From time to time our clients will pass on a request from website owners asking how to add a comments section to pages or articles on their site. There are actually a few different ways to handle this, so we thought we’d document everything in this article.
First up, WordPress does have a comment system built-in. The other major CMS systems will as well and this information will still be relevant to them, however WordPress is our go-to CMS, so for the purpose of this article we’ll focus on that.
A closed comments system acts as a sizeable barrier and does not foster worthwhile online discussion as a lot of visitors will choose to not leave a comment at all rather than sign up to a new site purely to post their comment.
WordPress’ comment system is quite rudimentary and in all honesty, we’ve rarely seen comment sections on WordPress sites flourish for one main reason. At some point, website owners will have to choose between an open (anyone can post) or closed comment system (you need to have an approved account before your comment is visible). Both of these come with major downsides. An open comment system is going to be really susceptible to spam messages, and it can take just one spam message to alter the visitor’s overall perception of the page, and perhaps the company as a whole. Alternatively some website owners will choose a closed comment system, and force people to sign up for an account before being able to submit a comment. This effectively fixes the spam problem, but a closed comments system acts as a sizeable barrier and does not foster worthwhile online discussion as a lot of visitors will choose to not leave a comment at all rather than sign up to a new site purely to post their comment.
To avoid this, some sites will use a platform like Disqus. This is a third-party platform that allows people to leave comments on our site once logged into a Facebook, Google, or Twitter account. Because visitors will likely have one of these accounts anyway, the barrier is reduced hugely and helps to foster good discussion. It’s not bullet-proof when it comes to spam messages, but it’s a lot more robust than the default WordPress comment system. Another thing to note is that Disqus is a paid service, currently $11 a month if the site receives under 50,000 page views a day.
We always question every website decision and are not afraid to ask ‘do we need it’ and ‘is there another service available that does it better’.
Finally, a lot of people will opt to keep their articles entirely discussion-free and instead keep commenting and discussion to social media posts. All things considered, this is a really good option, and the best route for the majority of websites.
We always question every website decision and are not afraid to ask ‘do we need it’ and ‘is there another service available that does it better’. We find that if we answer these two questions honestly we’ll likely find ourselves opting to keep discussion to social media as it keeps websites streamlined and comments available to a wide audience.
Do you agree though? Feel free to find us on social media (links in the menu bar) and leave a comment!