facebook comment fail

Image by ursonate via Flickr

By now, everyone knows that you can easily add Facebook comments to your blog or website using the Facebook Comments plugin. I activated Facebook comments a few months ago on several of my websites as a test and I’ve since disabled them on nearly all sites. After several weeks of real world testing I thought I’d give you my review of why I see the disadvantages of Facebook comments outweighing the positives.

Firstly, before I begin, all my websites currently use Disqus comments which allows you to post via Facebook, Twitter, Google or any one of many other services. So, in a way, I already had Facebook comments live on the site which may be a factor in my review below.

What I liked about the idea behind Facebook comments was the ease. Nearly everyone is already logged into Facebook 24/7 and it allows them to simultaneously comment and share without any additional login. I thought it would encourage more comments, especially since several of the sites I manage have more discussion on the accompanying Facebook page then on the website itself. I was surprised at the results. 

  1. You’re 100% dependent on Facebook. This is the #1 biggest problem, to me. Facebook is having an outage? You suddenly have no comments on your blog or website. The other problem is that there is no good way to export Facebook comments into the blog proper again if you stop using their plugin. Think of a future where Facebook is “out” and that future is out there no matter how ubiquitous Facebook seems today. To me, the comments are a big part of the blog post itself and to lose them entirely is too dangerous a proposition.
  2. Most people used it as a second share button so it still didn’t add to the on-site conversation. One big thing I wasn’t expecting was that people used the Facebook comments button exactly as they use the share button. They’d select the option to post their comments privately (ie, not on the website, just on their private profile or page) and leave their comment that way. They weren’t sharing any more frequently with the comment box then they were with the share button I already have on my sites. If your users currently never share your Facebook pages, I suppose this could be a plus for you but, if they are already sharing them the same amount, I found Facebook comments to do nothing to contribute to the discussion when people use them this way.
  3. You have to log into Facebook to manage and see comments. This may seem “duh” to you but I found it very annoying to have to log into Facebook to continue the discussion started on my blog. One of the best things about Disqus is the way you can reply via email, from the site itself or from your WordPress dashboard. The easier it is for me to answer a comment the moment I feel like answering it, the better I can serve the community of my website.
  4. Alienates non-Facebook users. Readers who live Facebook free were irritated because they thought they couldn’t comment without having a Facebook account. This isn’t true, of course, you can comment even without a Facebook account but it’s not immediately clear how and users were frustrated by this. Facebook users may be the majority but this caused enough complaints that I feel an option such as Disqus which is friendly with multiple logins is still the better way to go.
  5. It didn’t increase commenting at all. I would have been willing to put up with a whole lot if Facebook comments had really increased commenting the way I thought they would based on interaction on our Facebook page. Sadly, they really didn’t make a difference at all in the number of comments and the number of readers complaints increased.

Facebook comments are also very buggy. I didn’t number this as a disadvantage, though, because I’m sure it will get better and better the longer this service is available and also because it likely depends on your hosting and blog platform. But I wanted to mention it because it can be a bit troublesome depending on the browser you are using and other factors.

All of this said, I know that Facebook comments have their staunch fans. Have you been using Facebook comments on your site for any length of time? What do you see as the advantages or disadvantages?

Just for fun, I’m giving you Facebook comments just on this post if you want to use them (if not, normal comments are below as usual):