WARNING: Do not use Disqus for your WooCommerce website

Disqus_logo_official_-_white_on_blue_backgroundA conundrum faced by many website owners is how to increase user / reader engagement; how can we provide quality content while getting our readers to interact with us. One way many (most) websites use is the comments or reviews section — a place where website visitors leave thoughts, have conversations, or *gasp* troll.

Our sister site SharewareOnSale is booming — we are now a top-ranked website, have over 300,000 members, and every software or product sale we post spreads like wildfire over the interwebz. However, SharewareOnSale is struggling in user interaction. We are able to get people to visit our website and download software from us, but we could not get people to engage with us.

In a bid to increase user interaction, a few months back I replaced SharewareOnSale’s native WordPress commenting system with Disqus (a third-party commenting platform). Disqus has a lot of good features, and for a while I enjoyed having it around. Soon, however, I realized Disqus was more of a crutch than a solution; it didn’t really increase user interaction and I was exporting a valuable part of my website while forgoing features — features that I wanted to add to our comment system but couldn’t because Disqus doesn’t allow customizations. Essentially, there was no advantage of SharewareOnSale using Disqus but there was plenty of downsides.

As such, I decided it is time to switch back to our native commenting system. That is when I hit a brick wall.

You see, Disqus has a plugin for WordPress websites that makes it easy to automatically sync comments made on Disqus back to your WordPress database. In other words, if you ever decide to no longer use Disqus, you won’t lose your comments. Unfortunately, Disqus fails to mention that the automatic syncing only works for comments made on WordPress posts and pages — it does not work for comments made on custom post types, like WooCommerce product posts. Seeing as SharewareOnSale runs on WooCommerce (which is built on WordPress), switching away from Disqus means we will lose all the comments people have posted over the last few months.

I contacted Disqus support about this issue and they said Disqus can only sync comments to comments on WordPress posts and pages — not custom post types, like WooCommerce products. When confronted about why Disqus does not make this clear and when the feature will be added, I was ignored. You can imagine my anger.

Right now I’m a point where I’m forced to continue to use Disqus on SharewareOnSale until I can find a way to export all comments made on Disqus and import them into WordPress. (Disqus has a manual export feature but the format they use to export is not supported by WordPress, which is why one needs to use the Disqus WordPress plugin to auto-sync comments.) Don’t make the same mistake I did: do not use Disqus for your WooCommerce website — or any other website that uses custom post types. You’ve been warned.

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  • here is a solution to fix discus with wooCommerce https://wordpress.org/plugins/woo-dis-comments-and-ratings/

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  • This is a rampant issue – I made an extension for WooCommerce to deal with it.
    https://zamartz.com/2016/06/01/woocommerce-disqus-comments-and-ratings/

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  • Ashraf

    [@bodyles] I’m not a pro programmer, but I’m sure eventually I would be able to figure out how to do this. However, the problem is, I don’t have the time, which is why I hired someone else to do this for me. Thanks nonetheless for your help — if you are interested in freelancing jobs, drop me an email, I often need freelance coding work.

  • bodyles

    [@bodyles]
    [@Ashraf]

    If that’s a bit too complex, this provides a much simpler method:
    http://php.net/manual/en/book.simplexml.php

    Also, you might find this Q&A on the subject enlightening and full of useful shortcuts, functions, and examples:
    http://stackoverflow.com/questions/6578832/how-to-convert-xml-into-array-in-php

  • bodyles

    [@Ashraf]

    There are plenty of libraries which can parse XML into anything you like, one of which is included in PHP.
    Here’s the documentation for parsing XML into an array in PHP, with examples:
    http://php.net/manual/en/function.xml-parse-into-struct.php
    You don’t really need to know XML at all, you can just manipulate the resulting array & output any way you need it.

    Assuming you can code, you can Google the rest of the process just as easily as I did.
    I literally searched for “XML into array PHP” and the above link was the #1 SERP.

    It’s really not that hard to look this stuff up & do it if you have some basic coding knowledge.
    However, I do freelance development & coding so it’s probably a good thing not everyone is so resourceful, otherwise I’d get no work. ;b

  • Ashraf

    [@sl0j0n] Check your junk/spam. If you are on our list, then we *are* sending you emails; the problem is, the emails are being lost in the way, probably being blocked by your email service provider. Send me an email to admin@dottech.org; I’ll see what I can do.

    [@Mike S.] Thanks! :-)

    [@bodyles] This is exactly what I’m going to do. Unfortunately, I’m not skilled enough in XML to parse the code, so I need to hire someone else to do it. Frustrating to have to pay to move away from a system that should do this one its own.

  • Mike S.

    [@Ashraf] And I personally will guarantee you at least 1 new comment a day, if you run out of the old. ;) (Nah, you don’t really want that . . . .)

  • bodyles

    Maybe I’m missing something here, but it seems like there’s a rather obvious solution to this issue.
    You state that Disqus has a manual export.
    Wouldn’t the easiest solution be to write a script to take that export & import it into the WordPress database?
    I understand that the format is different, but so what?
    Any halfway competent coder should be able to compensate for that & the execute the necessary SQL queries on the WordPress database to load the data into the appropriate fields.

    I understand that people like to develop their own sites using a lot of automation & CDEs & CMSes & plugins which hide much of the dirty work, but at the end of the day all the experience in the world with such things is no substitute for an actual web developer who knows how to write code.

  • sl0j0n

    Hey, Ashraf!
    Now that I know who to contact,
    maybe you can help w/ a problem I’ve had at .
    I used to get the emails from “SharewareOnSale,” but for some reason they ceased.
    I tried to sign up again, but of course, my email is already in the system, & it won’t let me do it.
    I try to remember to check it out, but since I’m sixty, that may fail, for weeks or longer.
    If you’d be so kind as to post a solution here, I’d certainly appreciate it greatly.
    Perhaps others have a similar situation, too.
    Many thanks in advance for *any* assistance w/ this.

    Have a GREAT day, Neighbor!

  • sl0j0n

    FINALLY!—Another [DIS]satisfied customer of Disqus!
    I was having problems signing into Disqus late in 2013, after having signed w/ it earlier.
    I could get *NO* SUPPORT for the problem, even worse,
    Disqus doesn’t seem to have *anything* even resembling “support”.
    So, now, I avoid web sites that use “Disqus”.
    Think about it: the name is “DIS-q-US”.
    I think they should add a “t” to the end of the name—that would more apply describe the so-called “service”.
    BTW, I don’t know how many comments you’re discussing, but if it was me,
    I think I’d start manually copying+pasting them into notepad.
    At the very least,
    the last month’s comments could be transcribed into the current site as a work-around,
    to bring your visitor’s comments up-to-date.
    That would let the site go ahead & change to different system.
    At the very least, take “Frank’s” suggestion, & look into using a temporary ‘archive’,
    until you can do something different.
    Hopefully helpful.

    Have a GREAT day, Neighbors!

  • Ashraf

    [@Frank] You are mistaking WordPress and wooCommerce. WooCommerce is a WordPress plugin that adds a special post type, products. Normally, WordPress has posts and pages but with WooCommerce we now also have products. Comments on products use the WordPress commenting system just like posts and pages, and Disqus works fine on products. The problem is, Disqus does not support syncing of comments on products… something Disqus should make clear before people start using their platform. So your solution won’t work, although I wish it did!

    [@Matt] That is a forum, not applicable for my needs.

    [@Mike S.] True but I’d ideally like to keep old comments and move to new system. Trying to figure out a solution.

  • Matt

    Should have used MyBB… cant go wrong.

  • Mike S.

    [@Ashraf] Agreed as to the value of comments (including past comments), but life does continue on . . . . If you felt that the value of a move to a new comment system was worthwhile, as good as past comments have been, new, good comments quickly would come. Am reminded of this everytime my computer loses old stuff that I thought could not be lived without–new stuff quickly comes. ;) (Having said that, nice of you to think that poeple actually have had valuable things to say!)

  • Frank

    [@Frank] before you do another mistake in commenting, Ashraf:
    The comments are there, in DQ. YOU, YOURSELF, say they can easily be imported to WP.
    So, again: WTF are you complaining about? DQ shows a PRAISABLE behavior I have not seen to often.

  • Frank

    [@Ashraf] JEEZ, mate!
    you said, Disqus supported the back-port of dq-comments to WP:
    “You see, Disqus has a plugin for WordPress websites that makes it easy to automatically sync comments made on Disqus back to your WordPress database. ”
    So, what are you complaining about?!?

    P.S. I never even used DQ on any of my (3) websites, have no connection to them. Just are analytical: If s/o states BS it just jumps right into my face. I comment then (as I did /w any other false statement on any other website I like).

  • Ashraf

    [@Frank] Hmm? I’m not sure what you are saying. How would I import Disqus comments to another WordPress website when Disqus does not support sync of WooCommerce comments *at all*.

    [@himagain] Agreed. Won’t be using Disqus again.

    [@Mike S.] I’m afraid comments are too valuable to just let them go :-(

  • Mike S.

    [@Frank] Absolutely! But my point being, if a move to a new comment system means the loss of earlier comments, it won’t be the worst thing, and new comments will fill their place quickly. ;)

  • Frank

    [@Mike S.] sometimes gone sales reawake (companies re-gift/re-sale the same product again).
    It’s handy then to have the comments from a few months back, feature of a *true* sales/giveaway-page (letting future customers know past doubts and problems (as well as vendors statements/solutions to it!))

    So (any, incl. past) comments are pretty useful, IMHO!

  • Mike S.

    Personally, I haven’t felt any difference in the SharewareOnSale commenting system over time. But if a need is felt to move from the current system, I would say simply do it and ignore the loss of earlier comments–new comments, typically the most valuable, will come in early enough.

  • himagain

    That’s what we need! Solutions!
    I like Disqus for its compiling efforts, but it is always risky to let too much out of your own hands.
    I like MailChimp for email control AND security of your list.

  • Frank

    Have you thought of the easiest workaround?
    Setup a (fake) WP site and import all comments to that WP install. Export/convert it from there to target.
    Should WP not be (cap)able to do so: Why blame a 3rd party of being unable/unwilling to do bloody WPs job?!!
    HTH, Frank