Every serious blogger knows that a major aspect of their blog's life is the comment box. Without this box, blogs lose their sense of engagement and personality -- they become just another website. Additionally, some SEO experts even suggest that comments help establish a blog as an authority, thus improving its PR (PageRank) with search engines like Google and Yahoo.
What are commenting platforms
For various reasons, some bloggers decide to replace the default comment box with another custom box. They are called commenting platforms, and they are developed by third-party developers for blog and website owners. Some bloggers need more versatility with their comment box; therefore, they replace the native field with a third-party commenting platform. Of course, there may be other reasons why a blogger would change this field.
The benefits of a commenting platform
Unlike native commenting fields, these platforms offer a wide range of features. Here are just a few of the benefits you receive from installing a commenting platform:
. Social media integration
. Comment threads
. Reply by email
. Real-time commenting
. Export comments
. Import comments
. Commenter profiles
One very notable feature that many third-party platforms have is the ability to like a user's notes and input. Some applications, such as Livefyre, use a reputation point system that is placed next to every one.
The drawbacks of a commenting platform
Now that you understand some of the benefits, you should be aware that there are negative aspects associated with these types of platforms. You memorize or bookmark these negative aspects to help you look for the right platform for your blog:
. Third-party platforms take much longer to load than native WordPress or Blogger platforms, thus possibly hurting your Google PR.
. All platforms operate from an off-site server. Therefore, there is a risk that the servers could go down, potentially damaging your comment data.
. Many bloggers report that their platform is very buggy.
. Almost every commenting platform requires readers to login before they can comment.
What you should look for when choosing a platform
If you decide to use a platform for your blog, you need one that is reliable and well-known. There may be new commenting platforms in the near future that address all of these issues, but it is up to you to try out the platform on your own blog to make your own judgment.
You should also determine what features you must have for your blog -- social media integration, email replies, commenter profiles and other features. The features you choose should reflect the type of content you produce.
Hopefully this information will help you make an informed decision. Do your research before committing to a commenting platform.