Posted on July 23, 2012 by zlasher12
Ever wonder what it is like to move to a foreign country, one with a completely different language, culture, sense of fashion, musical styles, and more? EatYourKimchi is a site started by Simon and Martina, who have documented and blogged about their lives as foreigners in South Korea. They talk about music, restaurants, shopping, and other everyday experiences with a unique South Korean twist. I reached out to Simon and Martina to ask them more about their ventures, the community they have created, and the fans of their site.
So you two originally made your way to Korea as teachers, was this a culture and location that you two were both interested in beforehand? How did you decide South Korea, of all countries?
We’ve always been interested in Asia and Asian culture, and knew we’d end up in either Japan or Korea after University. Martina has always wanted to live in Japan since childhood after she grew up with a Japanese neighbour who opened her sparkling eyes to Japanese culture. She’s that girl that saved up money to purchase imported manga, and dressed up as Sailor Moon and other characters you didn’t know for halloween! As for Simon, he used to work at a Korean learning centre in Toronto, and his experience with the Korean students and Korean food was very super awesome. The last push to move to Korea was when we were finishing our Bachelor’s of Education: we attended a workshop about teaching English in Korea, and we were really impressed. We spoke with the presenters afterwards, and they convinced us that we’d have a great time in Korea. They were right :D
Who came up with the idea to document and blog about your experiences, and what was it like initially entering a country which you spoke little to none of the language? And what was the most surprising (or very different than what you were used to) feature about Korean culture that you found out about early on?
It’s hard to say who came up with the idea first, because we were blogging about being in Teacher’s College for the year before we came to Korea. Only then, it was just for family and friends to document our exciting life as newlyweds. Not that exciting, by the way. Before we came to Korea, our families were terrified that North Korea would attack and we’d never be seen or heard from again, so we promised them to keep them up to date with everything that’s happening via our blog. We posted our first video the very same day we arrived in Korea, looking all sweaty and sexy after a 14 hour flight. We awkwardly tried to order food off a fully Korean menu (there were pictures) and we flailed around trying to explain what was happening at the table as we ate. That video sucks. Haha!
Moving to a country in which you’re completely an outsider, both in language and appearance, is to some people uncomfortable, but to us it’s such a wonderful experience. Now that we’ve been here for a few years, we really look back on our first few months here with envy. Everything’s so new! You can’t read the signs, you can’t understand what’s happening around you, and there’s novelty in everything. It’s like you’ve become a child again, stumbling through a world that you don’t understand, trying to figure out what’s happening around you, eating strange things, so on and so forth, and - for us at least - we had that same childish glee that comes with it. And not being able to communicate verbally can really improve your skills in charades.
The most difficult thing to adjust to in Korea, for us, is the density. People everywhere, and rush hour on the subway is very very squishy. In comparison, North America is so empty! And so vast! And so grassy! You need to get in your car to drive to the supermarket, and then drive to your friend’s place, drive to this, drive to that. Here, we literally have everything we will ever need for the rest of our lives within a 10 minute walking distance: two grocery markets, a bunch of local markets, a shopping mall, a subway station, plenty of schools, uncountable amounts of restaurants, dry cleaning, pet hospitals, hairdressers, a central park, a hospital. You name it: it’s here. Due to its lack of land, Korea builds vertically and stuffs as much stuff into one building as possible. Goodbye driving!
Moving on to your website, you guys have been able to garner almost 200,000 subscribers to your youtube channel, and have an enormous following on your Twitter and Facebook pages as well, what do you guys think it is about your site or videos, that hooks in so many people wanting to watch more?
This is something that confuses us to this day. Ha! If I were to guess, though, I think that we’re just light-hearted people who want to share their quirkiness and whimsy with the world. We’re a young (29 is still young, right? RIGHT!?), married couple, and we’re showing people a fun and bubbly stress-free marriage which the world seems to be lacking right now. We’re living in another part of the world, which is what a lot of people would like to experience. We pretty much travel, goof around, occasionally hang out with Korean music idols, make fun of ourselves, and just have fun all the time. Regarding Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, and all our other social media outlets, we think it’s really important to post different and special material to each outlet in order to give people a reason to want to follow all your different sources. We have inside jokes with our Tumblr audience, and our Twitter fans tend to get more photos, and so on. It helps to build a relationship with your viewers, and that creates a dedicated audience.
You guys receive hundreds of comments on your articles, and even personally reply to many of them. Is direct engagement with your audience a specific goal of yours, or do you two just feel more natural answering your fans any chance you can?
It’s a little bit of both. In making a career out of social media, we need to be social people. We know a lot of blogs that just repost their content on Facebook and Twitter and everywhere, but they don’t really engage with their audience. For us, engagement is the cornerstone of our site. We’ve designed the site so that people decide what Kpop video we’re going to review on Monday. They decide what question we’re going to answer on Wednesday. They pick the winners of our random competitions against each other. They’re engaged with the creation of our content as much as we are. Also, we’re still quite thankful that people watch us and actually take the time to read our blog, watch our videos, and leave their comments and thoughts. We don’t want to ever take our audience for granted, so we try speak with them in the comments to our videos to say, “hey, we’re reading what you’re writing, this isn’t a faceless blog”.
Our latest version, Disqus 2012, was available to the public only recently, but you two decided to switch over immediately. Were there any features in particular, in Disqus 2012 that you guys liked, and wanted to implement into your website?
Aesthetically, it’s really pleasing. It just looks so much sexier! Is it wrong that I’m describing a plugin as sexy? Nah. OOOoOOohh…sexy.
Haha plugins can definitely be sexy. Well that about does it! Thank you for taking the time to answer these questions, do you have any last comments or thoughts that you guys would like to share?
You guys are Disqus! You’re huge! We’re shocked that you wanted to feature our site, and we’re totally honoured. Thank you!
Thank you so much to both of our guests, Simon and Martina of Eat Your Kimchi. Take a minute and check out their website and social media links:
And as always, follow us as well, for news and announcements relating to Disqus and online commenting all over.
Posted on July 6, 2012 by zlasher12
Zelda Informer (ZI) is a community based upon one of the most popular and iconic video game companies of all time, Nintendo. They post columns and articles about upcoming Nintendo news (with the Zelda franchise as a focus), as well as maintain a forum and wiki for all things Zelda. Though there are already tons of communities and fan sites all over the internet about Nintendo, ZI prides themselves in being a central location for professionalism and integrity when it comes to discussing the franchise.
I took some time down with the co-owner and Senior Executive Editor, Nathanial Rumphol-Janc, to talk about his community and Disqus.
Hi Nathanial, thank you for taking the time to answer this interview. Would you like to start off by introducing yourself, and giving a small history of your website?
I’m Nathanial Rumphol-Janc, Co-Owner of ZI. I manage pretty much all aspects of the site, from the news team, to the technical team, PR, and pretty much anything that happens in regards to a website (and there is a lot that happens). ZI has been around since July 16th, 2007 when we were formed from a combination of gaming enthusiasts from a now dead site known as VGRC, as well as some amazing Zelda fans. They simply wanted to have a truly impactful Zelda fan site that could do things in a professional manner, cater to an older audience, and truly appreciate their editorial prowess.
As anyone who has tried before, it’s understandably hard to start any new site. I wasn’t with the site at it’s start, but rather joined up on ZI’s one year anniversary on July 16th, 2008. I came on fully as a co-owner dropping my other projects at the time (I ran my own Zelda fan site for about 8 years prior to joining ZI) because I saw a lot of potential. ZI has always had a bevy of great writers, they simply needed a small push and some direction. ZI has since grown by a large margin. When I came on we were at 200 unique visits a day. Today, we are now serving 16,000 unique visitors daily, and days above 20 to 30,000 are quite common. Our record day is 119,000 set last November. We started as a Zelda fan site, but have since expanded to be one of the premier Nintendo news and editorial websites on the net.
How did the community start off, and what was the growing process of the website? We see a lot of unique and new content being published on the site every day, from several different writers.
Well, we worked diligently to provide the best Zelda news available on the net, while providing insightful Zelda theory editorials. We worked with competing sites, and sites a bit out of our spectrum, to get our material advertised and to get our name out there. I also spent a lot of time messing around with Google and trying to get our SEO rankings to be at a respectable level so people could find us without the aid of other websites. Eventually, we expanded off an experiment week into all things Nintendo, due to the popularity and success of the endeavor. It wasn’t met without complications of course, but we expanded our staff to accommodate the increasing news flow, which is why today you see a lot of content published at the site daily, to the tune of an average of 15 posts a day (sometimes more depending on the flow of news). As we expanded, so did our fan base, and conversely so did the activity in our commenting section. I could probably write a small book on the steps it took for us to rise to our present success. Hopefully we have much more growth in our future.
So moving from the articles to the comments, when did Zelda Informer decide to use Disqus as the commenting platform? Are there any features ZI likes, that Disqus offers?
I don’t recall the exact date off the top of my head, but I believe we started using Disqus in late 2010. We were looking at options to switch to from Intense Debate because there was a bug in their software causing us to have two separate streams of comments on our site. It was frustrating and they didn’t work with us to resolve the issue. However, that’s not to say Intense Debate is terrible. The software is certainly viable, but it wasn’t working out for us. That’s when I discovered Disqus, and it looked intuitive and simple enough to implement. Once we actually got the system up and running, we could not have been more pleased. I noticed it because other top gaming sites at the time were also using the same software, so it enticed me to give it a try.
Some of the biggest features our commenters enjoy (because hey, they use the system more than we as a staff do!) seem to be the quick and easy method to edit a comment without refreshing, the ability to upvote (and now downvote) a comment, collapsible comments, and the ability to register through various methods. They also enjoyed the fact I was able to set guests to have ZI related avatars to make the system truly seem at home. What I always liked was the ease of installation and even the simple conversion in switching from the CMS package of Movable Type to Expression Engine 2.x. Also, the moderation tools are simply fantastic, and seem to be much more intuitive compared to other systems I have tried.
Your website actually is one of the higher comment-traffic sites out there, in your opinion what is it about the Zelda/Nintendo community that may attribute to this?
First off, the Nintendo community, especially Zelda fans, are very vocal. We love them, and Nintendo loves them too. Many gamers are avid talkers, but the Nintendo fans are just something special and unique. We have a lot of rather intelligent conversations that break out in our comment section daily, along with the natural slew of confusion, and yes, occasional hate that every site gets. Another thing is that we are very interactive with our fans. A lot of sites sort of ignore the comment area - we instead read and respond to the commenters in a very personal manner. We feel maintaining that connection with the fans is important. A combination of having a very vocal fan base in general, combined with our own interactivity, helps keep the comment area and the entire community booming.
The fans of Nintendo series and platforms simply love to have their voices heard. It also helps that Nintendo apparently listens. They may not read the comments, but we do, and sometimes we create articles based on the user demand, and then sometimes Nintendo happens to respond. Take Operation Moonfall, which we started and Eiji Aonuma has recognized already. All based on fan demands and the words of Eiji himself. It’s nice knowing as a community that sometimes what you say could help have an impact.
Recently, Disqus 2012 became publicly available, and ZI switched over right away. What did you guys see in Disqus 2012 that made you want to switch and support our new version?
There were some things I didn’t like about the old Disqus system. One of them was the nesting, and how it was never ending. Meaning, you could nest and re-nest as much as you want until the comments start people one line per letter. In fact, we had some fans poke fun at it over the years. Disqus 2012 completely eliminated that problem, allowing a combination of nesting and twitter/facebook style @replies to keep the comment area in a respectable reading range. That’s the real reason we upgraded right away.
After updating, I noticed a lot of added features that made we wish this was available much sooner. Related content as an example. The tabs at the top switching between community, comments, statistics. There is also the ability to follow registered users so you get updated when they comment. It’s very in-tune with the social media aspect that has become popular lately. There is a lot more we like too, but I can be here all day singing the praises of Disqus 2012. It feels like you took an already good commenting system, and went all Assassin’s Creed II on us. Taking what worked, eliminating what didn’t, and providing us the best possible user experience we could have.
Do you feel that you get a combination of people that comment once, along with users who are regulars, and consistently provide high quality posts? Are there any specific users that you really enjoy their opinions or insights when they comment on an article?
We do get a pretty decent combination of one time commenters and regulars who provide very insightful material. We even have regulars who posts as guests. I wish they would register so they could take full advantage of the system, but to each their own. In particular, I think masterthatsword as a registered member always has insightful things to say, and the_voice, who I don’t believe has registered yet, always adds great depth to the conversation. The truth of the matter is we have so many different commenters, many of which are regulars, that it’s hard to point out any one person in particular. They are all fantastic, even the trolls! haha
Lastly, we love the community you guys have grown based around a common love for a franchise and company. Do you have any last comments about Disqus, or any shoutouts or plugs you would like to give?
We appreciate the fact you guys chose us and recognizes our success as a website both commercially and as a community. It’s always nice knowing that our hard work is being noticed, and more importantly it’s a big thumbs up to our fan base who keeps expanding and sticking with us over the years. Disqus has helped us increase user interactivity to a level that even some forums can’t achieve, and for that we are thankful. We don’t have any plans to switch from the Disqus platform in the near future, or possibly ever if it keeps improving the way it has to this point. A big thanks goes out to Damir Halilovic, one of our Senior Editors and Technical Administrators, and Dennis Wyman, who helped transition our entire commenting system into our new layout and new CMS a couple months ago. It was a great achievement. Also, we would like to thank the entire Disqus team for providing excellent customer support, and clearly listening to the demands of its users in creating Disqus 2012. Oh, and the one button simple upgrade? Please keep doing that.
Again, I want to thank our guest, Nathanial of Zelda Informer. Please take some time to follow Zelda Informer on their social media websites:
And as always, follow us as well, for news and announcements relating to Disqus and online commenting all over.
Posted on June 15, 2012 by zlasher12
It has been two days since the public release of Disqus 2012, and we at Disqus are so happy with the reception we’ve received everywhere over the new version. Feedback, both positive and negative, has been pouring in for about 48 hours now, and we have been reading and tracking it from all over. We’ve read news sites, blog posts, press statements, disqus comments, facebook posts, and tweets, and overall the reception for our new Disqus 2012 has been overwhelmingly positive. As technicians of our own product, we are always welcome to hearing feedback from both sides, and we love nothing more than hearing constructive comments on which features you, the users, love the most, or think could use some tweaking. Just remember that Disqus is never static, we always have the goal of improving features for our publishers and user base.With all that said, we wanted to note that Disqus 2012 is a big win for the community. Features such as the Community and My Disqus tabs, which are great for exploring a community, as well as the Real-Time commenting no longer being available to only our premium customers, instead, all of our disqus publishers will now have access to real time commenting and replies.Remember, everyone will have their voice heard. If you have a criticism, tell us how and why you think the product could be better, we listen to all feedback that comes in. Also, if you have any questions about Disqus 2012, try checking out our new FAQ/Help section here!
Posted on May 31, 2012 by zlasher12
Today on our Disqus Blog, we are starting a series of blogs that spotlight some of our favorite community blogs and websites. We want to be able to showcase awesome publishers on Disqus that use the platform in their own unique ways. Publishers who are able to engage and interact with their audience, and really use Disqus to its fullest potential. For our first Disqus Community Spotlight we have Android Police owner Artem Russakovskii.
Hello Artem, thank you for taking some time to answer these interview questions. Your website, Android Police, has always been a great example of community engagement through comments and the Disqus platform. Would you like to introduce yourself and how your website started?
Hi Michael. Sure, I’m Artem, the sysadmin, developer, chief editor, and founder of Android Police. I started the site back in early 2010 after blogging on a personal level for 4-5 years, so it’s been live for a little over two years now. Android Police has a close-knit team of amazing writers working in a fun and highly sarcastic environment (Eric and David take the cake for the latter). It’s really a one-of-a-kind, rewarding jo…, errr experience - I can’t even call it a job.
One quality of Android Police that we see at Disqus, that stands out in particular, is that you are not just the owner and designer of the website, but you are a very engaged member of your own blog. You interact with your community through the comments on the Disqus platform. Was this something you have always done intentionally, was there a specific reason in really replying to so many of your users comments and opinions? Or has your interaction been subconscious and driven by your passion for Android products?
This one is easy - I started my personal blog to share things I spent hours figuring out so that others can benefit from my findings and hopefully save quite a bit of their time. Likewise, I started Android Police out of my uncontrollable desire to share. Responding to comments is an integral part of sharing and building a community, so it’s only natural that I want to engage our readers not only through my writing but through comments.
After moving to Disqus, I found my participation rate went way up too, since Disqus allows responding to individual comments directly via email replies. Because I get a notification of every comment (and read each one), it’s only a matter of using the right Gmail keyboard shortcut (“r”), and I’m typing away a comment that Disqus will instantly post. I can’t go back to Wordpress’ built-in commenting system after this, no way.
Do you think of your interaction with commenters as an author-audience relationship, are you the expert on Android products? Or do you feel like you learn a lot from your audience?
Oh, it’s definitely both. If I post about something, I tend to either spend a considerable amount of time using the product at hand (and providing feedback to its makers) or researching it, so I definitely view the commenting system as a way to provide more extensive coverage after a post goes live, in case I didn’t think to mention something or people ask for further clarifications. The other side of the coin is equally as important - nobody is perfect, so we value every comment that points out inconsistencies or mistakes, or provides further feedback. We have a pretty good following now, and seeing all this engagement every day is a huge part of what keeps us moving forward. It’s truly inspiring.
Are there any regulars of your site that you have come to recognize? Are there specific users whose insight you really enjoy or highly respect their opinion, due to consistent, quality posts?
Absolutely, there are many readers who have been with AP for years and observed its transformations. Some of them even became writers due to their participation levels. I’m not sure if you were looking for specific names, but one particular commenter I wanted to highlight was Cody Toombs. His comments are always level-headed, detailed, and intelligent. He’s a model commenter.
You have been a more recent adopter of Disqus. What was the biggest reason that you decided to use a third-party commenting platform? And what are your opinions on the pros and cons of using Disqus?
Indeed, though I started trying to implement Disqus over a year ago. There were many hurdles, all of which were finally overcome a few months ago, and Disqus finally went live. I blogged about our reasons to use Disqus, its pros and some cons in detail here so I won’t repeat it.
Disqus 2012 is something I’m very excited to upgrade to as well, but it’s still not ready for public consumption because it’s currently missing a number of important features. I will be upgrading to D12 as soon as they’re sorted out.
If there is a feature you would like to see added? Is there anything you miss about your own, native commenting system?
I’ve provided a lot of feedback along the way already, including patches to the Wordpress plugin, and the Disqus team diligently and patiently responded along the way. However, I do feel like a better support system that can track tickets for those who reported them, in a single location, where the whole lifecycle can be monitored, is important. Right now, the official support channel is limited to email, which doesn’t benefit the public and doesn’t let me easily track how many issues are unsolved, how many had been forgotten about, etc. At the same time, there are a number of places where Disqus accepts support requests in addition to that (Wordpress plugin forum, Github, D12 feedback form, and probably a few others). I feel like some of my bug reports end up falling through the cracks, and without a good way of tracking them, I am less inclined to provide useful feedback in the future.
But going back to Disqus, one missing feature really stands out. Wordpress will send comment notifications only to authors, on their own posts, but right now Disqus isn’t aware of authorship, and either sends nothing or everything to each moderator. There’s no easy way I’m aware of to make me receive all comment notifications and, say, my writers to receive only notifications of comments on their own posts.
Last question: Thank you so much for speaking with us, we really feel like you have done a fantastic job in engaging your community and developing and using Disqus in an ideal way. Do you have any last comments or words you would like to add?
So far after moving to Disqus a few months ago and evaluating some of the competition, I’ve been very happy with our decision. Disqus is the Blu-ray of commenting systems - currently, it’s a clear winner. Whether this will change in the future remains to be seen, but I don’t see the Disqus team lazily resting on their laurels, and that’s a great sign.
I want to thank Artem for being our first interview guest for the Disqus Community Spotlight. Please take some time to follow Android Police on their social media websites:
And as always, follow us as well, for news and announcements relating to Disqus and online commenting all over.