Photo by Andrew Neel

Alternative to WordPress Comments

Make comments simple and sociable.

About 3 months ago, I started AnyComment: a non-commercial commenting plugin for WordPress.

I tried to bring the best from commenting plugins and services I used for the past 7–8 years into one. Almost every single of them had some kind of limitation, which staid non-implemented or unfixed for years. Lack of notifications, email subscription, spam protection, SEO indexing, slowness, poor support, etc. This list could go on and on.

So I thought why not making one myself? I have technical skills for it and so I started.

The ideology behind AnyComment is that the owner owns and rules the data, not the third-party which may change their “marketing strategy” against their customers.

When you install third-party you do not own the content you share it with them. They have their own privacy policy, which could and definitely will change at certain point.

I really hope that the data we share with the third-party is secured and never shared or sold to other parties for advertising or what so ever purposes. This is not a blame claim, but mostly a hope.

The changing privacy policy issue happened with Disqus, when they started to roll ads without notifying users about it or with HyperComments who removed free version and forced every single user to move to the paid plan. Others ask $30-50 for a little enhanced functionality of comments of WordPress’ core. Are you serious?

I understand it is business and users who just start blogging, might think that a little bit of enhanced version of comments is beneficial. I am pretty sure that experienced users would have different opinion about this.

In AnyComment all comments stored in your own database, plugin reuses already what WordPress has given. It means after you add new comment, it will show in “Comments” page in the admin panel, where you can any action (edit, delete, etc) as you would normally do.

If you change your mind at any time, you may deactivate the plugin and comments will stay as they are without any problem.

On the user side, you can add comment which will be added without a page reload. Did not like what you posted? Sure, just click “Edit”, do changes and save it. The comment will be refreshed immediately. Still don’t like it? Use the “Delete” link under the comment.

Someone left a good comment? Just click on the heart icon under the comment to like it.

Comment actions

Do you want to share some picture or a document? Sure, just drag & drop it into the comment box or use a regular file upload icon on the top-right corner.

Example of drag & drop action when file is over comment field

Maybe you need social login? We have it as well. So far you can configure Facebook, Google, Twitter, VK, Odnoklassniki, GitHub, Instagram, Twitch and Dribbble. Yahoo will be upcoming soon, as there a few technical difficulties yet.

For each social network, you you need to register your web-application, get API keys, add them in the special fields, save and voilà you are ready to sign-in.

Oh, and before you try to login, go to “AnyComement” → “Settings” tab and enable the following:

This setting is off by default. It gives administrator time to set-up plugin without worry about broken comments at the moment of configurations.

What if I know nothing about API and where to get the keys?

This is a good question. Every social network has its own configuration tab. Inside it, you will find a “Hot to” guide available in English and Russian. This is how it looks now:

Example of Facebook tab

In addition to all of the mentioned above, you may share a regular link, image, video or a tweet. All of these will be converted into special object. Tweets will be as an embeddable widget, regular links will become clickable, images & videos will be added as attachments.

Let’s say I will post the following comment:

Example of comment to be posted

The plugin will recognize a tweet link and make it as an embeddable widget inside the comment once submitted (you may, of course, disable it from administration panel and tweets will be displayed as regular links).

This is how posted comment looks like:

Posted comment with tweet link

Since version 0.0.52, it is possible to customization the design. This was a top requested feature, as many blogs are quite different from what was offered as a “default” design. Now you may customize font size, font family, links color, avatar sizes, input background and text colors, etc.

I have a blog like many people do and I find irritating how native WordPress comments are left in the past by the functionality. WordPress has definitely improve in the last years but what can we say about comments?

I believe comments are the most important part of any website, especially blogs. The readers want to express their feelings about what they just observed.

I wouldn’t say WordPress’ native comments are bad, as they provide all basic functionality, however they miss one important detail — nowadays everything is becoming real-time and more social.

By real-time time I mean when I add a comment and it is being shown immediately without a necessity of a page reload and not just for me, but for other users as well.

In the native WordPress comments, you would add a comment, page will reload and then you will see it. The seeing part is a bit tricky. You may get into the situation when you cannot find it as most of the websites enable comment premoderation.

So, you send a comment and most of the time, you won’t see “Hey, thank you for your comment. Your comment being reviewed :)”, meaning that the page will just reload without any message. At this point, I get confused as I think that something has failed and there is no way to find out about it.

Another part is more social. What I mean is to give users ability to choose between regular guest form or a social login. Not every user will want to enter name, email and/or website. Someone will prefer Facebook instead and that would be easier, as plugin will take care of the name, email and website.

Notifications are another point here. Let’s say I add a comment via native comment form. In the admin panel, blog author will see it and send me a reply. It is very unlikely that I will receive an email about it. What happens at this point is that author and me are disconnected and there is no further interaction.

This happens with website owners as well. They are not always aware that someone added new comment or sent a reply.

Additionally, I tried different widgets. For example, Facebook or VK comments. They are limited as well, as you do not get notification about new comments.

I have added some post (at that moment I had VK Comments installed), and after some time it got nice ranking in Yandex (I blog in Russian) and people started asking questions. I did not know about it, as did not receive any notifications about and therefore I lost potential subscribers to my blog.

All of these are just little details, but at the end you are losing subscribers or clients if you are running a business.

At the end I would like to say thank you for reading this, hope you enjoyed it.

Follow me for further interesting posts about AnyComment. I will be writing about updates and what is planned int the future.

If you are interested in code contribution, please visit our GitHub repository. If you are a polyglot — we would love to translate it into a language you know, just contact me for more information or use WordPress for it.