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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. Great article , I used to have disqus for more than 2 years and I was always wondering why you guys are not using it. these days I was digging deep on my site and found couple of affiliate links redirects that I have never installed or dealt with. I just found out that it is from disqus “and I think you can disable them” but I decided to delete disqus all together since this is not acceptable doing something on my site with out my permission “it was automatically turned on”
    it time to say goodbye disques, and thanks for the great post.

  2. I found your blog after doing a search on why Disqus would like to get quite a lot of permission from my Tweeter account, more than most apps that simply need my identity (email and name). Thanks for sharing. It makes me affirm my decision to not sign up.

  3. Interesting. I was researching if going with Discus was the way for my website. Now I will think it thoroughly a bit more.

  4. Thanks for you review, I was wondering about setting Disqus on my website. Looks like I’m not going to go this way.

  5. Hey! Thanks for this, it’s a great read. I too was using disqus on one of my blogs and I totally agree with all the takes in this blog. Interesting!

  6. What changes did you have to make to your theme to move away from Disqus. It is basically blocked in China and slows my whole website down so I think it has to go given how long I’ve lived in China.

    • As our theme is a custom theme, we had to ensure we had a comments template but for most themes, there should be a comments template already.

      Admin

      • I plan to upgrade to WordPress 5 and then update my theme. Disqus has been blocked for two years in China it has to go if you want anyone in China to leave a comment on your blog.

  7. You said you are using wordpress native comment, but this comment box is different than my native comment box. Also could not find subscribe option. Why this change? One visitor complained the comment box below comments is difficult to access, and hence box should be above comments.

  8. Links to comments never, ever worked in Disqus. The software just plain sucks. Finding older comments is incredibly tedious.

  9. I “Happened” across this article and am very glad I read it, along with numerous comments shared.

    I do NOT ever recall doing a “thing” with Disqus, and yet they had an account on me, linked to FB that was so old it had an email address I have not used in AGES, as in probably 7 yrs or. more? I shut it down tonight, but not sure that really means a thing. I never register anything with my FB account, ever! So this is interesting that they had it. Maybe somehow way back when I did, is all I can think of.

    I am hoping closing the account is the same as also rejecting them of any rights to access any of my information, or to share such information in part or in whole. But I don’t know. (??) Anyone know?

    When I go to make a comment in some sites, they ask for my email and they want you to click a box giving consent for them to have access to your whole life and your friends … These apps do NOT need my friend’s lists, contacts, location(s), phone number, place of work, my whole life…its none of their business, just so I can make a comment? So I close the window and move on, no comment made. Many of us move on. But in time I’m betting that will continue to change, which for me is alarming.

    Privacy matters! I fear for the next few generations as they further and further remove them from any understanding of the value of privacy and their rights to it.

    While I do have a Company website we have as of yet to place anything up that allows for “commenting”. in our blog/article section because we work in Psychiatric care and Human Rights needs for marginalized populations that are heavily stigmatized, to begin with.

    The last thing I want any of those we serve seeing is all the judgemental comments and crudeness that has already done enough damage to their healing process. So as a company in our field of work, we are torn on how to handle this and continue to debate what to do. We want people to have a voice and place to share their views appropriately, and give support to those who would gain from it, while educating the communities that are the foundation to the world we live in.

    A rational conversation would be great! Reality has shown me that is nearly impossible. There is the ideal world, then there is a reality.

    If there is a really good way to have comments done filtered from the spam and the hate, I’d love to know what it is. Yes, we do use Word Press but I don’t know it inside and out. I plan to explore plugins, etc. but frankly it seems to me that the time consumption of self-monitoring of comments would be extremely time-consuming.

    Thank you for writing the article, it did lead me to more information. and awareness of some complexities and even some tools I was unaware of. If I had not crossed this article, I’d have not even known I was in their system! That’s scary. So thank you!

  10. I recently removed the plug in after all my comments seem to have disappeared. Then i did an import and comments reappeared, but greyed out. In frustration in disabled the plug in and voila trouble free comments. Wouldnt ever use that program again.

  11. I was about to switch from Disqus to WP native comments, but then I realize that in order to have Akismet spam protection there, I have to pay $5/month for that. With Disqus spam protection is included free. And I have not had ad problems that I know of. Are you paying for Akismet or is there another option? Thank you

  12. I’m so glad you posted this. Unfortunately, I’m just now seeing it after having the worst experiences with them. One thing, I can tell you, that made me leave Disqus is the way they’ve made it really easy to block individual voices that don’t agree with the status quo. I posted a comment on NPR that they didn’t like, and they marked it spam. Next thing I know, after posting on another site, my comment got marked as spam again. That makes it sound like it’s just me being a troll or something, I know, but I’m not. I’m just not someone who’ll say whatever it is that people want to hear instead of a dissenting opinion. Now, every time I post a comment, I have to go through a process where I’m more likely to get marked as a spammer because of these past two instances. As a result, I don’t use Disqus to discuss anything–but they did leave me filled with disgust.

  13. I’ve read some sketchy stuff Disqus was doing before. As a Disqus contributor I was researching Disqus and came upon your experience with Disqus. I have to rethink myself using such a service that seems to do things a bit shady and underhanded. I don’t like Disqus because it tends to allow some really derogatory users who continue to berate other user comments without any ramifications. For me Disqus as sort of done a disservice to the web comment services by becoming more a negative then a positive way to exchange opinions and ideals.

  14. Disqust wants to see my friends list and many other things in order to become their customer? Really? And it told me it found my secret account (everyone’s entitled to privacy) and asked me whether I wanted disqust to let everyone know about it and tie it up with my public profile? Seriously? Does Yelp have a buddy at Disqust? Cause Yelp is buddies with Twitter, which in turn allows Yelp president to freely spy on everyone’s comments at Twitter (no kidding). I find difficult to post even using the very Disqusting account. And I never allow them to connect with my Gmail, Facebook etc. accounts. Once Disqust blocked me from posting on Disqust and exposed to me that they knew everything about me and my posts. Nothing illegal on my side and who is Disqust, a Scotland Yard?

  15. This is some good insight. I actually came across this on my search for why my Disqus comments weren’t loading at the footer of my newest blog post. So, it seems like a lot of folks have encountered my issue with no solution.

  16. “When we enabled Disqus, few readers complained that Disqus makes it harder for guest commenting.” This is the main reason why I hate disquis.

  17. This is a great article. Thank you for sharing. I was about to pay for Disqus but this has raised a red flag. Again, thank you.

  18. I just stumbled upon this while I was just about to download the disqus plug in. I am glad I read it.
    I have a few questions, at the moment I have a facebook plugin but my normal wordpress comment box is underneath. But I keep getting people trying to advertise in the wordpress comment box and it’s pretty annoying. I primarily work on facebook… would you suggest keeping the facebook plugin? I would like people to post from all platforms. Also, how do I moderate the comments?
    Sorry for all the questions, I am relatively new to this. Many thanks

  19. Thanks for this great post i wanted to use disqus for my site but after this great post i will not use that thanks a lot

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