My Fragile Commenting System.
If you have interacted with this blog any time and any of the following happened to you:
- You put a comment and wondered where it vanished on refresh?
- Your comment doesn’t submit.
- You ask a question and don’t get reply from me for months.
I have complete empathy for your frustration and apologies for this irresponsible behaviour.
If you have scratched your head and sweared on never coming back, I don’t have any hard feelings for you. Yet if you are here, I Thank You. If you are new here, bear with me.
One drawback or rather inconvenience of using Jekyll has been to deal with comments. I chose Jekyll because of 1) easy maitainability (thanks to Github!) and 2) the complete control I got over my content. This is why I never wanted to plug in any third party commenting system and that’s when I came across jekyll-discuss (now staticman).
The project has been upgraded a long way from when I found it, I still have the old fork at curioswati/jekyll-discuss. I won’t go into the internals of the project here but I can tell you it fulfills the basic need of the system for me.
The initial setup was a happy endeavor. Comments were coming in, all good. Then I started seeing the problem. My blog was not interacting with the readers. Even though it took their comments in and I replied whenever I saw them, there was a bigger design problem.
I have been hosting the commenting system on a free cloud instance which comes with limited resources. On top of that I was running two memory heavy projects there. You know my fate then! The services often got into a run for memory and stopped responding. The added problem was, I was always late to the fiasco. It is generally not convinient to keep an eye on the system everyday, right?
Carelessness or lack of proactive communication from the system?
I initially (and that run for long enough) didn’t setup subscriptions (email notifications), which was already a feature in the proejct. Result? well I was never aware if someone had some query or worse, if the system went down.
First things first, I have fixed the UX a bit. Now whenever you submit a comment, you will see a message prompt giving you the information you need to know.
Then I have offloaded the host off the other service, so now comments have enough room.
Lastly I have setup email notifications. Although that experiment has been done long time back but broke some time back due to a migration done carelessly. But everything is fine now.
We probably didn’t need this post, but I still felt accountable to give you the reasoning for the glitches you might have faced. I want to assure you that this blog is not orphan or left out of care. I still maintain it. Sometimes, I’m just busy and still learning to communicate better.
My blog has been a playground of experiments I keep doing and I’m still learning a lot of new things, both technically and from the design perspective to make it more usable while still keeping the core intact i.e. I have complete control over every part of it and it runs minimal.
If you follow the blog and find more glithces, please do write to me, I will make sure to address them.
Have a nice day!
Leave a comment