Some bloggers will tell you that comments are the backbone of a blog. I tend to agree with that. As far as I see it, comments on your blog establish that your articles are not monologues, but that they are thought provoking and inducive to interaction and engagement of your readers. As well, they help build credibility and brand of your blog. There are a number of reasons why a blog may not be receiving comments. In this post I would like to concentrate on one of the factors, namely blog commenting platforms. The article will look at why some of these platforms may actually be deterring your readers from commenting.
Over the years a number of blog commenting platforms that could be used on WordPress have popped up. Although the native WordPress commenting platform still appears to be the norm, many bloggers have replaced it with third party commenting mechanisms such as Disqus, Livefyre, Facebook, Google+ and others.
The reasons bloggers embraced these applications was because they offered seamless integration with social media, hence the possibility of viral traffic. As spam was becoming a problem for some of the larger sites, the requirement to sign in with social media or by creating an account with the comment platform provider, was viewed as a remedy to prevent spammy comments. Lastly, the promise of better comment management also came into play.
Since the rise of these platforms in 2011, many bloggers became disillusioned and are abandoning the ship. They are humbly returning to the native WordPress comment system. Let’s look at the reasons behind this exodus.Note: You may notice some spelling mistakes in the quoted sections. That is because I copied these straight from the websites and I did not want to tamper with them
Disadvantages Of Third Party Blog Commenting Platforms
After the implementation of the 3rd party commenting platforms, many blogs have noticed a decrease in comments. In general, third party comment mechanisms are harder to use than the conventional WordPress system. In the latter you know that you have to input some information such as your name or an email address. We all have names and we all have email addresses.
The third party systems require you to sign in with your social media or even to create an account with the comment system providers or in some cases the actual blog. Some bloggers do not have active Facebook or Google+ accounts and some commenters simply refused to sign in this way, did not comment and even abandoned their favorite blogs.
Facebook and Google+ Comment System
First let’s look at Facebook and Google+ blog comments mechanisms. Facebook commenting platform has been around for a while and Google+ has only recently joined the WordPress comments bandwagon. Because Google+ is so new there is not much data. On the other hand there is a lot of information about Facebook commenting platform and I am sure much of that information will apply to Google+.
Initially, when Facebook blog commenting became available, many people welcomed it with opened arms. It was generally believed that by adding Facebook comments, your posts will go viral. In other words, when someone would comment on your post, your post would be seen on the commenter’s wall and eventually would be seen by his friends. Then all the friends who would see it would share it with their friends and so on. This was supposedly going to create a ton of traffic to your website.
Well, in theory this model may work. In practice, it is a different story. In their article, “Commenters, We Want You Back” TechCrunch team (PR 8) clearly demonstrates that this system failed them:
Frankly, our trial with Facebook Comments lasted way too long at too steep of a cost. Sure, Facebook Comments drove extra traffic to the site, but the vast majority of our readers clearly do not feel the system is worthy of their interaction.
And we want our commenters back. TechCrunch
Here are a few comments from the times when TechCrunch first introduced Facebook commenting and from the time when they finally got rid of it
►I don’t like it. My facebook account is strictly for my personal life – it’s not professional, and it’s not supposed to be. This commenting systems forces me to integrate the two, which I won’t.
►Facebook comments was an obvious fail from the get go. I completely stopped commenting when you implemented fb comments, which is a horrible product with a horrible premise. Better late than never, I guess…
►Hooray! While I can understand your motivation for the switch back in the day–the quality of comments here was terrible, and everyone seemed to chime in just to bash TC or the author–I basically stopped coming to the site after the switch. I only saw this post because someone tweeted it.
►I am one of the few, proud non-Facebook using techies. I have no intention of signing up for FB just to comment on web sites. However, I like to be able to engage in discussions on articles and blog posts that I read, so when a site uses Facebook Comments, I more or less write it off as dead to me.
So, welcome back to the living and good luck!
►I’ve been having the same issue on our blog. When we first initiated Facebook comments, it was pretty engaging. Then over the past few months, crickets. I personally think people would like to be free to talk without having their Mom and sister in law read it. I think that’s fair…
I imagine that the same and worse will be true for Google+. Although, many people, especially marketers are using Google+, its use is not as widespread as Facebook. By having Google+ commenting platform not only will you alienate the readers who want their social media privacy but also the readers who are not signed up or have no intention for signing up for Google+.
Andrew Hiddleston released a video where he talks about the problems with Google+ and Facebook commenting mechanisms. It is worth to watch.
Disqus And LiveFyre: Why many bloggers don’t like these commenting applications.
In all fairness to Disqus and LiveFyre, because I am not their user, I had to make sure to research the topic really well before condemning these commenting applications. As well, I am not saying you should not use Disqus or LiveFyre if you like them. Just make sure to research the applications thoroughly and ensure they will suit your purpose.
I would have never thought I would be placing excerpts from any political blog on Blogging Spree as this blog is completely apolitical, but the article summarizes very well and basically agrees with all the complaints I have found online.
The article was called “Our Failings With Disqus“. Here are just a few excerpts from the article:
1. There is a blithe disregard for the personal privacy of anyone who uses Disqus….In the past, while my comments were open to view, my privacy was protected… Why do I care? Because comments, used out of context, can be made to prove anything.
2. What Disqus does is give any other Disqus user the ability to “Follow” you. This means all of your comments, on every site you visit using Disqus, are aggregated for them. You do not have the ability to block “Followers.” So if someone is stalking you in the comments, every time you post a comment your stalker is notified…
The author goes on to discuss other serious issue, which in the political arena are simply not acceptable. ( Some of these may even apply to non-political blogs when a troll has an agenda to trash and or discredit your blog)
The conclusion the author makes is as follows:
So right now, I would recommend that anyone who has a website and is considering using Disqus as a comments moderation platform give it serious second thoughts. There are good sides but for a high visibility political blog Disqus, as it is today, is a horrible tool. Source
Recently, Franziska from Franish conducted a survey about Disqus. Although there were some positive responses, many were negative and some of them I’ll share below
►I’m a lurker and rarely comment on blogs but I definitely don’t on blogs that use disqus even if I have something I want to say. It never loads right in any of the web browsers I use.
►If I look at blogs at work (I know, I know I shouldn’t) disquis is blocked, so if I want to comment I have to do it from my phone (super annoying) or wait until I get home and then remember to go to the blog and comment. So I’m not a fan…
►Hate Disqus, hate it. It never loads properly on any platform I use and as a blogger I tried it and it became the bane of my existence. But I know people who swear by it.
►here’s why i DIDN’T use it on my new style blog: it takes too long to load and not all comments are captured. another thing i’ve noticed is that Disqus’s commenting system has tried to take on the life of a social networking platform by allowing for communities, etc. also, if you don’t change the settings, it makes recommendations for other blogs (that have nothing to do with niche) right next to your comments. call me selfish, but i don’t want a commenting system that directs traffic away from my blog.
►Don’t do it! I have it and I’m about to delete it because many people have stated that they cannot comment on my blog and the same thing has happened to me while visiting other blogs. I feel their frustration. Disqus looked promising, but alas I’m deleting it right after I publish this comment.
In addition to the above problems I found that there are problems with Disqus with respect to load time ( although it is not as bad as it used to be), updates that can affect your comments and even your site and a host of other small yet annoying issues.
♦ Although anonymous guest blogging is now permitted with Livefyre you are still nudged to sign up for their account. If you do, similarly to Disqus, Livefyre will own your profile. Why should they? For the privilege of commenting on someone’s blog? It makes no sense. To boot, if a site has a monthly paid commenting account, and the developers of the site have the technical knowledge, they can have you sign up for their site rather than Livefyre. All that means that if you do that and go to a next site that has a Livefyre commenting system, you will still be asked to sign up with Livefyre.
Let’s take an example from the top of this post, TechCrunch. They have discarded the Facebook commenting platform and replaced it with Livefyre. Here is what they wrote in their post:
You will now be creating “TechCrunch” accounts where you can sign in socially and all of your comments will be tracked on your profile screen, which is launched by clicking on a username. This means you can maintain your anonymity, but there is still accountability as your comments are all attached to one profile. Source
I like what one of the commenters posted in response to their article:
►Isn’t this really a customer data acquisition strategy for TechCrunch? By writing this comment I now have a TechCrunch account which I’m pretty sure I didn’t have before. TechCrunch now has my email address which I know they didn’t have before.
►Seriously, I like reading blog posts by TechCrunch But I certainly am not going to create an account with them for that privilege
I sure would not want to be going from blog to blog creating profiles. To me it is absolutely ridiculous. I completely agree with Sue Neal’s sentiments:
When you first come across one of these things on a blog, it can be very off-putting. The first time I tried to leave a comment on a site with Livefyre, I was going through a phase when I was really struggling to cope with all my registrations and passwords. I’d no desire to register with this service I’d never heard of, so I just gave up and walked away without leaving a comment. I can’t be alone – I’m sure there are other people surfing the web who aren’t familiar with these services and can’t be bothered to jump through hoops just to leave a simple message.
Sue is not alone. Many bloggers feel that way!
♦ In addition, many companies and agencies block Livefyre and apparently they are getting a red flag on Chrome as well. I found a few comments from bloggers who experienced these issues:
From Ike Piggott’s post:
►I certainly can’t speak to the technical aspects of spam and firewalls. But, I can tell you that in my old government job, I experienced the exact same issue. I was never able to visit websites that used Livefyre commenting. And, if the firewall did let me visit, I couldn’t view or add comments. It was a total bummer. And, as much as I think Livefyre is a great commenting platform, it’s one of the reasons I don’t use it on my site – because I know it has the potential to get blocked.
►I’m a big fan of Livefyre, use it and often recommend it to others. It is definitely a tool to facilitate engagement. I have notice lately that several sites I visit regularly are getting the big red flag in Chrome — that is the “do you want to proceed.” At least one of them was using Disqus, but I think others were using Livefyre so will have to pay closer attention.
♦ Neither Livefyre or Disqus link directly to your blog or blog posts. For me this is one of the major drawbacks of these commenting platforms. Here, when you find a good comment and feel that you want to visit the commenter’s site you need to visit the commenter’s profile first. Then, if he created his profile right will you come across a link to his website.
♦ There are many other issues. WPBeginner just abandoned Livefyre and returned to the conventional WP commenting platform. Below are couple of their reasons. To get the whole scoop you need to visit WPBeginner article.
We really enjoyed the real-time comments feature because we were able to have some great chat-like conversations in our comments. It was the best engagement experience that we have ever seen from comments. However, real-time comments got harder to moderate. Spammers realized that they were only a single registration away from getting all of their comments approved on our site.
Social conversation is a very nice option that Livefyre provides. You can choose to bring in your conversations from Twitter and Facebook back to the article. In theory this sounds great, however it has yet to be perfected. We saw a lot of irrelevant comments coming from Twitter
Replying is a PAIN – For a site like ours, we often find a need to reply to comments. There is no easy way to do this. You will see the comment in livefyre moderation panel. You have to open the article where you can see the comment as pending. Approve it, and then reply from there. This makes the Livefyre moderation panel pretty much useless. In WordPress backend moderation, there is a really cool feature called Reply and Approve. So you can reply to the comment without ever opening a new tab/window for the post.
I really enjoyed some of the comments on the above post by Rourke Decker who is actually thinking of removing LiveFyre from the popular blog he writes for. This is partly what he had to say about one of the features, namely real-time commenting:
►The problem with real-time commenting like Livefyre is that it turns your commenting stream into a chat room; in essence, your site, no matter how serious it may be, devolves into nothing more than a social networking hangout. Our author work very hard on our articles — some of them take many hours of research to write — but we’re lucky if even one percent of the comments people make have anything to do with the article at all. Livefyre has a lot of features that make commenting a lot of fun, but those end up being a distraction from the article.
I have noticed that on some of the blogs too. They not only reminded me of chat rooms, they also reminded my of bad Skype conversations.
Well, that brings me to the end of this article. Sorry it was so long but I hope you got some food for thought. Like I said, we all have choices but always remember, your blog is a part of your online business. Comments bring value to your blog. So whatever you choose make sure to do due diligence because once you will implement the system, to change it will mean a lot of headaches.
In case you are wondering, on my blog I use a plugin called commentluv. I love it because it helps prevent spam, it allow my readers to share their link to their latest post and it helps me build new relationships with my fellow bloggers. Please let me know what you think of the different blog commenting platforms. Have you had any experience with any of them? Please feel free to share this post with your friends.