Last week I had a bit of a rant about blog commenting – specifically, how subscribing to comment streams had been driving me crazy. My basic argument was that bloggers should find a way of notifying readers when they reply to their comments, without requiring them to subscribe, which can lead to endless unwanted emails.
Thanks very much to everyone who commented on that post – I had some interesting responses, including a couple from some readers who use Disqus.
Now I’ll be honest with you – I’ve never been a great fan of Disqus, but I was grateful to those readers who left comments about it and provided some insights into the service.
I didn’t mention third party commenting services like Disqus in last week’s post, so I thought I’d do a little piece on them this week, in case there’s anyone else out there who’s as confused about them as I was. Others you’re likely to come across are Livefyre, Intense Debate and, of course, Facebook Comments.
Disqus and LiveFyre – What ARE They?
Disqus and LiveFyre are ‘third party’ commenting systems, which provide a networked platform for comments on your blog.
If you install something like Disqus or Livefyre on a WordPress blog, it replaces your default WordPress comments, unlike plugins such as CommentLuv or ReplyMe, which simply add functionality to your existing WordPress comments.
A reader usually has to register with the service and sign in before they can submit a comment.
Main Selling Points of Third Party Commenting Systems
- Increased Engagement: These systems claim to make it easier for the host blogger and people leaving comments to follow discussions – for example, by providing email alerts to notify people of replies. Some facilitate live discussions in real time, so it’s more like having a chat via a messaging service like Skype.
- Registration Process to Reduce Spam: The fact that these systems require users to register and sign in before they comment is supposed to reduce spam. However, the wpbeginner blog found one feature in Livefyre was open to abuse by spammers and actually made this problem worse – check out their interesting article on why they switched from Livefyre.
- Social Media Integration: The third party systems I’ve looked at all seem to provide integration with social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter. This can make it easier for users to share their conversations more widely and enhance their online presence by posting comments to their various profiles. Users can also use their social media accounts to sign in to the service, which simplifies the log in process – I always sign in with my Twitter account, which I find pretty quick and easy.
Why Disqus and Livefyre Don’t Light My Fire
- There’s Too Many Of Them! If all the bloggers in the world used Disqus, it would be just grand – but they don’t. Which means we all have to get to grips with several different services if we’re going to take advantage of them – more logins, more profiles, more settings, more passwords…..
- They Alienate Some Readers: When you first come across one of these things on a blog, it can be very off-putting. The first time I tried to leave a comment on a site with Livefyre, I was going through a phase when I was really struggling to cope with all my registrations and passwords. I’d no desire to register with this service I’d never heard of, so I just gave up and walked away without leaving a comment. I can’t be alone – I’m sure there are other people surfing the web who aren’t familiar with these services and can’t be bothered to jump through hoops just to leave a simple message.
- Slower Loading Times: I’ve noticed some blogs using these systems take ages to load – an interesting Problogger article on third party commenting systems mentions this issue. In view of all the articles I’ve read recently about the importance of fast loading times, and the impact they can have on your blog’s rankings, I think this is a serious disadvantage.
- Loss of Control: Although I’ve never used any of these systems on my own blog, I’ve read articles expressing concern that the host blogger loses a certain amount of control over the comments on their site. Michael Stelzner’s review of Disqus makes the point that your comments and their moderation reside on DISQUS servers, not your own – so, if they ever decided to charge you or if their servers go down, you could have big problems. The post about Livefyre on wpbeginner, mentioned above, also complains about lack of control over the formatting and appearance of comments.
Why it’s Still Worth Setting up Disqus and Livefyre Profiles
Like it or not, a lot of blogs run these third party commenting services, so if you regularly visit blogs that use them, I think it’s worth going to the trouble to register and set up your profile.
I know I’m always mentioning my good friend Mayura of Mayura4Ever - I promise you there’s no favouritism here, but he’s getting another mention this week because he’s helped me out yet again! Mayura uses Disqus on his blog, and explained that I needed to edit my Disqus profile settings in order to receive email alerts of replies to my comments. I hadn’t realised this – I’d just quickly (and grudgingly!) registered with Disqus in order to leave comments on a few sites, but I’d never seen any replies because I’d never been into the dashboard to edit my profile.
Using Disqus or LiveFyre on Your Blog? Here’s How You Can Help….
Bloggers using these systems should be sensitive to the fact that not all their readers will be familiar with them. So how about adding some simple instructions, advising readers how to register and pointing out why this will be to their advantage? If the blogs I’d visited had explained how I could arrange to be notified of a reply to my comments by editing my profile, I might have seen their replies – and maybe I’d have gone back for more of a chat.
Mayura, good guy that he is, has already added a prompt about this on his blog, including a link to the Disqus settings, to make life easier for his readers – check it out if you want to see how it can be done.
If you want your readers to do anything, remember the old marketing principle WIIFM – What’s In It For Me? I didn’t sign up for Disqus or Livefyre initially, because I just thought it was a hassle I could do without. Maybe I’m a bit thick, but I needed someone to spell out why it would be worth my while. I’m sure I’m not alone – not all your readers will be web-savvy, streetwise bloggers – don’t you want to reach out to ALL of them, including the ones who aren’t so clued up, like me?
What Do YOU Think of Third Party Commenting Systems?
I’m not planning to use any of these commenting systems on my own blog – I’m much happier sticking to basic WordPress comments combined with my CommentLuv plugin, which sends out automatic notifications of my replies. But what about you?
Do you use a system like Disqus or Livefyre on your own blog? And how do you feel about commenting on blogs that use them? Do you find them a bit of a pain or do you think they’re the best thing since sliced bread? Perhaps you have your Livefyre and Disqus profiles all set up, singing and dancing in tune with your Twitter and Facebook accounts?
Please let me know what you think, by leaving a comment below – I’d love to hear from you.
And don’t forget to share this post if you have friends or followers who might enjoy it.
PS In response to last week’s post, I’ve had a comment from a reader, Astro Gremlin of Blogs News Reviews, which has made me realise that I have my own CommentLuv plugin set automatically to send a ‘ReplyMe’ response when I respond to a reader’s comment. I must admit I hadn’t realized I could alter this so readers have to tick a box to request the notification. This doesn’t subscribe the reader to receive messages about anything other than a direct reply to their own comment and I’ve never been concerned about receiving ReplyMe emails by default from other people’s blogs – I’ve always been pleased to see the blogger’s response. However, I’m now wondering if I should change this on my own settings. What do you think?
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