Sunday, November 19, 2017
Blogging

After a Year, Why Aren’t There More Alternatives to Livefyre?

It has been more than a year since we lost a great commenting system, but in that time, there have no real new alternatives to Livefyre.

I remember the day well: it was October 20, 2016, the day I started looking for alternatives to Livefyre, a blog commenting system I had been using here at Patrick’s Place for what I believe was several years.

On that day, Livefyre announced that it was abandoning bloggers like me who’d relied on their comment platform via a free WordPress plugin.

I wasn’t happy about it.

But I suppose I should have seen it coming. In March 2016, Adobe had acquired Livefyre. The support I’d raved about in the past wasn’t as good after that.

Even so, I didn’t think they’d just drop their free platform considering the fact that it was a pretty popular plugin.

But drop us they did.

I had championed Livefyre for its incredible ease of use and its ability to weed out a great deal of the spam that other plugins like Akismet and Bad Behavior missed.

And aside from its general ease of use and the fact that it kept all of the comments on your server instead of hosting them on their server, there was also the “Bozo” function: when a troll came to your site, you could “Bozo” their comment, which meant that the comment remained visible to them but no one else; it satisfied the number one rule of negative comments: Don’t feed the trolls!

I had recommended it to other bloggers on social media.

I was one of its cheerleaders. And I resented their decision, even though I knew it wasn’t about me at all: the decision was made to focus on Livefyre for large enterprise sites that paid for their service.

More power to them.

Disqus

When one starts searching for alternatives to Livefyre, even a year since its announcement that it was pulling the plug, there are two primary names that pop up.

The first is arguably the Goliath of blog commenting systems: Disqus, pronounced like “discuss.” See what they did there?

Like Livefyre, it’s an impressive-looking comment system. It’s clean and looks top-notch. It’s used on blogs and websites across the internet, and when you have a single Disqus login, it works for all of the sites that use it.

That’s the good part.

The unfortunate part that put it, at least in my mind, behind Livefyre, was that Disqus hosts its comments on its servers, not on your blog’s. That means the comments have to load independently of your blog, and I’ve seen Disqus take up to 10 seconds or more to load.

More recently, there has been a controversy over sponsored comments appearing on people’s sites. It’s not clear — some bloggers claim one thing while Disqus seems to claim something else — about which sites do and do not qualify for these comment “ads,” but some bloggers have claimed they weren’t properly notified before the sponsored content appeared, something that would certainly tick me off in a major way.

And then there’s the tech support. I’ve tried to switch back to Disqus more than once, but it never seems able to load my comments and make them all appear properly. There’s always some glitch. Tech support refused in the past what I thought was a simple request: deleting two previous “profiles” so I could start with a clean slate and attempt to import anew. When I tried importing the most recent time, the import still failed to complete. The option seemed to be allow Disqus to handle new comments, while comments that were already there just vanished until I deactivated the plugin.

Needless to say, it was deactivated quickly.

wpDiscuz

We’re replete with plays on the word discuss here, aren’t we?

I tried it for a while, but honestly, it just didn’t do much for me. It didn’t seem so much of its own platform as much as a facelift to the native WordPress system.

To get more functionality out of it, you have to purchase add-ons. Add-one – like a profanity filter-like option, require the purchase of add-ons that range in price from about $15 to $25. It’s a one-time fee rather than a monthly fee, but still, many of the plugin options are options a good comment system (like Livefyre used to be) should offer as a basic part of the platform.

Other options

Someone will surely mention CommentLuv as a worthwhile alternative. It, like wpDiscuz, is more of an enhancement to the native WordPress comments. The big selling point for it is that it allows bloggers to leave a comment that also links to their most recent blog post. (Livefyre did this if users chose to use an actual Livefyre account.)

The downside of this is that there are a good many people who leave useless comments just to get the link. This is apparently so much of an issue that on the WordPress plugin page for CommentLuv, it points out the following:

The links that CommentLuv adds are valuable for the people that leave comments so you will need to make sure that spammers do not try to take advantage of your blog by filling it with useless comments just to get a link. Be a good blogger and prevent them from leaving their crap on your site by requiring moderation on first comments and do not accept ‘great post thanks!’ type of comments.

There’s a pro version of the plugin that one must purchase for $97. As far as I can tell, that’s a one-time fee, but it’s still a large amount of money considering the budget your typical blogger has.

Other options include Facebook Comments, a plugin that allows people to comment only with their Facebook account. That’s great if all of your readers have a Facebook account and are willing to use that account to comment on your blog; some Facebook users don’t like having their profiles used outside of Facebook.

Another option I’ve seen for bloggers upset with the comment platform options available is to disallow comments at all. I don’t think this is much of an option, since it kills the opportunity for building community on your site.

So, until someone comes up with something wonderful, we just have to wait on some more reasonable alternatives to Livefyre when it comes to making blog commenting better. Hopefully, the wait won’t be that much longer.

Which commenting system do you use on your blog? What do you like and dislike about it?

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Patrick
Patrick is a Christian with more than 26 years experience in professional writing, producing and marketing. His professional background also includes social media, reporting for broadcast television and the web, directing, videography and photography. He enjoys getting to know people over coffee and spending time with his dog.