In my opinion, there are really only four options for comments systems you should be looking at for your blog. Native comments (those built into your blog), Livefyre, Intense Debate, and Disqus. I’ve now tried all four, and here’s my opinion of what’s best…
The native comments built-into blogging platforms is okay, but very limited. Having long discussions within the comments is often difficult and on most platforms it is easy to get lost. The plus-side to these comment systems is that the comments become a “part of the webpage,” meaning that they load with the page and are picked up by all search engines as part of your searchable content. Of course, this could be a down-side if people get side-tracked from the topic at hand.
Disqus is a very easy system both to install and to use. It’s also java-based which means that the major search engines will probably include the comments in search results (this is relatively new, and very nice). Your users can sign-in with the major social networks (something visitors are becoming used to) and it’s very easy to have longer discussions. The big downside of Disqus is that it saves all the comments on the Disqus server, not on your server. This often adds to loading time and makes it difficult to transfer a blog sometimes.
I preferred IntenseDebate over Disqus. It was more functional and easier to have discussions with. There aren’t as many sign-in options, but the fact that it stores the comments on Intense Debate’s servers AND in your blog is a huge plus. When I switched from Blogger to self-hosted WordPress, several comments got lost in the shuffle and I was able to retrieve most of them because of this. There are also lots of add-ins you can enable which give you fun functionality. The biggest downside is the difficulty of installation.
But if I had to recommend a single comments system it would be Livefyre, a relatively new service. It has all the pros of Disqus and all the pros of IntenseDebate (minus a few of the add-ins). It’s fast and efficient, and nests comments up to four levels deep, which makes conversations so much easier. But where Livefyre really shines is in its ability to pull comments from posts on your Facebook page and on twitter. This is HUGE if your readers tend to comment on your Facebook links instead of on the post itself (a problem I was really having). The Livefyre people also respond when you have problems. I’ve sent emails to both Disqus and IntenseDebate and I’ve never gotten responses.
Livefyre is rolling out a new version with even more features in the next couple weeks that I’m really excited for. In addition to the current features, it’s going to give readers the ability to share photos and video as well as give readers the ability to respond to imported comments directly on the blog posts.
The only downside to Livefyre that I’ve found so far is that it doesn’t import the comments from Facebook as quickly as it used to. Sometimes I have to wait a few hours for the comments to show up on my blog.
Personally, I think you’re doing yourself and your readers a disservice if you don’t install one of these advanced comment systems.
Dan Pearce, Single Dad Laughing, My Big Blog Secrets
PS. What are your thoughts on the advanced comment systems? Have you tried more than one? Which is your favorite as a blogger and as a blog visitor?