Facebook is updating its Comments social plugin. The new version allows users to vote comments up or down, view threaded replies, and see the primary network or employer of other commenters. Facebook says it is testing the new plugin on the Facebook Blog and Facebook Developer Blog, and that the update focuses on “features around authenticity, social relevance, ranking, and distribution.”
By improving the plugin’s feature set and interface, Facebook can attract more websites to integrate it and pull market share away from other third-party commenting plugins such as Disqus and IntenseDebate.
Social plugins were launched at f8 to give websites a way to easily integrate different Facebook functionalities. These plugins include the Like Button, Activity Feed, and Recommendations, as well as the newer Live Stream and Facepile. Over 2 million sites have now integrated Facebook’s social plugins, providing them growth in traffic, engagement, and time-on-site.
The updated Comments plugin allows user to see a green up-vote arrow and a red down-vote arrow next to comments. Once clicked and after the page is reloaded, the votes are added or subtracted from the vote count next to a commenter’s name. Users will see the percentage of total votes a comment has received that were up-votes if they hover over the commenter’s name. Therefore if a comment says it has 5 votes and and 100% quality score, and you down-vote it, it will show that it has 4 votes and and 80% quality score. Comments are not sorted by vote counts or quality score.
Comments now include a reply button which opens a threaded reply when clicked. This allows commenters to carry out sub-conversations within the comment reel. Users can check a box to post new comments they make to their profile, but comment replies won’t be posted. To give users some context about their fellow commenters, names are accompanied by that user’s network or employer and position.
Developers can visit the documentation page for the Comments social plugin to customize settings and receive their embed code for placing the plugin on their site. The plugin can be seen live on the Facebook Blog.
Facebook’s Comments plugin has the most third-party competition of any of its plugins. Since comment reels on websites are usually filled with interactions between people who aren’t friends, integrating the social graph isn’t essential and developers without access can still make highly functional comments plugins. Therefore, it’s important that Comments integrate voting, as well as other features standard to other comment plugins such as flagging for objectionable comments, comment sorting by different parameters, and even syndication of comments to other social platforms including Twitter.