remove disqus from WordPress

Why I Deleted Disqus and Why You Should Too

The Disqus commenting system platform was never one of my favourite website tools. Admittedly, I stuck with it because everyone else was using it and it looked to be the ‘way forward’. Ashamed to say I blindly followed the crowd but I guess I succumbed to the cult of a new technology with a groundswell of followers.

Many of us eagerly get on board a shiny new product trend. Disqus looks great and has a fast growing fan base so why not get on board? The slick commenting system is perfect for webmasters that want an upgradble from WordPress's comments system. I thought Disqus was a great addition to my websites at first. But then I began to find the flaws.

And I didn’t fully understand what the long-term effects would be.

First, there's the incomprehensible admin system. I couldn't easily navigate it to change commenting and moderation preferences for sites.

The default settings force potential commenters to sign up for a Disqus account. It's hard to imagine many casual commenters taking the time to create an account just to write a quick message on a website. And what about commenting using different personas or multiple identities? Imagine, you have a tech blog and a lifestyle blog, for example, (I do, actually) and want to comment on related websites using a different identity for each. With Disqus, I must log out, log back in, write the comments, and so on each time I wish to comment.

But I stuck with Disqus for several years. Until now.

Disqus Problems

Recently, I noticed that pages on some of my websites were performing badly. According to GTmetrix (the gold standard for website performance testing) some of my pages loaded abysmally slow. I hadn’t noticed before because 90% of the time I test the front page of a website for speed. Blog ‘homepages', in most cases, don't display full posts with comments so Disqus doesn't load.

That taught me a lesson: test your individual pages for speed, not just the homepage.

gtmetrix redirects problems from disqus ads
Just some of the redirects from ad networks on the blog

Pingdom is another excellent tool for finding bottlenecks in your sites speed. I ran Pingdom's performance tool and it found the same problems as GTmetrix. Spammy redirected links to ad networks infected all of my blog pages thanks to Disqus.

pingdom performance insights results
Pingdom's results – Very similar to GTmetrix

Note: Both GTmetrix and Pingdom are free, unlimited usage tools. If you’re not testing your websites for speed then you’re not serious about SEO. Read this post from the Google Webmasters Blog. The post is a few years old now but the message is still valid. In fact, it’s even more important now that Mobile indexing takes precedence.

Use Google's mobile testing tool to find out how fast your site is on phones.

I will do my best to help others understand that removing this train-wreck of a plugin will improve the user experience.

Revive old WordPress posts by reposting on social media

Disqus Ads

Back in March 2017, Disqus introduced ads for everyone. Thanks, Disqus. Without making too much of an effort to inform us, this new feature crept into the platform. According to to the company “The basic version of Disqus is supported by advertising”.

Enough is enough. Here are the results of the GTmetrix performance test with the Disqus WordPress plugin still installed.

gtmetrix speed core with disqus insalled
Gtmetrix speed score with Disqus installed

Here are the results after deactivating the plugin

gtmetrix speed report after removing disqus
gtmetrix speed report after removing disqu

The speed gains from dumping Disqus were impressive.

Even without testing for performance I can see that the plugin is causing problems for Chrome. This is a screenshot of the browser console

disqus css file loading issues in chrome console
disqus css file loading issues in chrome console

And without Disqus

chrome browser console without disqus

Nothing there.

Reasons to remove Disqus from WordPress

Apart from making your website run like a dog with three legs, Disqus hampers your marketing efforts in other ways. Removing Disqus will improve your blog in the following ways

1. Increase the number of comments

I imagined that the shiny Disqus interface would encourage people to comment on my website. But the opposite was true. Most people don’t have the time to create an account or switch between their Disqus profiles just to comment on a blog post. We’re loving in the time of hyper-distraction and inattentiveness. People ignore things that hinder progress. Spend five seconds logging into an account just to comment? No thanks.

2. Speed up the loading of your blog posts

I’ve already discussed how the Disqus ads injected into your blog posts kill your website’s speed. But even without the ads, your pages load slower thanks to the heavy plugin overhead.

3. Your visitors and you will not be tracked

You’re being tracked in the name of advertising every step of the way on the Internet. Google and Facebook are advertising companies, despite their claims to being technology companies. Tracking for advertising is part and parcel of living online. Disqus tracks you, and by allowing the plugin full access to your website you’re handing over a lot of good advertising stats.

I’m wondering if, by having Disqus on your site, you should also display a privacy policy and disclosure about tracking your users. In effect, Disqus is using the plugin to profile your visitors to later target them with ads. Maybe you didn’t know that but Google and the FCC might.

4. Better moderation

I'm not a fan of the Disqus moderation system. Too complicated. Too many moving parts. Try it yourself and you'll see what I mean. Despite their resources, the company failed to make the product user-friendly. Use a simpler commenting system and save time.

Disqus Alternatives

There are alternatives to Disqus and the bare-bones WordPress comments system. Personally, I find the WordPress commenting system and Akismet (see below) to be fine for most purposes.

CommentLuv is popular with WordPress users. The pro version, which is by all accounts, the only version you should consider, costs $100. No thanks. That would be a big investment across multiple sites.

The Facebook Comments plugin is used on many sites but limits commenting to Facebook users only. But it also comes with its own overhead and tracking.

I recommend the Yoast Comment Hacks plugin. You’re using Yoast, right? If you’ve got a WordPress site, make sure you get Yoast on there and learn how to optimise it. The Yoast Comments Hacks plugin is another great FREE product from the same team. You can add thank you pages and comment length restrictions with this plugin.

JetPack's commenting system is fully featured and was created by the makers of WordPress. So you can be sure that the feature set will improve and the plugin isn't going away anytime soon.

Another worthy alternative to Disqus is wpDiscuz. It's fast, easy to install, and offers features like the ability to share comments on social media and allow voting on comments.

Akismet is a free spam blocker from Automattic, the developers of WordPress. It does a great job of blocking unwanted comments and it doesn’t track me or display ads. Akismet installs by default with WordPress but you will have to activate and configure the plugin before it blocks spam.

Delete Disqus

To be rid of Disqus on your WordPress blog simply deactivate the plugin from the plugin admin panel.

That's all you need to do to fix the problems mentioned above. To delete your account and any personal or website details stored with Disqus process as follows

  1. Go to disqus.com and login
  2. Click the gear icon beside your image avatar and choose Settings
  3. Under Account, scroll to the Delete button and click it
  4. Confirm

Goodbye Disqus.

10 thoughts on “Why I Deleted Disqus and Why You Should Too”

  1. Absolutely correct.
    When I first installed disqus I had no problems, but today I checked and found an endless chain of advertizing redirects.
    I deactivated the disqus wordpress plugin and my page speed was cut in half, and my grades went from a D and an E to an A and a B.

    Don’t know what I’ll put in it’s place, but it’s gone for now.
    I’m thinking of a chat solution.
    Anyone have any ideas?

  2. Thanks for the informative article. There’s a discussion of Disqus on a blog where I participate, which uses the bare bones WP comment system, and the Disqus fans seem very devoted, but none of them use Disqus on a blog of their own.

    I have been unable to comment on any site that uses Disqus for several years, so I would rather the blog I mentioned didn’t switch to Disqus. The site owner says he isn’t interested in adding Disqus, so there’s that positive in the discussion.

  3. It is important that everybody can be a part of the diskussion also people without a social media account. Those is a threat to democracy.

  4. Hi there,
    Thank you for the article and some alternatives to Disqus. My particular concern is GDPR at Disqus. If I were to delete the account and replace their commenting system with built-in WordPress or JetPack, do you know how can I keep comments previously given be readers of the blog using Disqus?
    Shall I just deactivate that plugin (without removal) and delete the account with Disqus and then use JetPack for example? I would like to avoid the mess. Your help would be appreciated.

    1. You can sync Disqus comments with WordPress and then delete the plugin. You can also export the comments. So you won’t lose them and I recommend keeping all of your comments for SEO reasons.

  5. Thanks for sharing the details about disqus. I was looking for such a informative article and finally got. Thank you so much. I am going to delete disqus.

  6. Olagunju Nasir

    Thanks for the insightful review. Thank God I haven’t found time to install it.

    Also, I never knew yoast have a comment plugin. Thanks also for that cool info.

    Lastly, from a commenter’s perspective, disqus deprives me of leaving my footprint (link) leave behind when I comment. Instead my comments link to my disqus profile- which adds nothing to me.

    Once again, thanks.

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