Admins of websites using Facebook’s Comments Box social plugin can now push the best comments on a post to the top thanks to a new “Boost Comment” moderation option. While Facebook already sorts comments by relevance and a user reputation score, Boost Comment gives admins the power to control which comments are most visible.
For websites inundated by trolls and low quality comments such as “First!”, the ability to control the order of comments could be a big selling point for the Comments Box.
Facebook relaunched the Comments Box social plugin for third-party websites in March. It has since increased the size of the news feed stories generated by comments, added the ability to export comments, provided login options for AOL, Yahoo!, and Hotmail. It later added Comments Box performance stats to Insights and a subscribe button to comment threads.
By mid-April, 50,000 websites had integrated the plugin, but it is competing against comment plugin providers that have been in business for years and developed more streamlined moderation flows. Facebook’s primary advantage over competing comment plugin providers is its massive social graph, and its ability to drive topical awareness and engagement via exposure in the news feed. Facebook’s addition of Boost Comment shows Facebook is trying to use its reach and untraditional features rather than core functionality to draw websites.
How to Boost Comments
When admins moderate comments from either the dedicated comment moderator tool or the moderator view on a post, they can click the “Moderation” link to reveal several options. Now, in addition to “Approve Comment”, “Hide Comment” and “Ban User”, admins can select to “Boost Comment”
This pushes that comment to the top of the reel. If an admin boosts multiple comments, they’ll appear in reverse chronological order of boosting, so the last comment to be boosted appears first. By clicking the “Moderation” link on an already boosted comment, admins can select “Unboost Comment” to rebury it.
Admins can use the feature to promote the most thoughtful comments to set an example, those they think will spark conversation to gain more traffic when replies are pushed to Facebook, or those written by site admins to surface official comments.
Facebook currently doesn’t allow visitors to Comments Box-integrated sites to select how comment reels are sorted. Others plugins such as Disqus let readers sort by parameters such as chronological order, most popular now, or best rated, but none of these are as good a filter as a human admin.
Boost Comment gives significant new editorial control to admins. Since they are already reading the comments for moderation purposes, the addition of a sorting option in the same flow is intuitive and useful. Whether admins use the feature to enhance discussion, or just to promote flattering comments and bury critical ones is up to them.