Facebook may be preparing to launch a new version of its Social Commenting plugin. Judging by the version currently implemented on Facebook’s own blog, it may surface high quality comments or help users identify trolls and spammers by assigning users an aggregated credibility score. Since this score travels with users wherever the plugin is integrated, it should encourage more civil, thoughtful commenting.
The aggregated credibility score is shown as a percentage and a total number of comments in the hovercard that appears when a user is moused over in the Social Commenting plugin. Through extensive testing, we’ve determined that the percentage is calculated using the formula (total Likes – total instances marked as unhelpful or spam) / total Likes. For instance, a commenter who has had their comments Liked seven times and been marked as unhelpful once would have the equation (7 – 1) /7, which equates to 85%. Scores are rounded down and are higher than the equation specifies when there are less than five Likes.
Users and admins will be able to look at this credibility score and deduce whether a certain comment is from a reputable source. Trolls and spammers will accrue a low score or have a low number of total comments, indicating their comments aren’t worth replying to, and their links shouldn’t be clicked. High quality users will build a high score and large number of comments over time.
Authenticated Identity is Too Valuable to Risk
Websites often run into issues using their own commenting system or a third-party solution such as Disqus and Intense Debate because there are few deterrents to abusive behavior other than of a site-wide or widget-wide ban. Spammers, trolls, and those looking to dispense hate can easily create another account or move to another site without losing much.
But Facebook wields a much more powerful weapon: the ability to terminate a user’s account, severing all their friend connections. Most users will be too scared of such social ruin to abuse the Facebook Social Commenting plugin with their real account, whether professionally, as a joke, drunk, or in a fit of anger. Since the aggregated credibility score reduces the reach of using a fake account, users have to respectfully comment with their real profile to be part of the conversation.
Examples of the power of authenticated identity to promote serious discussion are already emerging. At the recent Online News Association meetup at Facebook headquarters, Andy Carvin, NPR’s Senior Strategist with their social media desk, said that the conversation on its Facebook Page is more civil than that occurring through the proprietary commenting system on its website.
With its simple cross-publishing feature; quick login for Facebook, Google, Twitter, and Yahoo! users via OpenID; aggregated credibility scoring; and the repercussions Facebook can levy against abusive commenters; any website that accepts comments should strongly consider implementing the new Facebook Social Commenting plugin when it’s released.