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.