External Comment Systems May Not Be the Best Option for a Blog Owner

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Until recently I was a big fan of aftermarket comment systems such as Disqus and Intense Debate. Both are great systems but they do have some reasons why you would want to think twice and do your research when selecting a comment system. Each system basically does the same thing but each one has special features the others do not. These features can be helpful and some are just for fun.

The down side to using external comment systems is your comments are no longer stored on your site, but on another site, you give link juice to comment system website and not your visitors, comment database can get damage, and you could have issues if you ever want to switch back to your default comment system.

Note: The information below is about Intense Debate. If you are looking for issues / review about Disqus, I do not have any information about the comment system. I have not found many reviews or site owners having issues with the system. My view on Disqus, is if you need to use a comment a system do your research and pick the best one. Always look into what users are saying about the system and not what the company has to say. After my issues with external comment systems, I honestly believe that if you are using WordPress, then use their default comment system. They have the most stable system available for blogging.

My Story

For those that have been following this blog or know me through my comments and Twitter use, I am big (not anymore) fan of Intense Debate. Evolutionary Designs’ comment system was powered by Intense Debate. I went with this comment system over WordPress because of some issues I was having with my theme and several plugins were not working with the theme. After some research, I found Intense Debate worked great with my theme and they offered those same plugins already built into the comment system! I  was familiar with  Intense Debate and had used it in the past on my garden blog. After some configuration and comment migration, I was up and running. The system worked great, but I wasn’t a big fan of the comment system and design layout. This was the main reason why I removed Intense Debate from my garden blog.

Tip: When configuring Intense Debate, make sure to select the option that Intense Debate and WordPress are synced when a visitor leaves a comment. This is important because, if you ever turn off Intense Debate, the theory is, all of your comments will show up on the WordPress Comment System. Don’t worry you will not get duplicate comments, only the Intense Debate comments show up when the plugin is active and the WordPress comments show up, when the plugin is deactivated or removed.

So It Sounds Great, What’s The Catch?

As you can tell we are no longer using the Intense Debate comment system. The reason why we turned off Intense Debate was because, it would scramble the comments. As I mentioned above, it worked great for a few months, but starting about two months ago the comments system was no longer reliable. When I say unreliable, it scrambled the comments, it took comments from a few months back and put them on the current posts, or never displays them at all and doesn’t sync comments with WordPress even though I have configured to do so. I did some troubleshooting and found that there was no way I could fix this on my own. All of the comments were stored on Intense Debate’s site making it next to impossible to trouble shoot the comment side of the troubleshooting issues. On my side I had not made any changes to the system, profile and Intense Debate settings were correct, and I had the latest updates to WordPress and Intense Debate.

At first, I thought this was not an issue, but after deactivating the plugin and checked some of my articles that there broken. It turns out that all the issues were resolved but, all of the new comments were never posted. I turned Intense Debate back on and the comments are there along with a bunch of comments from other posts. I tried re-syncing the comments with Intense Debate, but it still didn’t work. At this point, I contacted Intense Debate Support and few days later, I heard back from them asking to once again describe the issue and give URL links and they would get back to me after looking into the issue. So I gave them a bunch of examples and described the issues.

Another thing that annoys me about Intense Debate, that I would never found out about until I switched back to WordPress Comments is,  I found that if you sign into your Intense Debate account, and comment on a site with the plugin installed. It will send you to your site when you click on your image or user name. But if a site owner turns off the plugin and coverts back to WordPress. It leaves a backlink to the users Intense Debate profile. This may be a setting on the user profile, but I could not find it. What this means is that every comment my Intense Debate readers made are now lost and sent back to their profile. So now Intense Debate gets the link juice and not the user.

I waited a week and I still had not heard from them and the issue is still not resolved. I send another email using their support ticket number. Of course, I wait another week and still had not heard anything from them. Because of the comment system, I lost somewhere around fifteen to twenty comments, traffic has decreased, and several of my return readers are not returning anymore. At this point, I am not happy and what Intense Debate did by not even bothering to work with me on this is unacceptable. Because of those reasons have removed the plugin from the site.

After removing the plugin, I found that all of my comments I made using Intense Debate comments no longer shows my website’s URL or my comment author image. I never could figure out how to change this. The weird thing is, that a lot of my older comments are fine, from what I can tell only two months worth of comments I made have issues. Now that I turned off the plugin everything seems to be fine. But I have to overhaul my comments system. I will have to repair any broken comment links, add sharing buttons back and install the CommentLuv plugin. Tune Up Your Stranded Blog Remove External Comments

So Is Using an External Comment System Worth It?

Is it worth it to use an external comment system? This is a question you need to ask yourself. You need to think about the possibility that you may loose your comments and may not be able to recover them. Can you backup up your comments like with most comment system? Are you a WordPress or a Blogger User? Why do you need to use Disqus or Intense Debate System? For me, I using an external comment system, just isn’t worth it. Below are a list of pros and cons for using Intense Debate.

Pros

  • Optimized Comment System
  • More options and addons that can use then most default comment systems have
  • Gives your site another traffic source
  • Intense Debate – has commentluv plugin
  • Works with problematic WordPress themes – May work better then default system if the theme interferes with different plugins
  • Advanced features designed to help the administrators and commenter. A lot of these are now offered through plugins or can be manually coded.

Cons

  • Comments are stored offsite
  • Comments may not be able to backed up
  • Comment database can get corrupted or deleted, no way to restore? Some system might have options to avoid this
  • Comment load system may not be compatible with other comment systems or even the default system. If you want to change or go back to the default system, this might not be possible without the lose of comments
  • Site load time is slower
  • Commenter’s web link might be set to link back to their comment system and not their site
  • Intense Debate is uses JavScript which will can harm your SEO
  • Internet Explorer users have reported issues viewing the comment system

Final Thoughts

As a WordPress user, I can no longer recommend this product. It slows down your site speed, support is horrible, and your readers loose a backlink to their site when they comment to Intense Debate and use their log in. However, I would recommend this product for Blogger since this product is superior to blogger’s comment system. Plus you can setup CommentLuv with Intense Debate. I have done some research with the issues with Intense Debate, and there are a lot of people complaining about the comment system and various bugs that Intense Debate has failed to address.

Image Credit: Ross  Beckley

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About James

James spends most of his free time using social media and loves to teach others about design, web development, CSS, SEO, and social media. He is addicted to Wordpress, social media, and technology. You can reach him on his, personal website, Do not forget to follow him on Twitter @element321

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Comments

  1. Good observations and points James. I am not a huge fan of the external systems, mainly because I cannot store or control the comments. If something happens such as a server going offline, my entire comment system is down, and it can even cause large delays in loading times of the blog.
    Aaron recently posted..Free BlogsMy Profile

  2. I much prefer commenting in native WordPress comment blogs that have CommentLuv and KeywordLuv installed over any other type – except for the Akismet issues.

    While I do sometimes comment in blogs that use IntenseDebate or Disqus they are frequently difficult to get logged into and just generally less friendly to use.

    Least favorite are the blogger blogs that do not have the name and URL option enabled (those I usually just leave without commenting) and sites that require logins (which I usually leave as well.

    • Gail, I agree with the login being an issue on the comment system. I read several blogs that use Disqus and I rarely comment on their sites now. Every try and post Firefox or Chrome crashes so bad I have to reboot.

      As for bloggers, I hate it to. One of my clients that runs a blogspot, I just moved them over to Intense Debate. Of course I set this up before I had any issues. But for blogger, I will always recommend Intense Debate over Blogger comment system. That system is horrible and I really do not know why they haven’t migrated over to a better system…
      James recently posted..Back-End Solutions to Having a Quick Load-TimeMy Profile

  3. I didn’t know that IntenseDebate does these things. I just installed it and haven’t showed any problem. Maybe I’ll try observing what happens in the next few weeks. Thanks for the heads up.

  4. I use Intense Debate for my Blogger blog (much better than the blogger default system as you said in the above comment). But again as you said, it leaves a link to my ID profile. So I had to logout of ID in order to leave a comment.
    And about Disqus, I had issues of the comment system not loading at all. It required 2-3 refreshes to get the thing loaded.
    Sourav recently posted..Make Add-Ons Compatible With Firefox 4 BetaMy Profile

  5. I do personally think that the standard system that WordPress uses is perfect for the job, at the end of the day these external options are just another reason for something to go wrong with an already working comment system.
    Karen recently posted..How To Write a Twitter Bio That Gains You More FollowersMy Profile

  6. I agree totally. I don’t understand why people use Disqus or Intense Debate. Tried Disqus on one site & I wasn’t too happy. Glad I switched back (even if I lost a few comments).

    Seems a step back for bloggers. Commenting was only really introduced in blogs when people such as YACCS & Haloscan did an add in for blogger blogs, then Blogger introduced inbuilt comments, and the rest is history.
    Rhy recently posted..Maxblogpress Ninja Affiliate WordPress Plugin ReviewMy Profile

  7. I had the same problems with Disqus, so I recently removed it from one site to see what would happen, well my comments are a mess, replies weren’t threaded anymore etc.

    Not sure I will change it back on my other sites yet…
    Keith recently posted..So You Think You Made A FriendMy Profile

    • keith, thanks for stopping by and sharing…

      I had some problems on several of your sites using Disqus. I every time I would try and post from Firefox or Chrome, Disqus would crash the browser so bad, Vista had to be restarted.

      As for your issue with the comments. Does Disqus sync with WordPress Comment system or do you loose all the comments made on it?

      If it does sync, you might be able do what I had to do and go in to the individual posts/comments and either move them where they need to go or delete them. Lucky for me, I ended not have to move any just remove duplicates.

  8. Thanks for sharing this experience from ever since i never believe in externel comment system for the simple reason you mentioned that the comments are stored on an external system and i have no control over that i recently migrated to wordpress and i use thier default system i never had and never will use any external comment system.
    lawmacs recently posted..Links for 2010-07-08 deliciousMy Profile

  9. I am satisfied with the default commenting system on WordPress and Karen / Blazing Minds is right, it is potentially another element that could go wrong.

    Unfortunately, for Blogger template owners, the default comment system is so horrible, you have no choice but to look to Disqus or IntenseDebate.

    I had a nightmare of a time on one of my Blogger blogs and was left with only one recourse: to write an article entitled: Disqus Sucks! http://www.interracial-love.com/2010/06/interracial-love-magazine-disqus-sucks.html and to implement IntenseDebate – which has worked incredibly well.

    Thanks so much!

    Jeffrey Baril – Source Blogger
    “Determined to make you a better blogger!”
    http://sourceblogger.com
    Source Blogger recently posted..What is Googlebot Why Does Googlebot Visit My SiteMy Profile

  10. Wow. Tough crowd here for the external comment systems. I went through this same decision on my blog back in January.

    I switched from DISQUS to IntenseDebate primarily for the CommentLuv functionality. Personally, I really like the integrated plugins, the social media functionality, the multiple login methods, and not having to enter my information every time I leave a comment. I’m not sure you gave these features justice in your post.

    Having said all of that, I would have went with the standard WordPress comment system if I could have got CommentLuv to work with my theme. The main reason I would do this is for mobile readers of my blog who cannot comment using the external comment systems.

    Most of us aren’t proficient enough to just code in the bells and whistles ourselves. This means we would have to forgo these or add more plugins to compensate. I’ve had many more issues with plugins clashing with each other than I have with IntenseDebate (not sure I’ve had any actually).

    You make some valid points though, and if I were having those same issues I would likely drop it too. For now, I am sticking with IntenseDebate until I switch themes.

    P.S. Your comment box is really tiny for long-winded commenters like me. ;)
    Brad Harmon recently posted..Look What I Stumbled Upon This WeekMy Profile

    • Originally, the features you mentioned is what drew me to Intense Debate since, I couldn’t get ComLuv working with my theme.

      As for those features, most of those are now available through plugins I believe. For me, I would rather have these plugins on my site, and still have a faster load time than using Intense Debate…

      But in your case and blogger.com owners, you have to use Intense Debate to get what you want. Out of all the External Comment System Intense Debate is the only one I recommend.

      Another thing I just thought of, what happens if Intense Debate goes and stays down for an extended amount of time? No one can comment on your site. It might also cause your site to crash as well. I have never of thishappening before. But what if…

      Brad, I will look into the comment box. It is to small. I will see what I can do to make it bigger. I tend to write long winded comments as well.
      James recently posted..QuickTip- How To Resize Images Using GIMPMy Profile

      • Okay, so guess what I found out today? After a recent update (or me figuring out how to install it properly) CommentLuv now works with theme. Drats! My last “real” excuse gone, I disabled IntenseDebate on my blog today.

        My experience with both DISQUS and IntenseDebate remains a positive one; however, it’s more about my readers than me so I’ve made the change. On the plus side, I do like simplicity, faster load times, and the ability to see & comment on mobile devices.

        Without your post I might not have checked to see if the new theme update worked with CommentLuv.
        Brad Harmon recently posted..Why a Closed-on-Sunday Policy is Good BusinessMy Profile

  11. Hi James, this is the first time I saw these complaints about Intense Debate. I use it on Blogger and just like Sourav I never could get Disqus to work. Thanks for sharing your experiences this has been an eyeopener.
    Ileane recently posted..CommentLuv Gives Your Blog HeartMy Profile

    • Ileane, honestly I do not know of anyone who has successfully gotten Disqus to work with Blogger. Keep an eye out and occasionally check out your comments and make sure they look right. If you see any bugs, please share your experiences with us.

      I really would to know if Intense Debate works better on blogger than on WordPress.
      James recently posted..Quick Tip- How to Turn Off Auto ReTweets in HootsuiteMy Profile

  12. I was using Disqus and i was having problems with people coming back days later, after they had left a couple post on my blog and they would change the code over and over until deleting the guy geeezz, diqus is no good for websites IMO ..
    Jeza recently posted..Top 5 WordPress PluginsMy Profile

  13. Just put this on Stumbleupon, and bookmarked it for myself for future reference. You go into your problems in detail, which is great, but I’m a huge fan of your opening paragraphs where you spell out potential problems with these systems.

    A site I rather enjoy uses Disqus, and has had terrible problems with their comments recently.
    ashok recently posted..Emily Dickinson, “It is an honorable Thought” (946)My Profile

    • Hi ashok thanks for stopping by and bookmarking the article.

      I definatly do not like Disqus its worse than Intense Debate in my opinion. I am very hesitant when leaving comments on these sites. Disqus tends to crash my browser so bad I have to reboot the PC. I actually have a site running Disqus and I need to remove it but since the site gets no traffic and no comments and I almost never update it I see no reason to mess with it.
      James recently posted..Back-End Solutions to Having a Quick Load-TimeMy Profile

  14. Thanks for this article. It helped me deep six Intense Debate on first use. I would get emails telling me that people had commented, but it wouldn’t show up on my blog, nor would my IDebate account indicate there were any outstanding comments. I may pull the whole blog over to wordpress eventually (I’ve heard it’s not horribly difficult), but for now, I’ll stick with blogspot’s sucky comment system. I can’t believe Google can’t do better than this.

    • I would definitely move your site to wordpress. I have several clients that use blogspot and Intense Debate instead of blogger and haven’t had any issues. I try and keep track of their comments but, they are low comment sites so I guess they haven’t any issues yet.
      James recently posted..30 Images of Old and Rusty CarsMy Profile

  15. I use CommentLuv. To tell the truth, I rarely bother to log in to Intense Debate or Disqus to leave a comment because I find it to be a real annoyance. Sometimes it doesn’t recognize my login, so I just don’t bother. I think that is something to consider if you are interested in getting a significant number of comments.
    Melinda recently posted..Storm preparation guide – assemble a disaster supplies kitMy Profile

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