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Third-Party Commenting Platforms: Four Providers That Crush the Rest of the Field

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If you’re new to the blogging world or only blog casually, you may be wondering why you’d want to consider using a third-party content management service on your site, since nearly every blogging platform comes with a built-in commenting function. What you may not realize is that most comments and reactions to blog content happen elsewhere, and a third-party content manager empowers you to capitalize on that conversation.

Comment management services not only manage comments on your site, but also capture mentions and links to the post made on social media and other locations around the web. Bringing all this content under one roof not only provides you with valuable insight into how your posts are being discussed and shared, but can also encourage additional interaction among commenters and ultimately grow your audience.

While you have many options for comment management services, only a few perform at the elite level. Read on to find out which ones did well enough to make our podium.

Gold Medal: IntenseDebate

IntenseDebate was created in 2007 by Automattic, the parent company of WordPress, PollDaddy and Akismet. Considering this overlap, IntenseDebate may be your best bet for comment moderation if WordPress is your blogging platform of choice. It currently offers an automated install process for WordPress, Blogger, TypePad, and Tumblr, as well as a generic snippet of JavaScript for installation on custom sites.

Pricing

IntenseDebate’s price is right! This valuable comment moderation program is free to download, install and use on your website or blog.

Features

IntenseDebate offers several unique features, one of which is “reputation points,” which score commenters on the quality and quantity of their comments. These ratings encourage constructive engagement and reward high-scoring participants by moving their input ahead of other comments.

The platform also allows users to send a simultaneous tweet when they post a comment, which drives engagement and additional traffic to your site.

IntenseDebate offers strong moderation customization options, allowing site managers to moderate by keywords, number of links, commenter emails and IP addresses.

Like Disqus, IntenseDebate notifies site managers by email when a new comment is posted and allows for responses via email as well. In addition, it sends an email to users when someone posts a response to their comment, which helps keep the conversation going and boosts return visits to your site.

In addition, IntenseDebate includes these key features:

  • Commenter profiles: These allow users to get to know each other and enhance your site’s sense of community; they also carry over to other sites with IntenseDebate comment hosting.
  • Plugins API: IntenseDebate is a strong supporter of open source and has opened its code for developers to add their own content, including Seesmic video comments, PollDaddy polls, emojis and more.
  • Widgets: Showcase your comment stats, most recent comments, popular posts and even your most active commenters.
  • Social commenting: Users can post comments using social media like Facebook and Twitter, sign up for an IntenseDebate profile or comment without one as a Guest.

Silver Medal: Disqus

Created in 2007, Disqus is one of the most-used comment management systems by bloggers and website managers. About 750,000 websites use Disqus to manage comments from a total of 35 million users within their communities.

Pricing

Disqus’ basic platform is free, but site managers in search of additional tools and functionality may want to consider the service’s three paid subscription packages; a free 30-day trial is available as well. Here’s what’s included in each:

  • Basic (free): Unlimited total daily pageviews, comment plug-in, advanced spam filters, moderation tools, basic analytics, configurable ads
  • Plus ($9/month): All Basic features, plus 50,000 total daily pageviews, direct support and optional ads
  • Pro ($89/month): All Basic features, plus 150,000 total daily pageviews, priority support, single sign-on, advanced analytics, shadow banning, timeouts and email subscriptions
  • Business (pricing based on pageviews): For enterprise companies and large publishers who want powerful tools and a direct account manager while integrating and scaling Disqus

Features

Whether Disqus is your first foray into comment management or you’re moving from another system, integration with your website is simple and easy. After signing up, visit the Import/Export section of the dashboard for assistance moving your existing comments to the Disqus platform.

One of Disqus’ main selling points is its mobile friendliness; its interface adapts seamlessly to whatever platform users are on, so all functionality is retained. Disqus also offers mobile apps for iPhone and Android that allow site owners to manage their online communities from anywhere.

Discussion on Disqus happens in real time, promoting interaction among commenters through upvotes, downvotes, threaded replies, recommendations and more. Commenters can incorporate rich media, including links, video, images and GIFs, creating a more engaging user experience.

New comments automatically appear without requiring the user to refresh the page. Site owners can opt to be notified via email when a new comment is posted and can even respond to it immediately via email as well.

Other notable features include:

  • User reputation: Based on actions across the Disqus network, this tool helps moderators identify trolls, spammers, and other troublesome users.
  • Automated spam moderation: With access to comment history and AI across millions of sites, Disqus automatically detects and removes spam before it hits your site.
  • Engagement monetization: Without adding any additional code, Disqus users can choose from ads from high-demand partners, with types and positions optimized for their design and revenue goals.

Bronze Medal: Discourse

Founded in 2013, Discourse is the new kid on the block among comment management platforms, but it’s also one of the most innovative (and most expensive). Unlike its older peers, Discourse was created from scratch in the post-iPhone era, in which smartphones, tablets, Facebook and Twitter are ubiquitous elements of our daily lives.

Discourse bills itself as the “100% open source discussion platform built for the next decade of the Internet” that can be used as a mailing list, discussion forum, long-form chat room and more. The program is a JavaScript application that runs in your web browser using the Ember.js framework.

Pricing

While the software itself is free, the service isn’t—something that may not be entirely clear the first time you look at Discourse’s website. However, you can try it free for 14 days before deciding if it’s the right comment management platform for you. The following subscription tiers are available:

  • Standard ($100/month): Includes 100,000 monthly page views, 10GB storage, unlimited members, five staff users, standard authentication, basic plugins, global CDN and mobile app
  • Business ($300/month): Includes 500,000 monthly page views, 50GB storage, unlimited members, 15 staff users, business authentication, advanced plugins, global CDN, migration and mobile app
  • Enterprise (custom): Includes 3 million-plus monthly page views, 200GB-plus storage, unlimited members, unlimited staff users, enterprise authentication, unlimited plugins, global CDN, custom migration, priority support and mobile app

Features

While Discourse shares common features with its competitors, the look and feel of the platform is very different. Discourse was designed for high-resolution touch screen devices, with a built-in mobile layout. Users can read or post from a mobile or desktop device as well as in the Discourse iOS and Android apps.

Visually, the Discourse platform is more streamlined than other comment management systems. Discourse is a simple, flat forum, where replies flow down the page in a line and users can expand content at the bottom and top of each post.

Discourse is optimized for SEO indexing and searching and supports Markdown, BBCode, and HTML formatting in posts. All hosting plans include a variety of plugins, including Askimet, an anti-spam algorithm; Cakeday, which shows a birthday cake emoji on users’ birthdays; ad support for Google Adsense, Google Doubleclick and Amazon affiliates; chat integration; and Patreon Social Login.

Another unique feature is Discourse’s emphasis on community moderation. Over time, trusted regular commenters gain abilities to help moderate the community. The platform also gives users ample freedom to suppress spam and dangerous content and amicably resolve disputes.

Discourse also offers these engaging features:

  • Badges: Encourage positive community behaviors through the included set of badges or make your own custom badges
  • Emoji: Choose from four included emoji sets or customize your own
  • Social login: Users can join the discussion via Google, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Yahoo, and GitHub

Honorable Mention: Facebook Comments

A fourth, if limited, third-party commenting option is Facebook Comments. While it offers fewer features than the previously discussed services, it does have the advantage of near-ubiquity, with nearly one billion daily active users who will likely already be logged in when they decide to comment on your blog or website.

With Facebook Comments, users will receive a Facebook notification when other users like or reply to their comment. This system also makes it easy for users to share your post, since commenters can opt to simultaneously post their comments to Facebook as well as your blog.

Facebook comments also allows site owners and other users to get to know the members of their online community. Depending on the commenter’s privacy settings, their profile will provide you with details like the person’s location, occupation, photo, educational background and other information. However, this level of intimacy can be a double-edged sword, as people may be less likely to comment on posts with controversial or highly personal subject matter if they know it will be linked to their social media profile.

To add Facebook Comments to your site, you can use the Comments Plugin Code Generator to create the necessary code and instruct you how to install it; Facebook also offers a native plugin for WordPress blogs.

 

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