Whether you want to receive feedback from readers, foster a community spirit or simply provide a way of collecting information for use in future posts, the use of comments in blogs can work wonders.
Most blog software features its own comments function; if you use Blogger, for instance, then your readers can sign-in with a Google or Open ID account to leave their thoughts.
WordPress users, have a much wider selection of solutions at their fingertips. Along with the native option, plugins for services such as Disqus and Facebook can be added to a blog.
Native WordPress Comments
Many blogs retain the use of the native WordPress comments system. There are various reasons for this, not least the sensation of feeling like part of a close online community.
The drawback with WordPress comments is twofold: you might encounter a considerable volume of spam posts and forcing users to register can result in people being put-off leaving their thoughts.
Fortunately there are ways around all of these problems. For instance you might use a captcha confirmation plugin for your comments so that members can enter their details and solve a puzzle that spambots cannot manage. Similarly you might require a user to submit their details without joining, while once again using the captcha tool. The highly recommended Akismet plugin will allow you to avoid the majority of spam posts, but it is always worth keeping another option up your sleeve as administering the results can take time.
WordPress comments are only one option, however.
More and more blogs are following the example of major websites (for instance online newspapers) and adopting Disqus as their preferred comments engine, taking advantage of the fact that the remote storage of comments helps to reduce the load on the hosting web server.
Additionally, Disqus allows a single sign-in, allowing someone who has just commented on the London Telegraph’s latest sports news to then visit your blog and leave thoughts on your least popular post without signing in. As a free plugin The Disqus Comment System/ is a powerful option and if you’re just getting started with your blog it is worth considering.
You can see Disqus in action at the following websites:
Users who comment with Disqus will find that they receive email notifications when their opinions have been replied to as well as a profile displaying records of comments made and “liked” or “recommended”. This system also allows users to display an avatar that is associated with the single sign-in.
One drawback of using Disqus comments is that the data is stored remotely. While existing accounts and posts on your blog can be synced with the service, should Disqus be unavailable for any reason your readers won’t be able to leave their thoughts on your articles.
Using Facebook Comments
If forcing new users to sign-up to Disqus isn’t what you have in mind for your blog (you might be happier with users registering to use your website knowing that they are interested in what you have to say rather than dropping by and leaving thoughts on half-read articles) then you can encourage the use of Facebook instead.
Facebook comments differ to Disqus in several ways, notably in that many people have a Facebook account already. You will also find that those that use Facebook to post comments on your blog tend to draw their friends into the conversation as well, extending the reach of your content.
Adding Facebook comments to your blog is remarkably simple, as detailed in How To Add Facebook Comments To Your WordPress Website. Note that like Disqus, comments are hosted away from your blog, and issues with the plugin code or the service will result in a blog post with no user comments.
Which Solution Is For You?
It is worth keeping in mind that while Facebook comments can be used in conjunction with native WordPress comments, the impact is such that the Facebook service will typically be used in preference to the native option. Similarly, it might put people off, particularly if existing commenters don’t use Facebook or don’t want to use their real names to post feedback. Native WordPress comments are pushed down the page, too, potentially resulting in a difficult-to-follow thread of user feedback.
Ultimately, choosing a comments solution depends on your users as much as it depends on your hosting and your plans for the site. By switching to a service that users are uncomfortable with you risk alienating long-term visitors; similarly putting too much faith in the native solution can prove restricting to your site’s growth.