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Switching Away from Disqus Review – Increased Comments by 304%

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%.

Disqus Review - Why we Swithced Away

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.

Sponsored Comments

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%.

Moderation Interface

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).

Redundancy

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.

What’s Next?

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.

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Reader Interactions

201 CommentsLeave a Reply

  1. Thank you for the update. As a now -post article former Disqus user- I appreciate knowing their deceptive practices and absolutely appreciate the ease and security in which I can now comment.

  2. That’s exactly the reason why since some time ago I decided not to use Disqus at all.

    Regards,
    Georgi

  3. Would I loose all comments that were left on my site via Disqus if I switch to regular wordpress comments?

    • Hi Natalie,

      No, if you have been using the official Disqus comment system plugin in WordPress, then all your Disqus comments will be synced with your WordPress database. You can view them by visiting the Comments page in WordPress admin area.

      Admin

  4. Hey WPbeginner,

    How do you make your wordpress native comments look like this? I tried using native wordpress and it looks hideous, also background is grayish and people can’t reply to each other’s comments. Any idea how you made yours look the way is now? Please help, would love to use something alike. Thanks

  5. Disquss are stedily more taking the role of being a service for global eensorship, surveillance and spam on behalf of their commersial partners and the constellation commonly called the “deep state” which is also a partner.

    They sensor stedily more any comment that goes against the interests of these partners and any spam, according to a wide definition, that might compete with their parners. They do so globally and steadily more also globally ban people that issue comments not strictly according to maintream consensus.

    But simultaneously they take the freedom to act as a grand scale spammer themselves.

    What I said here I already knew, but this article also shows that Disquss is involved in downright economical Fraud ny changing affiliate links. But I cannot say I am surprized.

    Be aware that this activity takes a lot of computational resources from website owners, so that the owners get higher costs and lose income at every corner.

    • It’s there on their website:
      Personalization
      Disqus collects anonymous data from you in order to deliver better targeted content and advertising.

    • Pretty interesting reading. I was thinking 0f using Disqus, but on reading your article, I am having second thoughts.

  6. I have canceled my Disqus account. Not that I don’t believe in open comment I found that the oarticipants blewback so hard and no real reason. I somestimes think disqus participants were overly irate. Maybe I am sensitive but I do believe that we should be able voice our opinions without being personally and viciously attacked.

  7. I just signed up for Disqus. After reading your post I’m a little skeptical but then again my blog hasn’t got many comments so I’m willing to try something new to see if it works. Thanks for all the good information!

  8. DISQUS is really shady…..

    Recently it became impossible for me to post using the DISQUS since they started “building walls” and doing really creepy things such as displaying my business email and my password (which I never used with them) everywhere. So that way they let me know that they know everything about me and who I am and what my business is etc. etc. And I don’t give rat’s behind. They do that even if I log out, delete cookies, clear the cache etc. They must have stole that information from Facebook etc. Never let DISQUST anywhere close to your email or your Facebook etc. They were illegally spying on me, my friends, my communications, my posts and they decided to make posting on DISQUST for me a living hell, so I quit them every time I see DISQUS I just close the browser for that site even if it is a shopping site or site with ads where I may clocik on, as soon as DISQUST shows up, I shut the browser down immediately. I developed such a habit. DISQUS = SHUTDOWN. And now I blocked their domain and IP addresses from my PC.

    Also, BEWARE, DISQUS is working with Twitter and Yelp spying on your tweets by forwarding your tweets to themselves.

  9. Alright! But I just want to know few more things. I am thinking to switch from Disqus since I can see drop in comments from my readers. Further what options would you recommend to stop spam? Secondly How did you switch and took all those comments back to your wordpress from Disqus?

    In the last what comment system you are now using?

    Is Jetpack good?

  10. I simply refuse to sign up for disqus and simply don’t comment on websites that require me to do so.Sometimes I feel like correcting an opinion I feel to have deep factual flaws,however my input isn’t that necessary that I need to be forced to go through the steps required by disqus and I too cringe when I see their eblem

    • Do you refuse to sign up to any website to leave comments? For example if this site didn’t allow anonymous and you had to creat an account, would you?

      • That’s a bit like asking if you’d refuse to get an account on Vimeo, to validate your refusal to get a Youtube account. There are plenty of websites that require you sign up to leave a comment, but few have the history of data breach, trolls and doxxing threats that Disqus has. They have a reputation, and it’s well deserved.

        And yes, I speak from both research and personal experience. After deleting a personal-use account several years ago, I later tried to set up a very carefully limited account for my professional profile. I eventually deleted that one too – it just wasn’t worth the intrusions.

        I have joined many websites in order to leave a single comment, if they’re not asking for more information than I’m willing to pony up. But if I see Disqus is their comment system, I not only will not comment, I will sometimes go out of my way to let the site owner’s know that having Disqus as their commenting tool is the very reason they’re getting no engagement from me and probably others. Because I am as quick to advocate for tools that I believe stimulate active engagement, as advocating against those that interfere with engagement.

  11. Thanks for the post. Would like to have more info on why you saw a 304% increase in comment participation.

    This is what’s most interesting to me.

    Is disqus just another Bay Area tech bubble startup? Or is there value?

    According to your headline you can see a 304% increase in commenting when getting rid of them

    What do you think the reasons for this are?

  12. Hi,

    You are still running native WordPress comments I presume?

    Keeping it that way?

    Is the “Notify me of followup comments via e-mail.” standard WordPress?

  13. I really don’t understand why WordPress haven’t treated comments like a first-class citizen and made the built-in technology (sans-plugin) a truly excellent experience (for site admins and users).

    So often we read about “coming back to WordPress comments” but why aren’t they so good that nobody wants to leave in the first place? Why? Why are site developers still going around in circles looking for a decent commenting technology for WordPress? Why aren’t Automattic developing a truly innovative comment technology for their platform?

  14. Disqus has MAJOR problems IMO. I previously deleted a Disqus account because they refuse to take action against trolls that post extremely crude, profane and vulgar comments in comment sections. I had one that started stalking me looking for any comments I made, and then attacking me (personally) over them.

    I just tried to sign up a new account with Disqus and found that I had to “verify” my account. Surprise, when I clicked on the verify button, it was blocked by the ‘hosts’ file in my computer that blocks access to know Spam/Attack sites. In this case, it was viglink.com.

    So… I just deleted the new account I never validated. Show me ads when I visit your site. DON’T use a known spammer that is going to flood my mailbox with crap just so I can make comments as Disqus appears to be doing.

  15. I don’t have a website, I’m speaking purely from a commenter’s point of view. Disqus seems to have many problems, the worst one being that notifications of new replies aren’t showing up. I take part in a Disqus channel page and when 3-4 of us are chatting, it’s annoying to have to keep refreshing the page to see new replies/comments. Then you have to check the times to see which ones are new. It puts a damper on things. The problem is intermittent throughout the day.

    I’m sorry for the friend who created the page, but it’s really too difficult to follow and participate in discussions so I, as well as others, don’t go there much now. I’ve been encouraging her to switch to WordPress, I hope she does. Or at least finds a better alternative to Disqus.

    Thanks for a good article.

  16. Thanks for detailed review. I was planning to add it to my blog. Now I am rethink and research other reviews before implementing it.

  17. I did some reading about Disqus vs. native WP, etc., some weeks ago now. Wasn’t intending to do more tonight, but came across this article while searching on how to monetize Disqus.

    I haven’t even started yet and am just trying to do preliminary research before publishing this way.

    In my earlier readings, it had seemed that Disqus was a good way to go, but this article and the comments make me wonder now.

    Is it true that there is no monetization available from them unless you have at least 10,000 avg monthly page views? Also, what some have posted below about the sharp decline in revenue is not encouraging.

    The one thing, however, which still makes me suspect Disqus is a good option is the spam factor. From the readings I did earlier, it seems that people agree with the anti-Spam features of Disqus are great and you hardly ever have to deal with spam at all with Disqus. With native WP, however, it seems people agree that spam is a HUGE problem and you can have to spend a lot of time and energy dealing with it.

  18. Ok,

    after reading this article a bit further I do agree with the signup process making it more difficult to just go ahead and comment on different posts. After working in the PSM Plus industry it’s nice to read helpful articles like this on wordpress and commenting ingeneral.

  19. I’ve grown to hate Disqus.

    Their developer/moderator team is something to be desired. Sucks that (you) the creator must go through the (development) team in order to make any channel changes (logo/image). And you cannot delete/remove your old channel either. Ridiculous.

  20. I was considering Discus as I hadn’t used it before and have noticed it being used on a lot of sites I visit. So there must be an upside..right?

    I like the idea that you login once and you can post anywhere there is a Discus commenting system, but I was afraid it might dissuade people from posting as it didn’t allow for back links.

    This can also be a problem with spammers, but as I moderate my comments before they’re posted this isn’t an issue. I don’t get enough comments on my site as it is and I don’t want to give visitors another reason to not communicate.

    I’m currently using default WordPress comments and am thinking I’m going to stick with them. This article has been helpful.

    • (my last message: request removal of post on censorship)

      I guess (please) disregard (or remove) my post about being censored at Disqus since even under a pseudonym, it wouldn’t be hard for someone Disqus-connected to figure out who posted it. They’re still doing it to me (someone else mentioned it happening to them, I replied it happens to me, and my post went *poof* after a few minutes, but theirs didn’t in this case). I hope something good comes of this and websites switch away from that garbage service (IMO). Thanks for your time.

  21. I have been using disqus on one of my websites for a long time.

    I just created a new website and had been thinking of which comment system to use. I initially thought of facebook comments but uninstalled it because of some personal design problems and inability to import wordpress comments to facebook comments. Removed wordpress comments also because of some personal design problems.

    I got fed up of having to choose and finally installed disqus. I wish it had the option to comment anonymously (which I heard is possible).

    Facebook comments seem interesting to me if not for a few things.

  22. Thank You for the honest review! As the most of us “wordpressers” I also planned to change to the Disqus platform but result what I read Im staying with the WPs own comment system.
    Thx, again!

  23. Apparently I’m the exception to what WP Beginner experienced and what some others have stated here; I recently switched to using the native WP comments on my site and after a couple of weeks the comments had gone down, not to mention we were getting some complaints from users. We ultimately decided to switch Disqus back on and the commenting traffic has picked back up again.

    That having been said, there are plenty of things to not love about Disqus. I’m using the Disqus wordpress plugin for the first time and while it works overall, I set it to not sync the Disqus comments to my WP database but it continues to do so. We have a lot of comments so this is consuming a lot of space/resources. I plan to try resetting the plugin’s settings to see if I can get it to take effect but need to wait until an off peak time when traffic is down on the site should that lead to any problems.

    Also, Disqus touts its revenue it pays to publishers as an advantage of using it. When Disqus first started offering the paid ads, we were getting over $1000 per month in revenue off of it. Nowadays, I’d be lucky to break $100 in a month. The type of ads being offered is less desirable also from my standpoint (they used to blend better with the content, now they are predominantly obvious ads with an image that goes above and below the comments and most of the ad subjects are on par with your average soap operas in terms of their content). My guess is this has something to do with the massive drop in revenue.

    We also tried out WP-Discuz in the hopes it would replace some of the features we and our users liked about Disqus (namely up voting) but I was disappointed in what I found, namely that anybody can up or down vote a comment an unlimited about of times which would skew those. The social login integration with it also meant that it would lead to new user accounts being created in our WP database every time somebody logged in with Facebook, Twitter, etc. which we didn’t want.

    I’m not really sure why the volume of comments seemed to taper off in using the native WP comments; my guess is our users are unusually resistant to change and didn’t take it well. When we first started using Disqus, the same thing happened (complaints) but they eventually adapted. I just didn’t want to wait out the several months it might take for the adaptation process to hopefully permeate our user base and have traffic pick back up.

    • What paid ads are you referring to? I have only seen that they have this “Reveal” program where you are required to have 10,000 avg page views monthly or else you cannot participate. Is there another program that does not have such a minimum traffic requirement?

    • That’s because WP has some kind of filter that knocks out comments for the dumbest of reasons. People don’t know it and wonder where their comment went assuming it’s their own computer being weird.

  24. Thank you for the honest post about using Disqus. I had considered installing it but I am all about performance so I wanted to see if there was another perspective from someone who had used it for a while. Glad I read this!

  25. I was thinking about using Discuss, but I guess I won’t do that.

    Their “reveal” product (ads) sounded like a good thing for me at first glance and I was going to consider it, but I can’t trust a company that tries to outsmart its users (link without nofollow in its noscript), forcefully pushes its own brand over the website (add discuss to your site, clicking anything opens a lightbox literally overshadowing the site) and then tramples over the authority a content writer should have over their own content (affiliate viglink ads turned on by default, hidden in advanced settings)

  26. Great thanks for the detailed post. I was thinking about switching to Disqus but now I have reconsidered. Cheers

  27. Pretty much this.

    Whenever I read an interesting article, alongside (potentially) great discussions, I often felt the inkling to contribute as well.

    Then I realized it is Disqus, at which point I decided “never mind” and closed the tab.

  28. Thanks for the information. I was actually about to install the Disqus plugin, but I think I’ll put it on hold for now. Cheers!

  29. Found this article while I was shortlisting which comment system to install on my blog. And this is the fourth article that discourages Disqus. I think I’m going to follow your advice, and rely on native WordPress comment to begin with. Thanks for the insight.

  30. Disqus is horrible.

    I was earning a measly $3-4/day and figured I’d keep it cause something is better than nothing. My blog, mind you, sees something like 1,000,000 Pageviews per month from about 150,000 Unique Visitors worldwide and there’s great engagement. Then, after recent changes that they don’t care to get into specifically, I (and likely thousands if not tens of thousands of other publishers) started earning way less than even those minuscule amounts. I’m down to $0.30 a day after they continue “improving” their service.

    • I’ve run into the same thing and am planning to move away from Disqus for this reason (and others as well). I was earning a little over $1,000 per month with Disqus ads when they first launched, now I would be doing well to break $100 per month. My guess is that the ad formats Disqus uses changed from ones that looked more like article links to very obvious ads with an image and a summary beside them. No way to know for certain but just my hunch…

  31. I was literally about ready to leave the site and a pop-up came for OptinMonster. I just figured I would let you guys know that it is still occurring.

  32. Can you pls tell how you have styled your present commenting system. I love the neat and simplistic look.

    Would be v nice if you get back on this. Thanks.

  33. Thanks for this information. I love the WordPress blogging features and kept noticing the company you mentioned on WordPress sites. This confused me so I did a quick search and found your post. Thanks a MILLION!

  34. I see this was posted back the middle of last year. Have you stuck with WP commenting? I was wondering how people were finding the moderation tools when the volume scales? Disqus still seem to dominate comment site installations or are you now seeing some new emerging third party?

  35. I’m a newcomer to the site, but oddly you immediately hit on an issue I had. I was looking at a list of good plugins for making a portfolio on WP, when it suggested Disqus for comments. I immediately went on the hunt for an alternative, because no way was I doing that.

    I deleted my Disqus commenting account several months ago – almost a year now I think, and it was one of the best decisions I have ever made, in my whole “digital life.” I will still occasionally comment on a site that has Disqus, if guest posting is available, but I refuse to create a new account no matter what site it prevents me from commenting on. I have been on many community network over the years, and I’ve never seen the level of trolling, harassing and nearly stalking anywhere, compared to what I experience on Disqus. I don’t know what it is about that platform, that brings in the loons, but it drove me right out.

    Nice to know there are other, less personal and strictly anecdotal, reasons to avoid them on my own site. de:Comments is a bit pricey for me, so I might just use your beefed up native comments solution, unless my research of alternatives kicks up something useful and cheap (preferably free). Thanks for this info.

  36. I`ve been thinking of starting a blog and I think Worldpress and Disqus seems a good combination. If somebody don´t have an account they can comment as guests so I don´t lock anybody out. I hate when you lock people out. I hate Facebook, Twitter, Google plus etc and if they can´t figure out how to comment as a guest I am not interested in their comments.

    • You sound like Hate Smurf. Disqus has an login option with Twitter, facebook and the rest, so If you are hate it, don’t use it, but don’t bash it. Like you said, you are not interesting in their comments, than don’t use comments on your blog.

      • Actually, John has a point (already mentioned in the article), that if you don’t use any of those login options you cannot participate posting comments in any blog using Disqus (however, I think Disqus has an option to allow “guest comments” or similar). I prefer (from the perspective of a blog reader) to post without having to login in anyway (yes, there are many of us, so forcing us to login will exclude us from your blog).

        Regarding the article, I agree that (from the perspective of the blog writer) the affiliated links insertion and the sponsored comments seems like enough reasons not to use Disqus at all.

        Regards, MV.

  37. I was interested to find this article and also all of the comments. I would love to depart from using Disqus, as I have had a number of people over the years let me know that they haven’t been able to comment and dread to think how many others there were that didn’t bother to let me know!

    Trouble is, I can’t find a way to ensure that my comments still show up on my blog. I am not using WordPress, so the several mentions I read about the feature of syncing with the blog database to have comments just show up in the native system once Disqus is disabled is not an option for me.

    I wonder if anybody knows if there is a way to export Disqus comments…? The only reference to exporting that I could find on the Disqus website was in reference to backing up comments rather than importing them elsewhere.

    I would love it if anybody knows a workaround!

    • Very interesting topic! I was searching for the right configuration of commenting on my site and this article definitely removed Discus from that list.
      I just installed WPDisquz on my site. I think this plugin has a lot of the advantages of Discus without the disadvantages. Do you agree?

      • I just recently tried WP-Discuz when I moved away from Disqus and wasn’t impressed. For me, two big things stood out: our users like the up/down voting in Disqus which WP-Discuz had, however, it doesn’t limit the amount of votes one user can post so you could sit there and click up vote a million times and it kept recording it. I thought surely this would be something the plugin would deal with (maybe I had it installed incorrectly or misconfigured but I don’t think so).

        We also wanted users to be able to log in with social media accounts and discovered that when they do, it creates an account for them in the users table inside of our WP database. While this makes sense in hindsight, it wasn’t what I was expecting and I didn’t like the idea of suddenly having thousands or tens of thousands of new user accounts in our database that I would then have to wade through given how our site operates. Others might not care though.

        WP-Discuz has pretty good functionality in the base plugin, but if you want any of the add ons (like flagging comments for example), you have to pay for upgrades which was another drawback.

        Disqus solved all of those problems and kept the user accounts, data storage, etc. off of our site, and with our volume of comments it just seemed to suit our needs better. Plus we got some complaints when we dropped Disqus which I admit I hadn’t expected; I really thought people would prefer the WP commenting system.

    • You can export comments out of Disqus. The problem arises if you plan to then import them into WordPress; Disqus uses its own unique XML file that doesn’t play nice with WP, so you would be forced to write a custom script to import the comments into your database as a practical matter. If you do some Googling on that, you can find some examples where people have written code to do the importing which might help or work, but I haven’t personally tried any of those scripts.

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