We switched away from Disqus about 2 months ago. Many of you noticed this change and asked us to write a Disqus review explaining why did we switch. After using Disqus for about a year, we noticed several drawbacks that forced us to switch back to WordPress comments. In this Disqus review, we will highlight the reasons why we switched and how it helped increase our comments by 304%.
We started using Disqus in April 2014. We switched away several months ago. We really appreciate your patience and our apologies for taking so long to write about this. We know several of you have been asking about why we switched away from Disqus, so here goes our final Disqus review.
Why Did We Switch away from Disqus?
There were several reasons why we switched away from Disqus.
Inserting Affiliate Links without Permission
Disqus offers publishers ability to earn little extra $$ if you enable Promoted Discovery which shows sponsored stories in the related posts section that Disqus can add.
Since we didn’t want any advertisement from them, we had all the settings unchecked.
However we accidentally ran into what they called a “bug” where Disqus was inserting affiliate links in our blog post content without our permission.
Basically Disqus has a partnership with Viglink which looks through your content and change any link that they’re partnered with to an affiliate link.
We caught this when we noticed Viglink referring sales to OptinMonster from our site WPBeginner. How ironic since both of them are our sites. Hmmm.
After looking into it, we reported the problem to Disqus which they fixed and called it a “bug”.
We were quite disappointed in the way this was handled. We’re not sure how much money Disqus made through this affiliate-injection bug, and how widespread was this. There was no public disclosure announcement about this, and we definitely didn’t get any $$ credit for advertising that they were placing on our site for who knows how long.
That just left a bad taste in the mouth.
For more details on the bug, you can see our video here.
We learned about this through our friend Michael Hyatt when he noticed sponsored comments showing up on his site without his permission.
He reported that you can’t opt-out without assistance from Disqus Support team.
So we reached out to Disqus for an official response regarding this issue.
They confirmed that there was no easy way for an individual to opt-out without reaching out to their support team. Since there were specific criteria for Sponsored Comments, most users will not be affected by this.
Great! As if fighting spam comments weren’t hard enough already, now we have to keep an eye out for Disqus and quickly reach out to them if they enable sponsored comments on our site. No thanks.
Matt Mullenweg, founder of WordPress sums it up the best in his response to the Disqus announcement: “It’s not comment spam if we’re getting paid for it!”
Note: during this sponsored comments fiasco, we discovered a setting that’s auto-enabled for cookie tracking. It’s located in the “Advanced” settings tab. Make sure you disable it if you’re using Disqus.
Significant Decrease in Comment Engagement
When we enabled Disqus, few readers complained that Disqus makes it harder for guest commenting. Since Disqus was being widely used across several top sites, we didn’t pay huge attention to those complaints.
Overtime, our comment engagement dropped significantly. After disabling Disqus, we saw our users starting to leave more comments. Since the change, we’ve noticed our comments increased by 304%.
We were quite excited about the new moderation interface when we switched, but as we used it more, it wasn’t something our editors liked.
Note: This is completely a personal preference, and we’re there are other users who love the Disqus interface.
What we will miss about Disqus?
While we didn’t like some of Disqus’ business practices, there were few things we will surely miss about the platform.
Scalability and Site Performance
Comments are very resource intensive. If you have a lot of comments on a post, then it will take a long time to load.
If a lot of users are leaving comments at the same time, then it would also impact your server load. The advantage of using a third-party commenting system like Disqus was that you shave that server load off from yours and send it their way.
Even if your site is getting attacked by a malicious user, it won’t impact your server because it has to go through Disqus first. (Note: This is only true, if you have disabled Comment Sync).
The best part about Disqus was that comments were stored on a third-party database which is extremely helpful with redundancy. We’ll definitely miss this.
For now if we ever have to do fail-over, we will simply disable comments until our main servers are back. Although not ideal, this is the simplest option that we have.
For now, we’re using the default WordPress comments interface. In the past, we’ve tried Disqus and Livefyre, but we have made our way back to WordPress comments because it just seems like the best overall option available.
We’re definitely considering using De:Comments, a WordPress commenting plugin that we reviewed earlier.
The other option is to power up the native WordPress comments with a suite of other functionality plugins like Subscribe to Comments, Reply Notifications, Simple Comment Editing, and possibly few more.
We hope this review explained why we switched away from Disqus. We really appreciate your patience and our apologies for taking so long to write about this. We know several of you have been asking about this change.