Platforms & Apps

4 Comment Systems: Pros and Cons

Editor’s Note: This article was originally published by Web Marketing Today. Practical Ecommerce acquired Web Marketing Today in 2012. In 2016, we merged the two sites, leaving Practical Ecommerce as the successor.

In “What to Look for in a Comment System,” I described features like comment moderation, analytics, social integration, and dashboard settings. In this post I will review four popular comment systems and discuss the highlights of each.


Disqus is available for existing blogging platforms like WordPress, Tumblr, and Blogger and can also be integrated directly into a custom HTML site. Disqus comes with standard features like comment moderation, spam filtering, Akismet integration, blacklisting and whitelisting, and appearance customization.

Disqus dashboard.

Disqus dashboard.

Disqus includes additional features that make it unique as a comment system.

  • Real-time discussions. Disqus comments appear in real-time, allowing you to build an active community of commenters. Login and account requirements ensure quality discussions and blacklisting and whitelisting allows you to further moderate comments.

    Disqus comments happen in real-time.

    Disqus comments happen in real-time.

  • Email moderation. Comments in Disqus can be moderated via your email account using three commands, ensuring you are always in control of the comments on your site.
  • Social integration.Social sharing, reactions, and tagging help connect commenters across social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook and allows commenters to tag Twitter and Disqus users using the @mentions.

    Disqus has many social integration features.

    Disqus has many social integration features.

  • Discovery. Disqus added its discovery feature in 2012, allowing users to find additional content on your site as well as link to related content throughout the Disqus network. This can result in longer visits and an increase in referral traffic from the Disqus network.
  • User analytics. The Disqus dashboard provides information on the users commenting on your site, including user reputation, history, post approval rating, likes from other users, and more.
  • Single sign-on. Disqus includes a single sign on feature that allows you to integrate the Disqus user login with your existing site. Disqus also includes options to log in using social network accounts.

Disqus offers a stripped-down free version. Enhanced versions, with API access, are not free. If you wish to try Disqus on a WordPress blog, Disqus can sync comments so you don’t need to worry about losing comments if you decide on a different comment system afterwards.


Livefyre is another comment system with a host of useful features. Livefyre currently supports WordPress, Tumblr, and Joomla integration as well as custom HTML integration. Support for Blogger and Drupal is being added.

Comments dashboard.

Livefyre dashboard.

Livefyre includes several features that set it apart from other comment systems.

  • Real-time comments. Like Disqus, Livefyre also allows real-time commenting. Machine-learning spam filters and community flagging helps keep real-time comments clean and relevant to the discussion. Multiple moderators, bans, and whitelists also help keep spam comments under control.
  • Live listeners and comment notifiers.Livefyre lets users see who is participating in a discussion — whether they are listening or actively commenting.

    Comments shows who is participating in a conversation.

    Livefyre shows who is participating in a conversation.

  • Social integration.Livefyre lets users sign in using social media accounts or OpenID and even lets users tag friends from Facebook, Twitter, and Livefyre accounts. Livefyre’s SocialSync allows users to automatically sync conversations on your site with their Facebook and Twitter posts.

    Comments lets users sign in using social media accounts.

    Comments lets users sign in using social media accounts.

  • User activity and conversation tracking. Livefyre’s dashboard lets you keep track of user activity and reputation as well as track conversations.
  • Media integration. Users can embed rich media like YouTube or Vimeo videos, Spotify and SoundCloud tracks, images, and even Wikipedia articles.

Livefyre is free for a basic version. Other, enhanced versions and integrations cost a monthly fee.


IntenseDebate by Automattic— creators of WordPress — is another popular comment system. IntenseDebate can be installed with WordPress, Blogger, Tumblr, Typepad, and custom sites.

InteseDebate dashboard.

IntenseDebate dashboard.

IntenseDebate comes with many useful features that are easily controlled through the comment system’s dashboard.

  • Comment settings.IntenseDebate lets you easily control comment settings with check boxes in the dashboard. You can decide whether to enable threads, comment voting, images, clickable links, and other options.

    IntenseDebate Comment Settings.

    IntenseDebate Comment Settings.

  • Subscription settings. Subscription settings give users the option to subscribe to comment threads using RSS feeds or email subscriptions, which encourages commenting.
  • User reputations. Commenters are assigned reputations based on their credibility and history commenting on your site. You have the option to hide or display user reputation indicators.
  • Social logins. IntenseDebate enables user logins using Facebook Connect or Twitter, letting users comment using their Facebook or Twitter accounts.
  • CSS customization.IntenseDebate is customizable using your own CSS and comes with full documentation on how to do so. You can even link to CSS file from within the IntenseDebate dashboard.

    IntenseDebate allows for completely custom CSS.

    IntenseDebate allows for completely custom CSS.

  • Plugins. IntenseDebate lets you install plugins to include additional features that aren’t natively built into the system. Plugins for social sharing, polls, emoticons, and YouTube embedding are all available. You can also create your own plugin using the IntenseDebate plugin API.

IntenseDebate has many more customizable features that are too numerous to list here. You can sign up for a free account and test IntenseDebate before committing to using it on your existing site. IntenseDebate is free with registration.


While third party comment systems provide additional useful features, many prefer the simplicity of WordPress’ integrated comment system. The WordPress comment system can only be used with an installation of WordPress and cannot be used with other blogging platforms like Tumblr or Blogger.

WordPress dashboard.

WordPress dashboard.

WordPress offers many of the core features needed for a good comment system and WordPress plugins can be installed for additional features.

  • Automated moderation. WordPress includes settings for moderating comments. You can decide whether or not users must provide a name and email address or if users must be registered and logged in before commenting. You can also require administrator approval before a comment is approved and allow previously approved commenters to post without approval.
  • Nested comments. WordPress allows threaded comments and allows you to choose how many levels deep threaded comments will be nested.
  • Simple spam filtering. WordPress includes integrated spam filtering with Akismet and lets you filter out comments with specific keywords and, also, blacklist commenters using specific IP or email addresses.
  • Plugins.Third-party WordPress plugins let you enhance the default WordPress comment system. Plugins are available for advanced spam filtering, social integration, comment subscriptions, comment rating, and more.

    Free third party plugins can enhance the standard WordPress comment system.

    Free third party plugins can enhance the standard WordPress comment system.

WordPress is a free, open-source blogging platform and its comment system is included.

Drew Coffin
Drew Coffin
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