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I run a Wordpress blog that gets a moderate amount of traffic compared to my previous ventures. Over time I've grown less and less satisfied with the commenting system though and am looking at replacing it with a 3rd party option.

Right now I've narrowed it down to either Discourse or Disqus (self hosted vs 3rd party hosted). There are pros and cons to each, but the difference that I seem to be stuck on is that Discourse doesn't allow you to create a comment directly on the post. Instead, a user needs to go to the forum and post from there.

While I'm considering other features between the two, I like the idea of self hosting my own content (versus being dependent on a 3rd party). But, leaving the blog to join the conversation breaks my existing flow and seems to be counter to almost all other comment enabled sites.

My question to other community leaders that have used either or better both, did you find users cared about the intermediate step of leaving the blog to go to a forum to comment? If so, and you still went with Discourse, how did the community adapt? Did it impact user engagement?

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It depends on if you are able to get the discussion thread to be readable on the post or not. I was the IT Director for a Nintendo related press site that got around 1000 to 2000 visitors a day and we used a forum based system for discussion on posts and the lack of visibility of comments meant that we had a relatively small group of dedicated fans who did any discussion and ultimately that discussion more occurred in our IRC channel than our forums.

The thing that makes post discussions work in the more modern context is that comments become content of the post. A casual reader can read the post, then see the discussion and get sucked in. A casual reader isn't going to normally seek out the discussion because it hasn't caught their attention. They most likely didn't come to your site just because they wanted to visit your site, something about your content caught their attention and they came to your site to see something that interested them. Discussions are no different.

As far as the mechanism of participating in the comments, I don't have any direct experience, but doubt that it makes a significant difference. As long as it isn't too complicated to do so, once a user is interested, they're likely willing to go to another page to actually comment. If it becomes too onerous, they might give up, but normally they are looking to comment because they have something they want to say and people are generally willing to do a bit more to be able to say something than they are to simply consume something.

As far as the specifics of your case. I'd suggest looking in to some of the other commenting systems for WordPress as well. Last I had checked, there are other options than the two you mentioned that may offer a better compromise between off-post comments and third party hosting.

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