In this post I'm soliciting opinions—should I pay to keep using Disqus for comments, or should I switch to an alternative open-source solution that uses GitHub?
Commenting on blog posts
Depending if you're someone who reads the comments, you may or may not have noticed that I use Disqus to allow people to comment on my blog posts. When I started the blog, Disqus was one of the most popular commenting systems, and even today it's one of the most popular independent systems from what I've seen.
It's not without it's issues though. The biggest concern is around the extra ads Disqus places on your blog if you don't explicitly disable them. I took the time to disable all those on this blog, so the result is a pretty clean user experience.
However, the other day, I received this message:
So this has left me with a dilemma:
- Allow Ads into the Disqus comment section.
- Pay to sign up for the Pro plan with Disqus $11USD a month, currently
- Use a different system.
Option 1. is no-go for me. The ads Disqus placed were always off-topic, and distracting. Which leaves me with a choice - pay for Disqus comments, or look at an alternative system. There are pros and cons to both approaches.
Sign up for the pro version of Disqus
This is an easy fix—the ads immediately go away, and nothing changes. People who were using Disqus to comment on posts previously can continue to do so, and the existing comments remains.
The obvious downside is this costs me money. I've also personally stopped using Disqus that much because I find it a bit annoying that it doesn't support markdown, and often butchers code in comments. For that reason, I'd been looking at alternatives to Disqus recently anyway, before this recent nudge…
Use a GitHub-based comment system
The main alternatives I've been looking at are GitHub based:
- Utterances is a lightweight widget that uses GitHub issues for commenting.
- Giscus is lightweight widget, based on utterances, that uses GitHub Discussions for commenting.
I was originally inspired to consider replacing Disqus with utterances some time ago, based on this blog post by Jürgen Gutsch, but never got around to it. I held off partly because I felt that GitHub discussions would be a better fit than issues; with the creation of Giscus this seems like a good option.
When I started my blog, Disqus was the main stand-alone commenting widget around, so a lot of people have Disqus accounts. Moving away from that potentially adds a barrier to people who want to comment. But I feel like more people will have GitHub accounts these days, so maybe there's already a lot of people who aren't commenting who would be otherwise.
The main arguments for both Utterances and Giscus is that they're open source, rely on GitHub for "hosting" (which is probably a safe-bet), and they don't (and are unlikely to) require monetising visitors with obnoxious ads.
The downside to switching is that all the existing comments on the blog post would lose their association to people's Disqus accounts. I can relatively easily "import" the comments into Giscus (using the approach described by Jürgen), but without the ability to associate Disqus usernames with GitHub usernames, those comments will no longer be directly connected to the person who originally wrote them.
What's the verdict?
So, what now? I'm leaning towards switching to Giscus, but as I'm not the main person who'll be using it, I'm interested to know what people think.
I realise any comments left here will likely be biased to pro-Disqus, but I'm still interested to know your thoughts!
Additionally, if you're happy to, feel free to leave a comment with your GitHub username. That way, if I do switch to Utterance or Giscus, I can associate the comments with your GitHub account.