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External Commenting Systems – A Quick Recap

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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.


Disqus or IntenseDebate are both being used on thousands of popular blogs online however I don’t believe that they are for everyone.

Dave from Do it with WordPress and Tom from Oral Answers both pointed out that comments which are loaded using Javascript from external sites will not be picked up in search engines. This, quite rightly, is a big issue for many bloggers.

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 :)


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Comments (6)

Comment by Kevin Muldoon says:

I agree. I think a WordPress plugin which upgrades the default comment area at the touch of a button would be a huge success.

Comment by John Flower says:

I installed Disqus, only to get really frustrated with it (you might say I got disqusted with it). Next I tried intense debate. It’s currently running on my site, but will probably be given the boot tomorrow. Thus far it’s given me intense frustration.
I shall try one more, namely echo. If that doesn’t work, I’m switching back to the default commenting system.
What would be really sweet is a commenting system that works along the lines of disqus and intense debate, but which makes use of the wordpress db. Keep it all inside, I think.

Comment by Weston says:

External commenting certainly helps most websites considering the amount of messages left.

Comment by Austin says:

External commenting systems are very interesting. They seem to have become popular only a short while ago. I’ve never used one, as I prefer to have the commenting database handled by WordPress as I would have control over spam and many other things directly.

Comment by Kevin Muldoon says:

Thanks Dave. Although I have tested these plugins, I’ve always been reluctant to outsource comments. I just prefer to have all the data within my own database.

I can see why people would use them though.

Comment by Dave says:

An excellent and well thought out write-up from both sides Kevin. I first started using ID and Disqus because it seemed like the next right step for my sites to advance, but now that I step back and look at it, I don’t think people were necessarily any more encouraged to comment, just because they could login with FB or Twitter. I now rely on the default WP comment system, having worked with all 3 options, for speed, security and ease

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