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Discussing the Differences: Disqus vs. IntenseDebate

Posted on 1.31.2013

Everybody loves to share their opinions on the Internet, and a guaranteed way to ensure your success as an online content publisher is to provide them with a forum to do just that.

Commenting systems allow affiliates and content publishers – particularly bloggers – to provide a space below their content that gives visitors a chance to ask questions, provide more information about the topic-at-hand or (as many bloggers will tell you) offer their own criticisms of the publisher’s work. These comment solutions help publishers increase visitor engagement and help inspire more unique user-generated content on each post that can help the pages rank on search engines, among other benefits.

Although there are a number of different commenting systems available that publishers can use to include this functionality on their websites, the two names that often pop up the most frequently are Disqus and IntenseDebate, likely because they’re the most feature-rich and user-friendly of the various systems out there right now. The real question is: Which one is better?

When it comes to setting up and monitoring one’s comment system, Disqus provides the superior, more user-friendly administration site/interface, largely because it’s much easier to find specific settings and offers a wider array of options for blog integration and handling comments.

Social Enhancements
While both solutions offer a ton of features that include integration with social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, IntenseDebate also offers an additional layer of platform-specific “reputation points” next to a user’s comments that are determined based on voting from other IntenseDebate users, as well as the opportunity to “follow” certain users whenever they use IntenseDebate to comment on something.

One feature that is exclusive to Disqus is “reactions,” which are shown on a Disqus-enhanced site every time a specific blog post is mentioned on Twitter.

There are pretty much no really in-depth customization options for Disqus, but for users with some working knowledge of CSS, they can change the appearance of their IntenseDebate systems, remove useless buttons and more.

For users, Disqus offers a much simpler solution for replying to other user comments that is also a lot easier to read. This usefulness of this feature is especially apparent on posts that get a lot of comments, many of which will spur intense debates of their own.

Subscription Options
Both systems will email users if they ask to be notified about any new comments that may appear on the post after their comment is left, but IntenseDebate will allow users to choose to be notified only when the new comments are direct responses to their original comments, which, again, can be very nice for users when the original blog post or comment is bound to inspire a lot of discussion.

Personally speaking, I prefer the login system on Disqus, which is simple for guest users and users with compatible social media accounts. To just stop in and leave a comment, users merely have to enter their emails and select a username, but they also have the option of turning on comment notifications and even linking to their websites from their IDs, which can be great for comment marketing. It’s a quick process that doesn’t deter anyone from commenting, if that’s what they really want to do.

Disqus logins are compatible with Disqus accounts, Facebook, Twitter, Google, OpenID and Yahoo.

IntenseDebate logins are compatible with IntenseDebate accounts, Facebook, Twitter, WordPress and OpenID, as well as featuring full support for Gravatar (which is pretty cool).

The Winner

Although it’s definitely a close call, I think that Disqus is the preferable choice for both users and content publishers, largely because of how simple it is to integrate into a site and the easy-to-use nature of its interface. IntenseDebate has some great features, for sure, but they lend themselves to more savvy-website developers (a category that many bloggers don’t happen to fall under) and websites with more of a social or community-oriented focus. Disqus, on the other hand, can be useful for virtually any site, no matter how big or small it is.

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