Comments on your WordPress site can be improved and discussions increased by installing the feature-rich Disqus Comment System. Some of the desirable features in Disqus Comment System are:
- It enables the readers of the site to connect using social media like Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Yahoo, OpenID and a few others. One can also login with the Disqus account or comment with just a name and email address.
- Compatible with other blogging platforms as well. If you move your blog to some other platform, moving the comments is easy.
- Very professional appearance.
- As Spam protection is in-built, there is no need for an additional spam protection plugin.
- Comments are indexed by major search engines including Google.
- Responsive, that is, the design adapts to the size of the screen, be it desktop or tablet or phone.
- The Comments are stored in the WordPress Database. So, there is no need to worry about comments being stored in third-party site.
- Users can upload and share images in comments.
- Users can vote on the comments
- Monetization feature
This versatility makes this a desirable comment system to have. Let us install the Disqus Comment System for a WordPress website.
Signup for a Disqus account
First, go to [Disqus] and signup for an account giving your name and email address. Then login into the account. You will get a screen as below.
Click on the gear icon on the top right and choose Add Disqus To Site. This redirects you to the Engage site and the below screen appears.
Disqus has now relaunched their commenting and community platform for publishers as Engage. Click on the Start Using Engage button at the bottom of the page.
Add a site to Disqus
You can add a site to Disqus by entering the profile details of the site in the screen that appears as below.
Give the following details.
- Site name: The url of your site and not your site name.
- Choose your unique Disqus URL: Try giving a short name for your site. Disqus will verify its availability and prompt you to choose a different name if it is not available.
- Category: From the drop down, choose the category of your site. Several options like Auto, Business, Culture, News and Sports are available.
Click on Finish Registration.
A screen similar to the one below appears for your site. Now that you have created a community on Disqus, you have to install the counterpart Disqus plugin on your WordPress site to start using Disqus comments. Click on the WordPress icon.
The setup instructions for WordPress appear as below.
Installing the Disqus plugin
As shown in the setup instructions page, login into your WordPress site as admin. From the dashboard, click on Plugins->Add New from the left navbar. Search for the Disqus plugin and click on Install Now.
After installation, activate the plugin by clicking on Plugins->Installed Plugins, and then clicking on Activate link below Disqus Comment System.
On activation, you need to configure the plugin. A Configure link appears below the plugin in the listing of installed plugins. Click on Configure.
A screen asking you to upgrade the database appears.
At this stage, you need not worry that upgrading the database will cause any problems to your existing commenting system. But, as always, to be doubly sure, do take a backup of your database before proceeding. Click on Upgrade.
The Install Disqus Comments screen appears. Give your Disqus credentials. In case you haven't followed the instructions to set up a Disqus account earlier, click on don't have a Disqus Profile yet? link, finish the account setup process and then return to this page.
Key in your email id and password and click on Next.
The sites that you have added to Disqus from the Disqus account appear. If you have WordPress sites running on subdomains of your domain, all the sites appear. Or, if you have added more than one site to Disqus, all of them appear. A screen similar to the one below appears giving the options. Choose the site for the current WordPress installation.
Disqus Comments gets installed and the following screen appears.
At this point, choosing to go to Disqus moderation does not make sense because there are no comments on Disqus yet. If you click on Continue to the moderation dashboard, it will take you to another intermediate screen shown below.
Clicking on Go to Disqus Moderations takes you to your Disqus dashboard with no comments as shown below.
If it is a fresh WordPress site on which you are installing Disqus comments, you will have to wait for posts and then comments to do any moderation on the Disqus dashboard.
If it is an existing WordPress site on which native WordPress comments already exist, you may want to pause here to make a decision of whether you want to keep your existing comments in WordPress or to export them to Disqus.
Understanding the plugin settings
Click on Plugin Settings, if you are already on Disqus screen on your WordPress installation. If not, you can click on Comments->Disqus on the left navbar to reach the Disqus settings screen and click on Plugin Settings at the right top corner.
If you have successfully installed Disqus on the WordPress installation, then you get the message that Disqus is enabled and there is Disable button to disable it. If you want to disable Disqus temporarily for any testing purposes, you can do so by clicking on the Disable button.
The first section after this is General Settings where the shortname for the Disqus forum for your site is specified. You cannot modify this shortname or unique identifier. Whatever you keyed in when you added your site to Disqus will be the fixed shortname.
The next section is Appearance. Here you have the option to enable Disqus comments on all blog posts or for blog posts which already have closed comments. Choose from the dropdown list.
Then, the sections of Sync, Patches and Advanced: Single Sign-On which are some advanced options which one can use on need basis.
After making any changes up to this point, click on the Save button to save the changes.
Importing and Exporting Comments
If you have chosen to export the existing native WordPress comments to Disqus, the next section Import and Export is the place to do it.
Click on Export Comments button. It may take a few minutes to a few hours depending on the number of comments you have. Be patient while it is processing the comments.
Once the processing is done, you get a message with a green tick mark that the comments have been sent to Disqus and it is queued for import. Click on the link below See the status of your Import on Disqus to see if the export from WordPress and import into Disqus is complete. Usually, it takes some time for the import.
If the import is complete, then your Disqus dashboard with the comments will look like this.
There are separate tabs for showing All comments, Approved comments, Pending comments, Spam comments or Deleted comments.
You can moderate from this dashboard i.e., Approve, Mark as Spam or Delete comments. You can also search for certain words in comments using the Search box.
By default, the comment excerpts are displayed. Clicking on Expand on the top right corner will show the entire comments. Click on Collapse to revert to the excerpts view of the comments.
Sorting the display of comments as newest first or oldest first can be done by choosing from the dropdown box here.
You also have access to settings related to moderation on the right side panel. Let us look at these settings when we look into Settings in detail.
Understanding the Disqus dashboard
Click on Home on the primary menu of your Disqus dashboard. There are three options. The Moderate Comments icon (and link) takes us to the moderation screen discussed above. This is the same screen to which one is redirected from WordPress.
Apart from this, there are two other options. The first is the Edit Settings link. Click on this to take you to Settings. You can also reach the Settings page by clicking on the last tab of the primary menu on top.
Under settings, there are 4 tabs. General is the default tab. Here you can change things like the Appearance of the Disqus comments area on your site. You can choose the Color Scheme, Typeface and specify the moderator badge text. The options for Color Scheme and Typeface are limited.
You can specify the text for comment count links. The default is the plain "0 Comments, 1 Comment and n Comments" format. If you want to spruce up this message with something else that would reflect the character of your site, you can do so here. It is possible to change the label that appears next to the moderator when he/she comments on any post. The default is Mod.
You can also specify the sort method of the comments on your site. The default is Best First based on votes by the readers.
The next setting is the Discovery box setting. Though it is not very useful in the initial stages of your site, as the traffic on your site grows and people discuss on various posts, the discovery box displayed below the Disqus Comment area shows posts and links on your site. where there are discussions happening. This will help in increasing page views of your site by displaying the interesting posts of your site.
The next section is the Site Identity section where the details you keyed in when you added your site to Disqus are displayed. You can change them, if required, though the shortname is fixed.
The third section is Commenting Rules. Here you can choose whether you want to allow guests to comment, whether and when moderation is required for approval, what is allowed in the comments and when the moderator should be notified. These are very similar to the options available on the WordPress Dashboard.
Finally, you can also integrate with Twitter by giving your twitter handle.
Do remember to Save Changes.
The next tab is used for managing Moderators. When the site is small and comments are few, moderation is easy and can be done by one person. When the volume of comments go up, it is wise to seek help and add one or more moderators apart from the primary moderator.
Click on Add a moderator to add the name of another moderator. This moderator needs to have a Disqus account for you to be able to add him/her as a moderator.
FiltersFilters is the third tab, where you can place restrictions on what words are used in comments and who can or cannot comment on your site. This is basically a simple comment spam protection feature.
You can also use the control lists for Blacklisting or Whitelisting users based on usernames, emails, IP addresses and words. Blacklists prevent certain users from commenting whereas Whitelists help in bypassing some filters.
This is similar to the WordPress Comment Blacklists.
The last tab has some Advanced options. Two items are to be noted here. The first is the default commenter Avatar picture. You can change it to any other picture you like or let it be the default provided by Disqus.
The second one is the last option at the bottom. Delete site and comments With two clicks, you can permanently remove your site from Disqus. IF you want to completely uninstall Disqus from your site, you will have to do this apart from uninstalling the Disqus plugin on your WordPress site.
From the Home screen, the last option available is the Analyze Engagement link, which shows a screen as below. The statistics of discussions happening on your site since you installed Disqus are shown here. The number of comments and number of votes can be seen apart from the top comments in the last 7 days. You can also export the data as a csv file.
Of the 5 items on the primary menu of the Disqus dashboard, Discussions is not accessible from the Home screen. So, click on it from the primary menu.
EditEdit Discussions is where you go if you want to change authors, categories, titles or link to posts of the discussion on the various posts on your site. When you move your mouse over an item, a small pen icon appears to the right. Click on it to edit the item inline.
You can also close discussions on a post by clicking on the open lock on the extreme right column.
ToolsTools has currently only one tool which is Migrate Threads. Under this, there is the Domain Migration Tool for moving your Disqus comment system when you move your website from one domain to another.
There are also the advanced options of URL mapper and Crawler.
The Domain Migration Tool is a very useful feature if you move your site to another domain or subdomain. Click on Start domain migration tool.
A sample link of your recent post with the old domain name is shown. Click on Next Step.
You get a screen which asks for the new domain name which should replace the current one. Type the new domain name.
The next screen shows the sample post with the current domain name and the new domain name. Click on Confirm Migration if it is right.
Go to Edit Discussions to see the new links for your posts.
The Import feature is more useful from those who use other blogging software to import comments. For WordPress, the Disqus plugin is used as shown above. If you choose to export WordPress comments manually and then import it to Disqus, this option can be used.
For backup purposes, you can export comments from the Disqus system from here.
You should now be able to install and configure Disqus on your Wordpress installation. Disqus will help increase site activity and bring traffic to your website through the discussion possibilities it creates.