Comments: Disqus or Livefyre?

I’ve spent my fair share of time attempting to figure out which commenting systems are best on WordPress. Let’s face it, the stock commenting system generally leaves a lot to be desired. The spam prevention is utterly terrible without numerous third party extensions to enforce security, and why would you attempt piecing that puzzle together when there are so many other out-of-the-box commenting systems that can be installed in mere minutes? I’ve found lots of plugins that reach this end. Plenty of them have been sufficient in dealing with most of your typical comment issues. With an added security feature like Wordfence, you can also create a system that is virtually spam proof. In the end, however, I’ve really only found two distinct plugins for commenting that truly impress me.

Now, we’re left with a question of preference. If you already have a security measure like Wordfence installed, where do we turn for commenting systems? In my mind, it comes down to Disqus and Livefyre. Both systems command a lot of attention, but one of them has the edge for me in 2015. Remember that this is my personal opinion and that you should always go with the system that better suits your needs!

A Brief Story

Back in late 2012, the first iteration of Janzen Web Dynamics was launched. This was before I started making regular blog posts. I was mostly managing social media and writing sporadic entries on that occupation through a Tumblr that has been gone for a very long time. During that time, I cycled through all kinds of commenting systems. I even used Disqus for while, found it to be clunky, and moved onto something else entirely.

In the summer of 2013, I really launched things. I was gung-ho about publishing as often as possible, writing articles on tools I used. At the time I was using Livefyre and loving it. Heck, if you go digging I’m sure you’ll find a post where I was emphatically recommending that everyone else should be using it, too.

The point is this: many articles you read online have a very temporary analysis relevancy. These commenting systems are changing so often and improving in so many ways that you really need test out each module for yourself. This story is clear proof that, as competitors, there will be a constant flux of quality between the two.

Livefyre

The Good

There are certain qualities about Livefyre that make it attractive. For one, the UI and its general presentation are quite simple and to-the-point. It’s a relatively fast system compared what WordPress or its Jetpack system can offer and all of its subsidiary features make the comment submissions content rich. The threading system creates a nice discussion interface, as well.

What I like most about Livefyre is the minimal aesthetic. The system integrates well with most themes, color schemes and layouts in addition to creating a decent in-line moderation system.

The Bad

When I say that Livefyre operates relatively fast, it’s relative to the speed of WordPress. While it is, without question, an improvement over the stock commenting system what became clear to me as I used the plugin more was that it was a little slow at times for coming from a major third party developer. Every once in a while pages would lag to load the comments, and in my early experimenting, I found that it would often conflict with other page elements. That’s not to say that it wasn’t another plugin causing those issues – this is very common in WordPress, but I really disliked how long it took to sort those problems out. Thankfully, since that time, they have added a feature displaying which plugins are causing problems. Here are some other issues I encountered:

  • odd formatting and line-breaks in some comments
  • poor balance between typical commenting scheme and threading (i.e. engagements can be difficult to follow)
  • spam – somehow it was still getting through
  • struggles to seamlessly integrate (i.e. distinct framework in site flow)
  • poor backend/system options

Disqus

The Good

What I found with Disqus was solidarity. The UI is subdued, yet aesthetically pleasing – even with its bulky interface. Comment threading is typically wonderful. It’s easy to follow conversations and there was only one loading issue I encountered when I first installed the plugin. Outside of that, I’ve found it to be the fastest commenting system I’ve used. I’ve yet to experience any problems with spam and have discovered major improvements to the profile integration that comes with the service. Overall, it also offers better sharing features and the related content display is really quite nice.

Another thing that was really nice to discover was its ability to render Javascript externally in the footer which largely mitigated any problems associated with other plugins.

The Bad

If I were doing this review three years ago I would have a laundry list for this section. Many of the improvements made to the Disqus service have helped to make it an incredible system, but there are a few remaining aspects that seem overdone. I’m not a huge fan of how intrusive this commenting system can be. Livefyre has a distinct quality from the post content, but Disqus further differentiates itself by being a module unto itself with its branding, privacy policy link and other extra layout nonsense. I’ll list a couple of complaints:

  • limited advanced setup tools on the backend
  • little user choice with regard to customization

Where I Stand Today

If it isn’t evident by the commenting system presently used on this site, or my comparative lack of complaints about its services, Disqus is my clear-cut winner. It was odd to go back and forth, considering that Livefyre was simply the best option when I began blogging in late 2012, but when I launched this site I knew it was time for a change. I’m glad I made it. It’s saved me a lot of time and stress related to finding another third party service that delivered everything I wanted.

When combined with a security feature, choosing the right commenting system is the difference between have five haphazard plugins or two really great ones. 

Of course, I recognize (as should you) that things could change again in a year’s time. There might be a brand new competitor that emerges and simply takes commenting to a new level, but until that time I’ll be sticking with Disqus. It keeps those dreaded Facebook-integrated comments off of my pages and has become a vast improvement over Livefyre. I’m excited to see where things go from here.

Got something to say on the matter? Drop a line below and tell me what you prefer. Feel free to disagree or suggest that a new commenting frontrunner does exist. I’d love to hear about! Thanks for reading.