Comments were one of the internet’s original versions of social media. The beginning of the comment plugin debate starts with the efficacy of even having comments active at all. There are many in the “No Comment Camp” who believe that comments happen on every platform, regardless of whether you host them on your own blog or site.

But engagement is the name of the game is it not? Is not the point of a blog, itself, to gain a following and create engagement?   Comments create loyalty, build a sense of community, offer commonality and provide validation both socially and in critique.

A good amount of spamming and self-promotion can be found throughout comment sections which is why many bloggers are averse to having comments available. Much like anything else in life, you take the good with the bad. If you choose to allow comments on your blog, there are many avenues to accomplish this.

Native Comment Platforms

The majority of blog platforms offer a built in comment system and there is much debate as to whether the native comment systems are advantageous or hindrances. We are going to explore the pros and cons of Comment plugins and allow you to decide for yourself.

Comment Plugin Pros

The majority of comment plugin systems are relatively easy to understand and use. They require little more than logging in to view their features. These systems are well designed and offer more options for managing comments.  Their functionality extends to additional features like comment order, comment sorting, rating and even linkback tracking. This provides great control.

Even more than control, many comment plugins offer filtering based on things like keywords or “blacklist” items.  This allows you to control your comments’ cleanliness such as filtering out curse words, or cutting off a conversation that has gone awry.  Comment plugins offer you censoring at its best.

The list of features can get lengthy.

Many plugins offer:

User Analytics– Explore your users’ reputation, post histories, approval ratings and much more.

Social Integration – tagging, sharing, liking, the social integration features of comment plugins allow you to bridge the gap between your blog and social media outlets.

Media Integration– the ability to imbed and highlight media such as YouTube, Vimeo, and even Wikipedia articles.

Moderation applications– multiple modes of allowing you to moderate your own comments and engagement through email, sign on, blog etc.

Referral Traffic – systems such as Disqus offer the ability to navigate through your site’s content essentially creating a built in referral system.

Varied Sign On– can include options for your users to sign on through social media accounts and comment as themselves.

Live / Real Time Engagement– moderators help to keep the conversations relevant and clean.

Appearance Customization– gives you the ability to customize your comment section to match your blog theme, color scheme, etc.

Comment Notifications– can help show activity inside a conversation by particular users.

Conversation Mapping– helps to keep track of conversations, reputation and track users and their activity.

Spam Filtering– helps to filter out unwanted comments or ads on your blog.

Black / White Listing– allows you to set keywords to avoid or highlight.  This is great for filtering our defamatory and inflammatory language.

Comment Plugin Cons

When using a comment plugin, requiring your readers to change platforms to comment, you may lose comments and decrease engagement. It may be viewed as too big an inconvenience to travel outside the native blog to make a comment. This will be very dependent on your audience and their familiarity with the system.

Additionally, if you ever intend to transition your blog from one platform to another, you can run into major issues with the coding and conversion.  Even something as simple as changing your domain name can cause migration issues inside the comment plugin.

One of the biggest deterrents to adding a comment plugin may be its inability to filter spam comments.  They generally filter out automated spam comments well, but lack the ability to filter a manually entered spam comment.

If you utilize a comment plugin, the biggest con to remember is that you truly are outsourcing your comments and engagement.  They are housed and held by the comment system you put in place.  If your blog outlasts the comment plugin company, you will find yourself “out of luck”.

Additional comment plugin CONS include:

Little ability to customize

Inability to “click through” to your users’ sites.

Lack of single login – Many comment plugins require separate logins.

No memory – Inconveniently requiring users to input information every time they comment.

Slower load times due to external housing on separate servers.

Spam, spam and more spam.

Often requires someone very tech savvy to implement.

Can discourage users.

In either choice, there are advantages and disadvantages. Whether or not to choose a comment plugin, or use the native system, is completely up to you. Tailor your blog comment area to the needs of your readers straight out of the gate and avoid changing systems along the way. This is off-putting to users and will cause a headache.

 

If you choose to utilize a comment plugin, Top Comment Plugins Include:

Disqus

Livefyre

IntenseDebate

 

And of course the world’s two favorite inherent comment programs:

Facebook Comments

WordPress 

About the Author: Amber Rickerson

Amber Rickerson is Director of Marketing at Blue Cricket Media. Her passion for marketing and social media are second only to her love of Mt. Dew, University of Kentucky basketball, her children, husband and black lab, Reno. You can find her (and her family's) adventures on Instagram (@ozandamber) or email her at arickerson@bluecricketmedia.com.

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