(Update: 5th March 2017 – I decided that after three years of using Disqus on this site that I would disable it. My reason is not because Disqus is bad in any way, but because one of my goals in 2017 is to use as fewer plugins on this site as possible).
Many moons ago I made the decision to get rid of the native WordPress comment system on this blog.
I now run two blogs that use Disqus comments for engagement and interaction, and if you’re thinking about making the switch for your blog too, let me share with you some of the pros and cons of using either of the two commenting platforms.
Now I am well aware of the downfalls of using a third party commenting system plugin in WordPress, yes Disqus may be more difficult for some users to get used to, yes page loading time might increase ever, ever, ever so slightly, but the benefits in my opinion, certainly outweigh the downfalls.
One of the things that I immediately noticed within a few weeks of installing and using Disqus on this blog, was the level and depth of engagement received.
As you know engagement is critical for any blog to thrive and grow, and I’ve had nothing but positive engagement since making the switch, I don’t just say that to be biassed at all, because I did have some doubts.
Almost zero spam! (Update 26/05/2016)
Spam is now almost at zero.
Disqus has learned over time what I consider to be spam and what I don’t, and now I get almost no spam whatsoever. A few months ago I was running Akismet alongside Disqus, I actually disabled that plugin a while back, and still zero spam.
It’s obvious to see that Disqus gets better with time, and as I’ve moderated comments, whitelisted comments from trusted folks in my community, blacklisted many, the platform has recognized over the course of time what I consider as spam and what I don’t. A very useful and clever feature if you ask me.
OK, so I’ve shared with your some good points and bad points, all based on my personal experience with using Disqus on my blog.
Next, let’s look at some other more common benefits and pitfalls that people often talk about when considering using Disqus.
The benefits of using Native WP Comment System
1. Simple layout and easy to use, that’s a big plus!
2. Encourages more people to comment with their email address and URL, since they’re getting a backlink in the process of leaving a comment, regardless whether it’s no-follow or not.
3. Features can be extended with the use of various plugins (i.e. CommentLuv, GrowMap anti-spam, TwitterLink, Akismet)
4. Comments are indexed by search engines.
5. Responsive (mobile friendly)
6. Comments are saved inside your WP database.
The common pitfalls of using Native WP Comment System
1. Invites a ton of spammy comments, poor quality comments, bots and shameless link droppers.
2. Need to use various other plugins to add features that Disqus already has built-in, putting more weight on page load times, CPU usage and all the rest of it!
3. Looks messy and unprofessional on some blogs (arguably I guess).
4. No social media integration.
Benefits of using Disqus Comment System
1. Compatible with most web platforms such as Blogger, Tumblr, and Drupal, not just WordPress.
2. Looks and feels more professional…
3. Smart at detecting spam, no need for additional plugins (Since integrating Disqus on my blogs, spam have been almost non-existent.)
4. Integrates social media engagement into your blog, a very big plus point.
5. Built-in ‘reply to comment’ email notification.
6. Google indexing of comments.
7. Mobile responsive.
8. Comments are backed up to your WP database.
9. Users don’t need to have a Gravatar account to use a Gravatar image!
10. Other fantastic built-in engagement features such as share comments, vote for comments, make a comment featured.
11. Related articles widget at bottom of comments allows users to explore more of your content or should you prefer, other content from around the web.
12. Ability to monetize (Make money baby!).
13. Have I missed anything out?
14. Oh, I almost forgot… Ability to upload and share images in comments!
15. And it’s Free!!!
Pitfalls of using Disqus Comment System
1. Occasionally slows page loading, however, check out this amazing tutorial I found on TechGlimpse.
2. The fact that you have to register to leave a comment might frustrate and discourage some users, however, users can register with their social media profiles (Disqus supports Twitter, Facebook or Google+)
3. Known errors with loading from time to time, this admittedly has frustrated me at best of times. (Update 14/04/2016: in the last 12 months of running Disqus, I’ve not had any problems with slow loading or comments not loading at all, which is a step in the right direction).
Disqus vs WordPress Comment System? My conclusion
Changing from native WordPress comments to Disqus or anything else is a big decision to make, especially if you’ve built up a decent community on your blog where your audience is used to what you already have in place.
In an ideal situation, you might want to get their thoughts and opinions first before making the switch. Simply send out an email asking for their thoughts.
There are some pitfalls of using Disqus as I’ve outlined above, however, and noticeably, there are a lot of bloggers making the switch from the native WordPress comment system to Disqus, and not just big popular blogs, but the smaller blogs are doing it too.
Of course, that’s not to say just because everyone else is switching over so should you, it’s to say that Disqus works. It’s a complete solution, and probably the best alternative solution to WordPress native comments.
I understand that Disqus isn’t for everyone, but if you were to ask me for my honest opinion, I’d say give it a try at least, you have nothing to lose, and if you or your readers can’t get used to it, just switch back to the native WordPress comment system at any time.
I’ve been using Disqus now for almost 3 years, and I’ve not looked back.
You can find the Disqus plugin for WordPress here. I’ll leave you to check out the short video below highlighting some of the amazing features in Disqus for WordPress.
Your thoughts about Disqus?
Do let me know your thoughts. Are you currently using the default comment setup in WordPress, and are you looking to switch to Disqus or anything else for that matter?
Perhaps you’re already using Disqus right now. If so, let me know here how you’re finding it and whether it’s improved engagement and interactions on your blog or not!