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Apologies: Disqus Comments Removed Because Of Skimlinks (Thieves!)

We’re changing our comment system.

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After some tumultuous times when I removed the comments section of this blog and other mini upheavals we again have a nice little community of commentors on this blog. I went with the Disqus comments system rather than my CMS’s native system because … it looked nicer and functioned well — it’s spam reduction capacities are excellent, freeing me from moderation duty.

However, a couple of months ago I noticed that something called skimlinks were appearing on the pages of this site. Skimlinks are auto-inserted affiliate links on certain keywords which typically point to sites where you can buy something and the referrer receives a commission.

Fair enough, this is a common strategy for monetizing a blog. The only problem was that I didn’t install the skimlinks program and I wasn’t receiving the payout.

What the …?

I still couldn’t find where the Skimlinks were coming from, so I began stripping everything down to the bare essentials. The one luxury that I kept was the Disqus comments…

This is an old blog. It’s been around in some form or another since 2004. In web years, it’s a living relic. Throughout these years there have been MANY changes. I would add this, remove that, change this up, and alter that over there … This site has gone through so many changes that I have no idea what’s really going on inside of it anymore.

I know that I have tried to use skimlinks before and I initially figured that this issue was resulting from something left over in the site’s code that I forgot to remove. So I began searching. I found nothing.

Maybe it’s malware? I did some tests. Nope.

Maybe it’s a plugin? I went through and reviewed them, deleting some, and turning off others.

The bastards were inserting code and making money off of this blog with neither my consent nor giving me a share of the revenue…

I still couldn’t find where the Skimlinks were coming from, so I began stripping everything down to the bare essentials. The one luxury that I kept was the Disqus comments. I did this out of respect to the blog’s regular commenters because if I deleted it their excellent content would be gone. I did not want to do this so I dug through all of the Disqus options and determined that anything that could be causing skimlinks that I could control was turned off.

But the skimlinks kept appearing.

It had to be Disqus …

I turned them off last night.

The skimlinks disappeared.

The bastards were inserting code and making money off of this blog with neither my consent nor giving me a share of the revenue. Who knows what else they were doing? Tracking and selling user info? Violating the core pretenses of privacy?

They’re gone.

The idea behind this blog is to keep everything as stripped down and simple as possible. The design is simple black and white, the layout is text, photos, and video on a white screen. This blog couldn’t really be more minimalistic. I want to be able to sit down with my phone or laptop and just write. I want to to be able to come onto the site and just read. I don’t want the distractions. Black text on a white page will never die.

I also want to have the least amount of cookies and the least amount of trackers as possible. There is a reason why there are no Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ share or follow links on this blog — these “buttons” double as spies: they watch what you and I do and report it back to the massive databases that collect all kinds of information about you. Information that can then be sold to other companies or, yes, used by governments.

I want to limit the degree to which this happens.

And I don’t want to deal with the hassles of digging through code to find dirty culprits like Disqus trying to steal from us.

However, I must apologize to the comment community here. Your contributions are incredibly valuable both to the site and to me personally. Please don’t let this stop you from making comments. I love hearing what you have to say. Please continue leaving comments via the form that’s on the site now. It’s much appreciated.


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Filed under: Blogging, Digital Nomad

About the Author:

I am the founder and editor of Vagabond Journey. I’ve been traveling the world since 1999, through 91 countries. I am the author of the book, Ghost Cities of China and have written for The Guardian, Forbes, Bloomberg, The Diplomat, the South China Morning Post, and other publications. has written 3717 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.

Support VBJ’s writing on this blog:

VBJ is currently in: New York City

9 comments… add one

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  • trevor August 7, 2018, 7:09 pm

    i wondered where it had gone. i am getting referral spam.. i wrote about it… there’s a white monkey travels in Sri Lanka offering honeymoons. i wrote about it. i found the biggest spam is from or via insta. sites called gram dot view and more copy and extract text complete with # from the images we post. i think its when i put the url on the pics description or in comments. but have deleted all pics from insta..

    Link Reply
    • Wade Shepard August 8, 2018, 2:19 pm

      For sure, if you put it up on the internet it’s going to be stolen. Especially Instagram … but once you publish on there the images become FB property anyway, I believe. Don’t let the scrappers divert too much of your attention. You can’t beat them but can ignore them to a certain extent.

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      • trevor August 8, 2018, 9:50 pm

        sure. am tired of SM.

        i dt get a mail when u reply on this comments system . should i .?

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        • Wade Shepard August 9, 2018, 2:23 am

          Hmm … probably not. I could install a plugin to do it but don’t really want to.
          How important is it to receive an email when someone replies? Is this essential?

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          • trevor August 9, 2018, 7:21 am

            essential as readers won’t see ur reply. unless checking each post they comment on.

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  • Georgiy Romanov August 7, 2018, 7:46 pm

    Thank you for your blog. And keep writing!

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    • Wade Shepard August 8, 2018, 2:19 pm

      Thanks, man, very much appreciated.

      Link Reply
  • Rob August 7, 2018, 9:30 pm

    No problem, do what you have to do…

    Link Reply
    • Wade Shepard August 8, 2018, 2:20 pm

      Hello Rob, thanks for reading and adjusting to our comment change over.

      Link Reply