Almost exactly a year from today, we decided to make a major switch in our site and ran Livefyre Commenting System to replace the default WordPress comments. It was a product that we fell in love with from the start, and we established great relationship with the folks in the company. Unfortunately, with our recent overhaul, we made the decision to part ways from Livefyre. A lot of our users have been asking us to do a detailed article on the new design and changes. The most common question we were getting was why did we switch from Livefyre. In this article, we will give you some insights into the decision of switching away from livefyre and reverting back to the default WordPress comments.
Why we initially fell in love with Livefyre
Livefyre offered real-time comments, “reduced” spam because of registration requirement, integrated with social media and brought conversation back to the site. Livefyre allowed sign-on with facebook, twitter etc as well. The thought of reducing server load was also in the back of our mind. All that sounds great, but as our site grew we saw us running into a few issues.
What the heck happened?
1. Real-Time Comments
We really enjoyed the real-time comments feature because we were able to have some great chat-like conversations in our comments. It was the best engagement experience that we have ever seen from comments. However, real-time comments got harder to moderate. Spammers realized that they were only a single registration away from getting all of their comments approved on our site.
Note: Normally we would never publish emails or IP addresses of users. This is a spammer, and we feel that it is only fair to reveal their identity.
Back to the point. So we found ourselves cleaning up a lot of these comments on a regular basis. Some would even escape our eyes and stay in for months until a user sees it and reports it as SPAM. One of the reasons why we kept this feature going while moderating these comments was that the user’s link was pointed to their livefyre profile rather than their actual website. So we weren’t out-linking to bad neighborhood sites. This came to an end when Livefyre decided to launch a new feature that allowed users to add their own website links and giving website publishers NO CONTROL over this option. We started seeing an increase in SPAM comments, so we quickly disabled the real-time feature (which was the main the thing that attracted us to Livefyre in the first place).
2. Like SPAM
One of the things that sold us to the idea was that requiring registration will reduce spam. Well that was totally WRONG. Livefyre has a feature called Like. Which obviously was created with great intentions. However, the system is being heavily abused. Let us explain the process. Any registered livefyre user can like a comment if they agree with what is being said. When a user likes a comment, their avatar shows up next to the comment with a direct backlink to the user’s site. Not to mention it is a DO-FOLLOW backlink. Below is a screenshot from Livefyre’s blog itself where you can see Like SPAM in works.
In the example above, this spammer is not a very smart one. He is using the default mystery man avatar. The spammers on our site were smarter. They had their logos as avatar. So you would see a colorful bunch of mini-icons that were being linked to spammy SEO sites, credit card offer sites etc. Some might not believe this to be a real thing, but this is happening. Below is one of the users’s profile that we reported to Livefyre almost a month ago.
No action has been taken so far. The spammer’s profile is still active or at least seems active (because it is visible). Now either this guy really loves every single comment he reads, or they are a spammer. We choose to believe the latter. Don’t believe us, go check out the site link mentioned in his profile, it is an adsense farm website.
Now you are thinking what we described above is bad. The worst part is that there is no notification of who liked what on your website. There is no way for you to know who is SPAMMING your site. The only way to find out is if a user reports it to you, or you accidentally go to one of your older posts and notice this.
When we found out that we were a victim of Like SPAM on numerous articles through out the site (and probably more that we didn’t know about), we knew that we had to switch right away. We felt helpless and out of control. One of the downside for not owning your content.
3. Social Conversation
Social conversation is a very nice option that Livefyre provides. You can choose to bring in your conversations from Twitter and Facebook back to the article. In theory this sounds great, however it has yet to be perfected. We saw a lot of irrelevant comments coming from Twitter. It is a good idea, it just needs more perfection and a better filter. We tried this feature on our site, and it did not work as great as it should have.
When choosing to use Livefyre, we were under the impression that there was a two-way communication between Livefyre and your WordPress database. Which would mean that you can use WordPress moderation to approve, delete, or reply to comments. Well that was not TRUE. It seemed to work for us in the beginning, but recently it backfired. We updated the Livefyre plugin, and all of the sudden we had hundreds of comments pending moderation. Turned out all the comments we had moderated already were back (and marked as pending). Not sure what happened there. We contacted Livefyre support and got the response:
It sounds like you’re trying to moderate comments from within the WordPress Dashboard, which we do not support at the moment i.e changes within your dashboard won’t sync to Livefyre.
We are sure that it was working in the past. Don’t recall which version upgrade it was, but it seemed to mess things up. Talked with a good friend Mitch Canter (@studionashvegas), and he said it worked on his site too. He said it still works for him. So we are not entirely sure what went wrong, but nonetheless, we were left with hundreds of comments to go through and re-moderate.
We were told that in order for this to work, we have to moderate the comments using the Livefyre Moderation Panel. There were quite a few reasons why we absolutely disliked the livefyre administration panel from the start.
- No Bulk Moderation – If you want to delete multiple comments or mark them as spam, there is no way to do it easily. You have to do it individually. This remains to be the problem even in their NEW interface.
- Poor Individual Moderation – Simply deleting a comment requires 2 clicks. One is the decision to delete, then giving the reason to delete. This can get tedious. This remains to be the problem in their NEW interface.
- No control over comments – When we made the decision to switch, there was no option to edit user’s comment. This made it harder to enforce comment guidelines. For example someone leaves a great comment, but ends a signature link (which we do not allow). We either have to accept the comment as-is or delete it. This is fixed in their new interface. You can now edit comments.
- Replying is a PAIN – For a site like ours, we often find a need to reply to comments. There is no easy way to do this. You will see the comment in livefyre moderation panel. You have to open the article where you can see the comment as pending. Approve it, and then reply from there. This makes the Livefyre moderation panel pretty much useless. In WordPress backend moderation, there is a really cool feature called Reply and Approve. So you can reply to the comment without ever opening a new tab/window for the post.
5. Formatting Issues
We noticed that Livefyre was adding additional CSS as comments text for some users. It has to be some sort of user-end issue because it was only happening to a handful, but we value all of our users. Not sure if this has been fixed or not.
Another thing we noticed was that adding line breaks in your comment was a pain. So we would try to reply to someone and paste a link. However Livefyre’s auto-formatting would get rid of those. Sometimes even caused the links to be broken, so we would have to add extra spaces between the link and the text after that. The biggest problem was that when you are typing, you can use Shift + Enter, and it will show you that the line break was there. See the image below:
6. Not a Fair Compromise
When deciding to use Livefyre, we made some compromises. We gave up some opportunities to get other cool features that Livefyre was providing. But after using Livefyre for an extensive period and see the downsides, we felt that we did not make a fair compromise. Let us elaborate a little bit.
No Custom Styling
We were well aware of this when we switched to Livefyre. Anytime you use a third party script, you lose control over some of the styling. Currently our comment design matches the theme, and it looks beautiful. With Livefyre we did not have control over the looks as much. They do not have the white-labeling option available for the general public. However, we do believe that this service is provided for enterprise level customers.
No Lead Generation from Comments
We knew that once we switch to Livefyre, we would lose the lead generation opportunities from the comment form. We were doing comment redirects for first time users as well as giving the users an ability to subscribe to the newsletter from the comments. We talked with the Livefyre team about adding this. The bottom line was that there is no SIMPLE solution. The solution they proposed was that there is an API available which we can use to hook into their system and collect emails if the user checked the checkbox. There was no possible way to do comment redirect.
Our team’s thought process went a little like this:
In order for us to use this platform and get the features we want, we have to build it ourselves. Whereas there is a perfectly good commenting system in place which is much easier to work with. There are plenty of plugins already available. Well the decision was unanimous.
Again, we were aware of this when we signed up to use Livefyre. We knew that we would have to require our users to sign up with a third-party service “Livefyre” to comment on our site. We believed that it was for the greater good because we will have meaningful conversation and other added features. All the WordCamps we attended, we always had a few users come up and complain about the commenting system. We got numerous user emails about it as well. Folks were having trouble commenting behind a firewall, some folks just felt their freedom to comment on WPBeginner was lost. Yes, a few months back Livefyre added guest commenting as a feature. But it still encourage users to signup with Livefyre afterwards. This again was not a fair compromise. We let our users down. A lot of them stopped commenting. Few would comment via email to let us know if we made a mistake etc. This was really disappointing for us. Some of these users said, they would happily register to comment, if they were signing up for WPBeginner. But we were requiring them to signup with a third party. We talked with Livefyre about this. They do have an enterprise API that will let you keep your own user base. All user data would be yours. However, the integration process didn’t seem as straight forward. Don’t recall the whole thing, but basically we would have to create a separate bbPress or BuddyPress database to hold all users. It just sounded too confusing. We chose not to go forward with that.
At the time, these compromises did not sound like a big deal compared to all the cool features that we were getting with Livefyre. However as time went by, we were able to see a clearer picture from our experience.
So What Now?
Well, we have switched back to the built-in WordPress commenting system. Few users emailed us asking what we are using to add the sign in with Twitter / Facebook option that you see below. We are using a combination of two plugins (by the same author @otto42) called Simple Twitter Connect and Simple Facebook Connect.
Update October 12, 2012: We got rid of both twitter login and FB login options mainly because we saw that people weren’t using it as much. Getting rid of them makes a significant impact on load times. We would rather have the site faster for the majority
We have met and talked with numerous users who love using Livefyre. While it was not a right fit for our site, you are more than welcome to try it out for yourself. We would like to hear your thoughts on Livefyre. If you have an opinion, feel free to comment below.
Mika Kujapelto says
Pretty interesting discovery. I’ve been a fan of Disqus since you don’t have to store the data yourself. Would be interested to know more, how much more work you had after the switch compared to Disqus.
Any idea if this bug is already fixed?
Justin Germino says
I was using Disqus for many years but now they are requiring adds to have it for free which I don’t like, not paying $10 per month to have ad free commenting system.
What are you switching to, to avoid the monthly fee?
livefrye never works for me and I hate it on websites. Good choice
How to change the language in Livefyre comment?
I just wrote Slate to let them know how horrible Livefyre is when it comes to reading the comments. Nevermind being able to sign up for it.
I’ve tried different browsers and devices, and it’s still useless.
I wish they would switch to Disqus, as I have personally have never had a problem using their program.
Anyway, glad I could come by your article just to complain about Livefyre.
Have been looking for a comment platform since I disabled Disqus a few weeks back after my website was hacked.
While cleaning up and hardening the site, I was surprised to learn of a mountain of bad links and redirects away from my site. It was a total nightmare.
Maybe this explains the commenting problems on Slate. The whole site is a bit of a mess, but lately I can’t get into the Livefyre comments at all without a laborious process of deleting cookies and reloading, reloading, reloading.
Murhaf Sousli says
very helpful, thank you.
This is a very interesting post. So which one do you suggest ? Disqus or Facebook comment plugin?
Jason Lemieux says
How did you leave Livefyre while keeping your comment_meta in tact? We just attempted the same but comment hierarchy was lost. Child comments have all become parent comments… and their support is MIA. Any tips for the migration?
I comment on via their livefyre system
can anyone tell me … is there a way to BLOCK another User from seeing my comments?
im being stalked/abused and would like to continue commenting but without the grief
The only reason I refuse to have anything to do with Livefyre, is because of their downright evil demands to invade and poke around in your email account even when you’re offline.
To that end, I had to create a fake email address just to let people know about it, because I’m quite sure most people don’t read the fine print before leaving a comment on Lifefyre sites – the one where they blatantly say that’s what they want!
Bruno Bezerra says
Livefyre system installed in my Blogger blog platform. I confess that Livefyre company does not provide additional resources for Blogger, it’s a bit tricky to install Script comments in a blog platform Blogger. Will I have any future problem?
Disqus take much time to load and that’s why i am also using default wordpress comment system. Its better than rest of systems.
I replied to a forum that uses livefyre without looking into it and now I can’t unsubscribe from the thread. I’ve unsubscribed 6 times and I still get emails from them about it. Ridiculous.
Bo Kauffmann says
Great points . I’ve been looking at Disqus and it seems that people either love it or hate it. Which system did you end up going with?
Nikos Avgerinos says
Thank you for the info !
asad ali says
very informative post but competition is very high
Thanks so much for helping me decide which way to go!
Ben Allen says
I don’t know if LiveFyre changed their link system, but if you look on current comments with LiveFyre, the link for the comment author’s name links to their LiveFyre profile, not to a web site. I don’t believe there is an option to have it link to any other URL. I know this topic has been dead, but does anyone else feel otherwise now? Is there actually a way for spammers (or link builders, not everyone is spamming with it) to link back to their site?
Bruce Maples says
Better late than never, I suppose …
I have been looking at plugins and systems for about a week, comparing and reading reviews. (Think I’m up to about 40 reviews, or so.)
Posting TO social media from my blogs is not a problem — tons of plugins out there to do that. The issue is that many comments happen on my FB pages when I put up a post pointing to a new blog post, and I want to integrate those back into WordPress, if possible
I was looking at Livefyre because it seemed to be the best at doing two-way integration like that. After reading this (for the second or third time, I think ), I’m having second thoughts.
So, WPBeginner folks — is there a system or plugin out there that does 2-way integration with FB and other social media?
Bruce Maples says
Bruce, The latest version of FB comments offers 2 way posting, replicating the comment on your FB fan page and your site.
Alex Thibodeau says
Bruce, may I ask you which plugin you prefer to share your new blog posts to social medias? Thanks for your time.
Bryan Cork says
But if all the comments remain in your database, you’ll still have to delete them one-by-one per hand, don’t you?
Jaidityam Mathur says
So Disqus is better than Livefyre?
Rochelle Beemes says
Yes, Disqus is loads better than Livefyre. Well, I can’t say from the blogger’s perspective, but as a reader–heck yeah. If Livefyre has a central location where all my comments from all the sites I go to are listed, I’ve not heard of it. With Disqus, I can see all my comments from every site I’ve visited that use Disqus. I can follow my friends and see their comments, but if someone doesn’t like that, they can block you from following them. It’s just a far superior commenting experience.
Zeeshan Ahmed says
Great article bro.. Disqus is more powerful than Livefyre your discussion is so good.. Keep it up
WPBeginner Staff says
Yes, please check out how to add Disqus commenting system to WordPress.
Carlos Mendoza says
Did you create a post talking about why you decide to use Disqus? I would like an answer regarding to this. Thanks!
Christopher Battles says
I am still on Livefyre, but looking at switching.
For now I am trying to get a grasp on “basic” things.
I have Livefyre installed, but not able to able to remove WordPress comment option also visible. Even if go to Disques, not want to have both options.
Very thorough and interesting article. I don’t currently use Livefyre, but I always like to keep informed on the different commenting systems. While I don’t relish changing the system, having my head stuck in the sand and ignoring available knowledge isn’t wise either. Thanks for sharing your experience.
This is a good article, i was considering livefyre but will stick to discuss for now
just spent ages trying to communicate through LiveFyre, its not happening, no my comments either not loading or taking ages, completely limiting my ability to get a problem solved!!
Glenn Dixon says
I see you are on Disqus now, which really helps answer my big question. Thanks!
would be interested in your reply as well! thanks
Mark McIntyre says
Like Disqus, Livefyre syncs with your WordPress comment database so if you disable Livefyre, all your comments remain in WordPress.
Linda S says
Thanks Mark. I got an email about “Livefyre Community Comments” telling me that since Adobe had bought Livefyre they were discontinuing this free service and only offering an enterprise solution. Fortunately, I had only converted one of my websites to Livefyre from Disqus.
As I recall they said in the email that they would be sending instructions on how to convert from Livefyre to native WordPress comments I think in February. I now can’t find that email.
But what you are saying is all I need to do is deactivate the plugin. I guess it should be safe to try that.
Syed, it would be great to have an article alerting users to Livefyre’s change. When you “go to the plug-in” from the WordPress dashboard now if you still have Livefyre installed, you are sent to Adobe Marketing – Adobe Experience Manager. They have no alert or obvious info there about the change for Livefyre free plugin users, just trying to get enterprise customers. Their drop down multiple choice on what service you are interested in makes it obvious that they want to get into social marketing in a big way. After what they did to my partner with their Adobe tools (Adobe Illustrator and PhotoShop) I don’t trust them from here to the corner for anything.
What sucked me into trying Livefyre was their customer service. They had a great social media team.
Great article Syed. Nice contribution to the WordPress community. Look forward to seeing at WordCamp Miami.
Hi, when you move from LiveFyre back to default WordPress comments do you lose all the comments that were made in Livefyre?? (thanks)
So, now you use Disqus??!?
As far as I know, doesnt have sync with facebook and tweeter comments. Also, users need to register in a third party system (disqus).
So, why it is better than Livefyre?
I would love to hear the answer to this question as I’m evaluating commenting systems, as well.
Albert Raich says
We’re developing a new discussion widget solution so this article and related answers are so interesting for us! Leaning from others
people don’t need register to disqus to leave comment as long as they have FB or twitter or G+ account
barry brown says
oh, I thought livefyre was almost the same as disqus. I see you’ve tackled specific details. IMO, spamming is your number one problem with blog commenting. It’s good to have that one where you’d be able to have total control over the comments and user friendly as well.
Ok avg, thanks for the tip, maybe that’s what I will do…cheers
Disqus is best i think
I’m about to switch to a robust commenting system (e.g livefyre) when I can’t get Disqus running because of its complex reg but saw your post in Google and read through. Jeez! I need to have a rethink, work on Disqus or pend switching from native WP commenting system. Thanks for the authenticate review. Cheers
Disqus is pretty simple to install. Are you using WordPress? If you are still having issues a way around it is to get the CommentEvolved plugin and you can get it to display Disqus for you. Though the native way is best.
Garrett H says
Hello – what were the steps that you took to migrate your Livefyre comments to Disqus? From what I understand you have to migrate them to WordPress first and then to Disqus? Do you have a resource on how to do this?
WPBeginner Staff says
Garret, you are right. Once we stopped using Livefyre we used default WordPress comments for a long time before moving to Disqus.
which comment plugin r u using buddy?
WPBeginner Support says
We are using default WordPress comments.
WPBeginner Staff says
Try contacting support
Same problem. Disqus is not able to import all comments from wordpress.
Some rum goings on, I reckon! Think I’ll encourage users to send me comments…by post!
is there any tough competition:
Thanks for sharing.
WPBeginner Staff says
Steve Borgman says
I’ve had a problem in that all my livefyre comments are now gone and did not transfer over to Disqus on my site. Any recommendations for what I should do to get them to transfer over to Disqus?
K Stone says
Will the comments post automatically to the social media account chosen? Thanks.
Are you finding any downside to disqus?
Seems this uses Discuss, not default WordPress any more.
It seems like the summary for most of your points was “there was a perfectly viable solution to this, but it sounded too hard or confusing,” which is not really an excuse at all when you are working on a technical project. If it is too hard for your engineers, you need better engineers.
Livefyre has been buggy for me on both Firefox and Chrome (both up-to-date) on multiple sites.
I’ve never had a problem with Disqus — it’s always worked.