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WordPress rolls out Twitter and Facebook comments options

WordPress has launched a three-way commenting system allowing people to use their WordPress, Twitter or Facebook account to leave a comment on a WordPress blog or news site.

Readers can decide which identity they use to leave comments and, after authenticating accounts, can toggle between the three options before posting.

Announcing the new commenting system on its blog, WordPress said:

And since you know your readers well, you can now change the text above the comment box to be whatever you like. We recommend using the default we are applying to new blogs, “What are you thinking?”, as questions often encourage more comments, but you can change it to whatever you like by going to your dashboard, then Settings → Discussion.

Further Twitter and Facebook integration is also planned, the blogging platform announced.

Related article: Facebook v Disqus: Ten pros and cons for using Facebook comments

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Ten pros and cons for Facebook comments

This tweet inspired a conversation:

It is 10 weeks since Facebook overhauled its comments system, which allows websites to install a plugin to enable anyone logged into a Facebook account or with a Yahoo ID to comment.

The comment also appears in on friends’ news feeds on Facebook so has the potential to drive additional web traffic.

So what are the pros and cons?

1. More comments

Denmark-based Thomas Baekdal, founder and editor-in-chief of Baekdal.com, a business magazine about new media, media strategies, and trends, and 42concepts.com, a design magazine, has found the switch from commenting system Disqus to Facebook’s plugin has paid off by increasing comments by 800 per cent. But he has only switched one of his two sites. He added the widget for Facebook Comments for 42concepts.com but not to Baekdal.com.

This is an important thing to keep in mind. I did not change the commenting system for the business section – only for the design articles. There is a huge difference between the two – both on audience, and market.

The design content is also less about creating articles, and more about a “visual experience”. They are specifically designed to tell the story through the images. This makes 42Concepts the perfect target for people on Facebook.

Stories like this lovely example on the ‘yarnbombing’ of potholes.

Facebook Comments resulted in 10,000 comments in the first 30 days for showbiz, entertainment and media news site Digital Spy. That’s an average of 333 comments a day.

Tom Miller, community manager, told Journalism.co.uk that Digital Spy was not using a comments system (such as Disqus) before introducing Facebook Comments and encouraged commenting by directing readers from their forums, which are among the 25 most popular forums worldwide with 50 million posts, according to Miller.

2. Quantity doesn’t mean quality

Baekdal said Facebook Comments works for content that is suited to ‘snacking’.

We all know the Facebook behaviour encourages snacking (while Twitter is far more serious). The quality of comments also reflects that. Most of them are, ‘woooo!!!’, ‘omg!!’, ‘nice’, ‘cute’, ‘g0oo0o00o0od’, etc.

People do not actually comment, they express a feeling. There are no discussions.

But the result is staggering. As I tweeted, I have seen a 800 per cent increase in comments.

3. Increased web traffic

Web traffic is up for 42concepts.com as a result, Baekdal said.

Because each comment is shared on Facebook by default, the traffic from Facebook is up 216 per cent (but still only accounts for two per cent of the total traffic whereas StumbleUpon accounts for 62 per cent).

So have comments driven traffic to Digital Spy? Miller said:

I don’t think we can attribute traffic directly to Facebook Comments, but we did just have a record month with 9.84 million unique users in April.

4. Comments are attributed to a person

One big difference from using a system like Disqus is that Facebook comments are always attributed to a person, weeding out spam but also potentially reducing commenting from people who like to hide behind anonymity.

Digital Spy said Facebook’s commenting system is partly self-policing in nature. “People aren’t too controversial as they know mother-in-law will be reading what they write,” Miller said.

Baekdal told Journalism.co.uk that he’s only deleted one comment so far.

5. Comments with bad language are hidden

Facebook Comments has a language stalker tool which immediately hides comments with bad language. You can also opt to apply a grammar filter to add punctuation and expand “plz” to please and dont to “don’t”.

6. Moderation can take time

Digital Spy has found that moderating 10,000 comments a month takes time with four administrators taking half an hour whenever they can to post-moderate. Baekdal, on the other hand, only occasionally checks comments and spends an average of  just 30 seconds a day scrolling through.

Larger organisations like MTV and ITV outsource a service such as eModeration to cope with the number or comments.

7. It lends itself to post-moderation

Both Miller and Baekdal post-moderate and many news sites prefer pre-approval of comments to offer more content and legal control

8. You can enter the discussion

“Another advantage is that you have your Facebook page linked to your account,” Miller said, so that if two people are having an argument you can add a post. “It’s amazing, people do listen,” he added.

9. The backend system of Facebook Comments not user friendly

Miller said the backend of the Facebook system is “a bit of a mess” but believes Facebook will improve. “You can’t always see what article the comments have been posted to,” Miller explained.

“That is certainly true,” added Baekdal. “Administrating Facebook Comments is not a usable experience. It’s engineered, it is not designed to fit into people’s workflows. It’s very hard to see where a comment goes. It hard to track, it takes a lot of steps to moderate.”

10. It is suitable for ‘snackable content’ but not for all types of site

Baekdal has this advice based on thinking about his two websites:

I would advise people to test it. But as a strategy, I think Facebook comments fits well with “snackable content” and content that invokes feelings. I do not think it would work well for a site like the Financial Times.

Find out how to add Facebook Comments here.

To install Facebook Comments into WordPress click here.

Related articles:

Facebook: Our Comments Plugin Increases Publisher Traffic up to 45 per cent [STATS], from ReadWriteWeb.

Disqus has this month revealed it is doubling in size with investment of $10 million despite Facebook Comments, according to this article on the ReadWriteWeb technology blog, and its CEO is not worried about the threat of Facebook, says a Venture Beat article.

In the same way as you can @mention and refer to someone on Twitter, you can now do so on Disqus. It has since released @mentions, which “allows you to pull people into new conversations by mentioning them in your comments”, according to the Disqus blog, and follows Facebook @mentions, released in 2009,

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Why the BBC is scrapping its Have Your Say discussion board

The BBC is scrapping Have Your Say, a discussion board on the BBC News website. It is moving to an integrated system of comments within its stories, according to a post on the BBC’s Editors blog today.

Most discussion topics on Have Your Say, such as one today which asks “will a no-fly zone resolve the crisis in Libya?”, gather hundreds of comments, but Alex Gubbay, BBC News’ social media editor, writes that it is time to change the place where readers comment as Have Your Say is “something of a silo away from the rest of the content”.

It is a reflection of the changing online landscape and the advent of social media that we feel the time is now right to move on from Have Your Say.

This process is essentially about us online focusing more now on encouraging discussion around our content itself, rather than looking to host or manage a community.

According to the Editors blog post, BBC News is planning to introduce editors’ picks and a ‘recommend’ option to its new comments system to “showcase interesting additional insight and perspective”.

Editors’ picks will be the default view once any comments have been selected, but users will be able to then tab to see all comments and also rate them, functionality I know has been sorely missed since we had to remove it in last year’s transition phase.

Gubbay explains comments, which have been tried out on a number of stories recently, will only be enabled on selection of content each day and that moderation will work as it does now.

New ‘share’ options for Twitter and Facebook are due to appear on BBC News’s stories shortly to show total ‘shares’ and a breakdown by site, plus and an option of short URLs.

Have Your Say is due to shut next month.

Full post on the BBC Editors blog at this link.

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Mashable: Facebook brings its Comments plugin to outside publishers

Mashable reports on Facebook’s updated Comments plugin and its use by publisher partners, including the Economist.

Facebook released Tuesday its updated Comments plugin, which includes a robust set of new features. The social networking site also announced that a slew of publisher partners will now integrate the plugin as their commenting platform of choice.

See the full post on Mashable at this link

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OJB: UGC, the Giffords shooting and how ‘inaction can be newsworthy’

Paul Bradshaw’s Online Journalism Blog has an interesting look at user-generated content and comment moderation, and the stories they can produce.

Bradshaw looks specifically at Sarah Palin’s Facebook page, which has been subject to strict moderation in the wake of the assassination attempt on Arizona congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. He points out that the decisions to remove certain comments and let others stand can be seen as representative of the page owner’s stance and could potentially give rise to a story.

Bradshaw also warns that trawling through comment threads on political pages is not the same as treading the streets. What you see there is not unadulterated content, it is closer to carefully edited campaign material.

Worth reading in full.

Full post on the Online Journalism Blog at this link.

Lost Remote has a post on another media issue to emerge from the Giffords shooting: the spreading of inaccurate claims on Twitter that Giffords had died, and subsequent removal of tweets by news organisations.

Full post on Lost Remote at this link.

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Reuters experiments with new points system for comments

September 30th, 2010 | 1 Comment | Posted by in Comment, Editors' pick, Online Journalism

A new points system for managing comments on news articles is being experimented with at Reuters. Comments which meet its guidelines will be rewarded with higher status.

Writing on Reuters’ For The Record blog about the issue, the organisation’s global editor for ethics, innovation and values Dean Wright says he was becoming increasingly concerned about the state of comments on Reuters’ and other news organisations’ websites.

On some stories, the “conversation” has been little more than partisans slinging invective at each other under the cloak of anonymity.

I believe our time-challenged, professional readers want to see a more rewarding conversation―and my colleagues who lead Reuters.com are introducing a new process for comments that I believe will help bring that about.

Editors Weblog provides a simply summary of what is being developed:

Once a person creates an account with Reuters, he is assigned a “new user” status. His comments are initially treated with caution by moderators, who award the user “points” for every satisfactory response published. Once the user gains enough points, his account is promoted so that comments will be immediately published. If a promoted user decides to write distasteful comments, he will lose points and could be demoted back to the “new user” status.

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Charging for comments, instead of content

A US-based newspaper has announced it will charge readers $1 to comment on articles, in an interesting addition to recent debates surrounding online news revenue streams.

According to a report by the Editors Weblog, the Sun Chronicle will set the fee from tomorrow, with the payment process also meaning the posters name and town will also be published.

The article quotes the Chronicle’s publisher, Oreste D’Arconte, saying the payment has been introduced to “eliminate past excesses that included blatant disregard for our appropriateness guidelines, blind accusations and unsubstantiated allegations”.

But this has drawn some criticisms from those who feel anonymous speech often supports the most honest and open of comments.

See the full post here…

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Cloud on Economist.com aggregates reader comments

April 16th, 2010 | 1 Comment | Posted by in Handy tools and technology

Not sure how long this has been a feature on the Economist’s website, but aggregating readers’ comments around different topic areas is an interesting way in to a story.

The cloud of terms show the most popular topics from across the site and can be viewed for one-week, two-week or a 30-day period:

Clicking on a term displays all reader comments from across the website relating to that subject, with a link to what article they were left on.

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BuzzMachine: Comments and how to play host

Jeff Jarvis takes a look at online comments: the problem isn’t messy comments (likened to graffiti), but the way one deals with them, he argues.

Should comments as a form of conversation be eliminated? No, of course not. The tool isn’t the problem (any more than blogging tools or printing presses are). If you eliminate comments that’s even more insulting than not listening to them and it risks giving up the incredible value the public can give if only they are enabled to (a value I saw so clearly in the comments under my posts here or here). The issue isn’t comments or identity or registration or tools. The issue is how you play host.

Full post at this link…

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Comment Central: New commenting system for Times Online

The Times has introduced a new commenting system for its website lifting the upper word limit for comments from 300 to 2,000 and introducing a registration system.

“This will enable us to highlight and reward our best commenters, and weed out our least constructive,” writes online editor, Tom Whitwell – though no fixed reward system is mentioned, as yet.

Commenting systems differ between the paper’s blogs and the rest of its editorial content, but there are plans to switch the blogs over to the new platform.

Full post at this link…

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