When it comes to managing comments on a website, the free options include WordPress (and other native comment systems), Facebook comments,
and Livefyre (now owned by Adobe).
You also used to be able to use Disqus for free, but that changed this past week when the company started telling websites that use Disqus that they had to either sign up for the paid service or turn on the Disqus ads.
This site has used the Disqus comment system since we first launched in April, 2008. At the time, Disqus offered clear benefits over the default WordPress comment system, including support for threaded comments, upvotes, spam detection (which clearly doesn’t always work), comment moderation tools.
At the time Disqus was also completely free for most publishers. Over the years Disqus has rolled out a few different monetization options. Larger publishers can pay for premium features, and all sites can opt-in to Disqus ads, which can appear above or in the middle of the comments sections.
Starting later this week, all publishers using Disqus will have to either enable ads or pay for a subscription.
I have also heard a similar announcement from the webcomic Looking for Group, which has responded to the new policy by switching to Facebook comments.
LfG had previously tried the Disqus ads option and reached the same conclusion as Liliputing and other sites: the adverts are crappy clickbait which don't pay enough to make it a nuisance.
Aside from a brief flirtation with the Jetpack comments plugin, this blog has always used the native WordPress comments. It is easiest, allows for anonymous comments, and doesn't require extra code (which can break).
But I can see the value of an alternative comment platform. I would not go with LiveFyre (they auto-tweet your comment) but I have been tempted from time to time by Disqus or FB comments.
Edit: As a reader pointed out, I can't go with LiveFyre; Adobe shut down the comment plugin last October. Thanks, Andrew!
The latter two comment platforms give websites a way to tap into the larger web community. FB comments, for example, enable websites to attract a larger audience from Facebook.
Sure, FB has serious privacy issues, and their comment platform requires a FB account, but with over a billion FB users there is still a clear benefit for websites.
Disqus had similar advantages - or at least it did until they started charging websites for using it.
image by HowardLake