Switching to Disqus and Facebook Social Plugins

I recently gave my blog’s social interaction mechanisms a complete overhaul – again. I watched Facebook’s F8 conference live on Facebook and was immediately inspired to add the new Like Button on my blog. See Zuckerburg’s presentation if you missed it.

First I deactivated the outdated plugins, Facebook Connect, I Like This, and Sociable. I tried a number of new comment systems and plugins using Facebook’s new Open Graph Protocol, which intertwines Facebook connections with almost any content on the web and easily enables sharing the content with your friends through Facebook’s news feed. This doesn’t displace the need for Facebook Connect, but Connect didn’t improve my comment system’s interface like I hoped. There’s more interesting info about the Open Graph concept at opengraphprotocol.org.

I was surprised by how difficult it was to find blogs referring me to the best Open Graph plugins, so I had to experiment on my own. My first attempt was Sprout Venture’s Facebook Social Widgets. I installed and activated the plugins, moved the modules into my sidebar and nothing displayed so I scrapped it for Facebook Social Plugins. This plugin works like a charm. It is missing one feature that I haven’t found a replacement for yet: the ability to like my blog itself. But without any post-install work, the Like button appears below all content on my blog and shows you which of your Facebook friends liked the content. It works perfectly and I recommend it to anyone with a WordPress blog.

Next I experimented with a couple of new comment systems before deciding on Disqus. It was surprisingly easy to install and customize: Register an account at Disqus, use WordPress’s dashboard’s plugin search to find “Disqus Comment System,” install and link it with your Disqus account in its settings page. On second thought, that may not be very easy for beginners, but it provides a much better result for a lot less technical knowledge than the alternatives. I’ve set up Discuss to enable my visitors to comment using their Facebook or Twitter credentials and quickly share on the mother sites. In addition to taking out the Facebook Connect and @Anywhere integration, Disqus replaced WordPress’s ugly comment system with a much more attractive one. Hey, if my favorite blog Mashable really likes it and uses it, it’s good enough for me!