Update: We have deactivated the commenting plugin for now as it had too many issues. We will take another look at it once it offers missing features.
The native WordPress comment system is limited in many ways. There is for instance no option to subscribe to comments or edit your own comments once you hit the submit button.
Over the years, I have added various WordPress plugins to the site to improve the commenting system. That's why comment editing and subscriptions are supported.
But limitations don't end there and plugins can only go that far to remedy some of the issues.
I started to test various commenting plugins or systems for WordPress and while I liked features of some, I could not really find one that fit all requirements.
For instance, while I liked some of the features that third-party commenting systems such as Disqus or Livefyre offer, I disliked that comments were stored on third-party servers. This not only required migration of comments to those servers -- and back from them should the need to leave the service ever arise -- but meant that the commenting system depended on that service functioning properly at all times.
Plus, it had privacy implications for commenters since their comments, and thus email addresses and other information, were stored on third-party servers.
This left a local comment system as the natural choice. While that takes care of privacy and dependency issues, it meant having to compromise in some regards.
After evaluating what was on offer, I selected wpDiscuz for this website. It is a free commenting plugin for WordPress that integrates well and keeps everything locally. If you want, it is a frontend for WordPress comments that changes a couple of things and adds others.
One of the things that I wanted was to limit the initial comment count on article pages. The reason for that was that search engines might see comments as low quality content on websites which in turn can have the effect that the site's visibility in search engines is lowered.
For now, the three newest comment threads are displayed when you load a page. This should speed up the loading of the page in general and reduce the load on the server as well. A link is placed to load all remaining comments at once which takes a couple of seconds on pages with hundreds of comments but should be near instant on most.
The new commenting system adds features that you will benefit from as well. First of all, it is now possible to edit the editing time. I have modified the time to 30 minutes which means that you can edit your comments for 30 minutes before that option expires.
Second, the subscription options are better now. Instead of having to subscribe to the all comments like before, you can now subscribe to replies to the comment you are writing or all of your comments in a thread.
The plugin supports more features than that but I have not enabled all just yet. It supports voting for example which could be useful but since it does not order comments based no votes, I made the decision not to enable that feature right now.
I have tested the comment plugin as thorough as possible but there may be issues. If you encounter any while leaving comments let me know please so that I can fix them.
For now, this is a temporary switch to find out how well the system runs on Ghacks. If no negative side effects or issues are found, it will become the permanent comment plugin on the site.