Disqus vs Livefyre - Why I Switched Comment Plugins (And Back Again)

Disqus vs Livefyre – Why I Switched Comment Plugins (And Back Again)

When it comes to blogging, comments are huge! They're not only an indicator of your effectiveness as a blogger, but comments are a good way to determine if you're connecting with your audience.

It's easier to click “like,” “tweet,” or “share this” than it is to leave a comment. If a reader takes the time to respond to your question or give you feedback, you know you've gotten their attention.

Disqus vs Livefyre I switched comment plugins

Photo credit: geishaboy500 / Foter / CC BY

To capture comments and engage directly with your readers, you need a comment system. This usually means some sort of comment plugin.

When it comes to WordPress, there are four main comment plugins to consider – Disqus, Livefyre, Facebook, and the WordPress/Jetpack integrated one. Before I share about Disqus vs Livefyre, let's look at Facebook and WordPress.

Facebook

Facebook is everywhere. No other social platform has more thoroughly penetrated society or changed our culture. But when it comes to their comments system, stay away.

When I tested the Facebook comments system, I learned 4 things:

  1. Their code loaded slowly on my site. People hate slow, and readers are people too.
  2. It requires unnecessary access. People are often hesitant to share their information across platforms. Just because you leave a comment on a website doesn't mean you want that comment tied to your Facebook account.
  3. Facebook owns the comments. If you own the website or blog, you need to own the comments. You may want to transfer them to a new domain like I did in April 2014. You may want to back them up for security. Using Facebook's comment system prevents both of these things.
  4. It excludes all other social networks. If you want to login with Twitter or Google+ you can't do it. Contrary to popular belief, not everyone has a Facebook account. No Facebook means no comments.

WordPress (Jetpack) Integrated

Learn How to Start a BlogWordPress powers millions of websites around the world. I've built several sites, both for myself and for other people, and none use the WordPress Comment system.

While WordPress does many things well, creating an incredible comment system isn't one of them.

To prevent or minimize spam using the integrated setup, you have to add 3rd party anti-spam plugins. You know how much I dislike unnecessary plugins. If you're going to add a plugin anyway, why not install one that handles the comments and the anti-spam already.

Also, the integrated plugin doesn't have as many features. You can't “up-vote” popular or recommended comments. You can't feature a comment that adds value or answers the questions of other readers.

Plus, the integrated WordPress system looks plain and neglected. Nothing about it says, “Comments are not only welcome but they're encouraged!”

Disqus vs Livefyre

And now for the meat. I started using Disqus in the very beginning of my online journey. I took the recommendation of Michael Hyatt and followed his example.

However, in the summer of 2014, over two years after I began, I started to give Livefyre a serious look. Why I switched my comment plugin from Disqus to Livefyre (and back again) may help you determine which comment system you should use for your own site.

Speed

I switched away from Disqus because it was loading slow on my site. Sometimes not at all.

In April of 2014 I completely changed domains. I moved all my content, plugins, pages and posts from where they were, to where they are now on ellorywells.com.

Within the Disqus dashboard, under Discussions>Tools, I did what they call a “domain migration.” I'm fairly tech-savvy and I know what I'm doing. I followed the instructions and the comments moved over, for the most-part, like they should have.

That said, after the migration, the plugin would either load only after a long delay or maybe not even at all. When the plugin didn't load, readers would be prompted to refresh their page.

Remember what I said about slow?

Ya, readers hate slow. If your readers hate slow, so should you.

I switched to Livefyre hoping it would save critical milliseconds and load faster than Disqus. Or at all.

Comment plugin options - Disqus WordPress Livefyre Facebook

This image is borrowed from the blog of speed testing site, Pingdom.com

Login Issues

While you may not have this trouble on your blog, I had many people complain of login issues. And, not necessarily technical problems logging in. Many of my readers just took issue with having to create another login name.

Since I'd been using Disqus for two and a half years and had hundreds of readers leaving hundreds of comments, change was tough. Trying to move your readers from one platform to another could be more of a challenge than it's worth.

My readers weren't interested in created another account with Livefyre just so they could comment on my posts.

Since they already had an account with Disqus, they didn't want someone else having their email address. While they could have logged in with a social media account, they didn't.

These login issues lead me to my next issue, which is actually the most important of them all…

Comment Reduction

Building an audience who will comment and interact with you takes time. If you're not writing posts that insult one group or another (which often leads to comments), it's hard to get readers to pause their day and say something. At least it was for me.

Over two and a half years, I've been honored to have readers, like you, who've taken the time to give feedback on my posts. I love receiving emails from readers like you. But, comments add social proof to your posts and show the world that people are listening to what you have to say.

Before I switched to Livefyre I was getting a steady stream of comments on most of my blog posts. After I started using Livefyre I received a grand total of less than comments.

Since switching back to Disqus, I've started getting 4-5 comments per post again. It's a slow climb back to normal, but I'm working on it.

Spam Filtering

In the thirty days or so that I had Livefyre installed on AshleyandEllory.com I had over seventy spam comments. My wife and I started our podcast site in August of 2014 and have only a small bit of traffic.

With Livefyre we received more spam than we did of actual comments left by real people.

Yes, most of the spam comments were flagged as such and held for moderation, but I still had to log in and delete them.

I'm not sure if Disqus does a better job of filtering out known malicious IP addresses or what, but I never used to have this problem.

Final Evaluation

At the end of the day, what does this all mean?

It means reader engagement is key. It means slow is bad. It means spam comments create more work than I want to deal with.

Is one comment plugin better than another?

For me, yes. For my audience, yes. Your results may be different from mine.

Whatever comment plugin you choose to go with, stick with it. Just like your readers will expect consistency in your blogging schedule, they'll expect consistency when they go to make a comment.

Looking for other WordPress Plugins to help build your business?

Try these – 21 Essential WordPress Plugins for Building a Business and 25 Tools You Should Be Using To Automate Your Business.

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  • Dan Erickson says:

    I’m slowly moving toward no comments. I’ve done it on all sites but danerickson.net. Many others have been doing this lately.

    • Why would you do that? I love hearing from readers and listeners and getting their feedback. I WANT interaction.

      • Dan Erickson says:

        Three thoughts: 1. To get interaction we usually have to intact on other sites. My interaction has gone down 60-70% since I’ve stopped commenting on other sites as often. 2. Time. Managing comments is a major time suck. 3. Alternatives. I think the idea is that turning off comments moves the conversation to social networks like Twitter.

        • Dan, I’d argue that that’s called putting in the work.

          I rarely have to “manage comments.” Are you getting a lot of spam or irrelevant comments?

          Have you increased social engagement on those other sites? In a world where people look for quick and easy, I just don’t see many people leaving a blog post just to find a Twitter handle or a Facebook page just to have the conversation there.

          And, there’s no way to track, monitor, migrate those interactions or have them show social proof.

          • Dan Erickson says:

            Oh, I put in work. I’m just reconsidering where the work should be put in. If I spend five to ten hours a week on comments I leave no time to create content or for marketing. I’m a full-time college prof and a full-time single dad. My time is important. I need to streamline and find ways to blog using the least amount of time and energy possible while creating quality content. Writing is my strength, so I put more time there. Zen Habits and Seth Godin both chose to not use comments years ago. They’ve made it work.

          • Oh, I know you put in the work Dan! You put in a lot of work – too much to suspend or eliminate the ability to connect with your readers directly.

            My suggestion would be to maybe designate specific times during the day or week to respond to comments instead of responding immediately… like I’m doing today.

            Comments provide inspiration for future content as well.

  • Steven Tessler says:

    I leave comments because I’ve liked what I read and it caught my attention. I want those that took the time to write great content to know they are inspiring someone.

  • Mike Sutton says:

    I love your responsiveness, Ellory! What about the built in WP comments that don’t necessarily show up anywhere else, but are native to a local installation of WordPress?

    • Thanks Mike! I do my best =)

      If you install nothing and use the WordPress comment system that comes with Jetpack, you can always export them via your Dashboard > Tools > Export. While your comments are stored in your WP files on your hosted server, they should sync w/ Disqus or anything else once you install it.

      That’s what’s nice about WordPress. Most things are universally compatible and allow you to move or migrate if needed.

      Does that answer your question Mike?

      Thanks for commenting! You’re appreciated =)

      • Mike Sutton says:

        Maybe more specifically, if I’m already using the built in commenting system is there any reason I’d be better off with Disqus or one of the others?

        • Ah, I see. Technically, no.

          However, Disqus allows you to turn on the feature of showing other posts from your site (see the bottom of the comments) and allows people to share and “like” specific comments.

          Also, the built in comment system typically relies on an additional plugin like Akismet to filter spam and authenticate users. Disqus does a really good job of those things on its own.

          Disqus also allows you, as the site owner, to show comments by oldest or newest on top, you can feature or highlight specific comments, and even automatically close comments after a certain time has passed.

          None of these things alone are necessarily mind-blowing, but they do add up to a pretty solid system.

          I also like the fact that I receive notifications of any replys on any site while looking at Disqus on any site. For example, if I navigate to http://www.bebuildhave.com and scroll to leave a comment, I’d see a notification in the top right by name.

  • Great post Ellory. I liked that the best option isn’t always the best option for you and your tribe. Keep it up!

  • I can really appreciate this post, Ellory. I started out using Disqus on my blog but then when they updated to version 2.7 I believe it was, it broke on me. It was showing my comment counts as zero even when I had comments, and I hadn’t changed anything else to possibly cause this problem. I went back and forth with tech support but got nowhere. Ultimately, I decided to disable the plugin and use the one native to my theme. I’m not pleased with this setup though, because when someone leaves a comment they don’t have the option to be notified of follow-up comments. So I’m still on the look-out for a better solution. And, yes, I have tried Disqus again with its latest version and I’m still having the same problem.

    I’ve looked into Livefyre but am not convinced that it’s the solution either. And given what you say about it here, it doesn’t seem like it would be. I don’t have Jetpack installed so I’m thinking I might do that so that people can at least have the ability to be notified of follow-up comments. It’s just unfortunate because I really like Disqus but it’s not good if it doesn’t work. I’m also dealing with a lot of spam comments now as well with just the native comment system. It’s definitely a pain to go in and delete them all the time.

    If anyone has any other possible solutions for me, I would love to hear them since this has been a real pain for me. Thanks!

  • Love the explanation of comment systems and why you made the choices you did Ellory. Personally, I’m a Disqus fan. It’s easy to use and most users don’t have to make an additional login to use it.

  • Kingsley Grant says:

    Thanks for sharing Ellory. Makes a lot of sense even to me who is not as technie as some others are.

  • Steven Arthur says:

    Thanks for your insights from the trenches Ellory. If an article is interesting enough for me to read, I definitely want to read comments to see how others responded. I usually throw in my 2 cents if it’s easy to do as I have here . Thanks again.

  • Thank you for the insightful post Ellory. Diana Urban also did a great side by side comparison. At Viafoura we are regularly compared against Disqus and Livefyre in enterprise deals and win a fair share for being able to meet and exceed client expectations when it comes to Customization, Backwards compatibility, Speed, Operability and Social Integration. However, because we are not a freemium solution, we’re rarely included in these side by side comparisons by individual like Diana Urban and yourself. If you or anyone reading this post is interested in hearing the details of why clients who do side by side comparisons choose Viafoura, I’d be happy to elaborate.

  • Glad to see how this worked out. I appreciate the lesson. Taking the time to comment is difficult, but I know it’s a real boost to the blogger (at least I think so!).

  • Guest says:

    Hi!
    Are there any alternatives to livefyre, so it will be possible to get comments from Twitter/Facebook into the WordPress blog?

  • John says:

    Hi!
    Are there any alternatives to livefyre, so it will be possible to get comments from Twitter/Facebook into the WordPress blog?

    http://www.ahdwallpaper.net/

    • Hey John, there is a Facebook comments plugin but not one for Twitter I don’t think. However, like I mentioned above, I wouldn’t recommend using it except for specific things – not for general comments on every post or page.

      • Hi Ellory, great post. WP Beginner actually has a great post on comment systems as well but, to the above point there is a twitter commenting system available. Some sites use both Twitter & Facebook commenting systems (like wp beginner mentioned) however, I cannot attest to it. I myself use jetpack to save some load time. A big issue i have with livefyre is their lack of linebreaks as well as dofollowing links – both are critical issues imo.

        http://www.wpbeginner.com/opinion/reasons-why-we-switched-away-livefyre/

        🙂

        • Great Comment Jesse! WP Beginner is a site I refer to often. Keep in mind, their post is almost 2 years old so things may have changed. That do-follow/spam is quite annoying though. Thanks for sharing!

  • GLStephen says:

    I’m considering Disqus also. Does it post to Facebook like the Facebook comments do?

  • Bruce Maples says:

    Thanks for the article. I’ve been looking for a commenting system that will “pull back” comments from Facebook and integrate them into the WP comment stream. There are a few plugins that do just that and nothing else, and I’ve tried those. But, of the commenting systems mentioned, Livefyre seems to be the only one that can truly integrate comments from both sources.

    I’ve also read a number of articles along the lines of “why I left Disqus” and “why I came back to Disqus.” They all seem to come down to the same points that you did:
    (anti) Disqus bogs down the site / loads slow / doesn’t load / fails.
    (pro) Disqus leads to more comments and more interactions.

    I’m going to do some more research, and then make a switch. I think the biggest thing I got out of your post is the good advice to pick one and stick with it.

    Thanks again for the article!

  • Emina says:

    Hello – what were the steps that you took to migrate your Livefyre comments to Disqus? From what I understand you have to migrate them to WordPress first and then to Disqus? Do you have a resource on how to do this?

    http://ahdwallpaper.com/

    • Hi Emina! Thank you for reading and commenting. I removed your link because it was irrelevant.

      While I don’t have a resource for the migration, you should be able to find it within one of the services’ websites.

      Your comment should be stored in your WordPress installation and you can just switch plugins. You’ll want to double check that though.

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

  • Loved Your article. Nicely explained.

  • Thank you for your article, Ellory. I’ll painfully stick to Disqus.

    I remember adopting the Disqus platform in 2013 after seeing some prominent websites using it such as CNN. Now they phased out the comments option thanks to trolls and social media growth (that’s what they said). CNN is not the first one, other big websites don’t have comments platforms anymore. They use Facebook and twitter pages for example. But as you said, not everyone has accounts there. What about my readers in China where Facebook and Twitter are blocked? And yes, it’s slow and Facebook and Twitter own the comments.

    I wonder what solution will come in the future. I like some things about Disqus, but it’s slow and it doesn’t load in all my posts. So, I’ll stick with it until something new comes.

  • resetplz says:

    I’ve been researching several options and this post was one of the more informed and useful ones. I’m not a fan of *anything* that is put in the same sentence as “slow” or “bogs down” but when you see one platform being adopted by so many visible web outlets, it’s time to reconsider.

    I’m in that uncommon category where, if I don’t like my options for a website element, I’ll code my own, but often it’s a judgment call: do I really want to spend weeks and weeks recreating something just because the available ones don’t do one thing or another thing I wanted? There is value in adopting a popular platform.

    I also wonder about the no-comments angle–driving users to use social media for their interactions. Comment management does indeed become a major factor when a website’s traffic is high, and so it’s a real consideration. (Then there’s EchoChamber: http://www.dailydot.com/technology/echochamber-website-comment-javascript-extension/ )

    My questions re Disqus is: as of 2015-16, are:

    1. it still slow and
    2. is it slow because people are using the free version? ie: Is the paid version of Disqus faster?
    3. Is SPAM generally a real issue that needs monitoring?

    That might help to answer one important question, because I’d bet their business model would be based on a principle of driving users to a paid model.

    Thanks for the informative post.

  • Correct. I just tried to leave a comment on a story at the Chicago Tribune and though I made an account on Viafoura and logged in, it refused to let me comment or reply. Clicking in the text box simply did nothing. Useless plugin.

  • Rhombus Columbus says:

    Just a quick note that Livefyre’s WordPress plugin is no longer available as of October 2016. Livefyre made the announcement here which you can read more about: https://answers.livefyre.com/announcements/end-of-livefyre-community-comments/ Anyone looking for a free commenting system would have to look at other options like Disqus or WordPress comments.

  • Johnny says:

    I’ve been doing some research comparing Disqus vs. Livefyre recently, primarily due to Livefyre shuttin down their WordPress plugin. Found this landing page from Disqus with a feature-by-feature breakdown that was pretty useful: https://about.disqus.com/disqus_vs_livefyre

  • BikerLad says:

    FYI, If this was proofread by Grammarly, perhaps the human eye is better. To wit: After I started using Livefyre I received a grand total of less than comments.

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