Disqus crushes other comment systems in Technorati Top 100

Comments from readers is an important part of most blogs out there, and our own is no exception. We still run the default WordPress comment functionality but have been thinking for a while now about installing some kind of third-party comment system.

Something like Disqus, Facebook Comments, Livefyre, or IntenseDebate would allow us greater functionality, spam management, moderation capabilities, and more.

But which system should we go for?

We investigated the Top 100 Technorati list to see what some of the biggest blogs in the world are using and here’s what we found.

Disqus the dominating third-party comment system

As we went through the blogs in the list it was quickly evident that most sites choose to run some sort of self-developed comment system or one that is native to the publishing system used (like WordPress’ own comment system). Most of these fall into the “other” category in the chart below.

But in the competition between third-party comment systems – the main ones being Disqus, Facebook Comments, IntenseDebate, and Livefyre – Disqus is in a commanding lead.

The exact numbers are as follows:

Comment systems Top 100 Technorati blogs
Comment system Number of blogs
Other 65
Disqus 22
No comment system 4
Facebook 3
IntenseDebate 3
Livefyre 2
Blogger 1

We could perhaps argue whether some things should be included in the “other” category or not. For example, AOL seems to use its own comment system on at least some of its sites. Similarly, Gawker has its own system, which is in place on all its blogs, and it seems to have been a success. In our numbers, both AOL and Gawker sites are in “other.”

Comment system controversy

Few sites have been public about their choice of comment system, but there are some exceptions.

Early in 2011, TechCrunch switched to Facebook Comments and concluded that it has “silenced the trolls.” And although Facebook seems to be working fine for them, we’re concerned about the single login (you can only comment if you have a Facebook account) and that the comments are not saved into WordPress.

And whichever third-party comment system we choose, it is just that, a third-party system. That means it’s more code to load and more things that can go wrong.

Especially Disqus, perhaps due to its commanding position, has been accused of causing performance issues on sites, particularly in terms of pages being slow to load.

Help us out

This all leads to the question of which comment system we should choose.

We find the built-in WordPress comment system increasingly inflexible and frustrating to work with. Clearly, we need something that allows for better spam management, comment moderation, and all around quicker and smoother workflow.

After trying many third-party comment systems and reading comparisons of features, we’re still looking for your advice.

So help us out guys, give us your input on what comment system we should go with for our blogs. And perhaps we should cast our net wider and look at something like Realtidbits, InstaComment, Pluck, or others.

You can of course use the comments below but you can also ping us on Twitter.

55 comments

  1. I have Disqus scripts blocked in my browser. And couple others external systems I think. As for me they are solution in search of a problem.

    If you are not satisfied with vanilla WP comments – get yourselves WP developer that will bend them into whatever perfect setup you want (your site seems to be looking and working more than fine on WP overall).

    But please do not substitute “do I want to comment?” with “is this site using comment system that is not too horrible and should I even bother thinking about it or just skip on?”

  2. And I just love Disqus, it’s splendid to have just one place to manage all your discussions and subscriptions. You can choose what service to use for login, and you can as a developer choose to load the comment after you scrolled to that part of the page.
    One thing to make you fall in love with Disqus is that’s it’s Django =)

    If Rarst had provided some real and tangible arguments it would have been a lot easier to argue against him/her. Me for example have blocked all Facebook script, that’s due to their script often bog down pages like gizmodo/engadget/etc.

  3. Hi Rarst. Thanks for the comment. Without custom coding functionality, is there any way to get at least some of the functionality of the third-party comment systems while keeping the standard WP functionality? Sort of best of both worlds.

  4. @Peppe Bergqvist

    My main issue is that external systems don’t solve tangible problems. There is no issue with generic comments concept that screams “this can’t be done without external system!”.

    As a commenter I don’t want to see sluggish JavaScript interface instead of simple form. I do not want to deal with additional accounts (specialized or generic).

    As a blogger I strive to provide simple and straighforward commenting experience for my visitors. Spam and workflow issues are those of my own, it should not ever impact what experience visitors get.

    @Pingdom

    Depends on what exactly you want to achieve. There are plenty of comment-related plugins around (as for anything else in WordPress), but it boils down to specific if there are reliable and maintained plugins for specific functionality that you want.

  5. I would recommend LiveFyre. Loading time is not bad and it does work in JavaScript disabled mode. Disqus simply does not support JS disabled mode which is a major NEH from me.

    WordPress commenting has improved in the recent times. Akismet has ensured that you really do not need third party services for comments if you do not need one for a good reason!

  6. Have you ever thought about using Drupal for your blog? Economist is running it and it seems to work well for them. Comments are 100% customizable.

  7. I have only one thing to say about Facebook, I have stopped commenting at every place that has Facebook comments. I used to comment at a couple of blogs 5 or more times a week, but in the last 2 months since they switched to Facebook, I resisted commenting completely.. call it a hatred towards Facebook. But I for sure noticed a huge improvement in the quality of comments at these sites, mostly due to lack of trolls.

  8. Hi – few points to consider:

    * Regarding Rarst’s comment, aside from providing a number of engagement and moderation features that most CMS’s just don’t have, the biggest benefit to Disqus tends to be the access to the logged in/leaned in network of 60 MM+ Disqus commenters. It’s the top reason why sites on average see very large increases in comment activity after moving to Disqus (http://disqus.com/research/strong-communities-grow-traffic/). There are also a lot of advantages to that scale in Disqus’ commenter reputation, community analytics, etc.

    * Regarding load time, many don’t realize that Disqus is configured to load asynchronously and it waits till the other elements have loaded to ensure it doesn’t hold anything else up. Users usually never notice this because they typically only go down to the comments after consuming the main content on the page. Bloggers/admins on the other hand who are especially sensitive (rightfully so) to load times sometimes think Disqus is slow but often it’s simply because there is another widget or an ad or something that is hanging that Disqus is waiting for. In fact if you actually compare speeds across a number of the systems mentioned above (e.g. just did a quick check: http://cl.ly/1x38402A1g472F1G382a) Disqus compares favorably.

    * Regarding non-JS compatibility, if you use the Disqus WordPress plugin, in addition to automatically importing existing WP comments into Disqus, it also automatically synchs Disqus comments to WP so if Disqus can’t be loaded it can just default to the WP comments. (And of course the synching makes it even easier to switch back if you ever wanted to.)

    * And finally, regarding customization, you can do quite a bit via Disqus’ theme editing tool which let’s you get right in and use your own HTML/CSS in the various blocks of the embed. Sites like Telegraph, Engadget, People, etc. have all done a lot of this. There’s also the API: http://disqus.com/api for things like single sign-on integration, mobile/tablet apps, custom widgets, etc.

    Hope that helps and thanks for doing the research in the post,

    -Ro, Disqus

  9. Why?

    Why do you want to use a 3rd party commenting system?

    Two main reasons I can think of:
    1) reduce friction for adding comments
    2) bring conversation from social networks to your site

    I don’t want to force people to have a Facebook account, to create an account on a 3rd party site.

    I have just started using Social plugin for WordPress. It’s a free plugin from MailChimp. Users can add a comment using vanilla WordPress or Twitter or Facebook and it searches for and imports Twitter/Facebook as WordPress comments.

    I have hit a minor bug with my theme, but generally seems to work well.

  10. Pingdom – thanks for the mention. We’re actually also happy users of Pingdom and I love the articles on Royal Pingdom.

    @R, Disqus works with JS disabled just as Livefyre or other competitors would (within WordPress). Do we make this unclear?

  11. As a longtime Pingdom customer, and coincidentally, Disqus employee, it would make me pretty happy to see Disqus used on Royal Pingdom.

    I’d like to mention a number of engineering techniques that we take to ensure that Disqus always loads quickly.

    * The commenting embed only has a single dynamic request for commenting data (JSON). Everything else (JavaScript, iframes) are minified static assets that are served via Akamai. We also aggressively cache on the client-side using far-future Expires headers.

    * The size of our entire embed payload (ignoring commenting data) is a fairly svelte 100kb (before gzip). That’s not the smallest in the game, but it’s close.

    * We defer loading of the commenting embed until the reader has scrolled down to look at the comments. This means there’s a minuscule impact on your site performance if a blog visitor never reads your comments.

    * We defer avatar loading so that users don’t get hit with 100 image downloads the moment the commenting thread loads.

    I think your assertion at the end of your blog post is right – we take a lot of undue heat for performance because we’re the most trafficked and visible third-party commenting system. And personally, I find that sucks, because I think we’re taking the greatest measures out there to be fast.

    BTW – feel free to email me if you’ve got any questions. I love talking about this stuff :)

  12. Whoops – looks like I missed ~70kb from that payload number. So it’s more like 170kb. I’m going to make it my personal mission to drop that number below 100kb before January :) I’ll report back then!

  13. I use Disqus and it is a little slow when loading sometimes, but from what I can tell any JS add on is. I use it for blogger and I can tell you the ease of logging in is much more reliable than blogger for my blog visitors. Also the Reply function is really nice. The fact that people can use yahoo, google, facebook and a few others to sign in makes it very user friendly too. Out of all the free commenting systems that I have tried, Disgus is by far the best in my opinion.

  14. Comments & Commenters are part of an ecosystem that’s very much interdependent with the world outside of your website. Therefore you must think first about the users benefits, not your own.

    That said, Disqus is the most globally entrenched system and its impressive user base makes it very easy for users to comment on your site. When a user sees themselves already logged in on your site, that’s familiar territory for them, and they see themselves as part of a community of trust. In addition, Disqus offers very rich capabilities for the site owner in terms of spam management, moderation dials, and community building.

    My vote is for Disqus.

  15. Last I checked (which has been more than a year), Typepad Connect was fastest to load comments among major third party comment system.

  16. I am a non-techie end user of commenting systems. I enthusiastically prefer third-party commenting services, for convenience of not having to have multiple passwords. I like Disqus and IntenseDebate the best, because their services let me go back and view old comments from a single dashboard. IntenseDebate’s dashboard makes it easier to quickly go back to older comments and replies, Disqus’s present setup is more time consuming to backtrack. I also use my Google account a lot, but SFAIK there’s no way of viewing those comments in one place. I don’t like WordPress because it doesn’t seem to be really universal–can’t use the same password for different WordPress sites, that I’ve discovered. I never use Facebook for comments on other websites, although I will share webpages via Facebook. Hope this helps!

  17. I for one certainly won’t comment anymore, if any kind of login becomes mandatory. I *very* seldom comment on sites that require getting a local login (too much hassle); but I will *definitely* not comment on sites that require a login from some Big Brother, err I mean third-party provider.

  18. I personally don’t like many commenting systems. I guess I’d go with Disqus as a could-be-worse option.

    I have a few complaints about Disqus:

    On websites with high traffic, like Engadget, comments are buggy (sometimes out of order, etc.)

    I’ve also longed for a -1 button, which Facebook also lacks.

    Finally, as far as I can tell, the mobile Disqus does not display how many “likes” a post has, which is odd to me.

  19. I used Disqus some years ago and their server went down
    I lost close to 1.000 comments,not even an apology
    I resorted back to the WordPress native comments but look for an alternative

    I have been looking at Linkfyre as a new system.Mainly to lighten the load on my server
    Will let you know if I encounter any major difficulties
    Regards
    Greg

  20. Disqus have already beaten almost every competitor in comment supporting business and that’s a quite true. Nowadays using disqus is a smart choice because every person should have to walk with trends.

  21. As far as I’m concerned, until recently, the default comment system has always been the best.

    I’ve done several posts on my blog regarding this very issue, including some polls, and generally speaking the biggest problem with third party comment systems is that they require readers to log in before commenting, a hoop most readers are not willing to go through.

    The comment system I use now utilises the standard comment system while incorporating a few extra features including allowing people to comment using their twitter or Facebook profiles.

  22. I like disqus a bit, it tempts me to get into that user base. But on the Toronto Sun / other Sun news websites, there are plenty of trolls. Maybe it’s just that some dorks don’t mind making asses of themselves even with a real-name account. The kind of people who say racist, hateful things in a public forum.

    I mostly despise handing all my users’ data over to another company, whatever their privacy policy, and relying on them to be up and running forever, with no option to import my comments. They have some kind of system to export your comments out of the system but then what do you do with it – is there a plugin to re-import all that into the approriate article’s comments, with everything intact? Sounds terrifying.

    I’m going to check out Social and see what it does for me…

  23. One thing we are looking for in a 3rd party commenting system is the ability to be mobile friendly. If mobile commenting is a concern, then this requirement really limits the field of choices. Disqus meets this requirement, but I wish others had this feature also.

  24. As for me, I am currently using Facebook comments on my blog. I love the idea that when someone comments, the comments posts to their news feed and my site gains publicity. However, the problems is there is no way moderate these comments… Plus, they are not searchable by search engines. By the way, I have read of a way to override this, but haven’t put any time into fixing it yet. As for Disqus, it seems to add more benefits on top of Facebook as well. If an article gets shared on Twitter then this person’s avatar is added to my page. The moderation of comments is very intuitive there. Plus, people can comment using a number of different personas such as Twitter, FB, WordPress and more.

  25. Disqus is one of the most famous one to use..
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  28. I have been using Disqus and Livefyre for my blog http://www.jobsonly.in, but haven’t tried another ones that are mentioned above.

    I will definitely give a try for others also.

    Thank you once again for sharing such information.

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