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A commenting system for JAMstack sites.

How it works

GoTell is both a build tool and a small API.

The API accepts HTTP POST requests to a thread with a JSON body like:

  • POST /2016/09/this-is-a-thread-on-my-site
  "author": "Matt Biilmann",
  "email": "",
  "www": "",
  "body": "Hi there - this is a fantastic comment!"

GoTell will check to see that the thread exists and verify that it is still open, run some checks on the comment to classify obvious spam, and then push the comment to a Github repository as a JSON document.

That will trigger a build through Netlify with GoTell and a new version of the thread will be pushed as a JSON file to a static endpoint.

From your site, you can fetch comments and comment metadata from the static endpoint and let users POST new comments via the API.

GoTell is not a ready made comment system like Disqus or Facebook Comments, but a buildingblock for making your own custom styled comments on your site.

Getting Started

Setting up the static Comments

First clone our Netlify Comments starter template and push it to your own GitHub account.

Then visit Netlify and pick your new repository. Click Save and Netlify will start building your comment threads

Setting up the API

You'll need to run the API on a server. On the server, we recommend settings these environment variables:

GOTELL_SITE_URL= # URL to your static site
GOTELL_REPOSITORY=user/repo # Username/repo of the GitHub repository created from netliy-comments-starter
GOTELL_ACCESS_TOKEN=1253523421313 # A Personal GitHub Access Token with write permissions to the repository

With these environment variables in place, run:

gotell api

Integrating with your site

Each post on your static site that should have comments, needs to add a metadata tag to it's page like this:

<script id="gotell" type="application/json">{"created_at":"2016-07-07T08:20:36Z"}</script>

To configure GoTell add a file called /gotell/settings.json to your site (this is optional). It should look like this:

  "banned_ips": [],
	"banned_keywords": [],
	"banned_emails": [],
	"timelimit": 604800

These settings controls the rudimentary spam filter and the time limit from a post is created and until commenting is closed for the thread.

To allow people to comment you'll need your comment form to send a request to the comment API. Here's an example using the modern fetch API:

const thread = document.location.pathname;
fetch(API_URL + thread, {
  method: 'POST',
  headers: {'Content-Type': 'application/json'},
  body: JSON.stringify({
    body: data.message,
    parent: data.parent
}).then((response) => {
  console.log("Comment posted!");

To display comments for a thread, fetch the JSON via:

const slug = document.location.pathname.replace(/\//g, '-').replace(/(^-|-$)/g, '') + '.json';
fetch(COMMENT_URL + '/' + slug).then((response) => {
  console.log("Got comments: %o", response);

GoTell also builds a file called threadname.count.json for each thread with a JSON object looking like:

{"count": 42}

As a lower bandwidth way to fetch comment counts for a thread.


GoTell is released under the MIT License. Please make sure you understand its implications and guarantees.


Netlify Comments is an API and build tool for handling large amounts of comments for JAMstack products



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