Commenting with Disqus

ExpressionEngine comments versus Disqus

Implementing comments for a blog post within ExpressionEngine has always been a hassle for me. As simple as it is, this single feature has given me more grief than virtually all others combined. While it may be my own inability to grasp the single-entry page or a pathing issue, I wanted to give an external comment module a try.

Disqus came by way of a recommendation. Yes, it's a javascript solution that is analogous to your site installation. Yes, this is an issue for some purists. The only questions I wanted to answer were "how easy is it to implement?" and "will it improve visitor participation?"

Five minutes
Sign up for an account with http://www.disqus.com, enter your site information, select your comment features, copy the code the system spits out and paste it into your layout. Done.

Pros:

  • Super-simple implementation
  • Full-featured, robust commenting engine
  • Unobtrusive look and feel
  • Single interface that allows you to manage multiple comments from within a single site or from multiple web sites
  • Scalable
  • Import and Export comments from other systems

Cons:

  • Javascript
  • CSS is difficult to tweak and, in many cases, rules must be highly specific to affect your layout.
  • Does not currently integrate seamlessly with ExpressonEngine. This means, among other things, that you do not have the option of pulling user comments into lists.
  • Requires a separate login and control panel
  • Comments cannot be spidered for SEO

As a site admin who manages several personal web sites, I don't enjoy having to login individually to multiple sites to moderate comments. And like most people, I really don't enjoy dealing with comment spam. As a result, I have seriously considered removing comments entirely from every personal site I manage. I simply do not like comment moderation within EE and feel it is the one feature that does not get the attention it deserves from an administrative perspective.

This is why I feel that Disqus's separate login and control panel is a net positive for people who manage comments across multiple web sites.

I have heard rumors that an EE2 module is in development for Disqus integration. That's good news for single site managers, but I'll probably wind up sticking with the external single-interface simply because it's more convenient for moderating multiple sites. There is also a workaround available from Aaron Mc Adam for pulling comments into noscript tags in your templates to provide support for search engine spiders (I'll post more about this plugin after I have a chance to implement it).

Disqus boasts a rich feature set including threaded replies and comment replies, social web access and broadcast, multi-site moderation, multiple moderators, Akismet support, bulk actions, and automated decisions. The best feature, however, is the lack of maintenance it requires.

All this functionality is offered for the bargain price of free. However, if you require more control and an even broader feature set, you can upgrade to their pro version seamlessly.

I'm still putting Disqus through its paces, but I'm impressed so far. There is not a "perfect" solution for monitoring and administering comments, but I will say that Disqus pummels EE's native commenting capabilities. And, time will tell whether or not participation increases on my site simply as a result of offering multiple ways for visitors to log in to share their thoughts.

Disqus is worth a look and, in case you require more convincing, it's worth nothing that Mashable.Com uses Disqus exclusively to handle their site comments.