This week I’m trying out some different commenting systems. If you’ve been here regularly, you may have noticed me switching from Disqus to Intense Debate to Livefyre. Each of these have their pros and cons and each of them definitely add features that can help your blog and foster a healthy discussion area on your blog.
I have a couple of reasons that prompted me to try out these systems:
- First off, I had noticed that on occasion when wordpress puts out an update, or some plugins update, it sometimes breaks the code on other plugins on the blog. In my case, I had noticed that on some posts, commentluv was displaying some odd code on the page. So, I started to look at other solutions that could either still implement commentluv or display commentators profiles more prominently.
- Secondly, I wanted to find a better solution to make my commenting system integrate better with social media. While there are several plugins out there that add social media functionality, I wasn’t satisfied with any of the ones available currently. I had been searching for some time for a facebook sharing solution that integrated right with the wordpress commenting system without having to separate the comments into two sections.
- Third, every so often I would have someone tell me that my comment notification system wasn’t working, so it appeared as if I wasn’t responding to comments. This would cause me to try and troubleshoot the plugins and figure out where the problem was. The second part of this problem is that there’s really no feedback for me to test if I’ve got it working correctly except to leave some test comments which I felt wasn’t the ideal solution as I didn’t want to have to spam my own blog with test comments.
- Finally, I wanted to reduce the number of plugins that I was using on the blog, and getting the wordpress system functional requires about 5-6 different plugins. By using one of these other commenting systems, I could reduce the amount of plugins that I use significantly and in the process improve the speed of my site.
With these thoughts in mind, I went about trying out some of the third party commenting systems to find a good fit.
Disqus is a popular commenting platform that is used by several large blogs such as mashable. It’s a mature system that integrates social media very well. I found that disqus installed very easily into wordpress through their plugin and imported the comments very quickly. I thought that their website was intuitive and easy for me to use as an administrator.
What I like about Disqus
- I thought it integrates social media very well. It has two very simple buttons for sharing to facebook and twitter.
- I liked the fact that it can pull reactions from other sites so you can show mentions of your post from twitter and facebook.
- Displays very prominent profiles of the users, and includes their activity.
This Disqus could do better
- It does not have commentluv
- Also, because it is an embeded system, they are a little slower to load.
- There’s some debate on whether Disqus is search engine optimized as search engines can’t crawl their comments on your site. Although they apparently have some system to allow google to index their comments separately.
I tried out Disqus, but will likely not use their system. While I like the look of their commenting system and their social media integration, I was concerned with the problems due to their embedded system. Also, I enjoy the value that commentluv brings to a blog and didn’t feel like the Disqus platform gave enough in return to justify giving up commentluv.
Intense Debate has many of the same features of Disqus. They’ve made some great strides in improving their social media integration. It’s not quite as seamless at sharing with your social media sources as Disqus. If you are logged into facebook or twitter it will display a pop up asking if you want to share after you post your comment. Also, it appears that it won’t give you the option to share to twitter unless you are already logged into twitter. This appears to be nonetheless, they are owned by the same company that owns wordpress and integrates well with wordpress.
What I like about Intense Debate
- Integrates well with wordpress and wordpress properties such as gravatar.
- Nice popup profile on mouseover of your avatar. (other systems require a mouseclick to show profile.)
- Plugins available including commentluv
- allows custom css so you can customize your comment system to your liking. (lets you make it much nicer as their default look can be very cluttered.)
- It is integrated with the wordpress commenting system, so that search engines can crawl your comments directly.
Things Intense Debate could do better
- Better integration with social media. I prefer the method that Disqus uses to share by simply checking off the sharing options. Plus Intense Debate appears to have a bug of not giving you the option to share to twitter at times.
- The spam moderation seems to be a bit overzealous. Some may not consider this a negative, but I do find that occasionally, I have to rescue a comment from the spam folder
- default look seems cluttered to me. I do like the clean look of Disqus or Livefyre.
- There appears to be some lag between comments syncing from the blog back to the Intense Debate site, but this can be fixed with some tweaking. In my opinion, it should work right the first time without any tweaking.
Overall, while Intense Debate needed a little bit of tweaking to look and run the way I want, it has a lot of features that I do like. SEO is a big plus as well as commentluv. Plus, I like the ability to customize the look and feel of the system. Finally, the fact that it’s under the umbrella of Automattic, so it appears to integrate really well with wordpress and gravatar.
Livefyre is the new kid on the block, but I really like their social media commenting system. In many ways it does social media the best out of these three systems. I went around and visited some blogs that run livefyre to try out their commenting system. I found that whenever someone replied or added a new comment, I was more compelled to go back and join in the discussion. This was due to the way they notify you with a simple option to reply to the comment:
Also, if you notice in the screenshot, one can simply put the @ sign in front of a name and it gives you the option to reply at them on twitter as well.
What I like about LiveFyre
- Hands down, I think their commenting system does the best at encouraging an ongoing conversation in your comment stream.
- Simple, nice looking commenting interface
- Gives you a realtime update of who is “listening” on the page.
- Puts a thumbnail of the avatars who like your comment.
Things LiveFyre could do better
- They require a user to log into some social media account (twitter or facebook) or have a livefyre account in order to post a comment. No anonymous posting. This is one of those features I really have to test to decide how I feel about it. For now, I’ll put it in the things they need to improve column.
- They need better integration of their moderation system with WordPress. Currently, you can’t moderate comments from your dashboard. You have to go to the post itself and pull down the settings menu under your avatar. I find this cumbersome, especially if you get comments from multiple posts at once. They say they will integrate it into the dashboard soon. That will be a much needed improvement.
- They say they are looking into implementing commentluv. This would be a huge plus for them.
- Profiles could have a little more information about the user. I would love if they added a post or comment feed to their quick profiles so one could see the user’s latest activity.
- Because it’s not integrated with the wordpress comment moderation system, you get an interesting affect that you will get comment notifications showing up in your dashboard from spambots. These comments don’t show up in your posts at all, so your readers are protected, but you have to deal with the spam on the backend. You can fix this issue by running Akismet. But it seems odd to me that I have to run a spam plugin to keep my dashboard clear of spam when I have a separate comment platform that’s spam free on the front end. It’s an oddity that only affects the admin of the blog and not the readers, but it’s weird nonetheless.
To be honest, I think Livefyre does the best job at encouraging interaction and more comments. I’ve paid more visits back to engage in conversation on livefyre blogs than most others. However, they do need to iron out a few kinks. If they get commentluv on board with their system and improve their integration with wordpress, I think they will be a real contender. Already, I think they are poised to be competitive with Disqus and Intense Debate.
Each of these different commenting systems have their pros and cons. Currently, I think I like Intense Debate as it integrates well with wordpress. Overall, I have really high hopes for Livefyre, but they just need a bit more time to mature. What do like or dislike about these different commenting systems? Do you like one that I didn’t mention here? Let me know what you think.