Thursday, January 28, 2010

NCCU Adopts Disqus for Campus News and Encourages Reader Comments

The Web Services team at North Carolina Central University (NCCU) recently updated the institution's press releases to include a Disqus commenting system.

The decision to allow readers to comment on news and announcements is a part of the university's adoption of social media and other web technologies. As of this entry, there is a growing list of schools, colleges, and departments at NCCU with Facebook pages and Twitter accounts. In each case, early adopters seek to connect and engage with prospective students, current students, alumni, employees, and other visitors.

Providing a vehicle by which the internal community (students and employees) and external community (parents, neighbors, supporters, and visitors) can read, post, share, and interact with one another online is something the institution has never done.


Why Disqus?
There are many ways to offer commenting to readers, why did the team choose Disqus? That is a good question.

Disqus, which is totally free, is an awesome tool that's easy to install. If one uses an established blog system like Blogger or Wordpress, installation takes no time at all. Even in the university's custom-built world, Disqus was up and running in less than a few hours.

What Does It Offer?
In this section, I will introduce some of the most notable features of Disqus.


Threaded discussion
Outside of simply leaving a comment, Disqus encourages conversations between readers. To achieve this, the application allows a user to 'Like' or 'Reply' back to another user's post. Because this is in real-time, readers can really engage with one another right on the press release page.

Multiple ways to sign-in
One of the really cool things about Disqus is the ability to log-in using a Facebook, Yahoo, Twitter, OpenID, or Disqus account. This means visitors can leave comments quickly and painlessly without having to create another account. Making it easy to comment means more engagement.

Easy to share with friends
Another cool feature is the ability to share a comment on Facebook and Twitter. With a simple check box, users can post on NCCU, but also share with friends world-wide. To the institution, this feature helps to extend marketing efforts far beyond the region.

Follow a discussion via e-mail
Users who post comments to the site no longer have to remember where they posted or wonder if anyone has responded. Disqus will e-mail readers with a notification that someone has responded. With the click of a mouse, the user can return to the site and comment or simply respond in the e-mail. Responding from e-mail helps even handheld users to stay active in the conversation.

Track conversations off-site
As if the current list was not enough, Disqus also searches the web for any discussions off NCCU.edu. Once found, comments, tweets, and videos are automatically linked to the related news story. With this tool, content contributors and readers alike can find out what others are saying. 

Easy to moderate
For moderators, the system provides an easy to use back end with tons of features. Most notably there is a spam and language filter. From the comfort of the dashboard, moderators can edit, delete, or comment on any post. 

Discussion
Overall, I believe the decision to add comments to the university press release was a good one, but curious to know what you think. Let's talk about it in the comment section below.

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Damond L. Nollan, M.B.A.

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