The weakest link in my blogging crusade, the one I noticed immediately when, ages ago, I started to be curious about blogs in general, was the commenting system. Back then, most blogs still required you to complete a full-fledged registration process in order to be able to comment on one of their articles, a process so tedious one was discouraged to post his opinion in first place.
That’s why the first thing I did when I decided to put up a corporate blog for my company was to do some research on how to encourage comments, by making it simple enough to feel like second nature.
Disqus was the answer to all of my problems, and I have to say it’s a pretty freaking impressive piece of work. Considering I used to be a web developer, I feel like I can really appreciate it to its full extent.
So why did I abandon it?
It was no easy decision at all, and I am not excluding I’ll consider it again in the future. But well, it’s actually a purpose problem. In my opinion, Disqus is designed more around people than around content.
Why? Well, to sum it up, and in case you’re not aware of how it works, Disqus is a commenting platform designed to allow one to post under the same identity in every blog that uses their plugin, so to have a centralized profile. People can view a commenter’s profile, their picture, bio, rating (every comment can be rated positive or negative, contributing to build your “social image”, so to say) and generally follow them across all the blogs (using Disqus) they comment on.
To be fair, I am perfectly fine with that. I like the underlaying idea of building one’s social media profile across the myriad of different blogs and platforms. What I am not convinced of is the ability of Disqus to promote content sharing and participation.
While it’s naturally nice to know that someone commented on my blog post and previously stopped to comment on Suzanne’s blog post as well, I don’t have an easy way to determine if he has something to say on his own, if he posted something on his blog or if he has one at all, unless I visit his Disqus profile page.
That’s where CommentLuv comes into play
I love CommentLuv’s feature to show one’s latest blog post directly below any comment he posts in CommentLuv-enabled blogs. It’s a direct, quick encouragement for content sharing, you read an interesting blog post and you are naturally inclined to go there and check it out.
That’s actually how I came to know several blogs that now fills up my Google Reader account.
Here’s a quick pro/con list so you can see more clearly what I mean:
- PRO: easy to implement. There’s a WordPress plugin, you just install it and configure it, 5 minutes tops admitting you already have a Disqus account (see “con” below).
- PRO: iPhone compatibility through WP-touch plugin. It just works, very elegant too. As far as I know, there should be a native iPhone app as well soon.
- PRO: syncs with your comments, writing them both in Disqus database and your blog’s one, in case you wanna switch back and forth there’s no problems at all.
- CON: you need a Disqus account to setup your commenting system. You need to register your blog, setup some options and so on. Not a long procedure but it adds up to the “ready to go” time considerably.
- CON: it’s kinda sucky on iPads, since it uses the non-mobile version and it has some erratic behaviors on the iPad. Plus, having to login to your Disqus account to leave a comment is painful.
- CON: not much content-friendly as I explained before, I’d love it to have a feature similar to CommentLuv to immediately see one’s content and visit it with a single click.
- CON: first-time commenters definitely need to do more work, like selecting which type of service to login with or otherwise fill out a guest form. It’s already hard to get comments in first place, especially for new blogs, if you make it complicated it’ll be even harder.
- PRO: easy to implement. I personally use the CommentLuv official plugin and WordPress Threaded Comment to keep my comments threaded nicely (something Disqus does natively, one should notice).
- PRO: totally content-friendly, centered about it, easy to visit your commenters’ blogs and find new food for your brain to love and share (which, after all, is the good thing behind social media).
CON: unlike Disqus, where a commenter is a real, distinct user with a login and all, it’s not possible through CommentLuv to keep sure track of who’s who, and know if he posted somewhere else.
- Wow I was so wrong in this! As Ileane kindly pointed out in the comments below, CommentLuv indeed allows you to keep track of who’s who across various comments and blog posts:
At the end of registered CommentLuv user’s comment, you can hover over the profile panel (where you see the plus sign over the heart) with a complete profile including their Gravatar, recent posts, and other blogs they commented on.
- CON: since it’s not a full-fledged commenting platform, it’s not easily customizable, unless you mess with your theme’s code manually.
I believe Disqus is a perfect choice for blogs that already reached a certain critical mass of users, while CommentLuv, paired with the DoFollow plugin (I’ll talk about this in a bit) is very indicated for newer blogs to get in the radar of as many people as possible in a very simple way.
What about DoFollow?
I won’t lie here or beat around the bush, it’s obvious DoFollow (the ability for search engines to consider your commenter’s URL links as backlinks to their own blog/website) attracts far more visitors than the standard NoFollow policy, so you know, I just decided to fire up the “Do Follow” plugin and give it a try. I understand it will also attract considerably more spam (both automatic and manual), but for now I think the load is very bearable, especially since the superawesome Akismet anti-spam does all the hard work for me.
I don’t know if I will stick to this combo forever, as far as I know it already had positive results, and I already met two interesting people through the CommentLuv community, so I am naturally inclined to say “yes it’s a definitive choice”, but only time can tell.
And to Disqus people out there (developers and users), please bear in mind I do love your plugin, it really is a piece of art, I am just trying out new ways, that’s all 😉
What kind of commenting system (if any) do you use in your blog?