Comments are a big part of a successful blog or community, which is why bloggers are always looking for more ways of encouraging comments (e.g. competitions, feature articles, reader interaction etc).
By default, visitors can leave a comment on a WordPress website by simply entering their name and email address (and website address too if they wish). If you want to encourage commentating then you have the option to remove the requirement for users to enter their name and email address. Though, as you would expect, this anonymous commentating option brings a lot of spam.
If you are looking for more control over who leaves comments, then you may want to force users to register. I tested this myself a few years ago when I was experiencing a lot of spam. The upside is that spam is greatly reduced, the downside is that comments are also greatly reduced.
An alternative is to use an external commentating system. One of the most popular services is Disqus, a commenting system which you will have probably seen before (even if you didn’t realise it).
Disqus allows users to login and leave a comment on your site by signing in via Facebook, Twitter and Open ID. It can be found on thousands of websites across the web as it is supported by WordPress, Blogger, Tumblr, Movable Type, TypePad, Drupal, Joomla and much more.
Users can create their own Disqus profile and track and manage comments across the whole web. Perhaps due to this feature, and because users can easily sign in using their social networking accounts, blogs who choose to use the Disqus system should see an increase in commentating rates.
Other features include:
- Threaded comments and replies
- Notifications and reply by email
- Subscribe and RSS options
- Aggregated comments and social mentions
- Powerful moderation and admin tools
- Full spam filtering, blacklists and whitelists
- Support for Disqus community widgets
Once you have installed Disqus you will need to update your WordPress database with your Disqus profile and website details.
After you have done this you can export your websites comments to Disqus. You can also sync so that your comments are stored on Disqus and on your own website.
There are not too many options in the plugin settings page. The API and short name details are automatically entered after you have logged into your Disqus account so you will only need to visit that page again if you want to uninstall the plugin from your site.
Disqus is a fantastic service and it’s one which works with WordPress well. It’s useful for people who leave comments frequently on websites but it’s also useful for website owners who want more moderation options.
I have yet to install Disqus on one of my live sites. I tested the service when it was first launched though I was reluctant to install it on my blogs because it was a hosted commenting solution. I like to have full control over my comments which is something you can’t have if they are stored on an external database.
However, since I first tested the service, Disqus have added an option to snyc the comments on your own database with theirs. Therefore I am going to give the service, and it’s competitors, more consideration over the coming weeks and look at the pros and cons of using such a service.
I’d love to hear from WordPress users who have used Disqus on their site before.; specifically from those who love the service and others who tried it and then uninstalled it.
Thanks for reading :)