Comments are the backbone of any blog or website. If you are running a blog or site of your own, you must already be aware of the importance of comments. In fact, without proper discussions and community interaction, a blog is just a one-sided lecture. At the end of the day, no matter how good your blog posts and website content may be, the comments and reactions of the readers help in transforming your blogging skills from a one-sided lecture to an interesting conversation.
So, when it comes to comments, it is obvious that sometimes, certain special tools might be useful in getting the most out of them. If your blog gets few comments, having the default WordPress mechanism for commenting will suffice. But if you are serious about community engagement and interaction, you should consider opting for a dedicated commenting platform.
In this article, we shall be taking a look at some of the most popular commenting platforms that work with a WordPress-powered website or blog.
Commenting Platforms: Advantages and Disadvantages
- First up, most commenting tools offer seamless integration with social networking websites, thereby helping you harness the power of social networks to earn traffic for your website. Users can comment and share using their accounts at Facebook and Twitter with ease.
- Real-time updates, email posting, RSS integration, anti-spam techniques are all way better than the default systems.
- Such commenting platforms help you drive user engagement and build a community — users can rate each others’ comments, for instance. This enables your readers to take the discussions more seriously.
- The default commenting mechanism, irrespective of the CMS or theme you are using, blends well with the design and there is little tweaking to be done. You can focus on the actual publishing process. Commenting platforms tend to be, on the other hand, more difficult to integrate into your design.
- Quite often, such third party commenting tools tend to slow down page load times. While the change is not much noticeable, a user on a slower network may be annoyed by the delay in page load times owing to such services.
- In order to fully enjoy the services and features offered by such platforms, you need to have an account with them, and also install additional plugins. Plus, your comments are stored on their servers, and this can further cause considerable issues if, due to some reason, their servers go down or take time to respond.
Major Commenting Platforms
Disqus is one of the most popular choices when it comes to commenting platforms. It comes with several addons of its own and has special features to help you promote community building on your website using comments.
First up, Disqus comes with plugins and extensions for multiple platforms — Blogger, Tumblr, Drupal and of course WordPress. Naturally, if you are looking a system that is easy to set up, Disqus will not disappoint you. Furthermore, Disqus offers excellent integration with services such as Youtube and Flickr to help your users share social media with ease. Your users can login using their Facebook or Twitter accounts, or choose to comment using their Disqus account itself.
Disqus offers realtime updates of comments and has its own in-house anti spam technology and moderation tools. You can customize it by adding special blacklisted words, whitelisted keywords and phrases, and so on. The WordPress Disqus plugin has been internationalized in various languages, and is mobile-friendly.
Who Should Use It: Practically, any website that gets a good level of traffic (say, over 30,000 monthly uniques). Smaller websites or blogs with lesser traffic really do not need the complexity that accompanies Disqus. Also, if you are concerned about page load times, Disqus might not be apt for you — it takes slightly higher time to fetch comments.
IntenseDebate is a sibling of WordPress — well, sort of! It is developed and curated by Automattic, the parent company behind WordPress.
Just like Disqus, IntenseDebate also offers good integration with services such as WordPress, Blogger and Tumblr. Plus, IntenseDebate also supports several social commenting platforms and tools, such as Facebook Connect and OpenID. Considering the fact that IntenseDebate shares the same lineage as other services and tools offered by Automattic, it relies on Akismet for fighting spam.
In terms of features as well, IntenseDebate is a pretty solid platform: it offers your nested comments, realtime updates, email notifications as well as reply-by-email.
Who Should Use It: Ideally, WordPress self-hosted users. Also, while IntenseDebate does have most of the features offered by other services, it is still a lesser known entity. Unless Disqus gives you serious issues regarding load times, etc, you should prefer Disqus over IntenseDebate simply because the latter is less popular.
Livefyre is what you get if you add some spice to Disqus.
Basically, Livefyre offers what every other commenting platform does — realtime updates, social networking integration, anti-spam and moderation tools, personal profiles for users, email responses, and so on. Beyond that, Livefyre also claims to boost your pagerank because the comments are SEO-friendly.
Livefyre claims its share of bragging rights by virtue of the eye candy and spicy element that it brings to the table. It has its own hub for publishers, so if you choose to opt for Livefyre on your blog, you will gain access to various useful tools.
As of now, Livefyre offers native integration with WordPress and Tumblr, though Joomla!, Drupal and Blogger integration is already in the works. Of course, you can use the code to add it to any website that you feel like.
Who Should Use It: Someone looking for all the features of Disqus, but also hoping for some eye candy element. Livefyre looks good — oh trust me, it surely looks good! I am not 100% sure about SEO improvement, though — maybe that is a marketing claim, or maybe it isn’t. However, Livefyre surely is more capable than IntenseDebate, and loads much quicker than Disqus. So if I were to choose for a commenting platform out of all those mentioned on this page, I will opt for Livefyre.
4. Facebook Comments
Facebook is the world’s largest social network, and as a result, it can work as an ideal choice to engage user activity on your blog. Facebook Comments plugin is one such tool that can help you harness the power of Facebook to foster user engagement on your website.
To disclaim, FB Comments does not offer the plethora of features that you might find in Livefyre or Disqus. Instead, Facebook utilizes certain smart logistics to encourage users to leave comments on your blog: it groups user comments on the basis of relevance: ones by the visitor’s friends come on top, followed by friends of friends, and so on. Naturally, considering the fact that nowadays almost every other person is an FB lover, people will be encouraged to participate in the discussion if they see other users doing the same.
Facebook Comments offers some moderation tools, grammar filters and mobile support. There is also limited support for third-party login.
If you do decide to opt for Facebook Comments, you should know that FB Comments generally renders itself as an iframe, and most search engines are not in love with iframe. Thus, using FB Comments may not be able to boost your SEO page rank by a mile.
Who Should Use It: People looking to use Facebook’s popularity to their advantage. The plugin loads quickly, and works well. That said, considering the momentum the likes of Google+ and Twitter and also Pinterest have been enjoying, restricting yourself to entirely FB makes little sense. Furthermore, do not fall for the “FB comment box plus native comment system” ploy — use just one commenting system, either a third-party one or the native WP one. After all, keeping things simple has its own benefits!
5. Jetpack Comments
Jetpack Comments is a component of the awesome Jetpack plugin by WordPress.com
Jetpack offers various features — site stats, proof reading tools, CDN services, shortlinks, and so on. Jetpack Comments deals with helping your users comment on your WordPress-powered blog in an unobtrusive and user friendly manner.
That said, there is not much to talk about Jetpack Comments: users can login using their Facebook or Twitter or WordPress.com accounts, or even comment anonymously if you choose to allow that. Spam fighting depends on the plugin you employ (such as Akismet).
All in all, if you are looking for a simple mechanism to replace the boring default commenting system, but do not wish to burden your blog by adding an additional plugin or code snippet, Jetpack Comments can suffice for you.
Who Should Use It: People with small to medium websites, and using WordPress. You do not need an additional plugin if you have Jetpack, so this option might serve you well without any further hassles.
With that, we come to the end of this article about commenting platforms. Which commenting platform do you use? Have your say in the comments below!
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