disqus.jpgDisqus, a company that provides a commenting plugin for online publishers, has released a range of new features designed to integrate it more tightly with its partner sites.

When I first covered the San Francisco company last August, I was a little skeptical about its ability to differentiate itself. But it has. I’ve found it to have a more intuitive interface than rivals like SezWho and Intense Debate (our coverage) — it provides very obvious threaded comments, user profiles, and a way of voting on others’ comments.

The biggest change today is that the company is phasing out its forums, which were located on its home site. Instead, it is offering a “community page” on its home site that displays useful additional information about the partner site, such as who the top commenters are, and what the most commented-on stories are.

Disqus has been busy. It has signed up a number of well-known individual bloggers, including the infamous Fake Steve Jobs (the blog’s community page here), Mathew Ingram, Dave Winer, and others. It has also reached into more mainstream audiences, appearing on political sites like PoliticalWire, The Moderate Voice, and even The Harvard Crimson, Harvard University’s student newspaper.

In total, Disqus’s plugin is on more than 4,000 blogs, it has around 60,000 total commenters and handles an average of around 5,000 comments per day.

The company has also been steadily improving its spam-filtering software. Comment spam from splogs and other jerks on the internet are a big problem, as those who read past VentureBeat articles will see.

For a first-hand account of Disqus in action over the last eight months, read Union Square Ventures partner Fred Wilson’s post here, on the firm’s official blog. Wilson was one of the first people to try Disqus out, on his personal blog A VC, and he was clearly impressed by what he say.

Disqus has raised half a million from Union Square, angel investor Howard Linzon’s investment company, Knight’s Bridge Capital Partners, and individual angel investors Naval Ravikant and Aydin Senkut (full disclosure: Senkut is also an investor in VentureBeat).