Self-Hosted Comments for a Static Blog

Last year, when I ditched my managed hosting, I converted my blog to use Jekyll, a static site generator. At the time I was pretty overwhelmed with all the tasks necessary to move my digital life, and didn’t want to throw “configure PHP/MySQL” onto the pile. Also, much to my chagrin, when I looked over my Wordpress installation prior to exporting its content, I noticed a bunch of suspicious-looking files that could only have been created by script kiddies exploiting Wordpress vulnerabilities. I thought I had been pretty concientious in keeping my instance up to date, but apparently not. So a static site it was.

One of the downsides to a static site is that… it’s static. No comments or any other form of interactivity. At first I tried hooking up Disqus, which I had actually also used in my Wordpress blog, rather than the native comments. Problem is, I dislike Disqus. As with any free service, if you aren’t paying, then you are the product. Managing a Disqus account is annoying, and it’s yet another 3rd party service that gets to track you around the web. So, during a bit of downtime, I created my own basic blog comments app.

It’s a Ruby app written with Sinatra that has two routes: GET and POST. Comments are stored in a SQLite database (I’m not anticipating heavy traffic). Include the client-side script wherever you want your comments to appear in a post. It uses reCAPTCHA for abuse prevention.

I learned a few things doing this project, including how to use nginx as a reverse proxy (only used Apache before), create an Upstart init script (sigh), and deploy a basic Ruby app on a VPS. It’s amazing how much of this stuff you don’t have to do when working at a company with sysadmin folks XD.

It should be fairly easy for anyone to take this code, made a few minor modifications, and run it for their own blog. I would also be happy to answer any questions about getting it up and running… just leave me a comment!