It’s unfortunate it’s taken me so long to figure out I could do this, but this afternoon I FINALLY turned off the “around the web” images and links which have been appearing at the bottom of my blog posts for the past couple years since I started using the free Disqus commenting system for WordPress and they added this “feature” to their service. In this post I’ll describe how I did it so you can too.

I don’t often add plugins to my primary professional blog on a whim, but a few years ago I saw Darren Draper was using Disqus on his blog and it looked compelling.

The main thing Disqus offered at the time that was better than default WordPress comments (which it unfortunately discontinued awhile back) was a list of “shares and reactions” to individual blog posts when links were retweeted or shared in different ways via social media. A lot of interaction around blog posts happens via social media, so this was an interesting metric to add to my blog for free.

In the summer of 2012, Disqus added a feature called “discovery” which appended other web links and images to different posts from around the web to the bottom of the comments area of your blog. I really didn’t notice this or think I needed to change any settings. It seemed like a pretty big deal (time consuming and not a quick thing to “undo”) when I migrated my WordPress comments to Disqus. As a result I didn’t want to move off the platform, and I naively thought that I HAD to have these additional links on my site if I used the free service. Ryan Collins tweeted me awhile back about seeing some images on the mobile version of my website which didn’t seem appropriate for an educational audience, but again at that time I thought I was helpless to remove those ads unless I removed Disqus altogether from my blog. Today, I learned I was wrong.

Here is the problem I had and noticed again today replying to a blog comment: Lots of images and links were appearing on my WordPress blog below each of my posts which I did NOT ask for or want.

I decided to search for a way to remove these photos, and found the helpful but outdated post “How to remove and turn off the DISQUIS “Around The Web” Discovery links.” Some of the menu choices have changed as Disqus has evolved its interface and options since that post was written, but the post still gave me enough guidance to remove the advertising images and links from my site. Now the same post looks like this, sans unwanted external post images and links!

To remove these, I logged into disqus.com and clicked SETTINGS, next selecting the blog I wanted to change.

I then UNCHECKED the box for “enable promoted discovery.” I hadn’t selected this option when I originally setup Disqus on my blog, I think they enabled it by default when this “feature” was added to their commenting system. I’m so glad to know it’s an OPTION and not mandatory!

Although I don’t think it’s necessary since I’ve turned off all Disqus ads for my site now, I also selected strict ad content filtering and unselected “merchant codes.”

I’d never setup a payment method for Disqus, and wasn’t even aware I COULD be earning revenue from these ad links. How much money was I missing out on? Not much. The revenue link for my Disqus settings on my main blog shows I would have earned about $17 for the several YEARS of hosting their ads / “around the web” discovery links, but they don’t payout until your revenue exceeds $100.

Disqus is OK, but since they discontinued the shares/reactions feature I find it far less compelling. On new WordPress sites I’ve setup in the past year, I haven’t enabled Disqus. Instead, to address comment spam, I recommend several different free plugins. See my March 2014 post, “4 Free WordPress Plugins to Reduce Comment Spam” for details.

If you use Disqus and like me, don’t want unexpected external images and links showing up on your posts, follow these steps to remove “around the web” / discovery images and links.

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