Comment Systems for Static Websites

(Updated 2019-12-18)

Static websites are fast and tend to be simple to maintain. But the lack of processing on the server side means that comments (and other interaction) is a bit of a hassle.

This is a list - by no means complete - of the systems for doing comments on a static website.

For each system, I try to give a neutral description. Afterwards, in italics, I’ve given my very subjective opinions. Those should be taken with a grain of salt.

In all cases, I will be approaching this from the point of view of a small, reasonably low volume website such as a personal blog, or the like.

I expect to continue to add to this list as I have time. Please see the References at the end for other lists.

Note: The below list is in alphabetical order.

CaaS = Comment as a service

Open Source
Hosted with Up to 50,000 page views per month for about 5$/month. Or DIY hosting. No free tier. But makes promises about privacy. Full OAuth support, so google, etc. Integrates with Akismet. Possible to integrate with your own auth system. Page id can be specified as part of <script> tag.
Closed Source
Free plan allows 100 comments per month (but unlimited views). Page to comment linkage can be specified in the Javascript.
[One of the nicer privacy policy pages. Penalty for going over the free limit is pretty steep. This is what I am using, currently.]
Closed Source
Probably the best known of the services. Free, but ad-based. Comment data resides in their servers. User authentication is done. The user can sign-up using a Google account, A Facebook account, or an email and password. The user's identity will follow to all sites using Disqus.
[Lots of privacy concerns. And the types of ads are also concerning.]
Open Source
Login can be integrated with most social sites. There is a really comprehensive api for automating tasks or keeping stats. Your hosting choices are
  • Host it yourself
  • Pay Discourse to install it on Digital Ocean - no support after the install
  • Pay Discourse to host it
    • The lowest hosted plan is $100/month.
Facebook Comments
Closed Source
Yes, you can have Facebook do your comments. Integrates with the rest of the Facebook ecosystem. Free for use.
[No other OAuth providers need apply]
Open Source
Stores comments as github issues similar to utterances. However, there is no back-end. All communication with github takes place from the browser. You have to initialize each page as it is published.
[Utterances wears it better]
Closed Source
Free up to a million page views. Integrates login with social sites. Has support to do sharing without redirection to the GraphComment servers. The free tier spam filtering is all manual.
[Unconfirmed, but some sources say it injects a Facebook script.]
Closed Source
By Automattic - the company behind Wordpress.Com (not org) and Akismet. Like Disqus, it is free for use.
[Sorry can't take that name seriously. Comments around the seem to say it hasn't seen any development in last few years. ]
Open Source
Written in python. Comments stored in SQLite. You figure out the hosting. Nice docker based install directions.
[No authentication at all for commenters. Not necessarily a negative]
Open Source.
Integrates login with social sites or you can provide an auth end point for them to call. Anonymous posting is possible, but can be disabled. The page id is settable from the html.
[The description of the pricing is a bit disjointed, but for a small website, it looks like it will run $6/month. Do note that the email feature is relatively expensive.]
Closed Source
Lowest plan is $16/month.
[Way more than a simple blog post commenting system]
Open Source
Self-hosted. Has integration with many major Social Media sites as well as email login and (configurable) anonymous posting. Very complete moderating tools. Page id can be set in the page's javascript.
Open Source
Stores comments as text files in your github repository. Has integration to Akismet and reCaptcha. It can be used for any interaction with the user. This is just a backend. You get to code the submission form and figure out how to display the comments. Good information on configuring with hugo is here.
[I don't mind the set up work - it only needs to be done once. But the actual work binarymist goes through for each post (see comments on the post) is a bit much. Can it be automated a bit? Also, GitHub limits]
Talk by the Coral Project
Open Source
Founded by Mozilla, democracy fund, and others. For a small blog, this would definitely be a DYI process.
Open Source
Hosted option has a low cost (1 Euro/month) plan for 100 new comments per month.
[Assuming this is hosted in Europe, is there a GDPR implications for US citizens?]
Open Source
Stores the comments as comments against github issues. Each issue will represent the comments for a particular page. You can control association. The workflow is done by calling GitHub API in javascript directly from your page.
[Does require that the commenter be a GitHub user.]