Every self-respecting blogger knows the importance of comments on their blog as well as the importance of leaving great comments on other people’s blogs. I would even go as far as saying that they are vital component of marketing and networking, more so even than search engine optimization (SEO) or social media.
But lately comment systems and platforms on blogs have become a bit complicated. While many bloggers are still using their native comment platform that WordPress provides, others have taken to some of the many third party commenting platforms. I’ve heard mixed opinions and different arguments about all of them, so choosing the best commenting platform for you can easily become a challenge and a headache.
Non-native Commenting Systems
Speaking generally on all the major third party commenting platforms, they usually offer a variety of bells and whistles to the commenting experience, some more useful than others. Of the major three players (IntenseDebate, Disqus, and Livefyre), they all share many features, including the following:
- Social media integration (can post straight to Facebook or Twitter)
- Realtime commenting
- Email notifications
- Reply to comments by email
- Comment moderation and black/whitelisting
- Commenter profiles
- Comment threading
- Import and export comments
Beyond these commonalities, there are some fine differences between platforms. While they all have some form of “like” to click for favorable comments, Livefyre and InstenseDebate use a reputation points system that you can see next to every comment. This further increases the incentive for quality comments, which is nice.
Disqus, however, offers a “Reactions” list which aggregates and displays who mentioned the blog post on Twitter and what their tweet was. While this often just spams your comments with retweets, it’s a nice feature to view for yourself but not include in your comments. Also Disqus hosts comments for several large news sites like Time and Fox News, so it seems likely that Disqus will have some longevity to it.
Now that you’ve heard all the cool features and doodads of the non-native commenting systems, it’s time to address some of the issues and fears that bloggers (and blog readers) have with these services:
- All third party commenting platforms take much longer to load than the native Wordpress commenting system. While they all claim to be SEO friendly, many bloggers are not convinced with the speed and robustness of their search engine indexing abilities.
- • Both the above points are attributed to the fact that these platforms operate off-site of your blog on their own servers. What happens when these servers go down or their service is no longer offered? Many bloggers would rather not find out the answer to this.
- • The fact that all three of these commenting platforms (and many others not mentioned) are all competing with separate profile systems illuminates the reality that they are in fact islands. If one company goes under, so do the reputation points and profiles of the commentators and bloggers using it. It would also be nice to see some cooperation in calculating reputation points between these systems, but we all know that’s not going to happen until acquisitions happen.
- Bugs, bugs, bugs! While many blogs are able to install these commenting systems seamlessly, a simple Google search will reveal that many others are having a variety of issues maintaining their third party system. Some have even claimed that they are about to lose their comments which is a terrible thought.
- Most third party commenting systems require some form of login (although Disqus allows you to post as a guest). While you can often create an account in a matter of clicks without even leaving the page, this will put off a lot of readers from commenting.
As you can see, there are a lot of points for and against third party commenting systems. Over time, I do suspect these new and feature-rich commenting systems will become the standard for blog comment platforms. At the moment though, they do not seem to be working out for every blogger as intended.
That being said, I do believe that these commenting systems are worth trying out. Just be sure to ease your audience into the process and ask for plenty of feedback because you definitely don’t want to lose commentators.