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Questions To Ask Yourself Before Choosing A WordPress Comments System

Online commenting and feedback systems have come a long way. Previously, forums ruled the day when it came to online user interaction and feedback, but currently, all major blogging platforms support complex built-in as well as third-party commenting systems.

If you’ve decided to moderate comments on your WordPress blog, then you probably need a third-party comments system to do the hard work. The problem is that there are plenty of options out there and it can be confusing when trying to choose one.

In this post, I’ll help clear that confusion by discussing five key questions you must ask before you choose a third-party comments system.

So here we go:

How Will It Affect My Site’s Performance?

Top third-party comments systems (such as Livefyre or Disqus) come with some fancy features that, to some extent, make for a richer user interaction experience. However, these extra features impose their own requirements on your website’s computing resources. The net result is that your page load speed will be affected in some way, albeit very small in most cases provided you’ve done a good job to optimize it.

While a 1000-millisecond delay, for instance, might seem negligible, consider the fact that you have other add-ons, plugins, widgets, and images that take away small chucks of your site’s computing resources, which ultimately results in a noticeable effect on page load speed.

So you definitely want to consider how a third-party comments system might affect your site’s overall performance. For a rough idea on performance of the top third-party comments systems, check out this comparison test for loading times of the top comments systems versus WordPress’ built-in system.

Will Updates/Migration Break My Comments System?

Some third-party systems have a reputation for breaking or mangling up comments systems whenever they release updates. Case in point: in one of the various updates made by Livefyre last year, they renamed all their HTML divs, meaning that if you had made custom CSS styling, you’d have to redo it based on the new class names.

So before you choose, find out whether future updates may be disruptive. The same extends to customization and formatting: most third-party systems don’t give you complete control over customization. With most, you have to customize on their whims so be sure to consider this too.

Who Retains Control of User Data And Comments?

On WordPress’ built-in comments system, user data (name and email) and comments are stored in the WordPress database over which you have full control. If you are moving hosts, for instance, you can export this data at will without having to deal with third parties.

However, since some third-party systems have a free offering, they try to sign up as many users as they can. This means that users have to create an account before commenting or login with one of their social media accounts (and authorize the system to access their friends’ lists and some data).

In such cases, migrating your blog may cause problems because you won’t have direct access to user data.

What Extra Features Does It Offer?

Top commenting systems typically offer an impressive array of features which make for the best user engagement while making it easier for you to manage comments.

Typical 3rd-party extras include:

  • Seamless comment moderation using an advanced admin dashboard
  • Multiple login options
  • Allows users to flag, like, or dislike comments
  • Allows users to rate comments
  • Provides advanced blacklist, whitelist, and spam filtering functions
  • Provides APIs for developers to add new features or extend existing ones
  • And many more

If you’re interested in better user engagement, do your research about the features that your selection of 3rd-party systems offers.

Is The System Easy To Use For Readers?

Ease of use is something you should take seriously when selecting a comments system for your blog. Granted, every system worth its salt requires all readers to sign in before posting comments, which is one measure of weeding out spam comments. However, this process should be straightforward and fast. If a user gets lost in the signup process, they may not get around to writing the comment.

Wrapping Up

These are the top reasons to ponder when deciding which comments system to use. That said, you should seriously weigh your options and decide whether you need a third-party system in the first place. With time, I’ve come to realize that the native comments system in WordPress may have more benefits than third-party systems if you set it up properly.

Do you use a third-party commenting system on your WordPress website? If so, which one do you use and how does it stack up against the native system in WordPress?

Image by AK CC

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