I have been recently debating on the best comment system for My Time Matters Blog. Granted there are only three commonly used ones to pick from … well, five if you include the standard WordPress comment system and Echo – won’t be discussing this one as it’s not free and is still a work in progress. What are these main comment platforms? They are: IntenseDebate, Disqus, Livefyre and WordPress.
The main reason that got me thinking about the switch to a new comment system was the fact that Klout.com will be implementing Livefyre and Disqus to their social influence algorithm. Even though Klout is still in beta and will be for a long period of time, it is becoming a to go source of influential breakdown. If you’re into stats and online exposure then picking either of the two would be a route to take.
The second reason for my switch is the fact that IntenseDebate (comment system used by My Time Matters Blog for over two years) has been bugging out more than usual. Many commenters complained that after they wrote their comment, when they either pressed submit or reply the comment would disappear. With that in mind, they didn’t feel the need to re-comment so useful information and content has been getting lost. That being said, IntenseDebate team has been on top of things with their updates, whether there is a new patch, update or a change in wordpress … they are the first ones to update their comment system to the current version.
Before we settle on the “best” comment system lets briefly touch down on all of them, since each blog has a different end goal in mind and one comment system over the other may suit it better.
The Good –
Improved commenting system. One of the features is the threading where one can reply directly to a specific comment with nested replies. Blog Admit will receive alerts for replies and new comments. Another distinctive feature is the admin can reply or moderate the comments via email. Users can also put smiley emoticons and check their spelling before posting.
Improved administration tools and powers. The admin can choose the Auto-filter comments by keyword, email and IP addresses. At the same time, the admin can blacklist by auto-deleting comments with certain keywords, email and IP addresses or ban users from posting. Akismet system will help prevent spamming. These tools are important as the blogmaster can easy identify the IP of the spammer and blacklist them.
Improved social commenting. Intense Debate allows users to post comments using services like Facebook, Twitter and OpenID. They can also sign up for an IntenseDebate profile or simply comment as a Guest.
Improved sharing tools. With the sharing buttons, one can share the post to Facebook, Delicious, Yahoo Buzz, Myspace, Windows Live Favourite, Twitter, Digg, Google bookmarks, Reddit, Stumbleupon and Bebo.
CommentLuv and other useful sharing widgets can be integrated for higher user exposure.
The Bad –
- Replies are hidden and you have to click the ‘Replies’ text to expand them. Replies were already shown for pages with few comments, but were not shown for those with many comments.
- The bugs seem to never go away with every update, comments don’t always show up after they have been submitted … although it’s a rare occasion.
The Good –
- Lots of login options. You can use just about any of your login credentials (Google, Facebook, Twitter, etc). Of course, you can still post comments anonymously if you choose to.
- Looks nice and clean, the customizeable CSS is a big plus.
- Community box gives everyone a summary view of the activity and people participating on the site.
- Fully compatible with mobile websites for commenting while on the go.
- It’s popular. Lots of websites use it; therefore, many people know what they’re dealing with when they see Disqus logo in the comment section of a blog.
- Reactions. In addition to showing comments, Disqus also shows a list of who mentioned the blog post on Twitter (which they call a “reaction”).
The Bad –
- Not as customizable as Intense Debate. Can’t add any content of your own to the layout.
- By default, it inherits the blog’s main theme style sheet. Editing CSS for Disqus takes much longer than customizing.
- All URLs in comments are auto-linked. Disqus creates a hyperlink to all text that ends with a typical suffix ie. “.com”. This is kind of a big issue for some users when their blog deals with scam websites. It is nofollow, but it would be nice to see the hyperlinks disable feature.
- The Help section is lacking. There just isn’t that much information in their knowledge base, especially for CSS help.
The Good –
- Extends it’s real-time commenting to mobile platforms.
- Provides real-time “new comment” pop-ups to let you know when someone has posted a new comment.
- Turns URLs into links
- User ratings and comment voting
- Nested replies
- Full profile includes an Activity Stream (previous comments), links to user’s Twitter, Facebook, and Google+ accounts, author bio and more.
- Tag any of your friends on Facebook and Twitter and notify them of your comment.
- Very responsive customer service team; good stories about their team helping out users via Twitter and other social media streams.
- Supports blacklist / whitelist and spam control.
The Bad –
- Doesn’t always synchronize comments back to WordPress on a WordPress Network.
- No subscriptions for guests. If someone wants to leave a comment and subscribe to a reply, they must either use a social-media account or create a LiveFyre account. Requiring someone to have an account in order to comment is bad ethics on the Web.
- No email addresses in email notifications. If someone leaves a comment and one need to respond privately, LiveFyre completely hides the email address, disallowing the private conversation through email.
The Good –
- The comments load quickly and performance is good.
- Comment is not based on an external system and is likely to rarely have technical problems.
- It’s used by many blogs now which means you can seamlessly comment on all of them.
- CommentLuv intergration supports strong backlinks.
- At minimum 30 plugins to enhance the wordpress commenting experience. Ranging from comment rating to integrated media files such s YouTube.
- Opt-in email list support from services like Aweber, Mailchimp, Constant Contact, etc.
- Mobile friendly
The Bad –
- WordPress has a perfectly adequate commenting system built-in. But it can quickly grow unwieldy and commenting can take up a lot of system resources if you run a high-volume site.
- Lack of log-in features via social media networks.
- Commenter interaction is lacking many user friendly features such as real-time commenting and user profiles.
- Mobile interface doesn’t always show up properly and bugs out when there are additional plugins attached.
- Lack of analytics.
These are just the basic bullets regarding the most commonly used comment platforms and granted; there are a lot of missing key features. With that in mind, I recommend using either Livefyre or Disqus as their communities are constantly increasing and the fact that they will be influencing Klout score is a cherry on top. Currently Disqus has an Alexa rank of 1,200 and Livefyre at 4,200 … these are very close numbers since both comment platform user bases are in the millions. But Livefyre has been around a shorter period of time opposed to Disqus.
I ended up going with Livefyre for My Time Matters Blog because of its sharing features, analytics, increased community growth, simple moderation, mobile integration, SEO friendliness and better customer support.
What are your thoughts on these comment platforms and which one do you like the most yourself?
Note: Playing around with Disqus right now … could it be better? Look out for another post. Although temporary switch has been made to test out the commenting systems some more.