October 23, 2014

From Comments to Discussion – Disqus Your WordPress Blog

One of the biggest problems on WordPress blogs is a lack of conversation in the comments section.  Most WordPress blogs don’t have an easy way to get notified of followup comments and replies.  Often readers leave a comment intending to start a conversation with other readers but are then forced to return to the site multiple times to check for followups.

While Blogger appears to have this functionality baked in, WordPress leaves much to be desired out of the box.

When I see huge 120 comment threads on Google+ posts I’m reminded of how awesome a good discussion can be.  Comment conversations should be quick, easy, and almost invisible to the user.  Most importantly you should know when the conversation continues.

After reviewing a few solutions I decided on a comment platform called Disqus.  I’m writing this post while installing Disqus on The Functioning Fishaholics so that you can have an (almost) un-edited view of what I had to go through to implement this solution.

 

 

 

So you want to use Disqus?

The first thing you’ll have to do is signup for an account

an image of the Disqus homepage

The answer to all of life's problems - A little green 'signup' button!

The Disqus page has two buttons, signup and learn more.  If you trust me click the green button now.  Otherwise…

The orange learn more button will give you an intro to all of the features Disqus has to offer.  You can do a lot of neat things with this plugin so make sure you check out all of the features!

 

disqus signup form

Signup is easy!

 

Signing up for Disqus is done via a simple form and should take less than 10 seconds to do.

 

 

 

 

 

Setting your site up is easy too

Get up and running 20 mins!

The next step already has you configuring your account.  I gotta give the folks from Disqus props for keeping things simple.

The only item that might throw you for a loop here is adding your Akismet key.  For those that haven’t been introduced, Akismet is a plugin that acts like a spam filter for your comments.  If you haven’t installed Akismet yet you should it works.

 

 

 

Akismet Config - Here

 

In case you have no idea where your Akismet API key is, the link is under your plugins in the WordPress Control Panel.  I’ll admit this one took me more than 15 seconds to find.  Once you click the Akismet Configuration link the key is in a box in the middle of the plugin page.

 

 

Lots of platforms

 

Wow.  Disqus works with a lot of different blogging platforms!  I could post this under general blogging but let’s keep this a secret for our WordPress blogger buddies.  (:

Click the WordPress button now.

 

 

 

 

Search for the Disqus plugin

Search it out

At this point Disqus says: “Hey you, go find our plugin on your own”.

Hop on over to  your WordPress Control Panel, go to Plugins and click add new.  Search for “Disqus Comment System” on your Install Plugins page.  Once you find the plugin click install.

In the spirit of full disclosure

 At this point in the process I received a fatal error due to an Amazon short code plugin I had installed.  I ignored the error and activated the Disqus plugin again.  The 2nd time around everything worked perfectly.

After installing the plugin select Comments from your WordPress Control Panel menu.

Login to Disqus using the username and password you created while setting up your Disqus account.

Once you log in click the radio button next to the website you set up.  Hit Next.

export your comments using Disqus

Export your comments

At this point you’ll receive a message letting you know everything is set up.  Click the link to export your comments to Disqus.  Click the export button on the following page.

It took a little while to pull all of my comments into Disqus.  I received an error here too so I exported twice and the 2nd time around it was error free.

A new look with Disqus comments

New Comments Section

Once the export is complete you can check out your new comments Control Panel section.  Disqus adds new features and a new layout to help you better manage your comments.

You’ll also notice that the comments on your posts are now Disqus comments.

Since this is a post about how to install and setup Disqus I’m going to end it here.

Now that Disqus is installed on your site, your readers have a link to subscribe to the comments they leave.  These notifications can help your readers know when to come back and continue the conversation.

Disqus has many other amazing features that I’m still exploring.  Once I have a firm grasp on how everything works I’ll circle back around with a full review so stay tuned!

The whole process of signing up for Disqus and setting it up on my page took about 20 minutes.  For such a major imporovement to the blog, this was a pretty painless upgrade.

I’ve placed some links to other solutions below in case Disqus doesn’t work for you.

Other ideas:

IntenseDebate http://intensedebate.com/

Subscribe to comments plugin http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/subscribe-to-comments/

 

Have you tried Disqus?  Let us know in the comments below!

About Matt from The Functioning Fishaholics

Matt is the founder of Southeastern PA's fishing addiction support group The Functioning Fishaholics. When he's not out fishing, tying flies, or writing about fishing he enjoys spending time helping outdoor bloggers (primarily fishermen). He also loves his beautiful wife, 2 dogs, and his Xbox.

Comments

  1. 1

    What do Disqus Terms of Service say with regards to copyright? Do they have the right to sub-license you content still? I seem to remember that in the agreement I read a few months ago. Personally, I shy away from such agreements because I want to control my content and who (me) can make royalties off of it.

    Have you tried to export the comments that have been entered into Disqus out again? I hear that’s pretty brutal. If you ever decide to switch to a different platform, you may lose a lot of your comments.

    How much slower is your blog using Disqus? – I heard that this is a problem for many sites. I like a very fast site. So does Google.

    • 2

      Speed seemed slow the first couple of times I viewed comments but now appears not to be an issue. I think any 3rd party commenting system is going to slow the site down due to the need to “phone home”. I’m going to run some speed tests and see how it does with and without Disqus enabled.

      As far as the copyright thing goes http://docs.disqus.com/help/29/ seems to have eased up on the language. Basically they reserve the right to publish your comments because otherwise you could sue them for doing what their plugin was designed to do.

      Exporting was a total snap. I think they just added this but with the click of a button they email you an xml file with all of your comments. I’m not sure how easy they would be to import back in but I do believe I saw a setting that allows you to “Keep a copy of your comments in WordPress”. Meaning if you uninstall Disqus your comments will still be there via WP.

      Here’s a link comparing Disqus and Facebook comments. The Facebook solution might be an option if you trust Facebook (:

      http://www.bloggingpro.com/archives/2011/05/18/facebook-comments-vs-disqus-which-is-better/

      • 3

        Legal language can always be a bit scary, but rest assured we have good intentions on how comments are being used. Our intentions are to make any data usage mutually beneficial. As a site owner you still own those comments, and if you feel we’re headed in the wrong direction you have a right to get the backup file and remove your comments from our system.

        Hopefully that satisfies any concerns you have, but if you have any questions about this or anything else we’re here to help: http://disqus.com/support/ and on Twitter @disqus

        Ryan
        Fisherman & Community Support @ Disqus

      • 4

        Also note that our script loads very quickly on its own, and doesn’t block other scripts from loading. You can find out more here: http://docs.disqus.com/help/100/

        The one part that may slow things down is when we render comments in the HTML, which occurs on WordPress only. You can test this impact by checking “Disable server side rendering of comments” in the Disqus plugin’s Advanced Options. Just note that this will hide comments from search engines (although Google may start indexing ours without it).

  2. 6

    I just visited your blog and left a painless comment….as in it worked like a charm. I should have tried signing in using one of my many accounts…in fact…I’ll go do that now instead of leaving a generic comment =)

    Before I go try another, I’ll just say, I haven’t tried Disqus before, but if it makes commenting a better process for visitors that’s a GREAT thing.

    I’ll await your final verdict and follow up review. Great post Matt!

    • 7

      It’s best to sign up for a Disqus account, if anything. You get more notification, account and sharing options and we are on many sites/blogs around the web already so you don’t have to keep logging in.

      Ryan
      Fisherman & Community Support @ Disqus

  3. 8

    Disqus is a very useful and helpful plugin for WordPress and mostly used in blog and websites for user comments and feedback.

  4. 9

    Thanks for the tip and sharing the utility about disqus..My concern is how to handle irrelevant comments through disqus

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