in the San Francisco Pride parade. And what an epic parade it was, following the historic Supreme Court decision for marriage equality! It was an honor to be able to support a fellow USV company to march in support of not only our LGBTQ Disqussers, but an entire nation of people who are now able to receive these basic human rights. I'm proud to be a part of the Disqus community, and proud to continue our efforts to support all sorts of communities across the interwebs!
Earlier this week, we hosted a good ole fashioned company BBQ at Crissy Field in San Francisco - it was about time that we brought the team together for a little fun in the
We went back to our roots for this one - grocery shopping for grillables, drinking soda pop and a pony keg of "Moderation" (a homebrew from our very own James Greenhill and Ted Kaemming), and hosting a bake-off to supply ourselves with an insane amount of sugary deliciousness. It was great to chill by the grill (literally - it wasn't exactly warm), play lawn games, and spend some time just decompressing with each other. We're a fun-lovin' little community over here, and it's nice to have a reminder of how much we like each other!
We started the day off with some bagels and coffee, to fill our bellies and warm us up (did I mention it was cold?) before a teambuilding activity to get us all talking. We worked with a company called RoundPegg to take what are basically workplace-values tests…like a Myers-Briggs but specifically about how we like to work. Then we circled up for "Speed Dating" - interviewing each other about our preferences and work styles. It was really interesting to dig a little deeper, to ask specific questions about how we're different and learn how to use those differences to our advantage. One of our company values is being colorful, which to us means celebrating what makes us unique, and using our differences in perspective to be better together.
Once we wrapped up our Speed Dating sesh, it was time to fire up the grills! It's always nice to keep things low key, and we're a pretty scrappy bunch of folks, so we had no trouble at all grilling up a storm. From hot dogs and sausages to vegan-friendly burgers, not to mention a vast assortment of sides, we were well fed.
There was definitely a lot of eating, but we also played all sorts of games - corn hole, jai alai, football, and a new favorite…3-second animals (players have 3 seconds to draw an animal of the judge's choosing). It was great to take a day away from the office to just hang out and enjoy each other's company.
In addition to our spread of BBQ and snacks, we enjoyed an assortment of homemade treats from Disqussers Steve Roy (chocolate cherry cream pie), Amanda Nudelman (dog flops), Tony Hue (s'mores brownies), Jeff Pollard (banana cream pie), Branden Rolston (oatmeal spice frosting sandwiches), and yours truly (kitchen sink cookies and peach cake). It was a true team effort!
I love taking the time to connect with each other off-line, IRL, and away from the craziness of our regular days. It's good to shake things up, bond with each other, and come back to the office feeling refreshed and reconnected. Teambuilding FTW!
With Game of Thrones returning this Sunday, we thought we'd look back at some of the best comments people on Disqus have made about the show. 18 hours later (it was exhausting but in the fun way), we assembled some of the best. And then searched the Internet high and low to match those comments with pictures of animals. (Repeat: these are actual comments.) Allow us to present our hard work.
Hodor You Disrespect the Starks This Way!
Sloth is Done with the Whole "Winter Is Coming" Thing
Red Panda Still Not Over the Red Wedding
Trench Coat Kitty Has Your TL;DR
The full collection is over here on our movie and TV forum Plot Threads. Some spoilers in there, but don't let that hold you back.
Remember how last quarter I said I was hoping to keep community service activities at Disqus going throughout the year? Well, that hope has turned into a reality! Since December, I have been working very hard to set up a sustainable, year-round community service program for Disqus employees. It has been a very challenging process, and there are still a lot of improvements to be made, but I think we're off to a great start.
For our next activity, I sought something outdoors and after some research, I reached out to the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy. After some discussions with their volunteer coordinator, Laur Suur, we were scheduled to participate in a habitat restoration activity in Crissy Field. For those of you who have never visited San Francisco, Crissy Field is located near the Marina District, practically adjacent to the Golden Gate Bridge. Here's a picture to get a better idea (Disqussers included!)
Volunteers are needed to help keep these popular public destinations well maintained for both local and worldwide visitors to use and enjoy. Projects include litter removal, weeding invasive plants, vegetation pruning, sand removal, painting, site improvements, and trail maintenance.
Myself and three other Disqussers (+1 Disqus child!) attended this activity and had a great time. We were tasked with weeding out invasive plant species (i.e. weeds, clover, thistles), to make room for grass to grow. Even though we were a small group, we were mighty! What's more, Nate Anthony's (our Product Manager) son, Benj, joined us for this activity and helped us out for all 3 hours! He was such a trooper!
I always like to ask our employees about their experience and here's what a couple of them had to say:
"What a treat to be out in the sunshine, enjoying some of the city’s best views, while helping maintain the park and bonding with coworkers to boot! I enjoyed the change of pace from my normal routine – starting my day with some physical activity left me pumped for the rest of the day. Between the few of us, we managed to pull out over 200 pounds of weeds! Not too shabby for a Wednesday morning."
- Helen Laroche, HR Manager
Here's a photo of Helen digging out those invasive plants:
Kim Rohrer, our Director of People Operations, had this to say about the activity:
"Volunteering with the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy was a great way to spend a morning. To be honest, I’d never thought much about the work that goes into keeping those grassy knolls free of weeds and other invasive plants. It felt good to get my hands dirty while cleaning up the park, and I learned a little bit about the types of plants that are native to the area too! Can’t wait to do it again."
Here's a photo of Kim in action
Overall, I can say it was a very satisfying and rewarding activity. The volunteer coordinators were very knowledgeable, friendly, and super grateful for our helping hands. They even supplied us with some water and snacks to keep us motivated! I can't wait to help them out again!
Learn more about volunteer opportunities by visiting the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy website.
Yesterday, we published our findings from studying comments related to Oscar® nominated films. We couldn't cover all that we discovered in one post. This next batch of findings looks at what surprised us and drove discussions in interesting ways.
When we were crawling the Disqus network for comments related to the Oscars, the algorithm looked for a wide variety of language that could in any way be related to receiving (or failing to receive) an award. Specifically it looked for key phrases, connecting a verb like “earned”, “received,” “gets”, “takes”, “wins” with an object like “the award” or “oscar” or "best actor" or “best actress.” We used this to develop a score for how optimistic Disqus commenters were about a particular film or person winning an award.
What really stood out was that people were 5 times more likely to have an opinion about best actor than best actress. This is evidence that the debate about whether Hollywood has a male bias extends to the broader public as well.
American Sniper dominated discussion across Disqus about awards seasons. The vast majority of this discussion was connected to the political debate surrounding the film's portrayal of the Iraq war and the politics of its director Clint Eastwood. In many ways, the debate surrounding the film mirrored the debate that persists about America's role in the Middle East as well as our treatment of returning war veterans.
The single most upvoted comment that we found in all our Oscars research sums this up well:
But the vast majority of the most-upvoted American Sniper comments contained the name of celebrities like Michael Moore, Clint Eastwood, Bradley Cooper, Seth Rogen, Howard Dean or Chris Kyle, the Navy SEAL whose autobiography was the basis for the film. In particular, reactions to Michael Moore's remarks "we were taught snipers were cowards" drove the most comment voting activity across Disqus.
In the case of Clint Eastwood, there was an interesting pattern in the naming convention: commenters referred to him as “Mr. Eastwood” dozens of times; journalists never did once.
There were 36 instances of the exact phrase “Mr. Eastwood” within user posts. Contrast this with zero occurrences of “Mr. Eastwood” in the main body text of 1,474 articles about American Sniper.
Perhaps commenters in these discussions were older? Or maybe they've just seen Dirty Harry a few too many times.
Selma commenting was dominated by the real or perceived question of snubbing of the film in the Oscar nominations. David Oyelowo did not receive a Best Actor nomination for his portrayal of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Ava DuVernay did not receive a Best Director nomination, despite both receiving Golden Globe nominations. The very word “snub” occurs far more in Selma articles than for any other film (16% of all Selma articles, compared to just 2% for all the other movies.)
Yet, how journalists covered the nominations received by the film Selma differed most dramatically with how commenters perceived it. Russell Simmons was an outspoken critic of the Academy and he was mentioned 28 times more often in comments than in news articles. Journalists on the other hand, mentioned the portrayal of LBJ in Selma 75 times more often than commenters. Finally, as part of their defense of Selma, commenters made comparisons between Selma and JFK the film 14 more times than bloggers and journalists did. (Typically, Best Picture films also receive acting and directing nominations as JFK did. Selma did not.)
Let us know what you think in the comments below. And enjoy Oscar night on Sunday!
Note: If you haven’t read the first part of our Oscars research findings, you can find it here.
My favorite bar in my old neighborhood used to have an Oscars night party. They'd print their own ballots and determine winners by the volume of cheering as each nominee was read aloud. That was fun but it was the discussion at my end of the bar that I enjoyed more. I could hear more and I learned more.
With this in mind and Oscar night upon us, we did a little number crunching and analysis to look at how people on Disqus are talking about this year's nominees. Working with Temnos, a company that specializes in analyzing big piles of words and numbers, we analyzed over 200,000 comments and 850,000 votes across 3,000 articles and blog posts from January 1 to February 6. Here's what we found.
When examining what movies generated the most attention across Disqus, American Sniper and Selma dominated all coverage of the films nominated for best picture. Those two films alone accounted for 82% of page views. They had held a stronghold on comment volume as well. Across the US, American Sniper was the most talked about film. In only five states: Georgia, Mississippi, Rhode Island (the small but strong state you can barely see in green below), South Dakota, and Wyoming was it surpassed by Selma.
Obviously, the political debates and controversies attached to these two movies generated a ton of noise, but when we account for the political debate, and look at average weighed discussion volumes again (this is called "normalizing" according to statistics nerds), a very different set of interests emerge across the country:
To see if movie discussions on Disqus could actually predict which film would win, we went crazy and created something called an "Optimism Score." For each film, we measured the percentage of comments where someone said they think that film will or should win best picture vs. comments that said that film should not or would not win. (Got it? It took me a while.) Overall, 3,300 comments were examined here as part of this particular analysis.
Here again, Boyhood is the film Disqus users are most optimistic about winning best picture with Birdman not far behind. Here are the top 5:
We did the same thing for best actor, best actress and best director: the big predicted winners there are Michael Keaton, Julianne Moore and Richard Linklater respectively. (Personally, I think Keaton should get a retroactive award for Mr. Mom. "Yeah, 220, 221, whatever it takes.")
We next looked at how two cities are talking about these films: LA and New York. We thought this would be cool because we made a small (maybe huge?) assumption that many of the actual Oscar voters either live there or are influenced more by what people in those areas have to say. (If you are an actual Oscar voter, please correct me in the comments below. We will be buds forever.)
Grand Budapest Hotel, Theory of Everything and Boyhood had the biggest differences between commenters in LA and NYC. And I have my own theory as to why. Grand Budapest is directed by Wes Anderson. All of his movies have a signature, visual style of storytelling. Boyhood is a coming of age story, most recognized for the fact that it was filmed over a 12 year period. Both of these films are marked by their production approaches. LA is home to movie making.
On the other hand, Theory of Everything is a classic biopic about Stephen Hawking. NYC is the media capital of the world. A movie is much more likely to be reviewed there than made. New Yorkers just love a good story, well told.
Finally, we wanted to look at this topic across genders. Using Disqus requires no declaration of gender, so we had to be somewhat creative. We developed a likelihood of gender based on the detection of names and nicknames. So “Bob” and “dude” would be likely male while “girl” and “Jane” would likely be female. (Apologies to dudes named Jane and girls named Bob.)
Overall, 54% of comments were from likely males, 46% from likely females. For most movies, the gender balance followed this overall split. However, as can be seen below, females commented far more on both of the “tortured genius” movies (Theory of Everything, The Imitation Game), while males commented more on Grand Budapest Hotel.
Putting together the geographical and gender differentiation, the only other conclusion I can draw is that “likely men in LA” and “likely women in NY” would have a great debate about Grand Budapest Hotel and Theory of Everything. If anyone wants to moderate that discussion, let me know!
PS - If movies are your thing, check out a new channel on Disqus: Plot ThreadsRead the follow up post for more behind our findings.
Over the holiday season, Disqussers from all across the company gathered to compete in an annual tradition: GINGERBREAD WARS.
The rules were simple. After forming an interdepartmental, cross-coastal team, Disqussers determined a theme for their house, assembled their arsenal from an arrangement of candy resources, and built structurally sound and aesthetically appealing houses in a half hour.
There was planning. There was teamwork. There were failures of structural integrity.
After a half hour, we had six completed, mostly-standing houses to vote on.
Team Biltmore Estates:
Camp Gingerbread, Disqus:
The Enchanted Florist:
House of Clowns:
Oculus: Rift, who opted for a bridge house:
And finally, our winner, Team CSI: Christmas Scene Investigation.
They received the most upvotes and won the grand prize: gift certificates to Williams and Sonoma for future baking endeavors.
Congratulations, Kaeli, Adam, Amanda, Sarah, and Mandy! We at Disqus hope your holiday season was as cozy and colorful as ours.