In the last few weeks I have reviewed the Disqus Commenting System and the IntenseDebate Commenting System. Both of these services allow you to replace the default WordPress comment system with hosted external commenting solution.
Why use an External Commenting System?
There are a few reasons why people use these services. Firstly, they encourage more people to leave a comment because visitors can login using social networking accounts such as Facebook or Twitter. Since a vast majority of online users use one of these sites actively, it should increase comment rates since the visitor doesn’t have to enter their name and email details.
External commenting solutions also add a lot of functionality to your site at the touch of a button. By simply installing one of these plugins and activating them you can add RSS subscription options to your comments, moderate comments over several sites more easily, and allow users to use the same profile over thousands of websites.
My initial reservations about using Disqus or IntenseDebate was not having full control over my content however both services allow you to backup your comments on their database and your own so this isn’t a major concern.
I haven’t used either service for a prolonged period of time (beyond testing) though Dave experienced slower page loading times due to switching from the default WordPress comment system.
Another drawback is the inability to add your own functionality i.e. you are limited to the features which the service provides. With the default comment system you can use dozens of great comment plugins to integrate more features into your comment area. I’m sure most website owners would be more than happy with the features Disqus and IntenseDebate adds though it’s still worth pointing out.
There is no denying that sites such as Disqus or IntenseDebate add more functionality to the comment area. Whether this functionality is worth losing a little traffic from search engines is debatable since it could be argued that they counter this traffic loss by increasing post comments and encouraging users to return.
In the end, it’s more to do with preference in my opinion. I still prefer using the default WordPress comment system though I do understand why others would use a hosted service.
As always, I’d love to hear your opinion on this :)