Thursday 20th February 2014
Since Ghost doesn’t (and won’t, by design) have a native commenting system, it’s up to the blog owner to use one of the various third-party systems (or roll their own).
I’d initially decided to try Disqus since it has a few nice features:
It allows anonymous comments: for a small-time blog like mine, there needs to be as little friction as possible if someone wants to respond.
It’s easy to integrate: you just sign up with them, then add a single line of HTML to your blog’s template.
Lots of notification and admin options: it’s quite customisable in this respect.
However, there are a couple of significant downsides to Disqus:
It’s heavy: that one line of HTML loads a significant amount of extra stuff, which can occasionally take a while to appear, and is not really ideal for slow connections.
Very few styling options: for a site using the basic Arial/Helvetica font, it’s fine, but Disqus doesn’t really integrate well with anything more ambitious, or even with anything slightly out of the ordinary like Ghost’s default Casper theme – the font face doesn’t match, nor does the size, and worst of all there’s nothing you can do about this since Disqus loads in an iframe.
So, what alternatives are there? Several, as it happens, prime among them:
I’ve already given Moot a look, and while it’s nice and simple I’m not so keen on the lack of anonymous posting – they say it’s a delibrate decision – since a smallfry blog like mine needs all the help it can get. Perhaps for larger and more popular blogs the lack of anonymity would be a non-issue. The lack of notifications or much in the way of admin options is rather limiting, too. It’s a shame as otherwise Moot is pretty nice: small payload and does well to only specify a minimal amount of its own CSS, so it naturally matches your site style well without much hassle.
As I write this, I’m trying out Livefyre. Although it’s heavier and slower than Moot, from experience on WoW Insider it seems fairly solid, with some nice features like the way you can tag users in a reply. One potential downside so far is that the embed code doesn’t use the post’s ID as an identifier; instead it appears to use the URL, which may be an issue if you decide to change it later. Another issue is that it takes quite a bit of CSS wrangling to override the defaults and make everything look like part of the host site.
If Livefyre doesn’t work out, I’ll give IntenseDebate a try, but first impressions of it aren’t promising, so hopefuly I won’t need to change again.
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