If you are running an online magazine or a blog, the importance of comments can never be underestimated. In fact, even if you are running just a general purpose website, comments serve as a very handy tool to help your readers and visitors interact with you, and provide you vital feedback and constructive criticism.
While this is true that the modern-day spammers have diluted the merits of comments as such, the fact also remains that comments still stand tall as the easiest mode of fostering interaction and encouraging dialogues on the internet.
So, when it comes to implementing comment on your website, which route should you follow? It is often felt that the legacy commenting mechanism that comes bundled with software such as WordPress or Drupal is lacking in many aspects, especially user authentication and anti-spam tools. Thus, opting for a third-party commenting mechanism is a choice that most popular blogs tend to make.
In this article, I will talk about some of the top third-party commenting tools that you can use to foster communication on your blog or website.
Top Commenting Solutions For Your Blog
When it comes to external commenting solutions, Disqus stands tall as the de facto leader. It is the most popular commenting solution out there, and it seems to be rising in popularity with each passing day.
In terms of features, Disqus boasts of responsive design, RSS subscriptions, threaded replies, email updates, support for social networks, spam filters, and a lot more! If your blog is popular, Disqus will also allow you to monetize it by means of content suggestions.
Plus, Disqus comes with plugins and integration tools for most popular solutions, such as WordPress, Drupal, Movable Type, Tumblr, etc.
On the downside, Disqus takes a little bit of extra time to load, making life difficult for folks with poor internet speeds.
The second option on this list, Livefyre, is yet another extremely popular third party commenting tool. Used by the likes of Mashable and Engadget, Livefyre offers real-time commenting, mobile support, social media integration, etc.
Livefyre too offers integration plugins and tools for popular platforms such as WordPress, though adding it to hosted solutions like Tumblr is a long shot.
Livefyre loads quicker than Disqus, and has a lively community too. But on the negative end, its interface looks way dated as compared to that of Disqus.
3. Facebook Comments
You can’t count out the world’s largest social network, can you? Facebook Comments, as the name suggests, provides a comments box powered by Facebook.
The biggest advantage here is clear: you are using the world’s largest social network, so potential list of commenters is endless. Since folks can also ‘like’ individual comments, it means your blog can get a wider audience simply by virtue of good comments. Plus, since people use their real Facebook profile to comment, spam too becomes negligible.
However, you should note, that using Facebook Comments also implies that you are missing out users who are not on Facebook, and/or do not wish to comment using their Facebook profile.
4. Google+ Comments
Much like Facebook Comments, Google+ Comments is Google’s version of social networking coupled with commenting. In this case, users use their Google+ profile to comment on blogs and websites, and instead of ‘like’, the currency in use is +1.
Also, just like Facebook, in this case too, you can be sure that spam would be reduced to bare minimum, since people will be using their real profile to comment. Viral advantages too are an added bonus, albeit in this case the chances are rare since Google+ does not yet have a user base as big as that of Facebook.
The drawbacks are the same as that of Facebook Comments as well: users who do not use Google+ and/or do not wish to tell the world that they use Google+ will probably refrain from commenting. Furthermore, with Google, you can never be sure when their mood might change and they add Google+ to the long list of killed projects (though the chances of this happening anytime soon are minimal).
In terms of integration though, you either have to be a Blogger user, or rely on third-party plugins or your own coding abilities.
5. Jetpack Comments (WordPress Users Only)
Jetpack is a super-plugin meant for self-hosted WordPress websites. It offers diverse functionality, such as site stats, custom CSS, Markdown support, and a lot more!
Jetpack Comments is a component of the Jetpack plugin. Basically, Jetpack Comments does nothing much to your legacy commenting mechanism: you still host your comments, and have to deal with anti-spam measures and what not. However, Jetpack Comments comes with the added benefit of social media logins and nested replies. That’s all!
If you are a WordPress user and do not wish to rely on third-party services and yet find the legacy commenting tool to be insufficient, Jetpack Comments might just be the solution you need.
6. Intense Debate
The last name on our list, Intense Debate, is a solution from the same stable as WordPress — Automattic.
You might be thinking, “I’m pretty sure Intense Debate is to comments what WordPress is to blogging!”
Sadly, my friends, this is not the case. For some reason, Automattic have not been showing much interest in Intense Debate. It comes with a good deal of features — threaded replies, subscriptions, social media integration, and so on.
However, it is as good as dead. In fact, the last update its WordPress plugin received was way back in 2007! As good as Intense Debate might be, it just might not be worth the effort to bet on a car that is possibly breathing its last.
That brings us to the end of this article. The benefits of using a third party commenting service are many: social networking integration, less spam, better UI, mobile support, etc.
However, there is one minor con as well: if the service breaks or changes ownership or shuts down, you will have to figure out an alternative way. Of course, this is a big ‘What if’, so that’s really up to mere speculation.
Do you use any third party comments platform on your blog or website? If so, which one? Share your experiences with us in the comments below!