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Social commenting is hot, to the tune of $15m as evidenced by the latest funding round from LiveFyre, a dominant player in the space. This brings the startup’s total funding to $21m.

What exactly do the platforms LiveFyre and their competitor Disqus bring to your website or blog? Is one better than the other in any given area? Should comments even be “real-time” and “social?”

I did a bit of my own investigating, and these results are by no means scientific or conclusive.

I'd love to hear member thoughts (yes use our web 1.0 commenting system) if anyone out there has been using one or the other on their website for extended time and has feedback to share!

The Criteria

  • How easy is it to get started using?
  • Have functions been scaled for mobile/tablet usage?
  • Privacy
  • Benefits for the moderator/site administrator
  • Presentation of content

Getting started

I began with using Livefyre on the Techrunch post linked to above. Since I use Twitter for public things, and Facebook for friends only, I clicked to register via Twitter OAuth and I am shocked that Livefyre want an additional step (see screenshot two), my email, before I can post my comment. 

Next I found a post on the same funding news on The Next Web where they have Disqus. I click sign in with Twitter and I'm done in one step.

Mobile/tablet friendly?

Both LiveFyre and Disqus are easy enough to find on mobile, login, and then have a dashboard view of your recent comments and any interactions you might have received.

Livefyre was missing the comment I made above in my activity stream, however. This could be a slight delay in caching, or a moderation queue, but at the time of writing, it's still not there.

User Privacy

Both Livefyre and Disqus require a social account or registered account through their platform in order to post a comment. Site admins are sold this as an advantage, since it is suppose to cut down on spam. 

Benefits for site adminstrator

Since we haven't run either Livefyre or Disqus from a site administrator's perspective, we reached out to our friend Martin Bryant, Managing Editor The Next Web, for some quick input here.

The discussion went as follows:

What benefit is The Next Web seeking by having one of these social commenting systems on the site?

It's looking for a way to boost engagement really. WordPress has a commenting system which is fine for what it does, but it does not allow for real-time posts to be popping up on the screen, social sharing...etc. and these third-party plugins tend to be a lot better

You've run both Livefyre and Disqus, what feedback do you have on either?

We ran Livefyre first, and the thing that I liked about it is the fact that it shows comments popping up in real-time, and lets you see a counter of how many people are actively reading the post at the time. This might put some people off from posting, if say there is a "300 watching"knowledge before you hit post.

Both Livefyre and Disqus have a bit of an interesting spam problem that both systems seem to have a hard time filtering, where people manually post a comment relating to the topic of the post (but lacking any particular insight) and then leave a link to a spam site in the comment.

We use Disqus now, which is really a mature product, and I love how in the admin panel you have a Disqus-wide identity. You can alternativley click on someone you follow and see all the comments they've made on other sites.

It's a bit nicer to administrate through Disqus. I like that fact that you can retroactivley blacklist people via the admin panel, which helps fight spam.

So a hindrance for a user is a blessing for site administrators. By forcing people to register, there is less spam in the comments, and by making things real-time, only those who really have something to say are going to post and get involved.

Presentation

Livefyre has the ability to display comments by newest/oldest.

Disqus automatically displays oldest comments first, but has a bit more feature set for Disqus registered users to click around to, including the “Reactions” feed which is just a list of people who Tweeted the story URL, "Community," which will bring up the most discussed posts on the website you are on, as well as the top overall commentators, and "My Disqus" will bring you recent updates from Disqus users you follow on their platform.

Ryan Sommer

Published 8 February, 2013 by Ryan Sommer

Ryan Sommer is web veteran and recovering expat who contributes to Econsultancy on startups, content marketing and new media. You can connect with him on LinkedIn, follow him on Twitter, or add him to your circles on Google+

91 more posts from this author

Comments (21)

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Jonathan Bennett

We all installed Disqus on our blog and we love it. Apart from all the features you outlined above I think the really strength is that it updates without having to alter anything on your site.

The only downside is the similar articles feature which is a little cheeky but I've actually had traffic come my way from it to.

over 3 years ago

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Ro Gupta

Hi Ryan - a couple clarifications:

- Disqus has a non-registered guest posting option; it's up to the website admin to allow or not allow that.
- The default presentation for Disqus threads is the 'Best' sort, which is based on quality signals. Oldest or Newest are also options that a user can choose.

Thanks.

-Ro | DISQUS

over 3 years ago

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Mark Corton

I've used Lifefyre, Disqus and Facebook and Disqus wins hands down. Their product has a much better design and adapted the CSS of my site requiring almost no customization.

I also really like the "internal links" box that shows up below each article. That's helped immensely with increased pageviews per vistor. Also, Livefyre's monthly fees are absurd, $5,000/month to have the sort of integration they have on TechCrunch's site where as Disqus is free.

over 3 years ago

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Amanda Nudelman

Nice review — it's always cool to see side-by-side screenshots. Only note from our side: default sort is by "Best", but the user can change this and their preference will be remembered in the future with a cookie.

Have you ever considered a third-party commenting system?

over 3 years ago

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Kelly Abbott

Hi, Ryan -

I have the unfortunate responsibility of reminding your readers that there are alternatives to even these two companies. Seriously worth the consideration for high-traffic domains with bit communities and lots of user-generated content (aka comments) is Realtidbits. We're small and late to the game, but we're addressing the market from a different angle. Livefyre, Disqus and Facebook ALL own the user data. There are some other differentiators, but I'll let you kick the tires on our site where we have a demo. No, we don't have a free, self-serve option. We only work with publishers. To date, we serve over a billion pageviews per month in our product suite and our customer base includes companies like ESPN, The CW Network and the Washington Post. I say that only so that you know we're not just a start-up competing where there are serious incumbents, but that we are legitimately winning business in this space. Enough so that we'd like to no longer be overlooked when folks do comparisons of comments products.

Take care,
K

over 3 years ago

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Ketharaman Swaminathan

We use Disqus on our blog. The features are great. But it seems to hang at least once per session. I also noticed Livefyre only on TechCrunch. First impression wasn't good - didn't like that I'd to enter an email address on top of signing on via Twitter / Facebook, preferred the previous Facebook Comment system.

PS: Does ECONS have any plans to implement one of these modern social commenting system or at least an interactive one like the one on Finextra.com? I'm tired of the reCAPTCHAs on your blog. I also hate it that I'm asked to crack one reCAPTCHA before hitting the PREVIEW button and another one to finally post my comment. As I'd highlighted in my blog post (http://sketharaman.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/recaptchagallery02.png) reCAPTCHAs are becoming increasingly difficult to crack.

over 3 years ago

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Lily Gray

Just as an FYI, Disqus does not own the user data. I use it on my Wordpress blog and can export all of the comments and user info whenever I'd like. I had disliked the early version of Disqus 2012 and was surprised how easy it was to export everything and import it back to WP.

Not sure where Kelly is getting this info but wanted to let everyone know if that was a real stopper.

over 3 years ago

Ryan Sommer

Ryan Sommer, Freelance Consultant

Wow, some great comments here. Sorry for being late to respond.

@Mark -- I believe Livefyre is targeting media publishers in a different tax bracket with new feature sets/APIs called "StreamHub." Looks like Disqus will happily remain the dominant (and free) choice us "non-ESPNs" of the world.

@Amanda -- Noted.

@Kelly -- This is not how I understood the platforms operate. When removing either Livefyre or Disqus from WP (for example) after using it for an extended time, all the comments that were published remain in your WP stock commenting system.

@Ketharaman -- Thank you for this feedback. A lot of our blog commentators are members however (you can sign up for a free Bronze Membership even) and once a profile is created, you simply need to be logged in to post a comment.

over 3 years ago

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Meghan Krane

Thanks for including Livefyre in your commenting comparison. I’m the Director of Community at Livefyre and I just wanted clarify some information about our product and what you’re observing:

- Livefyre has two main products that are used across the web. We offer a free commenting system for individual bloggers and small publishers called Comments 3, which users comment across sites with their Livefyre profile.

- Our enterprise platform for large publishers and media companies is called StreamHub and runs on individual networks customized for each publisher. TechCrunch, The Daily Beast, Sports Illustrated, and Engadget are publishers powered by StreamHub networks. StreamHub allow publishers to incorporate their existing user profiles with our commenting system with the authentication system of their choice. When you used Twitter to sign in to TechCrunch you were asked for your email address so that TechCrunch could create an account for you to verify your identity, and send you email notifications regarding replies to your comments. This gives publishers more control of their community and they benefit from owning all of the data coming through the system. The publisher also controls the requirements around their users so they can configure it to their community guidelines.

If you or you readers have any questions about how Livefyre works we are happy to talk more. You can always reach us @livefyre.

over 3 years ago

Ryan Sommer

Ryan Sommer, Freelance Consultant

Hi Meghan,

Thanks for that added direction. So had Techcrunch been using "Comments 3" rather then the Enterprise platform, there would not have been the added step of the email address to register...

over 3 years ago

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Kelly Abbott

@ryan While it may be true that comments get cross-posted to WP, the data is owned by those vendors. Indeed one's Livefyre or Disqus profile is owned by those respective vendors. There is literally no way to install their systems where a user's comments are not put into a larger pool of comments across the web. For the publisher, the choice is clear: own your own data and don't let anyone else monetize it. For the consumer the choice is not as clear. Consumers don't realize that Disqus and Livefyre "own" their commenting profiles. When you look at it in that light, there's really no difference between Facebook, Disqus and Livefyre.

For the average blog, all three of those solutions suffice. A free product comes with its tradeoffs. It may be worthwhile in that case. But for publishers who value their communities and communities who value their publishers, they should know there are alternatives.

@Meghan As a company that competes with your StreamHub solution I would like to know what you do with TechCrunch, The Daily Beast, Sports Illustrated, and Engadget data. Do you keep it in a silo where only those publishers have access to it, or do you put it into the larger pool of information from across the Web? Also, what options are present in your system for publishers and users to comment anonymously and/or not have a Livefyre ID in order to make a comment.

over 3 years ago

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Kelly Abbott

Hi, guys. I posted a reply as a followup to some of my points. I saw that they submitted, but after refresh, not there anymore. Was I moderated for something I said? Or are they in a pre-moderation queue? LMK if I need to resubmit. Thanks.

over 3 years ago

Ryan Sommer

Ryan Sommer, Freelance Consultant

Hi Kelly,

Sorry about that, might have just been a time-out. Please do feel free to resubmit.

over 3 years ago

Matt Owen

Matt Owen, Head of Social at Econsultancy

Hi Kelly - sorry about that, I'm afraid your comment was caught up in our spam filter by mistake. I've now published it for you.

over 3 years ago

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Kelly Abbott

Woops it happened again. I posted another link to a write-up TNW did this moring. Perhaps it got stuck in that pesky spam filter?

over 3 years ago

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Alex

I'm noticing that you guys are no longer using Disqus. Looks like you've changed to an in-house commenting system. Can you comment on this change?

over 3 years ago

Ryan Sommer

Ryan Sommer, Freelance Consultant

Hi Alex,

My post above was written from the point of view from a reader wanting to post a comment, and for personal experience when it comes to moderation I reached out to Martin Bryant, Managing Editor at The Next Web.

We've always had a proprietary commenting system here at Econsultancy, and the plan to update is being worked in to a long-view web overhaul, so don't expect any immediate changes here!

over 3 years ago

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Andrea

What i think is missing from the conversation is that with LF you can import FB comments straight back to your blog. This for me is a Huge plus and AFAIK disqus doesn'do it.

Also the comments are ALWAYS saved on my wordpress installation as well as their server, so i daresay the comments are mine.

Where i think LF is lacking is the mobile interface, or lack thereof:)

over 3 years ago

Ryan Sommer

Ryan Sommer, Freelance Consultant

Thanks for this input Andrea!

over 3 years ago

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eri

i have using disqus. basicly i love it. but sometimes its got error such as visitor cant post a comment, or comment who missing the post title. the sync option to database features also troublesome sometimes.
the import option hang up and result in many error. i'm verry happy if disqus make import with .sql database available because exporting comment and post from wordpress importer doesnt work perfectly sometimes.

just my opionion

over 3 years ago

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Emmett, Owner at Blind Man's Puff

I thinking about installing one of these on my site, but it seems at though there isn't really a consensus of which is better. Any new features since this article was published to push one over the other?

almost 3 years ago

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