Blog comments used to be simple.
If you used WordPress, then your comments used WordPress, too.
But, then the world of blogging got more complicated. Disqus came around and offered us an alternative to WordPress’s comment system. Disqus came with some nice bells and whistles, such as social media integration.
Then Facebook came in and furthered their own quest of world domination with the Facebook comments system. This got even easier to integrate into WordPress blogs with the more recent release of the official Facebook plug-in for WordPress.
There’s also the likes of IntenseDebate. And LiveFyre.
In other words, options. Tons of options.
And with that… confusion.
My Affair With Disqus
I have been using Disqus on both of my main sites (this one and PCMech) for a little while now.
I didn’t always care for it. In fact, a trek down memory lane in the archives of this blog shows an evolution:
- Debating Disqus – Seems Stupid
- New and Improved Disqus Handles My Concerns
- Disqus: Not So Stupid Anymore
I ended up going with Disqus because of the easy social media integration. I liked the fact that people could log in with Facebook and optionally have their comment cross-posted to their Facebook wall. I liked the increased potential of commenter interaction.
And Then Disqus 2012 Happened…
Disqus 2012. It is what the company is calling it. The new iteration of Disqus.
So, they take a working setup… and change it.
In essence, they’re trying to turn Disqus itself into some kind of social network. They changed the interface somewhat and made it less… blog-like. If you’re already a registered Disqus user and you’re logged in, then its fine. But, most of the Internet is NOT logged into Disqus. For them, Disqus does not look like a typical comment system. The email field isn’t seen until you click the “name” field. And, even then, the language of the interface makes it seem as if you’re registering for Disqus just to post the comment. And, that might rub a lot of commenters the wrong way.
Also, clicking on a commenter’s name takes you to their Disqus profile – NOT the person’s website.
And there’s the discovery box… the list of related posts which appears after the Disqus comments. The feature is redundant because a lot of blog themes take care of that functionality on their own. Some blogs prefer not to even have it. Yet, Disqus is adamant about having that feature because they’ve determined that discovery is important. That’s fine… but I like options. I don’t like to be forced to give Disqus that much real estate on my site even if those links point back to me.
But, the most telling thing for me is based on observation over time. And that is…
My comment counts dropped noticeably.
Whereas I used to see 20-40 comments on a post fairly routinely, today I’m seeing less than half that amount. Some posts end up with single-digit comment counts. Based on the history of this site, it’s audience, and the traffic… that’s really odd. And, it seemed to drop off significantly when Disqus evolved my site over to 2012.
Is Disqus the sole cause for that? Likely not. However, it was a fairly observable drop-off when Disqus 2012 came out
Should I Use Facebook?
Facebook comments have improved quite a bit. For one, the plug-in means that Facebook comments are now locally saved to your blog database as well. This is very important in case you want to stop using Facebook. Also, they say that Facebook comments now work for SEO as well.
I also like the viral promotional capability of Facebook comments. Users optionally have the ability to cross-post the comment to their Facebook wall, complete with a link to the post. That is fantastic promotion – something that would make any blog owner happy.
I may introduce FB comments at some point, however I won’t force people to use it. When I’ve asked people their thoughts on it, I got a fair amount of people saying they would not want to use Facebook comments on a site. Some people just don’t like surfing the Internet while logged into Facebook for security and privacy reasons. Others are afraid their comment will be posted to Facebook even when they don’t want it to.
In the end, there are still a lot of people who don’t trust Facebook comments.
An Informal Social Media Poll
I went and did a very informal little poll on my social media accounts asking the question:
Which platform makes you more likely to post a comment on a blog: WordPress, Facebook, or Disqus?
Disqus is definitely more popular amount the Google Plus crowd for some reason (they don’t like Facebook very much over there.)
The Facebook poll showed the following results:
Then, in a discussion thread about the same, I got a lot of feedback. 17 comments on the thread (when you remove my own). 60% of them seemed to prefer the WordPress comment system and the other 40% were fine with Disqus. Interestingly, some of the people who preferred Wordpress REALLY disliked Disqus. And, there wasn’t a single kind word about LiveFyre anywhere in the bunch. A couple of people said they truly hated LiveFyre.
On Twitter, those who replied seemed to prefer WordPress.
So, all in all, this admittedly very informal survey showed that people prefer the built-in comment system of WordPress over the other options. Facebook and Disqus seemed to be in a bit of a dead-heat, although all things considered, Disqus was more popular than Facebook.
The Academy Turns Off Disqus
I’ve made some design changes to this site and one of them is to switch back to WordPress’s internal comment system. While Disqus has its fans – and its strengths – it seems like there was more support for WordPress. But, my decision obviously goes beyond merely an informal poll. WordPress has some noteworthy advantages over Disqus, including:
- The ability to control the look and feel of the comments in a fine-tuned way.
- The ability to run plug-ins which affect the comments. For example, I can easily set up a way to subscribe comments to my Aweber email list (with permission, of course) when they post a comment. Something like that is very handy and makes the comments a more effective lead generator.
- Disqus seems to have no way of moderating comments via mobile device, outside of a third-party app which isn’t scaled up for iPad – and hasn’t been updated since 2010. On the flip side, WordPress has a free and pretty capable app for both iPhone and iPad which allows me to moderate and reply to comments on the go.
- Being able to have TOTAL control over the look-and-feel rather than Disqus making the decision for me. For instance, I don’t want the “discovery box” that Disqus put there and I had no option to turn it off.
- Speed. Running comments in-house is faster and increased page load times compared to loading up remote code for Disqus.
Do You Use Third-Party Comment Systems?
I want to make clear… just because I made the decision to switch back doesn’t mean I’m recommending others do the same. It is a personal decision. For me, I wanted the control and flexibility that I get with in-house comments.
But, there are most definitely good reasons to go third-party. Some sites do very well using third-party comments. You can find case studies all over the place to support almost any comment system you’re considering.
What’s working for you?
Do you use a third-party comment system? If so, which?
And, as an end user, which do YOU prefer?