Comparing four open source Disqus alternatives

Disqus bored everyone. From a once convenient embedded commenting platform, it has turned into a multi-megabyte monster with a bunch of third-party scripts and tracking and has completely ceased to suit tech-savvy bloggers and administrators, and the situation is getting worse every year. Surprisingly, there has never been a 100% analogue compatible with Disqus, but the open source community still rolled out pretty cool commenting systems focused on replacing it. Let’s consider the most interesting and viable ones.

Everything is bad

This section is for those who missed the huge amount of Disqus reports.

First, the comment widget weighs like an elephant:


Graphs from Victor Zhou’s post, translation is on Habré

For small blogs on SSG like Jekyll or Hugo, comments increase the number of requests and downloaded code several times, and on large sites the total network load is generally terrible. You can justify the ubiquity of 4G / 5G and the increase in the capacity of custom hardware, but this is a direct road to hell electron. Don’t do this, it will kill the web.

Secondly, this is an unreal, fantastic amount of telemetry. It is better to quote from this translation here:

Among network requests, you can find the following:

  • disqus.com – Obvious!
  • google-analytics.com – Multiple requests; no idea who is following you.
  • connect.facebook.net – If you are logged in to Facebook, then they know about your visit to this site.
  • accounts.google.com – Google also tracks your visit to this site through any of your Google accounts.
  • pippio.com – LiveRamp identification for collecting information about you for commercial purposes.
  • bluekai.com – Individual user tracking for marketing campaigns.
  • crwdcntrl.net – A rather suspicious site that is mentioned in connection with the spread of viruses and spyware.
  • exelator.com – Another site for spying on users, a virus is even named after it!
  • doubleclick.net – We all know this: advertising and tracking user actions, owned by Google.
  • tag.apxlv.net – It is very suspicious and looks like a trick that the owner obfuscated his domain (I didn’t even know that this technique works!). Adds a tracking pixel to your website.
  • adnxs.com – More tracking junk, albeit a little more plentiful.
  • adsymptotic.com – Advertising and surveillance that supposedly uses machine learning.
  • rlcdn.com – Obfuscated Ads / Tracking from Rapleaf.
  • adbrn.com – “Provide a personalized user journey across devices, channels and platforms using adbrain matching technology.”
  • nexac.com – Oracle’s Datalogix, their own tracking and behavioral analysis trash.
  • tapad.com – That’s it, I’m tired of looking for information about them. // hereinafter, the author’s sarcastic comments express tiredness from a ton of tracking in every request
  • liadm.com – More? Oh, okay, then …
  • sohern.com – Hmm. Surveillance.
  • demdex.net – Tracking. From Adobe.
  • bidswitch.net – I’ll give you one more hint …
  • agkn.com -…
  • mathtag.com – Funny name, maybe it’s … no. It is watching you.

Also, Disqus does not support Markdown and custom styles.

In general, this is not just bad, it is greed that reaches the point of absurdity. In case you forgot, Disqus is also paid product, on the free plan, it will cut off an impressive part of the functions for you and hang someone else’s advertising as a gift.

Alternatives

There are literally dozens of them, all of them have their own strengths and weaknesses. We will analyze the top three solutions based on the list of the most popular requirements:

  • Light weight
  • No tracking and advertising
  • Free to use and preferably open source
  • Anonymous commenting
  • Ability to adjust fonts and styles to the site
  • Markdown

Commento

There is a separate article about switching from Disqus to Commento.

The most popular service with the best functionality, closest to all the others got close to Disqus. Service use is paid ($ 10 / month), but the code is open (Gitlab) and self-hosting is quite welcomed

Features:

  • Voting (upvote / downvote) on the comment card
  • Pinning comments at the beginning of a thread
  • Moderation with verification, deleting messages, bans and limiting the frequency of commenting, as on Habré
  • Spam definition
  • Import from Disqus
  • Customizable notifications (mail)

Commento weighs only 15 kilobytes and contains almost the full functionality of Disqus. You can check it out here

Remarkbox

Veteran commenting engine. The interface is quite minimalistic, but you can decorate it with custom styles. The code is closed, there is no self-host, but the use is free (if you wish, you can pay the author money). He also promises to open the code if he can no longer support the service:

There are really no additional (to the basic requirements) features here, only a live preview of the comment using Markdown. Overall, it’s just a minimalistic, lightweight (home page…

Remark42

Amazing open source engine from Eugene umputun. Weighs a penny, looks great, a bunch of chips:

  • Voting (upvote / downvote) on the comment card
  • Login not only by OAuth, but also by mail
  • Moderation with verification, deleting messages and bans
  • Loading pictures!
  • Sorting comments (strange, but very few people have it at all)
  • Import from Disqus
  • Customizable notifications (telegram, RSS)

Remark satisfies most of the requirements for a personal blog, while development continues and only in the last year has the engine acquired a decent set of new features. It is very pleasant to work with him (and over him, hello contributors), check it out demo

Conclusion

Ready-made commenting systems are suitable for those who just want to add comments to the blog according to the principle of “so it was.” But if you want to dig even deeper into autonomy, read about a cool hack using Github Issues to comment on the site.
Well, for those who have not yet escaped with Disqus (or Discourse, which is also disgusting, but that’s another story), it is better to hurry up until frightened users scatter from endless downloads, and their data is not leaked during the next leak.


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