The popular comment platform will charge bloggers a monthly fee to remove advertising from comment threads.
The tide has turned against comments among some major publishers, but they’re still regarded by many as an essential part of the blogging experience. Although they can be a pain to moderate and they’re a magnet for spammers and trolls, most bloggers believe the community-building benefits of comments are worth the investment. Disqus, a cloud-based comment platform, is by far the most popular alternative to WordPress’ native comment system. Disqus is easy to use, fast, and has features that aren’t available from alternative comment systems.
When big publishers do choose to keep comments on their site, Disqus is usually where they turn. Disqus has always been free to use, but, starting later this year, Disqus will charge its users if they want to offer an ad-free experience.
We know that ads may not be a good fit for all publishers and all sites. For these publishers, we will provide a simple option to remove ads altogether. For an inexpensive monthly fee publishers will be able to completely remove ads and take advantage of all of Disqus’ basic features and functionality. We will release finalized pricing for this offering soon.
Bloggers will be able to use Disqus for “free”, but unless they pay the fee and opt-out of advertising, Disqus intends to monetize their comments.
It’s easy to see why Disqus wants to add advertising. The infrastructure necessary to support comments on hundreds of thousands of sites isn’t cheap. But understanding why Disqus is making the change isn’t likely to make publishers any happier about it. Publishers like to be in control of the content on their sites, and they also want a slice of the pie for any advertising displayed with their content. Disqus also faces the resistance that any company encounters when it takes once-free services and charges from them.
A few things to note here: if you’re running a blog that isn’t monetized, it appears you won’t be charged to opt out. But if your blog does run advertising, you’ll have to pay around $10 per month for ad-free comments. At the moment, it’s claimed that the adverts will mostly be for Disqus itself, but there’s no guarantee that will be the case forever.
If you’re unsettled by this change in Disqus’ policy there are plenty of alternatives, although none of them offer the full range of features that Disqus includes.
The most obvious alternative is native WordPress comments. WordPress comes with a built-in commenting system. It’s by no means as advanced as Disqus or the other alternative we’re about to discuss, but for smaller blogs, it’s perfectly adequate.
A more advanced alternative is the comment system included in the Jetpack plugin collection. It offers features that aren’t part of WordPress’ native comments, like social media sign-in. The ability to sign-in using social media networks is a big improvement over the native comments interface, which requires users to jump through hoops before they can comment.
If you’re fine with Disqus inserting its advertising into your site or paying to have them removed, there’s no real reason to migrate to another comment system, but it’s good to know there are alternatives if things change in the future.