Facebook Rolling Out Replies, Ranked Comments

By David Cohen 

As reported last week, Facebook announced Monday that it will launch new features for its comments section: Replies, which will allow page administrators and users to reply directly to comments, rather than having to post their own comments; and ranked comments, which will move the most engaging comments to the top of comment threads.

Replies will be turned on automatically starting Monday for pages and profiles with more than 10,000 followers, with other page admins able to opt in via the “manage permissions” section in the page admin panel. The feature, initially available via desktop only, will then be turned on for all pages by July 10.

Facebook began testing the feature, which it referred to at the time as threaded discussions, last November, testing ranked comments at the same time.

Facebook Journalism Program Manager Vadim Lavrusik announced the launches in a note on the Facebook + Journalists page, offering some examples of uses of replies:

When Grantland’s Bill Simmons was doing a live stream around March Madness coverage, he asked his followers to submit questions for him and his guests, which they would answer on the live stream, as well as reply directly to the viewer asking the question. Simmons used the tool to source questions for the show and interact with viewers directly.

When The Huffington Post shared an image of the First Family at President Barack Obama’s Inauguration, readers responded with more than 600 comments, with several comments sparking conversation threads about the inaugural ceremony and address.

Replies can also be used to foster open dialogue with your community. For example, “SportsCenter” hosted a Super Bowl chat with Herm Edwards, where viewers were able to ask questions and get direct responses from the former National Football League coach and player. The most active conversations during the Q&A were surfaced higher in the thread.

Lavrusik also offered more details on ranked comments:

Conversation threads are reordered by relevance to viewers, and they may appear differently to each person based on their connections, specifically:

  • Positive feedback: the amount of positive feedback based on the total number of likes and replies in a conversation thread, which includes likes or replies by the page owner.
  • Connections: Connections to participants in a thread may move the conversation higher. For example, conversations with comments left by friends may appear at the top.
  • Negative feedback: the total number of spam reports in a thread, as well as marks-as-spam made by the page owner. We also may down-rank comments made by frequent spammers.

Readers: Do you think replies and ranked comments are good additions to Facebook’s comments feature?