For the past three years now, Blackvoid has relayed on the Commento++ platform for its comment functionality. There were several reasons for it. The top one was that the Ghost platform that this site is running on, didn't have that feature. Also, I wanted a self-hosted solution that was private to make sure that many visitors that come here daily had no fear of being tracked, or made part of some reader's digest newsletter.
While I have no problem with Commento++ I always wanted a built-in solution just to make it cleaner and more compatible out of the box. On top of this, the development of the current solution seems to have halted for while now, so I was on the hunt for a new solution.
Luckily, some great news has come from the Ghost team following the brilliant and blazing fast search function just a few weeks ago. Native comments are here!!
That's right, today the announcement of the official support for their built-in comments has finally rolled out in the 5.9 version.
Why am I so happy about it? Well, it will allow for a more feature-rich experience for Blackvoid members and visitors, and also knowing that this is now a built-in option, we can be sure that the development and support will be available.
This also means that once I deploy this on this site we will lose all current comments that have been posted in the past 3 years. This is maybe one of the things that pain me the most, but I will of course save them all as the Commento++ platform will be archived not deleted. The upside that comes with the new comment feature is just too great to pass on.
What does this mean for Blackvoid and its visitors?
A built-in comment platform will require a valid Ghost (Blackvoid) account in order to participate in the discussion, and it will not support anonymous comments.
So far I had the membership option disabled on this site and the content was accessible to everyone free of charge regardless of the content. Now, this is important. THIS WILL NOT CHANGE!
Let me say that again. The content on BV will not become exclusive because of this new feature. I want visitors to still have access to all the content and to participate in discussions, ask questions, and comment in general.
Still, while I will activate membership on the site in the following days (after testing), I would like to mention some other changes that will be implemented and some that were already done but not communicated.
Membership will have three (3) tiers. One free, and two commercial ones. Once more, the free tier will allow you to continue to access all the site's content without any limitations but will also unlock the option to comment on the articles. So this means that even without registration, you will get access to everything, but if you want to comment you will have to register.
So with that, the bottom line nothing changes. We will have the same site with the exception of a new comment section that will require you to register in order to participate.
Alongside the free tier, I will offer two (2) commercial tiers that are completely optional. The reason for this is that while BV was always open and free for everyone, I have been accepting donations over time from visitors that wanted to donate. For this, I am very grateful but money and donations were never the main reason why I maintain BV.
So why implement the commercial tiers? Well, over the past years I was asked a number of times how people can donate or sponsor the work and effort that was recognized here, as well as to just say thank you for any support that they received. For most, Paypal donations (and as of recent Ko-fi.com as well, links are in the About section on the bottom) were not the option for whatever reasons, so I wanted to offer another line of a secure and safe way of sponsoring the site.
Ghost membership when it comes to commercial tiers works with Stripe.com service so if you do end up signing up for a monthly or yearly model, you will be able to do it that way using any payment method that fits you and is supported by Stripe.
The commercial tiers will have some benefits (that might change over time as well) over the free tier, just to give potential members some more motivation to signup if they want. Again, commercial tiers will be there just as options for anyone that wants to activate them, and will in no way affect access to any current or future content.
Is membership mandatory?
No. You will be able to access the content without any problem just as you did so far, but if you do want to comment on the articles, you will need to signup.
How many membership tiers will there be?
There will be 3 in total. One free, and two paid tiers. Details on all will be posted when the features will be live.
Will there be any exclusive content?
No. Regardless of what member tier you are, you will have access to all the published content. Even if you do not register, the content will not be exclusive.
Why would I signup for a paid membership?
You don't have to, but it is there if you want to. With it, you will support the site how you see fit, and it will have some perks that free tier members will not be entitled to.
Will there be any special offers and discounts?
For some regular members, this is nothing new, as here on BV I do organize occasional giveaways and free products in the end, as well as some services. While I have not yet set the price and perks I will be sure to make the subscriptions attractive from time to time with some special offers as well.
Can I switch subscriptions?
Yes. You will be able to terminate your subscriptions and for example, move to a free tier if you want to. The same goes with upgrading your account to a higher tier if you want at any point in time.
Well, there you have it all. The new comment feature is now active and membership tiers are listed here. I do hope that this will not be something that will drive you away from BV, as realistically, nothing has changed with access to the content. The main motivation for this was activating a better tool for engagement with all of you who are the main reason for this site in the first place.
See you soon in the new fancy format down below!