Content sites that once benefited from raucous discussion in comments have complained that some of the conversation has been drained off by social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. Facebook today announced changes to its Comment Box widget that will plug the hole a little and keep at least some of the comments next to the original content.
If a site owner implement the Facebook Comments Box widget underneath content on a site, visitors who are already logged into Facebook can comment without having to log in again. The new comments box also supports some third-party log-ins. Additionally, if someone who comments keeps the “send to Facebook” box checked, their comment — along with a link to the original content — will appear on their Wall and in their friends’ News Feeds.
The unique part of the offering, which differentiates it from other comment provides like Disqus, is what happens if someone sees the comment on their Facebook News Feed, and comments further. The new comment appears both on the wall and on the widget on the original site.
“Discussion threads stay synced across Facebook and on the Comments Box on your site regardless of where the comment was made,” Facebook wrote in a post on its developers blog. “Users will also receive a notification whenever another user replies to their comment. Clicking on the notification will take the user back to the web page where the comment originated, driving more traffic back to your site.”
Web site owners who have a Facebook Page for their sites can comment on a site’s content while logged in as the Page administrator. Then, Facebook users who’ve “Liked” the Page will be able to see that comment, and a link to the original content, in their News Feeds and on the Page’s Wall — ideally sparking more discussion.
The new Comment Box is also designed to use social signals — similar to what Facebook uses in its News Feed — to surface the most relevant comments to the top. Facebook has also added more moderation possibilities, allowing admins to adjust the visibility of comments, ban users and blacklist words.
Anticipating concerns about the ownership of comments — in case site owners who adopt the new system decide in the future to abandon it — sites can pull the comments posted on their sites via an enhanced Facebook API.
In the last few days, Facebook has also made changes to its Like button to add more visibility and control for site owners.