First, we rebuilt the login system. Starting today, you can log in with profiles you have built on other networks like Google, Yahoo, Facebook or Twitter. Not to get too technical, but we decided to use the OAuth infrastructure because it is becoming an industry standard, preserves privacy and is rock-solid.
Second, we partnered with a company called Disqus for the new commenting system. We like them quite a bit because commenting is all they do, and they are very good at it (while we are not). For example, at times our current commenting system gets inundated with spam; theirs is far more spam-resistant. They also have neat features that we would not be able to build. There is a downside: Starting this afternoon you cannot post comments on articles published before 4 pm Eastern Friday.
Usually, when a site makes some substantial changes to its core functionality, the main question from its most devoted audience members is: Why are you doing this? Why can't we keep everything as it is? Why are you rocking the boat? Here's the answer. Industry standards for login, commenting, sharing and everything tied to it have changed dramatically over the last two or three years. TPM is big enough that we have lots of registered users (almost 200,000) but not so big that it makes sense for us to spend the resources to maintain and perfect our own completely separate login and identity ecosystem. To do so requires lots of staff time that we think are better spent on what we do best, news reporting. We're confident that the final result will be smooth logins, easier commenting, easier sharing and less comment spam.
Now let me emphasize a few points:
- All of our privacy policies and practices remain the same. None of these changes will force you to give any more info to any outside service or to us for that matter.
- While we are relying on Disqus, an outside vendor, for the system that runs the commenting, they will not be getting information you do not want to reveal to them.
- We will not force you into registering with yet another network. You can use an existing identity (i.e., your login from Facebook, Gmail, Twitter or Yahoo).
- If you have an identity with TPM (a user name or avatar by which people know you), our automated system will let you import it seamlessly. All you have to do is log in with another network -- like Yahoo or Gmail -- that has the same email address on record as you registered with TPM.
A final point. We do not expect the switch to be glitch free. Inevitably, some snafus will arise. We apologize in advance for these. As part of this change we will also be phasing out the "dashboard" function on the site, though we plan on bringing back similar functionality in the future. But we had to make these changes because we had outgrown our old infrastructure and we could not patch it. More important, we will be launching a bunch of new features in the coming months that need this rock-solid foundation.
We're eager to hear your questions and comments so send them along.