In recent months, outsourcing one’s blog comments to a specialized comment engine has become quite trendy for many people. Of those specialized engines, two are gathering the most publicity, Intense Debate and Disqus. I jumped onto this comments outsourcing bandwagon about half a year ago and my choice was Intense Debate Comments (IDC from now on). Not only have I not regretted at all but I’ve become such a staunch evangelist for this system that I have made quite a few converts 🙂
So what is this post about? Well, yesterday, Friar Zero asked my via email why I preferred IDC over Disqus. The simple answer is that IDC was the one I stumbled onto first, quite randomly while using the Get Satisfaction support (GSFN from now). I discovered Disqus shortly after that but since I had already taken IDC for a ride, I saw no reason to start all over again and Disqus was not also using GSFN so as weird as it sounds, that was a major reason for me at the start.
But of course that’s not a proper reason and I think it’s time for me to actually write in detail why I preferred one over the other. And since I’m doing that, I thought I might as well make this my first meme and perhaps trigger others to explain for themselves why they use their current choice. This will hopefully create a body of opinions which might give bloggers enough information about each option from all sides of the argument, to make an informed decision.
So the rules of the Comment Wars meme are the following:
- Declare which system you prefer and perhaps give a short history of your decision.
- List the reasons of why you prefer you current system choice over the direct competitor (If you’re using IDC, your competitor is Disqus and the other way around).
- (Optionally) list the reasons why you prefer your current system over your blog’s default comment system (WordPress, Blogger or Typepad most likely). If you’re still using your default system, instead list the reasons why you consider it superior to both IDC and Disqus.
- Link to the person who tagged you for this meme.
- Link to any other people who are using any third-party comment system of whom you care to know why they chose as they did. You can also link to any people who are still using the built-in comment system and you want to know why. Make sure to leave them a comment or send an email to inform them that they have been tagged.
So without further ado
Why I prefer Intense Debate over Disqus
1. The threading looks and works much better
The original thing that drew me to IDC was the capability to have threaded comments and this is still the thing that breaks or makes the deal for me. IDC threads simply look natural, with the little arrow pointing to the reply below, with the reply being just a tad to the right (so as to allow a lot of threading before you run out of space) and where the end result just looks natural.
On the other hand, Disqus threading, to me always looked ugly. Blocky comments which simply begun below and quite a bit indented which had the result of quickly running out of space. This became painfully obvious when I participated in a lengthy discussion through disqus and after the 13th reply, it stared becoming very annoying to continue (sample on the right)
On the contrary, in the Division by Zero, I’ve held a 30 deep-thread going without any major inconvenience. Granted, it helps that I have a variable width template (why waste screen real-estate) but it is mostly because of the way IDC conserves space and builds the thread.
It would be impossible to hold a 130-reply thread going without good layout and the fact that I did and it’s actually readable from a visitor’s point of view, is a major success.
The only thing missing (from both systems) is a way to connect a reply to the parent comment, but IDC already has the collapse thread function and I know they’re working on better solutions.
2. They seem to innovate in the correct direction
While both systems have taken a generally similar path in features, and even though IDC came later to the party, IDC seems much more full in features that Disqus. I’ve been seeing a lot of new features such as the recent ability to paginate comments in order to keep the page load fast, or the capability to keep your wordpress comments synced both ways with IDC.
I do not know what the recent innovations of Disqus have been to tell the truth as I don’t pay attention to them so I can’t really compare the relevant speed they advance. A quick look at their blog tells me they do provide a lot of good stuff as well but I get the impression that they are more interested in making more fancy features rather than strengthen and make the comments themselves as good and solid as possible.
3. Email notifications rock
By now, I’ve gotten email notifications for replies by both systems (and from builtin solutions) and I can safely say that IDC was the best for the following reasons.
- They send a notification immediately after a reply is posted to a thread below your comment. That is, if you leave a comment and someone replies to it, you get a notification. If, after 3 days, someone replies to the reply to your comment, you are still notified, as this is continuing from a point you raised. I find this great to keep a conversation live and going1.
On the other side, Disqus seems to send notifications only every 30 minutes or so (thus some times passes before you get informed that you got a reply, and by then you might have gone to do something else) and then you only get notifications if someone responds directly to your comment. You don’t get informed if someone continues the discussion that you started.
- The email notification includes your response to that comment as well, so you can immediately see the context of what they are replying to. This is quite important as it’s very often that I do not remember what I was saying at the time.
- It allows you to reply by email. Granted, so does Disqus, but not the built-in systems.
4. They are (now) owned by Automattic.
This is more of a personal preference than anything else but it really made my day when I learned about it. To clarify, Automattic are the makers of WordPress, the Blogging software the Division by Zer0 stands on and, for me, is the best you can use. That IDC is now backed by the skills and expertise of those people gives me much optimism about the future.
And since WordPress is a Free Software, you never know, perhaps we’ll be able to convince the IDC people to finally liberate their code (it’s for their own good after all 😉 )
To tell you the truth, I can foresee Disqus being acquired by WordPress’ rival in the blogging battlefield: Blogger/Blogspot, or more accurately, Google. If this happens, things will get…interesting.
5. They use Get Satisfaction and their support guys are top-notch
GSFN has become one of my favourite places to seek support and it was actually how I came to discover IDC as I explained at the start. Their support guys are still active over there and they generally provide excellent support (although a few times I did go for weeks without solution). I’ve had issues which were reported only by me actually looked by a developer to find a solution very quickly. Although some times I really felt like pulling out my luxurious hair, eventually a solution was found and the than all was right in the world again. But no matter what, very rarely will you find a support person volunteer to help you scour your blog for possible problems just to make sure that everything is ok.
Unfortunately I do not know how quick the Disqus support is but the fact that they use their own support forum generally does not make me happy.
Another big benefit of GSFN is the ability to separate ideas from other support issues and get an idea of how many other people want the same idea to happen. Quite a few of the things I’ve proposed in the past have already been implemented and the devs generally pay attention to what their userbase asks for. This counts.
6. They integrate very well with WordPress
At the moment of speaking, the IDC wordpress plugin merges very well with the platform. Not only can you manage your comments in the same way as before (bulk moderation etc), but it also gives you some extra functionality, like the ability to reply to comments from within WordPress moderation or filter by author.
I won’t claim that the plugin is perfect as I have suffered quite a bit through it (I was testing it since the alpha) but I can safely say that for most people it should work flawlessly and if you have a problem they’ll be able to fix it for you quickly 😉
And with these six points, I finish my reasons on why I prefer IDC over disqus. Very shortly now, I’m going to present…
Why I prefer IDC over WordPress’ built-in comments
1. IDC has threading
As I said, this is a deal-maker for me. While wordpress can achieve threading with plugins and the newest 2.7 has it built-in by default, in my site it never looked nice and you could not thread more than once (or the theme broke and I couldn’t fix it). IDC worked out of the box, and much much better than I could ever imagine. Indeed, I was so impressed with the Threading capabilities of IDC that I could now change my Comment policy to allow discussions to flow much better.
2. Email Notifications
While wordpress can do this with plugins again, it doesn’t do email replies.
3. I can keep my site is less bloated
WordPress can indeed handle email notifications and threading and whatnot but all of these are extra code that needs CPU power to run and on a shared hosting like mine, every little bit counts. Granted, IDC hasn’t been the fastest kid on the block until now, but recently the devs put it on a diet and with some new comment organization features, they’ve made it much faster to load.
That means I can get all these functions and anything more the developers cook up, without having to worry about updating 3- or 4 different plugins which might break each other or slowdown the site.
In my eyes, IDC is and will remain the better choice for most people who want something superior than what comes with the box. I’m certain that the competition with Disqus will remain heated but this only benefits us all in the long run
Below you will find a poll where you can vote, as a blogger or as a commenter, which system you prefer. If you take part in the meme, feel free to link here for others so that we may get a bigger view.
And finally, to tag some people to get some opinions and spread this meme. I’ve tried to tag a nice spread of systems to get various opinions on this.
- Atheist Revolution (Who uses IDC on Blogger)
- The Atheist Blogger (Who uses IDC on WordPress as well)
- Evolved and Rational (Who likes crappy systems like Typepad but is on blogger with IDC :P)
- Frethink (Who uses Disqus)
The Barefoot Bum (who I know had IDC but removed it for the native blogger’s system)– Update: TBB is not interested in this meme, so I’m replacing him with…
- The Information Paradox (Who uses the native Blogger system)
- Daylight Atheism (Who uses the native WordPress system)
Anyone else who is reading this, feel free to take part as well and let us know why you chose as you did. let the Comment Wars begin!
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