Comments have been an integral part of the WordPress platform since it forked from b2/cafelog in 2003.
Whilst there have been some refinements to comments in the backend of WordPress to help reduce spam and improve comment moderation, the frontend comment form has remained unchanged since WordPress launched.
Readers who want to publish a comment on a WordPress website are still presented with four fields: comment, name, email, and website (optional).
You can see an example of this in the screenshot below, which shows the aThemes comment form.
The default WordPress form is functional but lacks many advanced features. For example, it does not natively allow commenters to get email updates and log in using their favorite social media service.
That is why many WordPress websites replace or enhance the WordPress comment form.
In this article, I would like to share with you what we at aThemes consider to be the best six comment WordPress plugins.
wpDiscuz is a WordPress plugin that builds upon the default WordPress comment system with dozens of new features.
It allows you to customize, well, just about everything. You can modify the form structure, adjust styling, cache Gravatar images, display live updates, and more.
Engagement with readers is improved significantly with features such as subscriptions, social media logins, and social media sharing.
At first glance, the number of options available in wpDiscuz might seem overwhelming but if you spend five minutes going over all settings, you will be able to tweak your comment setup the way you want. All settings can be exported and imported into another WordPress website if you wish to.
The main settings page is divided into 10 sections: General, Comment Form, Comment List, Live Update, Subscription, Styling, Cache, Social Login & Share, Integrations, and Addons.
The level of control wpDiscuz gives you is impressive. Take the comment form, for example. The plugin allows you to adjust dozens of settings such as whether a header is displayed and the minimum and maximum length of usernames and comments. You can define which moderation buttons are displayed too.
You can also adjust how comments are sorted and whether all comments are displayed at once or are paginated instead. A voting system can be enabled, too, so that users can vote comments up and down using thumbs up and down, smiley faces, and more.
The wpDiscuz comment form looks great. It shows social media login buttons at the top of the form. Underneath, you will see the number of threads, number of thread replies, number of followers, latest comment authors, and more.
Commenters can sort comments any way they want and there is an option for them to subscribe via email to comment replies.
As you would expect, you can adjust the styling of your main comment form and comment replies. You can also enable and disable subscription features and define how users can log in via social media platforms.
A large collection of premium add-ons are available for wpDiscuz that extend the plugin further.
There are add-ons for extra widgets and emoticons, a subscription manager, media uploader, frontend moderation, ad manager, and more.
The cost of wpDiscuz add-ons varies. Most are available at $25 for a single site license, however a few add-ons are as low as $11. Pricing goes up to $95 and over per add-on for a 10-website license.
All 18 add-ons are available through the $99 wpDiscuz Addons Bundle. The bundle has an unlimited website license for $99, so unless you only need one add-on for one website, you are better purchasing the bundle.
wpDiscuz’s customization options and versatility makes it stand out from the crowd. The plugin integrates with user profile WordPress plugins such as BuddyPress and Users Ultra.
Anti-spam solutions, such as Akismet and WordPress Zero Spam, are supported in wpDiscuz, too, and it works with WordPress Multisite and Right-to-Left languages.
All phrases that are displayed in the frontend of your website can also be changed. For example, you could change “Load More Comments” to “Click here to load more comments from this article”.
In short, wpDiscuz gives you full control over how comments are displayed and administrated on your website, and the core version of the plugin has most features you need to increase engagement.
The plugin increases engagements with readers by allowing them to like and upvote comments. You can reward commenters by making comments featured and give them badges for participation.
Users can sign in via their preferred social media service and share individual comment URLs via Facebook or Twitter. Speed has been considered too. To improve page loading times, you can use lazy loading and load additional comments once they scroll down the page.
To install Thrive Comments, you first need to download and activate the Thrive Product Manager plugin. This plugin can be used to install every WordPress theme and plugin Thrive Themes has released.
The Thrive Comments settings area is divided into eight sections: General Settings, Comment Conversion, Comment Sign-In, Customize Style, Voting & Badges, Notifications, Comment Moderation, and Advanced Settings.
At the top of the page, you will find links to comment reports and moderation, but my favorite part of the settings page is the preview area on the right-hand side. Whenever you change a setting, you can see how it affects your comment area. You can change previews from desktop to mobile too.
Once you explore the settings area, you start to appreciate how good Thrive Comments is.
In the comment conversion section, you can define what happens once someone leaves their first comment and what happens after they publish another one. For example, you could first display a thank you message to them and when they post another comment, you could redirect them to your newsletter signup page.
Commenters can sign in using their Facebook and Google accounts. In the style section, you can select the accent color that is used in the comment area and upload a placeholder avatar for those that do not have a Gravatar account.
All major features can be switched on and off. Should you desire, you can disable avatars, social media logins, voting and badges, GDPR consent, email notifications, and more.
Thrive Comments presents comments with a modern and professional design, but what happens in the backend of your website is just as important.
Thrive Themes have developed a host of tools to help you manage large volumes of comments. Comments are categorized as pending, unreplied, pending my reply, featured, spam, or trash. To ensure more in-depth questions and comments are addressed, you can assign comments to staff, and it will appear in their “Pending My Reply” section.
Keyboard shortcuts are also provided to help you moderate comments quicker.
Five reports are available in the reports page: Comments Graph, Vote Engagements, Most Active Commenters, Most Popular Posts, and Most Upvoted Comments.
Reports can be filtered to help you analyze comment activity and how readers are interacting with each other.
Thrive Comments retails at $39 for a one-website license, $47 for a five-website license, and $97 for a 15-website license. All licenses give you the full version of the plugin — the only difference is how many websites are supported for a year.
It is easy to recommend Thrive Comments. It boasts many features that will improve engagement with your readers and the provided moderation tools simplify the process of comment administration.
It would be an understatement to say that the Jetpack WordPress plugin has been a success.
Automattic’s flagship WordPress plugin is installed on over five million WordPress websites. It offers uptime monitoring, brute force protection, secure logins, website backups, malware scanning, page optimization, management tools, and more.
One feature that is often overlooked is Jetpack Comments. The module adds social media logins for commenters together with email updates for comments and your website.
Comment form settings can be configured in the discussion tab of Jetpack.
In the comments area, you can allow users to log in via WordPress.com, Twitter, Facebook, and Google. You can change the header tag for your form and change from a light style to dark or transparent.
Other features available here are Gravatar pop-up business cards, a markdown system so that commenters can format their messages, and the ability for comments to be liked.
Readers can also choose to receive email updates about new comments and blog posts. I used Jetpack Comments on my blog for years and I found this subscription feature to be very efficient in increasing blog subscribers.
Whilst other comment enhancement solutions transform the whole comment section with a new style, Jetpack Comments is more subtle and simply adds new social media login options and subscription options to the comment form.
I am a big fan of Jetpack’s minimalist approach to comments. I recommend checking it out if you want to add social media logins to your comment form or encourage people to subscribe to your website via Jetpack Subscriptions.
GraphComment Comment System is a hosted comment solution that aims to increase conversations on your website.
It allows users to log in via Facebook, Twitter, and Google. Anonymity is not permitted, therefore even guest posters will have to sign up for a GraphComment account.
It offers community profiles, voting and badges, many beautiful color schemes, and a notification center that helps users see updates to their comments.
To use the GraphComment WordPress plugin, you need to sign up for a free account on the main GraphComment website. You will then be prompted to add some information about your website, such as name, URL, and others.
All comments are stored on GraphComment’s servers. However, in the plugin settings area, you can sync comments back to your own website every minute, 10 minutes, 30 minutes, hour, or 12 hours.
You can choose to enable GraphComment for all blog posts on your website, or only use it from a specific date. Once you have selected which option you prefer, you can start importing your comments into GraphComment.
The GraphComment admin interface displays the main website administration area from GraphComment.com. The settings page is divided into eight sections: Website Settings, Notifications & Emails, Moderation, Word Filtering, Appearance, Languages, Authentication, and Export.
There are dozens of settings in this area. For instance, you can change how many comments are displayed, how many images are allowed per message, which users are moderators, which color scheme is used, which words are blacklisted, which languages are available, and more.
Comments can also be exported in WXR format, and users can be exported to a CSV file.
Whilst GraphComment is free to use, some features are reserved for premium users, and they will be greyed out unless you upgrade.
Comments can be moderated via the GraphComment admin area. It does lack some of the advanced moderation tools available in Thrive Comments, but you can assign multiple moderators to pages.
Analytics is really good, though. For a defined date range, you can see the total number of comments, users, and threads. It also highlights the top commenters and threads for this period.
The GraphComment comment area looks very professional. The best discussions can be displayed at the top of the comment area and for each comment, there are options to share, like, and reply.
Profile images of those that have replied are displayed at the top of each comment, and you can load all replies in its own pop-up. There are a lot of little things like this implemented into GraphComment that really helps encourage conversations.
A basic account for GraphComment allows a whopping 1,000,000 data loads per month.
Whilst GraphComment is free to use, you will need to upgrade to a premium plan to unlock all features.
The $7 per month starter plan adds a live chat mode where people can chat in real-time. It also allows you to pin discussions to the top of the comment area, set up keyword alerts, and restrict conversations to certain members. Customization is allowed under this plan, and data loads increase to 1,500,000 per month.
High-traffic websites may want to consider the $74 per month pro plan. It offers the same features as the lower-priced starter plan but increases data loads to 5,000,000 per month.
Overall, GraphComment is a great solution. It gives you many great customization and engagement options, the comment form looks great and, unlike Disqus, the free version of GraphComment does not display advertisements.
Launched in 2007, Disqus is a hosted comment service that helps deliver over 50 million comments every month.
Used by some of the largest content websites on the internet, Disqus increases engagement significantly by offering features such as real-time comments, social media logins, and support for embedding images and videos.
Although Disqus completely replaces the default WordPress comment system, comments are automatically synced back to your WordPress website for backup, so you that you can switch to another comment setup later if you wish.
After signing up for a Disqus account, you can connect it to your website using their free WordPress plugin. All you have to do is copy over the sync token URL to the plugin and the required API information will be retrieved.
There are few options in the Disqus WordPress plugin, as it is merely a bridge between your website and your Disqus account.
A number of tools are available on the main website to help you moderate comments. This includes giving users a reputation rating based on previous comments, pre-moderating comments from trolls, and creating ban lists and trust lists. You can also moderate users via email.
Analytics are also available to help you see comment activity and top comments. This will help you see how readers are engaging with each other.
Since 2017, those who want to use Disqus free of charge have had to accept advertisements in their comment area.
Their $9 per month plus plan allows you to remove these ads. It supports three websites up to 50,000 daily page views (daily, not monthly!).
The $89 per month pro plan increases these limits to 20 websites and 150,000 daily page views. This plan adds advanced moderation tools, advanced analytics, shadow banning, timeouts, custom reactions, and more.
Whether you use the free or premium version of Disqus, there is no doubt that the hosted comment service improves the experience for readers with social media logins, comment sharing, and email subscriptions.
The service also helps website owners administrate comments more effectively.
Our final recommendation is Lazy Load for Comments.
The plugin was developed to reduce the number of HTTP requests that are generated from comments by lazy loading comments and Gravatar images.
It is compatible with most WordPress themes, including popular premium WordPress themes such as Genesis and Divi. Lazy Load for Comments was developed with the default WordPress comment system in mind, however it should work with other WordPress comment plugins that add further options to your comment form.
Once Lazy Load for Comments has been activated, you will see a new options area for Lazy Load Comments in the discussion settings page of your WordPress admin area.
The pre-selected option is “On Scroll”, which means that additional comments are loaded when the reader scrolls down the page.
If you prefer, you can ask readers to click to load more comments.
There is an option to disable lazy loading, too, but you would probably be just as well uninstalling the plugin if you do not want to use this feature.
Many of the WordPress comment plugins we have featured in this article have attempted to reduce the increased page load of comments, however Lazy Load for Comments is the only one that was designed specifically for the default WordPress commenting system.
If you wish to continue to use the default WordPress comment form, I recommend using Lazy Load for Comments.
I hope you have enjoyed this look at the best WordPress comment plugins.
As you have seen, there is a good variety of comment solutions on the market. I recommend testing all of them to see which one fits you and your needs.
If you are happy with the default WordPress comment system, I recommend using Lazy Load for Comments to reduce the loading times of blog posts. Jetpack is a great choice if you want a no-frills solution that has support for social media logins and subscriptions through Automattic’s WordPress.com platform.
Those of you who want to transform the WordPress comment system should consider wpDiscuz and Thrive Comments. Both solutions add dozens of customization, moderation, and engagement features. I do believe larger websites will benefit from the moderation tools in Thrive Comments, but the core version of wpDiscuz is free to use, so you may want to try that first.
Disqus and GraphComment Comment System will completely replace the WordPress comment system, so your comments will be hosted on their servers, but they do allow you to regularly sync comments back to your WordPress database.
Many large content websites opt for a hosted comment solution such as Disqus, as it offloads the data to an external service, but on smaller websites, the performance benefits of hosting with them may be minimal.
Both Disqus and GraphComment will help you display comments in a professional manner. They allow social media logins, have advanced analytics, and improve the experience of commenters. Whilst both platforms have their strengths and weaknesses, I would lean towards GraphComment if you do not want to pay a monthly fee since their basic account does not display advertisements.