One of the key elements of blogging has been the ability to comment on posts. It has made blogging more vibrant, interactive, lively, entertaining and educational.
But one of the challenges of the comment landscape has been creating a system that would do three things: effectively administer comments on a blog, create universal identities to make commenting easier, and, as important, establish a system that would make comments more accessible than just having them sit on a single site.
There has been a lot of activity with players such as Disqus, JS-Kit and Intense Debate taking a crack at the problem. As social media has grown, the comment landscape has become more disperate with people putting comments on other services such as Friendfeed and Quora, or using their Twitter or Google IDs.
With this in mind, it is interesting to see Facebook’s new comment system, which was rolled out to a number of Web sites earlier this week. If you’re logged into Facebook, your identity is already established when you leave a comment.
If you let Facebook to also post your comment, it appears within your stream with a link to the original post, letting your friends know about your comment and the post.
There are obviously pros and cons – with the biggest con being the fact this is yet another way that Facebook will be able to gather your data and Web activity.
On the plus side, it does make comments more “real” by making people use their Facebook profiles. As well, it addresses the big issue of how to make the world know about a comment beyond the walls of a blog post.
For blog owners, Facebook Comments have the potential to drive traffic by providing a high-profile vehicle to highlight your blog posts. It could also make comments more legitimate, while providing a system to rank comments based on “Likes”.
The downside is Facebook now has another tentacle to gather data so there is a price to paid to use Facebook Comments. There’s no integration with Twitter or Google, and you’re giving up control of the comment system and how it works.
Like most thing Facebook does, Facebook Comments are controversial because there are definite benefits and disadvantages. Nothing Facebook does comes without a cost or, as important, a way to let Facebook expand its empire even wider.
As a long-time blogger who loves comments and has tried multiple commenting system, I’m not ready to embrace Facebook Comments because there seems to be far more benefits for Facebook. As well, the big issue is it’s Facebook, which has other motives than simply trying to offer a great comment system. To me, that’s a deal-breaker for the time being.
For more thoughts on Facebook Comments, including a break out of the pros and cons, check out this post by TechCrunch, which has implemented the system.