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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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My Telegraph launches new look in beta

My Telegraph, the newspaper’s community site, has launched a new look in beta. It went live yesterday, running on BuddyPress and uses the Disqus comment system.

In an introductory post, the team says it has introduced some “significant changes” to the ways readers are able to interact with Telegraph.co.uk. Changes include the introduction of discussion groups for different subject areas; a feature allowing users to add ‘friends’ and simplification of the registration process.

Full post at this link…

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Independent integrates article comments with Twitter and Facebook

May 25th, 2010 | 3 Comments | Posted by in Online Journalism

The Independent has installed a new commenting system on its website in the shape of Disqus – the same as we use on Journalism.co.uk no less.

The system allows users to login to leave a comment using a Disqus profile, but also, and more importantly, with their Twitter username and password, Facebook login or OpenId identification.

With the Twitter and Facebook logins there’s also the option to share your article comment via these sites.

Jack Riley, digital media editor at the Independent, explains in a blog post that the new system has been trialled on the site’s sport section for the past week and has improved the level of “constructive debate”.

We’re encouraging people to use credentials linked to their personal profiles not just because openness and accountability are great, fundamental things which underpin good journalism as well as good commenting (and why should the two be different?), but also because by introducing accountability into the equation, we’re hoping the tone and standard of the comments will go up (…) It’s about first of all letting people authenticate their commenting using systems with which they’re already familiar (in Facebook’s case, that’s 400 million people worldwide and counting), and secondly, it’s about restoring your trust in our comments section, so that some of the really great submissions we get on there rise to the top, the bad sink to the bottom, and the ugly – the spam and abuse that are an inevitable adjunct of any commenting system – don’t appear at all.

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Innovations in Journalism – tracking conversations and researching stories with YackTrack

May 15th, 2008 | 2 Comments | Posted by in Journalism

We give developers the opportunity to tell us journalists why we should sit up and pay attention to the sites and devices they are working on. This week’s starter for ten is the aptly named YackTrack, designed to find info related to a single issue across various sites.

1) who are you and what’s it all about?
YackTrack is a service written by Rob Diana that allows a user to enter the URL of an article or blog post they want to find conversations about.

The conversations can be occurring on blogs (WordPress only so far), Digg, Mixx, Technorati (in the form of “blog reactions”), Disqus, StumbleUpon (in the form of “reviews”) and FriendFeed.

2) Why would this be useful to a journalist?
Based on the feedback I am receiving it seems to be useful to almost anyone. For a journalist, you can pick up a story from another site and run it through YackTrack, then get the all comments [made about the story] from other sites.

Most important in that list are the links you can get from services like Technorati. Those links are really just other articles or
blog posts talking about the same topic. If the topic if popular enough, you can grab several URLs from a service like TechMeme and run all of them through YackTrack and you could get a really good list of researchable articles.

3) Is this it, or is there more to come?
Yes there is more to come. Some things I cannot really talk about yet (as there has to be some suspense) and others are fairly straightforward.

Registration and saving of URLs to track are a logical step forward. RSS and email notifications are also a popular request. More service support is necessary as well. I have also had requests for blog plugins, specifically WordPress.

4) Why are you doing this?
A few weeks ago, there were a number of blog posts on where comments were being posted and whether the fragmented conversation was a good thing.

I think the fragmentation leads to more thought provoking conversations, but many bloggers do not know that their post was submitted to Mixx, Digg or StumbleUpon. Given that different sites have different cultures I thought it would be really interesting to have all of the conversations visible in one spot. I am getting the feeling that other people feel the same way.

5) What does it cost to use it?
Right now it does not cost anything to use. The service is simple to use and I would like to keep it available in that way.

6) How will you make it pay?
I would like the service to pay for its own hosting, but I do not really want to charge the users. I do have Google AdSense on the site now, but that is more to see if there is any minimal revenue available.

I am going to be looking at direct advertising as a revenue stream as well, as that could cover the hosting fees as well.

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