I’ve now swapped my comments system from Radio Userland’s comments server to the Python Community Server, developed and hosted by Phil Pearson. The reason I did this was because I’ve experienced frequent problems with Radio Userland’s comments server, causing slow downloads of my webpages and sometimes no service. This is probably caused by the large number of people Radio Userland host on their servers. The PyCS comments system is also a step up in functionality – it features things like RSS feeds for comments, ability to delete comments, and other admin options. It also looks better!

But I should warn you: the set-up process wasn’t as straight-forward for Radio Userland users as the instructions led me to believe. Below I’ve documented the process I went through. Other Radio users who want to swap to PyCS may want to follow this process, but be aware that it’s not necessarily the correct or recommended one – it’s just what worked for me.

1. Fill out the online form for a PyCS Comment hosting account.

2. Next, politely ask Phil to import all your old comments from Radio Userland’s server to the PyCS one. Phil’s automated this now, nevertheless it still takes up some of his time so ask nicely. I recommend the phrase “Pretty please with cherries on top” (not sure if it’s an exclusively kiwi phrase, but I was taught to say this as a child!).

3. Now open up your Radio Userland client and browse to Preferences > Comments. In the “Specify a server” section, swap the Radio Userland URL with this one:
http://www.pycs.net/system/comments.py

4. Here’s where I had problems with the instructions. It’s not quite as simple as just adding in some code to the Homepage and Item templates. I ended up having to modify some things in the Radio root file. So if you’re brave enough, click File > Open > Radio.root. Open each of the following 3 files and make the change below:
system.verbs.builtins.radio.weblog.getCommentLink
system.verbs.builtins.radio.weblog.render
system.verbs.builtins.radio.macros.CommentOnThisPage

For each of the above 3 files, look for the Comments URL’s. For each of those swap “user.radio.prefs.usernum” with your PyCS user id – e.g. mine is “000280”. NB: be careful not to change the Trackback URL’s, as you’ll still need Radio Userland’s server for that (Phil is working on adding this to PyCS in the future).

5. Still in Radio.root, open this file:
system.verbs.builtins.radio.data.cloudUrls
…and swap the “CommentsPageUrl” value to this: http://www.pycs.net/system/comments.py

OK, this is how I got my Radio Userland weblog to swap to PyCS comments. Once again, I don’t claim this is the easiest or even a 100% correct method. It probably needs a real Radio Userland expert like Rogers Cadenhead to cast his eyes over it.

But for now I’m really happy with the result and I hope my readers enjoy the better Comments service, provided by Phil with his ‘kiwi ingenuity’. Thanks Phil!

Update: OK, Phil has discovered the Easy Way (or is it the Wasy Way?) and it doesn’t involve rooting around in the Radio Userland root file. So ignore my instructions above; make life easier for yourself by following Phil’s instructions instead.