Comments and Domains

A post where Steve mumbles about the tech running this thing and this and that.

Comments and Domains
Photo by Jason Rosewell / Unsplash

I wanted to get commenting in place on this blog before I flipped the metaphorical switch on the TwinDX domain. And that I have done, so I have done that.

Let's unpack things a bit.

I'm hosting this using Ghost which is a great platform, after repeatedly trying to start and then abandoning making my own platform about seven or eight times. Ghost has plenty of features and a lovely interface for me to work with - and it's nice and fast - but it lacks a commenting system. (I could've gone for WordPress and had it out the box, but UGH WORDPRESS PHP UGH amirite?) As such, a third-party solution was needed.

In the past I've used Disqus, which works... but it's janky. I don't want adverts on this site and, given it's owned by an ad platform nowadays, I can't imagine me managing to keep it ad-free for long. It's also horrible to style. No, that won't do. Must keep looking. Seeing as I've got the capacity, I was thinking I'd self-host something, and a combination of keywords in your search engine of choice led me to Isso.

Isso looked like it might tick my boxes - self-hosted, compact and no reliance on a database engine - so I thought I'd try and get it running under Docker. Dear reader, I am at present recovering from a stinky cold (and since catching The Plague last year, colds trigger my Long Covid symptoms) so my faculties aren't 100%, but I just couldn't make it work. Maybe I'll try again some day but for now, no.

Thinking back, I remembered a project that (ab)used GitHub's issue tracker to achieve website comments and, after a look through my starred repositories (protip: use Astral, it's brilliant) I found it again: Utterances. And then I discovered that one of the users featured in the README had actually stopped using it and was using something different that looked like a fork at first glance, but turned out to be a new project heavily inspired by Utterances (and, indeed, created by an active Utterances user). And so that's where I went.

Henceforth, my comments are powered by Giscus. All comments are mapped to discussions in a repo on GitHub. To comment, you need to have a GitHub account which, given what I'm known to witter on about, will allow the vast majority of potential commenters to comment if they so desire (although I'm not holding my breath). Rather than co-opting issues, it uses functionality designed specifically for this sort of thing which makes complete sense. The creator has a great blog post explaining what happens under the hood and why it's its own project and not contributed to Utterances. And it took no time at all to add, which is the best amount of time you can hope for!

So with that in place I've reactivated and it points here. It's a domain I've had for over 20 years now and neglected to use properly for over half of that; the reason for registering the name in the first place has long passed but it's a readable .com domain that's six characters long and there ain't many of them around.