So, you like to self-host a website or landing page and it is a static site. Or, in other words fairly basic HTML and not a CMS or blogging software. Because of the type of website, it does not have a commenting system. However, you do feel like it would be nice to allow people to leave comments. What do you do?

There are some free third-party solutions. These solutions have you create an account over at their website and copy and paste some code into your website. One well-known service that offers this is called Disqus. They have free and paid tiers. An issue with the free tier is that they may show ads within your comments if your website gets a lot of traffic. Plus, many people don’t like that it is a third-party system you are adding to your website which raises privacy concerns.

The only other option you have is to add a self-hosted or custom commenting system to your website. If you are not a developer you can’t just build this from scratch yourself. You need to find something already built, ideally open source and free, and it needs to be as easy as Disqus to integrate. Just copying and pasting a few lines of code into the webpage’s code.

I recently tried to find a solution like this and it isn’t easy. I either found commenting systems written in a coding language I’m not familiar with, and/or they are too difficult for me to set up myself. Or, would be too time consuming to set up. I needed something primarily written in PHP since that’s a language I’m more familiar with.

After searching for a while, thanks to one of those “alternative to” type websites, I saw something called Hashover listed.

It turns out, Hashover is an easy to set up (as long as you have some basic website building knowledge), PHP and JavaScript, open source, self-hosted alternative to Disqus. It was created by Jacob Barkdull originally for his personal blog. So far, I love it and I’m very grateful Jacob has created this and it looks like he continues to maintain it (currently version 2.0 is in active development). To give you an idea of how easy it is to set up I’ll list the basic steps below.

  1. Upload the files to your web host
  2. Edit settings in /hashover/backend/classes/secrets.php
  3. The rest of the steps in the documentation are optional

I just started using it recently (not here, for a different website). If I notice anything interesting about it over time I may update this post.

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Billy Wilcosky