Charles Bausman is the Editor of Russia Insider. Follow him on ..., well actually don't bother, he stopped posting on Twitter and Facebook because they censor his free speech. He might set up a Telegram / GAB / Parler account one of these days.
NOTICE: If anyone can recommend a good comments system to replace Disqus, please be in touch! See end of article for details.
Russia Insider is known for its hands-off comments section, and the result has been extraordinary, with over a million comments now logged on our Disqus account. Disqus is the largest 3rd-party comments provider in the world, and, aside from some quibbles, its been pretty good over the years, but it looks like 'somebody' got to them - finally!
Most mainstream sites have shut down comments sections because enraged readers would heap abuse on the relentless lying that passes for 'journalism' on those sites. Many of the 'good guys', editors of excellent alt media sites that honestly seek out the truth have also shut down comments. I've talked with plenty of editors about this and they explain that with all the paid trolls, nuts, and SJW activists disrupting the comments' section, it just isn't worth it, and they don't have the resources to hire people to monitor the barroom brawling that often erupts.
Nonetheless, a few of us have continued. The Unz Review immediately comes to mind as a site with an invaluable comments section. Zerohedge is another great one. For all the headaches, and honestly sometimes pretty terrible behavior, I've always had a soft spot for our commentariat. I can understand why for other alt sites shutting things down is the way to go, but for us, the pros have consistently outweighed the cons. It is partly because, like Unz, we have a critical mass of intelligent and highly informed commenters, who often provide valuable insight and knowledge, making the articles all the more valuable. It is also because our subject matter is so intellectually rich - Russian history, politics, philosophy, literature, Christianity, music, culture, etc, - it is an ideal petri dish for informed readers, often native Russians, to drop useful facts or insights that are sometimes a delight to read, and make it worth it plowing through the craziness.
We have also been lucky in that we have always had readers who volunteer to moderate the comments section, to the extent this is even possible. This has kept the trolls at bay to a degree. We also have a permanent posse of frequent commenters who gang up on the troll when he appears, and they often succeed in ridiculing him so thoroughly that they slink off with their tale between their legs. It's been a lively place, and somehow, by God's grace, civilized discourse has survived despite all the malfeasance.
It still boggles my mind that my own government actually pays people to disrupt free speech on my own site! And its not just the US - the Israeli and the UK military are active in the space, as are private groups like the ADL, SPLC, and others. Yes America, your and my tax dollars pay for this. Amazing.
What we've decided to do is install an in-house comments where we control the database, not a third party. Disqus has been very decent with us, giving us our database, over 1 gigabyte of data (that is a lot of comments.) They even helped us out when we had technical difficulties dealing with such a large file. Maybe in some bright future dawn of freedom they can get the psychopaths at the ADL/SPLC off their backs, and we can go back. We'll see. Thanks Disqus, you've been professional and very fair, and we've enjoyed your excellent product.
If any of you out there can recommend a good comments system for us to move to, it would be a great help if you could write me at cbausman ... (at) ... protonmail. We are currently looking at options, but it is proving to be a bit of a slog, so any advice GREATLY appreciated. We very much want to find one into which we can import our comments from Disqus, and not all systems allow this, for example, the Coral system doesn't, as far as we can see. Please don't put the recommendations in the comments below, because they might get lost as we experiment with different systems.
What to expect: We are currently trying to migrate our data to a temporary solution which should at least preserve the old comments. I can't make any promises that this will work at all. For now, a simple comments section is in place. We will try to import the Disqus data into it, so the old comments might appear there in the coming days.
In closing, I want to send out a big Thank You! to all of you who have made our comments section so valuable and lively over the years. We have to keep pushing back against the censorship and lying. Never forget that the pen is mightier than the sword, and that both the Protestant Reformation, and the American Revolution were won as much by pamphlets and printing presses, as by military force.
Rise up honest men and women, and wield the truth as your weapon! If everyone would do that, we would win easily.