It seems the era of boring blog comment sections is over – from WordPress introducing threaded comments to CommentLuv, Gravatars, and tweetbacks, there are more tools than ever to liven up your post comments and get the whole “community fu” flowing strong.
What are they? Broadly speaking, they are all hosted web services that attempt to link comments by individuals across the blogosphere, embedded in your WordPress install with a plugin. They also, to varying degrees, attempt to expand on the idea of ping/trackbacks – links to your post from other blogs – and display all inbound links from across the social media landscape, such tweets, social bookmarks, and so on.
They also make commenting a bit more fun, and coherent, for your readers. Using a single sign on they can track their own comments across the blogosphere – or at least, across any other blogs that happen to be using the same commenting system (maybe someone can create a tool to integrate your comments into one viewable pane?).
I should note – this isn’t a review post, as I haven’t used all three systems enough to make a properly informed judgement. This is just to highlight three alternatives to help make your blog comments a bit more interactive.
However, based on the various reviews I’ve seen, the cheat sheet version based on my own quick judgement is:
- Disqus: Most established player, in wide use, new updates. Works decently well on my current blog.
- IntenseDebate: Owned by the guys who built WordPress, so lots of hope for future development, though enough complaints on current stability to give me pause.
- JS-Kit Echo: Newest entrant, loaded with interesting functionality and a clean UI, though this one is a “premium” (you pay) plugin.
From my incredibly unscientific scanning of the Web, armed with patented Mark I Eyeballs, Disqus is the “grandpa” of the crowd, having launched first. It offers very easy integration with WordPress, a nice moderation screen (both in WP dashboard and external), and a fantastic sidebar. I use it on my Social Mallard blog and have seen it in heavy rotation throughout the blogosphere, though that may reflect their early entrance into the market.
The Disqus team launched a recent update (August 25, 2009), effectively splitting the service into two parts: Disqus Comments, the comment management system for bloggers, and Disqus Profile, a separate comment management system just for commenters.
A relatively recent (one year ago) acquisition by the team at Automattic, I’ve been hesitant to try it on my blogs due to some bloggers having significant challenges with it (example) To be fair though, I’ve come across a lot of bloggers who love it and prefer it over Disqus. To each their own.
The fact that ID is now run by the guys at Automattic inspires a bit of confidence, as they put out some world class products.
See the complete feature list.
See the complete feature list – it’s fairly exhaustive.
A big difference between Echo and the others? Echo isn’t free – $12 a month for the “Live” version, and I can’t locate a totally free option.