Today we’re going to talk about blog comments and why they’re an effective tool for engaging blog readers and developing relationships. A couple of months back, I decided to shift from using WordPress’ native system to manage my blogs comments to a 3rd-party system.
For me, there were several of reasons:
- Spam: The 3rd-party systems have often proved to be better at combating spam comments.
- Integration: It integrates seamlessly with your WordPress site’s design (and on other platforms too). As a web designer, I enjoy getting my hands dirty with coding, but WordPress’ native comment template can get a bit tricky when you’re designing for nested comments, author comments, etc. So, I decided to take a load off and let a 3rd-party system handle it.
- Helps Foster Discussion: WordPress comments when left untouched do nothing in the way of getting blog commenters to come back after you’ve replied to their comment (you need a plugin for that). However, these 3rd-party blog comment systems help you foster good conversations, discussions, and interactions right on your blog. Rather than having to opt-in, most users are sent an email when the author replies (or can manage it in their own accounts).
- Managing All Comments: What I love about blog comment systems is that it gives you the ability to manage comments and interactions on your blog, but also gives you the ability to manage and review comments you’ve left on other blogs, as well as see responses left for you by that blog’s author. Now that’s convenience!
- Easy Blog Integration: Typically, these commenting systems integrate into the blog fairly easily. As a WordPress user, it was especially helpful that they came with plugins. Basically what happens is the commenting system will attach and skin itself over top of wherever your have installed your comments template on your WordPress single post page (or any other page). This is very easy and convenient!
I’m sure there are more benefits, but those are the ones that have struck me as incredibly positive. So without further adieu, here are the best blog comment systems according to me…
The Ones I’ve Tried
DISQUS is my top pick and is the preferred comments platform here on the Agent SEO blog. You can see it in action below. There are several things that I like about it and a few things that I don’t.
- Flexible options for management of comments, comment moderation, comments template appearance, and access control.
- Great notification system that lets authors know when a comment is left, and also lets a commenter know when the author has responded to their comment via email. This keeps the conversation going.
- Easy ability to import and export new & old WordPress comments.
- My personal favorite: Integration with social media and the display of reactions and trackbacks in the comments (see below). This helps me know who is sharing my blog post on Twitter, etc. and is especially useful if they forget to include my username (which means I wouldn’t see it in my mentions feed on Twitter).
- The community profiles feature allows you to moderate comments on your blog and manage your own comments and interactions on other blogs all in one basic dashboard.
- Very good at combating spam, and also gives you the ability to whitelist or blacklist certain users, as well as word filtering.
- When I originally installed it, it blew up and rendered invalid any scripts outside of the comments template having to do with comment count – for instance the counts underneath post titles or next to popular posts. After much digging, I found that hey have a script that you have to install to correct this comment count issue – it then shows comments and reactions. However, if you’re not familiar with code, then this will be a huge issue.
All in all, my experience with DISQUS has been good and I would recommend it to anyone as my blog comment system of choice. Here is the link to the WordPress DISQUS Comment System plugin.
#2. Intense Debate
Intense Debate is another blog comment system that I’ve had experience with. It is very similar to DISQUS and has some good features and some bad features. It was originally my comment system of choice until I decided to switch to DISQUS.
- I actually preferred Intense Debate’s design over that of DISQUS. That’s my inner designer speaking and is very subjective, so take it for what it’s worth.
- Intense Debate also has a very good email notification system.
- It does a good job of combating spam and gives you a lot of options for comment moderation and management.
- I like their idea of ‘Reputation Points’ and ‘Comment Voting’ which helps your blog’s commenters build up their reputation by submitting quality comments.
- They do have some social media integration, although I don’t quite think it is to the level of DISQUS’ product.
- It was fairly easy to import & export old WordPress comments.
- When I originally started using Intense Debate, it did an odd thing. It installed some sort of page reload script that caused my webpage to reload itself about every 30 seconds. This was not good for usability, and their customer service team was unable to help me figure out why that was happening. I’m sure that bug has been worked out, but it wasn’t when I made the switch.
- I liked the social media integration including reactions on DISQUS much more than those on Intense Debate.
Now don’t get me wrong, I think Intense Debate is a fantastic blog comments platform. However, I still think DISQUS has a bit more to offer in terms of functionality, management, ease-of-integration, and social media characteristics. Here is the link to the The IntenseDebate WordPress Plugin.
The Ones I Haven’t Tried
Here are a few blog comment systems that I’ve seen and heard good things about but haven’t tried out for myself.
LiveFyre is another real-time blog comments system similar to DISQUS and Intense Debate. Although I haven’t personally used it, from what I’ve seen it is probably most similar to Intense Debate in terms of functionality.
You can see it live in action on Lewis Howes’ blog.
You can learn how to install on your WordPress blog by following the instructions on LiveFyre’s Quick Install page. Just a note, there are some features of this system that are free and some that are paid.
#4. Echo Commenting (Used to be “SezWho”)
The old commenting system SezWho has since been taken over by Echo, who has repurposed their commenting system and released it to the public under the Echo Commenting name.
From what I can tell, it definitely looks a lot more slick in terms of functionality and design that the old SezWho blog comment system. However, I haven’t tried it out so I wouldn’t know. You can see it live on the Washington Post’s website.
All-in-all it looks like a solid system, although I won’t go as far as to put my stamp of approval on it just yet. Also, it doesn’t appear to be free.
So now I’d like to ask you to share your thoughts on the above blog comment systems, tell me your likes and dislikes of each, and even introduce a blog comment system that I haven’t listed here. Thanks and have a great day!