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Facebook comment plugin – troll killer?

Posted by Michael Bloch in online world (Sunday April 10, 2011 )

Is Facebook’s comment plugin a way to help stomp troll comments or perhaps kill conversation generally – or a bit of both?

Facebook’s recently released “Comments Box” is a social plugin that enables user commenting on your site, or can be used to replace existing systems such as the comment feature on WordPress.

Some pretty big names in the online world have made the switch to it and the results have been interesting. What I’ve noticed is there are now far fewer comments on posts – and that isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

I’ve been ranting on about comment quality for some time now – so many are just “parrot comments” from merchants looking to drop a link, psycho babbling, rants from people not wanting to be accountable for what they say or just plain troll activity. Sites that are using the Facebook Comments Box have far less of this sort of trash now; which is a Very Good Thing.

But it also appears “real” comments have dropped off a little – but I think as folks get used to the system, this may change. While it will no doubt see Facebook increase its membership base, you can also log in to post comments through a few other methods, including Hotmail and Yahoo.

It might also mean people usually leaving comments when they perhaps shouldn’t (like while they are at work), might be deterred. With a lesser degree of anonymity and timestamps added to comments; it’s pretty easy to tie someone’s comments to a time when they perhaps should have been otherwise engaged.

Some have also raised concerns about their comments appearing in their own news feeds, but it’s my understanding that this option can be switched off at the point of posting.

It’s early days yet, but all in all, I think it’s a system that shows a lot of promise and I’m seriously considering implementing it. I’d rather have 3 good quality comments on a post than 6 among 50 other crappy comments.

However, it’s also down to just a matter of moderation regardless of which system you use. You can still have those 6 good comments if you’re prepared to review all comments and be a little more discerning by killing the other 50.

Also, Facebook’s system certainly isn’t going to discourage those individuals, companies and groups just wanting to promote their own Facebook page – if anything it will encourage it. Additionally, this new offering from Facebook is another example of where too few companies are perhaps gaining too much control over various aspects of the web.

The quality of comments has really degraded over the years, but much of the blame is on us – we let them through. If we all used the delete button a bit more often; perhaps we can make comment threads a more useful resource.


Rethinking user comments


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