Consumerist Comments Beta Test Begins Later Today

Eagle-eyed readers may have noticed that Consumerist has been without reader comments for the last 12 months. We’re pleased to announce that today we are launching a beta test of the new system and will hopefully be rolling it out to all readers in the coming weeks.

Since the relaunch of Consumerist in Oct. 2012, we’ve been asked numerous times about why we chose to do something custom, rather than simply plug in any number of existing commenting platforms — some of them “free” — and be done with it. The fact is that those platforms that market themselves as free are anything but free when used on a site with as much traffic as Consumerist. And those platforms that are affordable generally make money by using commenter information for their own commercial purposes, which isn’t what Consumerist is about.

Additionally, in developing something custom we were able to prioritize features that readers told us they most wanted from a comment system on Consumerist. For example: You will now have the ability to edit comments for a short period after you submit them. In addition, an overwhelming number of readers told us that they prefer that the comments not automatically appear under each article. So we’ve made that change as well. To see the comments, simply click to expand them.

There are already other functions being developed now that will hopefully show up in the foreseeable future as we roll the platform out.

If you were one of the people who provided feedback on this survey, you’re already registered to be a beta tester. Every weekday starting today, we’ll be sending out invites to another batch of readers who responded to that survey.

If you didn’t take that survey, you can still register for the next round of invites by taking this new survey.

That all depends on how well everything works under real-world conditions. It could be a few weeks, maybe a couple of months. The important thing is that we get the kinks worked out before making it available to the general public.

If you’re registered, whether it’s through the old survey or the new one, you may want to add “” to your list of safe e-mail addresses to make sure your invite doesn’t get lost in a spam or junk mail folder.

QWPWBFA:(Questions We Presume Will Be Frequently Asked)

Q: Can I keep my old username from the old system?
A: Ultimately, we decided that it was a brand new day for Consumerist. Out with the old. In with the new. So you’ll have to choose a new username. We realize this sucks, but we considered it carefully (agonized, really) and decided it was the best thing to do.

Q: Does that mean someone else is going to steal my old username?
A: We put the old usernames on a blacklist. Nobody gets to use them. This seems fair to us.

Q: Why should I even do this?
A: Good question. People told us that the comments helped them solve problems and empowered consumers. You should do it if you think it empowers you as a consumer and you want to help other people.

Q: Is there anything to do other than comment?
A: Maybe. We’ve got some stuff cookin’. Right now things are looking pretty basic.

Q: Why do you have to beta test anything? Why don’t you just do something else that’s way better?
A: We wanted to avoid using anything that allowed third-parties to use your data for commercial purposes. We also want to start with an “invite only” test so that we could make sure that we like the system and our users like the system.

Q: OK, fair enough. How is this “free” if you don’t accept ads, sell our emails, or charge us?
A: You can donate to offset the operating costs of bringing the comment system to you by clicking here. Donations are tax-deductible. Or you could just hope that other people are more generous than you are, but let’s face it. They’re not. So you should probably donate if this is something that’s important to you.