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I'm curious about why you have a static website hosted by someone else, but then host your own comments? Is there some advantage to keeping the comments separated from the content?

Static hosting is pretty much free, then the comments can go on a cheap server.

I looked into using Discourse to do something like this, but they refuse to reduce their memory usage (2GB minimum required, I think)

Exactly! I host my blog for free on github, and the comments on free account from www.pythonanywhere.com.

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