Why WordPress’s Native Commenting System Beats Disqus or Livefyre

When choosing a commenting system for your blog, there are some fancy alternatives to WordPress’s native commenting system. When you look at some of the top blogs out there, the majority are using either Disqus or Livefyre. These boast features like social media login, related post syndication, or incorporating social media conversations into the comment stream. They promise real-time conversations, streamlined moderation functionality, and better spam filtering.

But the truth is that WordPress’s native commenting system just might be the best option. I have had both Disqus and Livefyre installed on this blog, each for a significant amount of time. The other day, I uninstalled Livefyre and decided to do away with these 3rd party commenting systems for good.

Do the benefits of using WordPress’s native commenting system outweigh the fancy features of 3rd party commenting plugins like Livefyre and Disqus? Here’s why I chose WordPress’s commenting system (and you should, too):

1. It’s easier for your readers to use

Ease of use should be the top factor in your decision of which commenting system to use. If someone comes to my blog and wants to make a comment, all they have to do is fill in their name, email address, website (optional), and write their comment. Done and done.

Livefyre and Disqus’s plugins are free. This means that they’re going to try to sign up as many of your readers for their service as possible. So when you try commenting via Livefyre, for example, it tries to get people to create a Livefyre account before posting their comment. And they keep making it harder to make a comment as a guest.

Livefyre Comments

Disqus’s UI is a bit more intuitive. They don’t require signing up for Disqus but they do encourage it.

Disqus comments

Using the WordPress comment system provides the most simple interface to join the conversation.

Wordpress native comments

In the couple days I’ve used WordPress’s native commenting system, I’ve gotten more comments on my blog than I did in two weeks with Livefyre. Ease of use absolutely makes a difference.

2. It’s easier to customize the formatting

With Livefyre and Disqus, you can’t have complete control over the formatting with your website’s CSS file. While they each let you add some CSS on their backend admin panels, you can’t rearrange the avatar, name, date, etc., or make advanced customizations.

With WordPress and the Thesis theme, I was able to create custom containers and CSS to make my comments as fancy as I wanted to — both the commenting tool and the stream of comments. It requires a bit of CSS know-how, but the point is that it’s possible at all.

Comment CSS Customizations

3. Frequent updates won’t break your comments

In the past couple months alone, Livefyre had two updates that broke my comments in some way. As part of the first update, they changed the class names in their HTML divs, rendering my custom CSS completely useless. I had to re-do my CSS on their whim. With WordPress’s system, this is less likely to happen — it does depend on the theme you’ve chosen and how often the developer rolls out an update. But for the most part, the comment classes on your theme will stay the same.

The second update completely broke Livefyre — and my site. I logged into my blog one morning, saw that an update was available, and quickly applied it. I then headed to work and didn’t check on my blog until the next day. This was my fault. I should have looked at my blog immediately to make sure the comments didn’t break. But sure enough, the next morning I looked at my blog, and the comments were at the very top of the page above the header, with all this white space in between their comments and the blog itself. It was so bad that when I tried zooming out to get a screenshot, I couldn’t even fit it all in my screen. I probably lost tons of leads and subscribers that day. And the problem wasn’t fixable on my end — their plugin was suddenly incompatible with my theme, and I would have to wait for their west coast support team to wake up, get to work, see my email, and look into it. This was the moment I decided to do away with 3rd party commenting systems for good.

4. Page load speed won’t be reduced

The reason I uninstalled Disqus about a year ago was because it was affecting my page load speed too much. Having a slow page load speed is actually bad for SEO. Google prioritizes sites that load quickly because they provide a better user experience for readers. Readers get impatient when they have to wait for a page to load. So if your site is too slow, it will hurt your Google rankings.

Disqus and Livefyre have both gotten notably better at reducing the load time of their plugins, but with either installed, your site still won’t be as fast as it would with WordPress’s native commenting system. Pingdom has done analysis the effect of comment plugins on page load speed, and they found that these 3rd party systems aren’t too big a drag on site performance, but they do slow things down just a tad. Also, their tests were limited — performance will also depend on what other plugins and scripts you have running on your site and how they interact with the comment plugins.

Pingdom Comment System Analysis

5. Comments won’t disappear if you optimize the URL

If you learn about the best practices of SEO after writing a few blog posts, you’ll know that optimizing each URL to include relevant keywords will help you get indexed in Google for those keywords, thus helping you get more relevant traffic. As long as you create a 301 redirect from the old URL to the new URL, it provides a seamless user experience for people who click links that still point to the old URL, and it carries over all the SEO juice from the old URL as well. Easy peasy.

However, Disqus and Livefyre both can’t handle when you change the URL. Your old comments will disappear, and in Livefyre’s case the entire commenting widget will disappear as well.

Missing Livefyre comment plugin

I emailed both Disqus and Livefyre’s support teams about this issue. Disqus has a migration tool that’s supposed to fix this issue — however, their migration tool was broken for two weeks while I tried to migrate a bunch of blog post URLs over. I was frustrated waiting for a resolution, and kept getting generic canned-response emails from their support team when I tried reaching out to them. Of course, it’s a free plugin, so I expected as much. Livefyre’s responses were much more personal, but they couldn’t even figure out what was causing the problem even after one of their senior developers got involved.

Regardless of how helpful one support team is versus another, in either case it just wasn’t worth the hassle. I’ve never had this issue with WordPress’s native system. #win

6. Social media conversations should stay on social media anyway

One feature that drew me to Livefyre was the fact that they detect social media comments on Twitter and Facebook and plug those right into your blog post’s comment stream. Pretty cool, right?

Actually, it’s not. Turns out, if people are having a meaningful conversation on your blog post, those social media updates look really out of place.

Additionally, there are Twitter spammers out there who will reply to any of your updates with a link to a virus or some other spam site. So if they reply to one of those tweets about your blog post, that virus link ends up on your blog post. That’s bad news. So the point is, blog comments should be for blog comments, not for any other social media activity.

What commenting system do you use on your blog? Do you think the benefits of your 3rd party system outweigh these benefits of using the native commenting system?

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Comments

  1. Onur says

    I was undecided about Facebook Comments vs Disqus vs WordPress Native but you made me decide. There are some great points you made.

  2. says

    Hi Diana, although some of your readers opted-out of Disqus, it’s what I’m currently using, but I’m thinking about going back the good ‘ol stock version of WordPress’s comment system. You gave us some great content!

  3. says

    As a blog reader who likes to interact with articles’ authors by commenting (NO SPAM) I can tell you I HATE DISQUS from the deep of my heart!!!
    I’m clueless why many bloggers have being attracted by this new fashion.

  4. says

    Intersting take on this, thanks. I am going to give WP comments another try with my new site. I always considered ease of use a plus of the third party commenting systems. Let’s see how the adoption of the native WP commenting is.

  5. says

    Hi Diana. Great informative post as I’ve considered from time to time going back to Disqus for another try & you’ve reminded me of why I left it.

    I tried Disqus recently but my biggest problem was that many of my visitors didn’t want to register just to leave a comment. Guest commenters aren’t able to leave a site url for their blog unless they think to put it at the end of their comment text. Also a lot of registered users hadn’t bothered to add their website url to their Disqus profile. Guests get no comment reply notifications either when I or others reply to their comment.

    For me these are BIG disadvantages as I especially like to visit the blogs of those who make the effort to visit my blog & comment. WP native comments makes all this easy for all users as you have said. A lot of my visitors simply didn’t like that it was more difficult to leave a comment with Disqus & I’d even read some bloggers say that they refuse to leave comments on Disqus, Intense Debate, Livefyre, Facebook or other 3rd party powered blogs. I figure that if we WANT readers to comment on our sites & don’t want to deter them from doing so, why make it harder for them?

    I now use the standard WP comment system with the CommentLuv Premium plugin that gives me a combination of CommentLuv, Twitterlink, Growmap Anti-spam, KeywordLuv & Comment Reply Notifications all rolled into one plugin. I also use the Ajax Edit Comments plugin as I really hate when I’ve made a typo in a comment on someone’s blog & can’t fix it. Therefore, I like my readers to be able to correct typos when they do it at my blog. It gets a lot of use by visitors & I wish everyone had it installed on their blogs.

    This makes my WP comment system all that I want it to be without being dependant on a 3rd party.

    • says

      Hi Tony,

      I like what you’re saying, because it make a lot of sense. I went to your website and tried to leave a comment, but I couldn’t see where one could do it. Is it disabled right now? (I just wanted to try the functionality of it.) Thx

      Robb

      • says

        Hi Rob, I only had that blog running for a while but have now gone back to doing a webcomic.. There is a link to my webcomic on the now one & only post on my blog. However my Name link on this comment will take you there.

  6. says

    Diana – great article and thorough explanation of why you’d rather use wordpress’ native commenting system. I’ve just relaunched a WordPress blog of my own and have been optimizing it for content and use. A colleague recommended checking out Disqus to help build traffic and engagement, but I’ve heard good and bad things. Glad I came across your site.

    You make great points regarding many of my concerns. As a designer, I’m more concerned with control and usability (maybe that’s my OCD), and it seems logical to stick with the native system rather than having to rely on a 3rd party.

    I’ve even wondered about the benefits of using Facebook comments and the potential for expanding reach, but social media conversations should be left on social media.

  7. says

    Just thinking about comments systems and this post is all I need to back up what I’d already pretty much decided. One of the things I occasionally do re comments is highlight a good point in browser, right click and add it to Buffer to post the comment with a link to the post on Twitter.

  8. says

    Thanks for this article. I was considering going to Discus as my websites commenting system and changed my mind based on the fact that it increases load times. My site is slow enough already!

  9. says

    Thanks for this informative post, you’ve saved me from making the mistake of going to Disqus. I was looking for a comment system for WordPress that had vote up buttons or ‘like’ buttons but in the end being able to commenting freely outweighs the frills.

  10. says

    Agreed, agreed and agreed to all the points!

    I removed Disqus recently and page load time dropped by 2 full seconds. What would you suggest for a good anti-spam plugin?

  11. says

    I discover today the disqus comment system and i’m reading because have dubts about to try or not. Thankyou for your article, for the moment i go to continue with the default wordpress comment system.

  12. says

    I am building my own blog with some forum on it and I have been looking for some advice about this. Thank you for the information here, I will stick with WordPress then :)

  13. says

    For me the primary reason for not using such plugins is giving control of your content (comments) in someone else’s hand. If for any reason, these plugins decide to shut down their services, all your comments will be gone.

  14. says

    I agree with you. I landed on this page while looking for GOOD reason to install Discqus… i did’t see any… Yes its nice looking but all the points you mentioned are good take aways…
    and if you consider that you don’t own comments on your blog (and that spiders seems not to crawl its content well) there is no reason for it

    I wonder why no one has though about a disqus clone plugin for wordpress…

  15. Leolin_Prompt says

    ​Hey! I’m interning at a Workshop development shop. We’ve been working on developing a better commenting plugin called Prompt. It is completely free, and we are looking for beta-testers. Think of it as post subscriptions with email commenting. Come and try it out! http://demo.addprompt.com.

  16. says

    Add me to the club of folks who dislike Disqus. I hate jumping through hoops so that I can comment on a post and I worry about security. I also don’t like logging in with my social media accounts.

    Along with WordPress native comments, I’ve been using Postmatic on my blog for comments – http://wordpress.org/plugins/postmatic. Folks seem to be responding well to the ability to respond to posts via Email.

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