Posts Tagged ‘intense debate’

Why You Shouldn’t Use Facebook Comments… Yet

17 Mar

Earlier this month, Facebook announced some significant upgrades to its commenting system for bloggers and other website owners.

The system is designed to compete with services like Disqus and Intense Debate by adding a Facebook-hosted commenting system to your site, one that can either replace or supplement your existing comment system.

To their credit, Facebook has given a lot of reasons to like the system. It’s clean, easy to look at, has good moderation tools, great stat reporting and is virtually spam-free since users have to have a Facebook account to comment.

Because of this, many sites, including TechCrunch, have begun either using or experimenting with Facebook comments.

However, this system is far from a match made in heaven and you won’t see it on my site, at least not in its current incarnation. Where it might be for some, it isn’t for mine and I will do my best to explain exactly why.

Problem 1: Out of Sync

With Disqus, which is what I currently use, and Intense Debate comments posted to your blog get put both in their database and yours. This means that, should you decide Disqus/ID is no longer right for you or if the company closes for some reason, you still have your comments.

With Facebook, the comments are simply stored in Facebook’s database and are served via an embed. If you ditch Facebook, you lose your comments, that simple.

Problem 2: JavaScript and SEO

For many sites, the comments is a significant percentage of the content on their page. However, Facebook displays that content in an embedded JavaScript that is not readable or indexable by search engines. This means you get no SEO benefit from your community.

Facebook comments is not SEO friendly and this is a problem both Disuqus and ID deal with gracefully, but putting the comments in your site in cleartext.

Problem 3: Limited Audience

It may be a surprise, but not everyone has a Facebook account and, those who do, not everyone is comfortable using their account to post comments on random sites. In short, you’re limiting your potential commenting pool to only those with Facebook accounts that trust you enough to use it on your site.

TechCrunch noted that, while Facebook Comments did help keep the trolls at bay and raise the level of discourse, the number of comments has fallen and this is on a very tech-savvy site where nearly every visitor will have a Facebook account.

Problem 4: Technical Difficulties

I attempted to set up Facebook Comments on my site temporarily to see it in action but failed completely. Even using a WordPress Plugin dedicated to the cause, I had no luck in getting it to work, even after disabling every other Facebook-related thing on my site.

Facebook Comments simply doesn’t play nice with a lot of other features and it seems others have had struggles with it as well.

Problem 5: Lack of Customization

Don’t like the way Disqus looks? Customize it. Don’t like the way Facebook Comments look? Tough.

Though the Facebook commenting system is far from ugly, if it doesn’t fit your theme you’re pretty much out of luck. You get what Facebook gives you and, apart from a few subtle changes you can make, there isn’t much anyone can do with it.

Bottom Line

To be clear, there is a lot that I do like about Facebook Comments and I have a lot of reason to want to play with it. But, right now, there are simply too many problems with it for me to consider using it, at least as my exclusive commenting system.

Obviously, I don’t need all of these above problems fixed (customization is not a major issue for me) but I would like to see better SEO handling and synchronization with my local database. Without those two things, Facebook and Facebook alone reaps the benefit of my comments section, leaving me with nothing.

It seems, however, that much of this comes from Facbeook’s tight control over everything that passes through it Facebook doesn’t like to share the information it gets with other domains, even when it comes from another site, and likes to be the sole determiner of how the information it gets is used, often to the chagrin of its members.

In short, until Facebook’s approach to commenting is a little more balanced. I don’t think I’ll be using it on my site, at least not as my main comment form.

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