Alternative to Disqus Needed More Than Ever

Heh - thanks for the mention…

Fame at last!

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to be clear, Isso would NOT work if your site was hosted on a CDN like Netlify, which has no server access or live environment (as far as I know)??? If you did host there, you’d have to use an external server to host and serve the Isso comment system, just like using Disqus (similar in practice). I wonder if it would be worth the speed hit to set Isso up in such a way. I guess you could make that portion of the page lazy load too.

Since this thread started Netlify has released an open source GoTell commenting system.

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Oh yea I remember tripping over that. Has anyone successfully integrated it? The Readme isn’t too helpful and it says you need the run the api off a server… so… how does that work with Netlify, which is serverless.

Dunno, AWS lambdas maybe? not really a server, but does allow free code execution with parameters. It may suffice…

Wa-hey guys! Monty here. Go-Tell seems pretty similar to Staticman. While these two are definitely interesting options, they have some unfortunate drawbacks.

I wrote a great summary of the different options mentioned in this thread on my blog. Unfortunately, no exact alternatives to Disqus exist that are affordable and ethical. Cheerio.

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Discourse doesn’t cost $100. It is free software, and there are a few hosting companies including the developers of the software, most folks spend $10 or $20 a month for their instance, and while it is overkill for comments for most people, it can still be useful to those that use Hugo sites, for other purposes.

Your post didn’t have comments, so I figured I would reply here in this Discourse. Maybe change the footnote, it is kinda mean to a free software project. :slight_smile:

Yea, you can install your own instance of Discourse for free.

Here’s the thing, and the conclusion I’ve come to:
Unless someone else figures out a better way, you have the following options:

  1. Run Staticman which works through Github but offers NO threaded conversations or replies. Benefit here is you don’t need a host server for comments as it’s all through Github.
  2. Run Discourse or Isso. Both are free but both require a server to run. If you are serving your Hugo site on a server already (Digital Ocean or Linode or WebFaction or whatever) then you can put the comment system on the same server. HOWEVER, if you are hosting your Hugo site on a CDN like Netlify, you will have to have a separate cloud server to run either Discourse or Isso. There is simply no way around it.

Also, Discourse requires that you sign in to that particular blog’s discourse instance in order to comment… so people would have to make a unique login just to comment on your site. That’s a very tall hurdle for people. Drives away interaction. The thing Disqus has going for it as a lot of people are already signed in and their sign in is good for Disqus on any blog. This doesn’t seem to be the case on Discourse. Leaving Staticman (no replies or threads) or Isso (separate hosting) the only viable options.

Those are the best options.

Are you saying that their website is inaccurate?

If they revise the information on their site and issue an apology I’ll gladly update my post with a little footnote.

Also, 10$/month still seems a little high for something like comments. I mean, it’s not exactly rocket science, is it? 5$/month is closer to a reasonable price.

Discourse has a tiered pricing structure:

1: FREE --download, install, setup and host on your own server
2: $99 + $10/month --Discourse folks install & setup Discourse on Digital Ocean for you. You pay $99 for the install and then $10/month to Digital Ocean for the server rental
3: $100/month [and upwards] --paid plans, managed and hosted on Discourse servers.

So, I kind if agree with both @maiki and @montyf.

On the one hand, it is a wee bit unfair to say Discourse is only available for upwards of $100/month. If you’re prepared to install it yourself, you can have it for free.

On the other hand, Discourse are seriously taking the piss with their pricing structure. Especially the $99 installation fee for Digital Ocean hosting. I’ve installed a Discourse forum on a Digital Ocean droplet a while back and what your $99 is buying you is basically someone clicking on a ‘One-Click’ install button in the DO setup interface:

BTW --I think I mentioned it earlier in the thread; but what decided me against Discourse as a viable option was not the install question [I’ve also installed it ‘freehand’ outside of DO and, while it has a lot of dependencies, it’s not that onerous a procedure]. It was the fact Discourse is a big Ruby on Rails application.

It seemed a bit silly to me to be complaining about the bloat of Disqus and then consider replacing it with a an equally hefty ROR app --just to provide some comments.

Is the disqus thing actually a problem? I know there is an opt out in the settings for affiliate links etc being added.


It’s not the affiliate links that are the problem. I’d already opted out of those. It’s the fact that [without telling you they’re doing it] Disqus redirect all links in your comments through an ad-slinger. Presumably so they can harvest data about what people who visit your site are ‘into’.

If you missed the link at the beginning of the thread, I wrote about it here

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Same for me. Disqus turned bad. Also I didn’t know about the redirects and once I discovered I immediately changed to Isso. Good decision by the way.

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Then I guess Isso it is… anyone here host their Hugo site on Netlify and then host Isso on some other server? Is there a very responsive, faster hosting service that Isso would work well on, in conjunction with the main site on Netlify?

I saw this coming for a long time. I think Disqus as a company grew to big too fast and this is the result. I actually started my research for an alternative as early as 2013. Not happy with any of the solutions of the time, I decided to build my own.

I’m currently collecting interests for a private beta. I’m planning to charge a modest fee to site owners as opposed to showing ads. Three of my beta users already joined as paying customers, they just couldn’t wait to join up and help make this a reality.

Let me know if you have any quesitons!


How soon do you plan to release and/or some info about the ‘modest fee’ or what kind of plans you are going to offer?

I’m asking since I do pay ~12$/mo for my hosting at Webfaction for all the sites I need, while e.g. Algolia search is $35/mo for the lowest non-free plan. :exploding_head:


I have pricing info on the homepage (

Right now I have the base starting at $4/mo but this could change.

If price is a concern, which it tends to be, you may sign up for the beta to help me test and you will earn a big lifetime discount.

What is that discount? It’s an important criteria, because to beta test, one would need to switch their blog’s comment system to remarkbox.

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I have not decided yet how much to discount but I plan for it to be substantial and possible even different case by case.