For many blogs, comments are an essential part of the experience. While some bloggers dislike comments, particularly moderating out inappropriate or spammy contributions, the vast majority welcome the opportunity to interact with their readers. And readers appreciate the opportunity to make their thoughts known. It’s far easier to build a community around a blog if writers and readers have a direct and convenient line of communication.
However, commenting is not ideal, especially in the age of social media. Conversations end up spread across many different platforms, from Facebook to Tumblr, among dozens of others. While there is no real solution to the problem of comment fragmentation, there are commenting systems that at least attempt to tidy things up a little.
The most popular WordPress comment system — aside from the less than inspiring built-in functionality — is Disqus. It’s popular for a reason, offering an easy to integrate hosted comment platform that suits most needs. But Disqus is far from being the only solution. I’d like to take a quick look at three alternatives, each of which attempts to solve at some of the problems inherent in commenting.
Muut bills itself as a system that re-imagines both commenting and forums, which, after all, have quite a lot in common, but I’ll be concentrating on the commenting features here. Muut integrates well with WordPress via a plugin, and provides a clean and elegant commenting UI with both flat and nested options that update in real-time – no need for refreshes. It works with Akismet for automatic spam rejections and includes user spam reporting. Designed to be responsive, Muut looks great on devices of all sizes.
Comments Evolved takes a swing at the problem of fragmented conversations by providing a tabbed interface that brings together the commenting system of several platforms. Comments Evolved started life as a Google+ comments plugin, and it’s still the best way to bring Google’s comment platform to WordPress, but it now does much more. In addition to Google+, Comments Evolved also supports Facebook, Disqus, WordPress Comments, and Trackbacks. It’s not the unified solution we’re all hoping for, but it’s certainly heading in the right direction.
WordPress.com has one of the best comments platforms around, and Jetpack brings it to self-hosted WordPress sites. Jetpack Comments provides unified logins using social media accounts, supporting Google accounts, Twitter, Facebook, and WordPress.com. It’s a great way to let readers comment without forcing them to create yet another account.
None of these Disqus alternatives solves all of the problems of commenting on a web full of competing venues, but each includes features that make it well worthy of consideration if you’re looking to replace Disqus.