There are a lot of options when it comes choosing a comment system for your self-hosted WordPress blog. So when people ask me what I suggest, I always say that I go for the basic WordPress comment system that comes with your blog upon installation. Here are some questions I always ask people to consider before choosing a third-party comment system.

1. How will your site speed be affected?

Pingdom did a great study on the WordPress comment system’s load time vs. four popular third-party systems: Livefyre, IntenseDebate, Disqus, and Facebook. Here are their results.

Third Party WordPress Comment System Speed Testing

Is the time difference significant? In most cases, not really. But what you have to consider is that if you want a speedy site, you need to optimize everything possible. 1,000 milliseconds here and there can add up to a lot when you consider all of your other plugins, banners, widgets, and images.

2. Who will own your comment author’s data?

When you comment on the basic WordPress comment system, you enter your name, email address, and a comment. That information goes into the WordPress database which the blog owner can backup and export at will. Most third-party comment systems will put the same comment data into your WordPress database. Before you install a third-party comment system, you should be sure that you will still be able to get this information into your database so you can retain ownership of your comments if you decide to remove the comment system at a later date. Speaking of which…

3. What will happen to your comments if you switch systems?

For most people, migrating from a third-party comment system back to WordPress is pretty simple. For others, I have seen some “interesting” things happen. Things like the comments from one post somehow duplicated themselves onto other posts and had to be manually deleted. Also, I saw a customized WordPress theme that was built around the third-party comment system. When the blog owner removed it, they lost the formatting and threading of all of their comments. So along with the question of who owns your comment data, you have find out what will happen to your blog if you choose a third-party comment system and change your mind.

4. How easy will it be for your visitors to comment?

As a tech savvy person, you might forget about how people who are new to the blogosphere will feel about comment systems that require logins. Anyone can understand name, email, website (optional), and comment. Some might get lost in the signup process for a third-party comment system and never get around to actually leaving a comment on your blog.

5. Is it spam you are worried about?

Third-party comment systems boast about spam control and advanced community management features. Registration supposedly cuts down on spammers, right? Not necessarily. Comment spammers can figure their way around any system. Allowing them to register for a comment system means that they get the green light on blogs that allow registered users’ comments to post automatically.

Need more reasons?

If these aren’t good enough arguments to keep you on the base WordPress comment system, then there are two more things to consider.

  • CommentLuv Plugin – A great way to encourage comments and get to know comment authors by seeing their latest blog posts. You can even encourage social sharing with CommentLuv premium!
  • Aweber Plugin – If you use Aweber as your mailing list program, you can install this plugin which will add a simple checkbox to your comment form. This makes it easy for comment authors to also subscribe to your mailing list.

If you own a self-hosted WordPress blog, what comment system do you use and why? How do you feel about the others?