Adding comments to my static website

You can now post comments! This is a static website, so it’s not supposed to anything but showing you linked HTML pages. The main benefit of a static website for me is that I don’t have to update a CMS like Wordpress, its plugins and PHP on the server—or risk getting my website getting hijacked by spammers. The main benefit for you is that these pages load super fast. But being static, can’t do anything but showing pages. Nothing like receiving and show comments from visitors. And that’s a pity, because most of my recent posts have created interesting discussions on Twitter and LinkedIn. Discussions future visitors can never join unless they happen to follow those people.

Comment systems for static websites

To get a commenting system for a static website, there are several options:

  1. Install a dedicated commenting system on the server. That means having the same issues that come with maintaining a server-sided CMS.
  2. Collecting comments by mail or Google Forms or something, then (semi) manually adding them to the website. Seems like a lot of work. There would also be a delay between posting of comments and me publishing them. Not to mention the constant nagging I’d feel of having to update the website.
  3. Keeping the discussions off the site, like they currently happen on Twitter and LinkedIn. That doesn’t really work for me since there can be several threads per post and I may not even be aware of them all.
  4. Collecting comments via fancy workarounds that rely on git hooks on Github or Netlify. If your blog is hosted there, that’s probably a great solution. I’m very happy with my sustainability-minded hosting provider, Greenhost. Moreover, I don’t want the vendor lock-in that comes with such a setup.
  5. Including a commenting system by a third party via an iframe.

Option 4 and 5 seem to be most popular. As I don’t want to go with option 4, I was looking for a good external commenting system. The problem is that they’re either really expensive (for the amount of comments I expect and compared to what I pay for my current hosting), or are free to use but make a business of tracking people across the internet to show them ads. Disqus is one of the more popular free to use comments systems, but it has serious privacy issues because of that.

My choice: Talkyard

This week I discovered a rather new commenting system: Talkyard. It does (sidenote: Actually, Talkyard does a whole lot more; it’s like a combination of a chat and a forum for building communities. There’s this embeddable form of it for commenting to pages. ) . It doesn’t collect data that it doesn’t need to collect. It’s a small operation, basically one programmer, who appears to be a sympathetic Swede. He was very quick to several small features I needed for styling. So now it even supports my light and dark themes. There’s a pay-what-you-want plan for small websites like this.

Talkyard’s design is still a rough around the edges. Customizing the styling was annoying: overriding existing CSS with seemingly badly organized class names. A proper UI for that has already been announced, luckily. I didn’t want to spend too much time making it pretty. Let’s see first, how often you, dear readers, are actually going to press that reply button.