Considering changes to comments

Andrew, who designed and hosts my site for me, writes:

The built in WP comments system does a serviceable job, but it could be easier for people to interact–especially since so many come from RSS aggregators.

One relatively simple solution is to replace WP comments with another system like Intense Debate (examples A and B) or Disqus (examples C and D).

Both let you add Facebook and Twitter logins for commenters. They both also add email notifications and reply by email. They work on top of WP comments and sync with the WP database. Disqus is more focused on building a community of comments across the web while Intense Debate tries to create a system of “reputation” among commenters.

I’m fairly cautious about major changes, especially to unfamiliar technology, but thought I would open it up to the people who actually make comments. Please let me know.

11 thoughts on “Considering changes to comments

  1. Requiring logins (even twitter or facebook logins) is a small mental barrier that some people won’t care to bother with. On my own blog I stuck with the WP comments because to me the other systems didn’t have any benefit that outweighed that. I’m not famous and I need to make commenting as easy as possible.

    Of course your mileage may vary.

  2. Incidentally, I am exactly the one who probably would not bother to login. No Facebook, no Twitter. And there are many like me. But actually, you might make us (me and others like me) a favour by requiring login as this would mean less time spent writing comments. :)
    By the way, my own blog is run on local proprietary system of major Slovak newspaper and it requires login for discussions. There are myriads of stupid comments anyway…

  3. I use Disqus on every site I can. I love both the threaded conversations, the ease with with your own comments can be marked as by the moderator, and the option to log in with Facebook or Twitter. And it’s only an option: you can still comment in the same way you can here.

    Also, Andrew is right: it just sits on top of the WordPress comments, not replacing it. It’s not really a major change at all. You can put it in extremely easily and take it out just as easily without losing any comments. And I find the spam capturing to be really good, but then, my sites aren’t as heavily visited as yours.

  4. The biggest benefit to me of Disqus and Intense Debate is that they tend to create a trail for each commenter which helps contextualize their comments, make trolls easier to identify and discourages the extremes.

    But you don’t seem to have much of a problem on those points.

  5. Tim Ogden pretty much echoes my thoughts. A couple of points I’d add:

    – What are the privacy implications of using these aggregated comment services? For many people, the thought of behavioural tracking is frightening.

    For example, an individual might not want to share with facebook/disqus/the world/etc. that their interests range from international development (non-fiction) to cellphones (consumerism) to fiction and indie music (leisure activities). Another slightly-different example, if someone comments on an organization’s policies on a blog, and later applies for a job there, is that person comfortable allowing that organization to track all those comments?

    – Is there a substantial “ease of use” benefit to you or the commenters?

    For example: a. Do either of these options allow commenters to write in comments without visiting the website? b. Does using these systems lessen the load on you in identifying spam/reasonable comments for approval?

  6. I hate Disqus and don’t comment on blogs that use it. It’s a bitch to create an account that isn’t linked to your real name, and it does not disclose how it uses the information scraped out of your Facebook account.

    Please don’t make this a de facto Facebook / Twitter mandatory comment section.

    As a reader, I like the wordpress comment tools. I always assumed that the alternatives are for data harvesting, not for reader benefit.

  7. I second this. I used Disqus on my own blog and encountered irritating duplicated comments and degraded user experience reported by a couple of my readers. I can’t speak toward any other systems, though. Since I’m a Twitter/FB user, I’m unconcerned with logins, but I can sure see why others would feel differently.

  8. The fact that Disqus alerts you when someone replies to you is nice and keeps people engaged (because who really remembers to check comment replies?), but it’s kind of bulky and that’s annoying. Also, I’d seriously advice against anything that forces people to create an account — even though I have a lot of accounts, I don’t like using them. It’s useful when a blog gets a ton of comments and most of them are BS, but your blog is small/specialized enough that the quality of comments is very good regardless.

  9. As far as Disqus goes, I’ve never signed up after the first screen popped and told me it would be able to send Twitter messages on my behalf…? Why would that ever be necessary? What does that have to do with posting comments? Can anyone enlighten me? Who was the ad-whiz who came up with that one? Even if someone gives in to data-mining, that seems very strange.

  10. I comment quite a bit at Wonkette. Their switch to Intense Debate has been pretty rough with comments disappearing for hours at a time or showing up on the user’s dashboard page but not in the comment stream. Once someone is registered with Intense Debate he is able to comment on all the sites that use it–shouldn’t be a problem here but it allows trolls a free field.