For a long time, Disqus was one of the better WordPress comment plugins. They are a large platform with users around the web, so many people who have used Disqus in one place are already registered to comment on your site as well.
Unfortunately, when Disqus added their advertising system, it started to hurt. Sure, you could make a little money on the side by showing ads in your comments to your readers, but the income was minimal. At the same time, the user disruption – and the conflicts with other ads you’re running – made it a worse prospect. Some people found that switching away improved their engagement, and others have seen an increase in ad clicks when the Disqus ads are removed.
If you don’t like what Disqus has done with the place, so to speak, here are some options you can use to remove the ads and have comments with a less disruptive experience.
No, this isn’t the name of some fancy plugin; I just mean removing whatever comment plugin you currently have and using what WordPress provides on their own.
Sure, the native comments system isn’t the best. It has some issues. It can be slow on large sites, it doesn’t have a lot of advanced features, and it doesn’t have cross-site functionality like other plugins.
On the other hand, with Akismet it has pretty good filtering and moderation options. It’s relatively lightweight for smaller sites, loads quickly, and doesn’t need to run a bunch of scripts to pull data from some third party server.
I put this one first because it’s the baseline option for those of you looking for alternative comments. Regardless of what you do or don’t want, you can always use native comments on any WordPress site. It’s not the best option, it’s not the worst option, but it’s always going to be an option. You can also do some custom styling to make it to look really nice, even close to Disqus if you want.
One of the most prominent plugins to enhance WordPress is Jetpack, which is a suite of various features and plugin modules made to enhance nearly every feature of the blogging platform. In particular, today we’re interested in the “discussion and community” features, which include enhancements to the comment system.
What features does Jetpack add? For one thing, it adds social media integration, so people can log in via their Facebook, Google, or other social media accounts and post using that information, rather than needing to fill out forms or have a third party account set up. Jetpack comments also add the ability for users to receive notifications on replies, which helps you build a community and hold better discussions.
While Jetpack does have a pro version with additional features, almost all of the commenting features are included in the free version so you don’t need to pay the $40 a year it costs to buy the pro version. The only locked feature is the advanced spam filtering.
Postmatic is not just a comments system; it integrates elements of opt-in plugins that use pop-overs and slide-ins, a well as a hello bar. People who comment are added to your mailing list automatically, which sends them your new posts via email when you publish them. They can then reply to that email with a comment, and it will be posted on your site.
This is all an interesting concept, but I’m curious about the implementation. I don’t use it, so I have a few concerns. First of all, with so many emails being sent to people who might not care to read them, will you be flagged as spam? Secondly, I can already tell that this will put a damper on actual site traffic. People can still read and consume your content, as well as leave a comment, without even visiting. It’s a good way to skew your analytics.
While this plugin is indeed ad-free, it’s not free itself; the cheapest version is $20 per month and is limited to up to 10,000 subscribers, and weekly posts.
Trillions of people use Facebook every minute. Everyone in the world has a Facebook account, it’s issued at birth, or retroactively issued for people born before Facebook. If you’re looking for a comment system that’s easy for people to use, because they’re already registered and logged in, Facebook comments is ideal.
The Facebook comments plugin for WordPress is free, it’s easily available from Facebook’s developer center, and it’s easy for people to use. If you have it linked to a Facebook page, you even get cross-posted comments between the social network and your website.
Facebook helps prevent spam by making it harder to register fake accounts and impossible to post as a guest. However, it does limit real comments as well, from people who don’t want their real name attached to the comments they make. Plus, well, just look at the sample comments on the developer page. People on Facebook aren’t always on topic or civil with one another, so you will have to pay attention and moderate your comments.
An interesting and new form of commenting, this plugin actually combines blog comments, instant messaging, and web forums all into one megacommunity. It’s designed to be an all-in-one social alternative for your audience, and as such, is best used on a site that has a larger, persistent audience. You don’t need to add the IM and forum modules if you don’t want, though.
The downside here is that it’s not free, as you might expect. Muut is $20 per month – cheaper if billed annually – and it isn’t white-label at that level. For a custom domain, you need the $45 monthly plan, and if you want watermarks or private forums, it’s even more expensive.
All in all, it’s an interesting concept, and if you’re a large site and want to build a large community, it can be an excellent solution. For small blogs that only get a couple of comments per week, it’s probably overkill.
Despite the edgy name, this plugin is one of the better free alternative comment systems available in the WordPress plugin directory. It’s kept up to date constantly, with an update a mere day ago as of this writing, and has 20,000 active installs. It integrates with user profiles from BuddyPress, Users Ultra, UserPro, and more, and it works with anti-spam plugins like Akisment and WPBruiser.
There’s not a lot to say about WPDiscuz, all things considered. It has a long feature list, all of which are features you’ve probably come to expect. You have options like lazy loading, nested comment threads, truncated comments, subscription activation, and a bunch more.
While the primary plugin is free, there are buyable add-ons to give your comment system more features. These include front-end moderation, emoticon usage, comment search, user tagging, and more. They’re somewhat expensive, ranging from $15 to $25 each, but it’s not a monthly fee.
CommentLuv is an interesting plugin in that it’s designed for a minor bit of SEO manipulation. It works similar to Disqus, in that users create accounts and can post on any other blog that uses CommentLuv. However, along with the account, they can also flag posts on their own blogs that they have written.
You know how in traditional WordPress comments, there’s a field for a website link? This works the same way; the post you flag shows up as your site link when you comment. The difference is, these are both heavily moderated and followed links. When you leave a good comment, your link exists, and can send some SEO value back to your site.
As you might expect, this can attract a lot of comments from other webmasters and content creators, which can be a boost to your engagement and potential influencer marketing. On the other hand, it means there will be a lot of people trying to exploit the links you provide, so you will have to keep a close eye on your comments and remove the most exploitative of them.
Like Jetpack, this plugin is a hack to the base, default WordPress comment system. Yoast is the team behind some of the best WordPress plugins available, and this is a series of framework hacks they use to streamline comments on their own sites. It cleans up the detritus in comment notification emails, it allows you to set a minimum comment length threshold, it can redirect first time commenters to a thank you page, it allows you to email individual commenters, and a whole lot more.
Basically, this plugin doesn’t add too many features, it just streamlines and speeds up existing features. The ones it does add are hacks to increase functionality on existing features, like adding moderation links to your comment notification emails.
Formerly known as Google+ Comments for WordPress, this plugin adds comment tab sections for other kinds of comments, and actually integrates with other comment systems, including Disqus, Facebook, native comments, and the trackback system.
From some perspectives, user choice is a big benefit. If you set up Disqus and a user wants to comment, but they don’t want to use Disqus, you’ve lost that potential comment. The user is going to weigh what they wanted to say with the effort involved in making or recovering an account, and they’ll probably opt not to do so. If you give them the choice between four or five different comment systems, they can pick the one that is easiest for them to use and will use it. You get people from all systems ready to comment.
On the other hand, choice can lead to paralysis. For a comment, which account does the user want to use? Did they use a different account last time? Should they keep continuity between comment systems, and are there any penalties to switching mid-conversation? They might just not comment at all.
Basically, this plugin works best as a solution for when you’ve jumped between two or three different comment plugins and can’t decide which one you want to use. Facebook? Disqus? Native? Why not both!
There’s an ongoing argument in blogging about whether or not comments are even worth having. Some sites, like Copyblogger, Michael Hyatt’s blog, and a few others have announced they are disabling comments, but then restored them a year or so later due to the lost value and engagement. Others have disabled or never allowed comments, due to the amount of time they take up in moderation and attention, such as Zen Habits and Seth Godin’s blog.
It’s always a possibility that you can just disable comments entirely. You can add a footnote that says “if you’d like to comment on this post, please see the shared post on Facebook” with a Facebook share button in prominent visibility. Or you can just ignore the social aspect of blogging entirely.
Should you disable comments or not? It’s really up to you. Data gathered by Hubspot shows very little correlation between the number of comments and the number of links or views a post got. On the other hand, Neil Patel found that a lot of the keywords his posts ranked for came from comments, rather than his posts themselves. That’s cool if you have hundreds of comments on every post like he does, but for smaller blogs like this one it doesn’t exactly encourage keeping comments around.
You can read the data here, and you can make a decision for yourself. Everyone will have a different experience, so make the choice for your own site based on your own traffic and data, not my recommendation.