External Comment Hosting (Blogging)
If you are or intend to run a for-profit blog (which many people are interested in), you may be a bit unnerved by the integrated comment system in some systems. Sure, it’s easy enough for people to post comments, but the administration of them may prove to be a headache once the commentary starts coming in.
You do have the option of having your comments hosted elsewhere instead of using the internal way of doing it.
Examples of systems with internal comment administration:
All of the above CMSes (to the best of my knowledge) can administrate comments internally.
Examples of external comment hosting:
Advantages and disadvantages of "farming out" your comments
Advantages of external comment hosting:
- Much easier to administrate.
- Supports more login methods such as OpenID.
- If your blog goes down for whatever reason, the comments stay up.
- Ability to connect up to social networking sites (something internal comments don’t have whatsoever – or at least not without plugins and heavy modification).
- Built-in rating features (1-star, 5-star, etc.)
- Will never "break your template"
- Built-in poll features (on some).
Disadvantages of external comment hosting:
- You put 100% faith into a site that you don’t know is going to be online tomorrow or not (obviously it should be, but you never know).
- Some external comment providers require you to pay a small fee to access comments over 3 months old. (Always read the terms of service before signing up.)
- You may not like the built-in templates offered by the comment service.
Should you host your comments externally?
I would say only to farm out your comments elsewhere if any of the following applies to you:
- You have static web pages (i.e. traditional ones, not a blog) that require some sort of comment ability but don’t want to install a complete system.
- You have a huge comment spam problem and the filters (if any) you have just aren’t good enough.
- You need more power/control over the comments that your current internal solution just can’t do.
- You want something that supports gravatars without having to dive into template code just to get working.
Quick facts about external comment hosting
The entire reason external comment hosts started popping up was directly due to a huge blog comment spam problem a few years back. Before Akismet it was a nightmare to deal with. However Akismet is not perfect (nor was it ever), and there are some who hate that spam filtering system. Some say it works too well, others say it’s not good at all.
The external comment hosts have evolved along with the internet and do offer features that take the internal systems months (if not years) to catch up to. And what’s more is that when your external comment host upgrades their system with new features, you don’t have to do anything on your end internally (big plus).
Lastly, there is no easier way to administrate comments than by using an external comment host. Using WordPress as an example, even their internal comment administration – while good – is still wonky to use to where you can very easily "get lost" within your own system.
Remember, using an external comment host is free to try in most instances. If you’re interested, give it a go. You might like it and choose to stick with it.