Matthew Inman of TheOatmeal.com made an interesting post yesterday about being a creator on the web. One of the points he made was about how he doesn’t allow comments on his site because of the possibility of destructive criticism, something that impacts his creative spirit. I can dig it. There’s nothing that can steal your joy at producing something like fifty trolls spamming your comments with ‘u suck noob lrn 2 internet”. With that being said, in my line of expertise, commenting is a necessary part of the blogging experience; much of the work I do is both iterative and collaborative, and comments provide a way to get real time feedback that leaves a record of the conversation in situ.
While a necessity, managing comments on a popular blog presents difficulties all its own, above and beyond the trolls. I’ve experimented with a few commenting systems over the years here at ImTheirWebGuy, and most recently, introduced unmoderated commenting via Spam Free WordPress. However, after playing with a whole ton of different options, I’ve decided to simply use Facebook’s commenting system. I know that a lot of people don’t like having to use Facebook on third party sites for anything, so here are my reasons:
Spam, spam, and more spam
Anyone who’s run a blog knows that the number one problem you deal with in managing conversation is spambots. They are an endless horde, banging at your comments.php function nearly 24 hours a day. Using Facebook commenting drops this to zero, instantly.
Bye-bye anonymous trolls
The simple act of putting your face by your comments tends to (for the most part) reduce the amount of trolling you get on a regular basis. As anyone familiar with the GIF Theory (nsfw) can attest, nothing brings out people’s inner jerk like a large audience and anonymity. Inman specifically mentions it as a reason for not allowing commenting on his posts.
True social reach with simplicity
While a large number of subscribers to your blog can lead to regular conversation, and increased sharing, integrating Facebook’s object graph allows your content to be easily spread (by something as simple as a comment being added), and helps track the impact of that by allowing you to display recent activity within the graph.
What I’d like to see:
If you’re a plugin developer with time to spare, here’s a plugin I’d use across all my sites in a heartbeat: a drop in replacement for the default commenting system that allows the user a choice between Facebook commenting, Twitter commenting, and G+ commenting. Oh, and it has to work well. (I used to use Simple Facebook Connect, but it became very broken, and wasn’t being updated).
The official Facebook plugin for WordPress not only provides commenting, it actually supports the entire Facebook Object Graph system, meaning that you can create rich interactions to display in your Recent Activity box like “John Smith commented on a post at YourSite.com”, and use Facebook authentication for logging in users (if needed). Facebook has done a crap job of improving their users’ mobile experience, but they’ve knocked it out of the park for the vast WordPress user audience.
What are your thoughts? Are you more or less likely to comment on a site which uses the Facebook system?