JSkit Echo WordPress Comment Plugin Review

by Extreme John on August 20, 2009

I really haven’t delivered much in regards to riveting [intlink id="1691" type="category"]blogging tips[/intlink] for new bloggers or information on the latest Twitter tools or resources, this is mostly due to the fact that I have spent most of my week looking for WordPress Threaded Comment Plugins.

The great hunt for the ultimate WordPress threaded comments plugin started thanks to all of you that are nice enough to comment here on a daily basis, it wasn’t too long ago that it would take me 10 minutes to go through comments and reply back to everyone, now it takes hours. I’m not complaining, I love interacting with everyone here.. even the haters.

Late Sunday night I decided to go out on the hunt for a WordPress threaded comment plugin that would make replying to messages fast and simple instead of copying and pasting each of your names into a form in order to reply, ugh. I have tried out Disqus before, I really liked that plugin with the exception of the miserable customer service when it came to getting widgets to work properly. I also didn’t like how Disqus was slow with refreshing comment counts or with comments hitting the actual Disqus admin area.

My search landed me at a place I have been to before because I have seen it on a lot of blogs lately, JSkit which recently released their new product “Echo“, a live interactive commenting system for WordPress that has excellent integration of your profiles as well as login options. Echo seemed like the perfect solution for what I wanted it to do, I was sold.

Everything went fast and smooth when it came to downloading and installing the plugin, that was until I tried to export my existing comment database over to the JSkit comment system. I currently have something like 4, 400 blog comments here on my blog and each and every one of them are greatly appreciated and important to me, that comment database import was extremely important to me. When trying to finish the plugin installation process the JSkit import tool continued to return a message that my comment database was too big and that I needed to contact support in order to have them transfer it.

I began this process late Sunday night and figured by the time I woke up in the morning the comment database would have been imported, I was wrong. The database didn’t actually get imported until a little after 7am on Wednesday morning which completley sucked the wind out of my JSkit Echo sails, I was already over it by Monday afternoon and did my best to hang in there because the plugin really had some things I liked.

As most of you that are nice enough to leave a comment when you come through have probably already noticed, the plugin is no longer active here on my site. I am going to give JSkit Echo some more time to get their new release polished up a little bit before I consider diving back into it, until than here’s a few more additional thoughts on JSkit Echo.

Good Stuff:

  • The day I installed JSkit Echo it was one of my highest comment days
  • Threaded comments
  • Live comments create an interactive feel
  • Support for sharing your social networks
  • Excellent post sharing options
  • Option to include You Tube and Pictures
  • Follow options for RSS feed or Email of post comments

Not So Good Stuff:

  • No realistic Comment Luv feature
  • Added step for new users commenting
  • Unsure of how it would effect Do Follow status
  • Modifying the look of the comment area seems like something a college professor would have to figure out
  • Poor theme selection
  • Poor support communication
  • Slow comment count updates
  • Exporting comments to Echo with large comment counts won’t happen without the help of support

It looks like Echo isn’t the right call for me on this blog at this time, it might be perfect for some of my smaller blogs but I think I am probably better off hanging out a little bit until they get Echo tightened up a little bit. Once I know there have been some changes and improvements made I will be right back to giving Echo a shot, I think it has real potential and I would say that it’s a good comment plugin for a smaller blog.

Leave a comment and let me know if you have tried out Echo or not, what’s your feelings on the fact that the day that Echo was installed there was all kinds of comments being made throughout the blog? All though some guests seemed to find the commenting system hard to handle it seems that other guests that never commented before, did. I’m curious to see what you all have to say. Oh yeah the plugin I am using now for my threaded comments is WordPress Thread Comment.

P.s/ On a side note I am considering writing a post titled “Facebook Five Year Olds” which would be a description of something that recently went on after I commented on a friends page, Lisa also left a comment for this girl that not only babysat out daughter from when she was a young baby, but she also worked for us for a very long time. We still continue to have a relationship with this person even though she moved somewhat far from where we are now, our kids still do sleep overs from time to time.

Anyway without telling the story here, I really don’t feel like wasting my time writing about what went on because I really don’t give two shizzies about it, however on the other hand I think you would all get a pretty good kick out of it. Do you think I waste my time writing about a couple of Facebook Five Year Old’s or do I just let it go? Please keep in mind it is Hell Week here on Extreme John.com ;)

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{ 29 comments… read them below or add one }

Karen
Twitter:

Hey there John, it is nice to see the old comment boxes back :wink:
.-= Karen@Blazing Minds´s last blog ..Do you Tweet, Digg etc posts on blogs you enjoy reading? =-.

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Extreme John
Twitter:

@Karen@Blazing Minds, me too for now ;)

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Klaus
Twitter:

Oh, I didn’t see you were using ECHO, I must have missed it.

Well, by how you’re describing it, it doesn’t sound like a wonderful plugin either.

I’m currently using “WP Thread Comment” plugin to reply in threads, it works pretty well and easy to set up. I’m unsure if it offers users a way to unsubscribe from notifications when new replies are posted (through the emails, like WordPress does) – but maybe it only sends out email when something is replied and not when a new comment is posted. I hate the latter, if you post on a blog post and the next morning you have 40 emails because 40 more comments were posted overnight…

But then again – you have to tick “notify me of followup comments via email”, otherwise you don’t know when the site owner has replied to you – so I always do that, and then I unsubscribe a few days later if it turns out I’m receiving too many emails because of visitors commenting too.
.-= Klaus @ TechPatio´s last blog ..TechPatio Is A “Do Follow” Blog – Spreading The Link Love For Free =-.

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Extreme John
Twitter:

@Klaus @ TechPatio, nothing pisses me off more than the auto-subscribe to comments through the pre-checked boxes that seem to be part of so many of the blogs I visit.

I hate email from comments and I hate being pre-checked into anything.

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Klaus
Twitter:

@Extreme John, Hehe, I think I use it pre-checked at my site :)

Anyway, I just received two emails from you, because I have the “notify me”-checked.

One with the subject: “[The Extreme John Blog] New Comment On: JSkit Echo Wordpress Comment Plugin Review” – which looks like the standard WordPress email.

And another one with the subject: “Your comment at [The Extreme John Blog] has a new reply” – which includes my own message as well as the new reply. This mail does NOT offer any options to unsubscribe though, like the first one did.
.-= Klaus @ TechPatio´s last blog ..More Than Half Of The Microsoft Xbox 360 Breaks =-.

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Extreme John
Twitter:

@Klaus @ TechPatio, hmmm what the hell is that all about…. I will have to spend some time tonight looking at why the heck it would be sending two, I noticed it too because when I comment I get two emails on my cell phone now. Thank you for confirming that for me.

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George
Twitter:

Did you manage to sort this out, John?

graham
Twitter:

Ive heard bad stories about echo so you made the right decission to drop it.. I like the way you have set the comments up now especially the smilies and twitter id field good luck with the blog!
.-= graham@promotional pens´s last blog ..Embroidered Polo Shirts smarten up your image =-.

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Lee Ka Hoong
Twitter:

Great to see that you’re using Threaded Comment plugin because I found difficulty to reply someone’s comment when I had something to say. Great move John! :)

Regards,
Lee
.-= Lee Ka Hoong´s last blog ..The Next Generation Google Search Engine : Google Caffeine =-.

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Extreme John
Twitter:

@Lee Ka Hoong, thank you Lee I like this one better than zero comments.

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Anonymous

@Lee Ka Hoong, just seeing what this looks like

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Doug Dillard
Twitter:

Great that it is working now John. I definitely was not a big fan of the Echo comment system on your site, but as you said… it might work great for some blogs. This set-up seems to work well.

As for your P.S. question… that’s up to you buddy!
.-= Doug Dillard´s last blog ..Comment Spam Detective Trick =-.

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Extreme John
Twitter:

@Doug Dillard, This one doesn’t seem to shabby Doug, I laughed when I saw your post about threaded comments… it was like it was meant to be. Haha.

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Doug Dillard
Twitter:

@Extreme John, Your site was one of the inspirations for my post, as I couldn’t understand why you didn’t use threaded comments. I thought you knew something I didn’t and threaded comments were somehow bad for search engine ranking or something :)

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Extreme John
Twitter:

@Doug Dillard, no one thing I can tell you is that I will always take easy over search engine, meaning I only have so many hours in a day to wear a lot of hats the SE rankings all though cool aren’t majorly important.

I honestly just couldn’t find something that I liked, not sure why this one didn’t come up sooner, but hey at least I have it now.

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Edward Blank
Twitter:

My brief experience with JS-Kit ECHO was not satisfying. It has potential. But several things ruined it as an option for me. The the presence of ECHO comment on my pages greatly slowed down page paint. Too slow.
Comments at my site matter to me; but they are not a primary function of the page. I hated how the ECHO comment box, once invoked, dominated the page. Give me a way, please, to default the comments to closed with a small button to open and read it. Basically it was butt ugly. And the JS-Kit site itself was a godawful eyesore. What were they thinking? Looked like the intent was to use every color in the pallet on every one of their pages. Their site was also very confusing to navigate. For an outfit trying to sell site tools, they need to demonstrate that they understand the understated and elegant. Their product turns every page into a facebook type nausea inducer.

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Chris Saad
Twitter:

Hi John,

Chris here from the JS-Kit/Echo team.

I’m sorry you experienced the delay with the import process.

If you’d like to contact me personally I can expedite the comment import process if you’d like to try again.

Regarding your other ‘cons’

* No realistic Comment Luv feature

CommentLuv is integrated with echo now – Andy’s done a great job – http://comluv.com/news/jskit-goes-to-echo-and-so-does-commentluv/

* Added step for new users commenting

I’m not sure what you mean by this – Echo makes the commenting process easier by requiring less fields and allowing people to log in using their existing social identities.

* Unsure of how it would effect Do Follow status

We use ‘nofollow’ for links in comments

* Modifying the look of the comment area seems like something a college professor would have to figure out

What sort of customizations would you like to see?

* Poor theme selection

We do not have themes at this time – that’s correct – we are focusing on optimizing the comment experience rather than allowing lots of customization at this time.

* Poor support communication

I’m sad to hear this – we have a whole GetSatsifaction community dedicated to helping each other out. Did you try that? http://support.js-kit.com

* Slow comment count updates

This is a known issue we are working on right now – stay tuned!

* Exporting comments to Echo with large comment counts won’t happen without the help of support

We are also working on this – but we are happy to personally help you out :)

Hope this helps!

Thanks for taking the time to provide this excellent feedback!

Reply

Extreme John
Twitter:

@Chris Saad, Chris I appreciate you offering to try the database transfer again and expedite it for me, I wanted it expedited when I first signed up, sadly that took four days. :(

In regards to the CommentLuv feature, disabling the WYSIWYG editor in the comments section in order to have JSkit and Comment Luv work together doesn’t really work for me. Nothing against Andy I have been using Comment Luv for a long time, I just prefer the complete solution and based on the comments on that article I am not the only one that feels that way.

In regards to the added steps, I should have worded that differently than I did. It’s not that it’s an extra step, it’s just that it’s confusing for people when they see it for the first time. Which you can see by some of the comments in my original JSkit post.

Here’s the big NO NO for me personally, I won’t use anything that puts a “nofollow” on the comments in my comment form, I like to reward the people leaving comments on my blog by using the KeywordLuv, CommentLuv and DO FOLLOW Wordpress plugins that pass through the link love. This was actually one of my main reasons for disabling Echo, I had a pretty good feeling the links were No Follow.

As for modifying the comment area and customizing, without going crazy here and listing all kinds of things I just think a more clear documentation of how to move things around, change the way the form is displayed, etc. Example, most recent comment at the bottom instead of at the top. I do like the comment box above the actual comments list.

I can respect not sweating the themes yet and gathering up some feedback first.

As for the poor support communication, when I buy something and pay for an upgrade the last thing I intend to do is surf through a forum hoping I find what I need. Instead I write emails to support, in addition I wrote emails directly to you. All though your emails were re-assuring it didn’t change the length of the process.

Chris thank you for taking the time to comment in regards to my JSkit Echo Review, I really do think that you guys are on to something here and hope you keep pushing forward with it. I think given more time to fine tune things will change my perception in regards to Echo.

I will continue to check out the site and see what’s changed over the next few weeks, thank you.

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Typhoon
Twitter:

As I said in the comment when you installed this system, “JS kit is amongst the worst I have seen”..And I think you realized that thing.

Well, I think we should not change our comment system as wordpress comment system is enough and there are already many plugins available to make it more interactive.. then why should we use some other junk script.
.-= Typhoon´s last blog ..Make Money Online with T3Leads Pay Per Lead Affiliate Program =-.

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Extreme John
Twitter:

@Typhoon, maybe you can take a moment to include a few links to some of the various Wordpress comment plugins that improve interactivity, I would certainly be interested in seeing a few of those.

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Typhoon
Twitter:

@Extreme John, Ok I will surely blog on that asap..
.-= Typhoon´s last blog ..Make Money Online with T3Leads Pay Per Lead Affiliate Program =-.

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Typhoon
Twitter:

@Typhoon, Okay. Specially on your request I made an post regarding Plugins to make your wordpress comment system better.

Have a look:
http://www.smartbloggerz.com/2009/08/15-plugins-to-make-your-wordpress-comment-system-better/
.-= Typhoon´s last blog ..15 Plugins to Make your Wordpress Comment System Better =-.

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The Constant Complainer
Twitter:

Extreme John, I really need to spend a few minutes talking with you some time about all of these plugin and widget options. I’m not too good with them, but then read how much my site is messing, but get nervous about downloading stuff to my site. I need to get you and Christa Bledsoe on retainer dude.
.-= The Constant Complainer´s last blog ..On the Air II =-.

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Extreme John
Twitter:

@The Constant Complainer, just give me a shout or shoot me an email, the plugins are no biggie most of the time they are about 3 seconds to install.

Just shoot me an email whenever your ready, Ill shoot you my number and walk you through it or explain a few things.

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amber

Just wanted to say thanks for the informative post…I almost bought echo on impulse, but I’m rethinking it now. I’m still stuck on blogger, and I hate, hate, hate that they don’t have the ability to thread comments.

And yes I know I should switch, but I wish I could do it without losing my design. Grrr.

Anyway, thanks.
.-= amber´s last blog ..BBB Round 2: Week Three. =-.

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Extreme John
Twitter:

@amber, they seem to keep improving on the concept which is great. I can feel your pain in regards to the design, when I made my update to Thesis Theme it was a nightmare. I hate when my theme gets messed up.

Thank you for taking the time to comment.

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Iz

Hi John,

I just moved from Blogger to self-hosting Wordpress. My problem is, I am unable to import all my comments in Echo to Wordpress. I don’t want to use Echo anymore. So much trouble. I spent my whole two days finding a solution on how to import all my comments into Wordpress but couldn’t find any :(

I couldn’t get anyone from Wordpress to help me, and unfortunately Echo is also unable to help me to import the comments to Wordpress.

Do you have any idea how to solve this problem? I don’t want to lose all my friends’ comments in my blog :(
Iz recently posted…Annoying People in FacebookMy Profile

Reply

Larry

Did you ever get around to writing your Facebook Five Year Olds blog post? It sounds like an interesting story!

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Student

Thanks for the informative post. I’m investigating my options for improving comments on a Wordpress blog. Main thing I’m interested in is letting users comment via their social media accounts, as seen on Disqus.

Out of interest, what comment system are you using now?

Luke

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