I really like Techcrunch’s new “Facebook comments”

Techcrunch today changed from Disqus comments, like the ones I use on my blog, to Facebook comments. That decision was discussed on Techcrunch, including by me (see the comments).

They are hated by a lot of people, see the comments on this Techcrunch post, but I really love them.

Why? The quality of the comments went up 1000%. More on that in a second.

Plus, everytime I comment now I can shove that answer over to Facebook, which brings them more readers since most of their potential growth will come from Facebook.

So, why has the quality of the comments gone up?

1. Much less anonymity. I really hate anonymity. In 10 years of blogging I can only remember a few really great comments done by someone anonymous. But, anonymous people are far more likely to try to destroy the conversation and not be constructive. Even when they are constructively critical, you don’t know where they are coming from or who they are. The simple addition of a real name onto their comments makes their critique much more useful and interesting and more likely to be listened to, in my experience.

Think about it for a second. If someone anonymous says “your post sucks because it didn’t consider xyz point.” Now, what if Tim O’Reilly said it? Or Bill Gates? Are you more likely or less likely to listen to the feedback? Is it more or likely to lead to better conversation?

2. A provable social graph. On Facebook there are quite a few Bill Gates. Lots of people love to impersonate him. But I can pick the real one out because the real one has certain people in his social graph (his friends are people who match who his real life friends are). This means impersonators are easily thrown out of the system.

3. The font is smaller and more compact, so I can see more comments in one stream.

Anyway, for now, I’m sticking with Disqus. I’m watching Techcrunch’s experiment. Over on Quora Techcrunch’s MG Siegler explained more about why they switched.

What do you think? Would switching to Facebook help or hurt here?


47 thoughts on “I really like Techcrunch’s new “Facebook comments”

  1. I’m ok with it. I’m pretty sure there are many more people with Facebook than Disqus. I do like Disqus as well though, as they let me sign in with FB. Just not as quick and integrated. I say go with it!


  2. Truly interesting. I’m thinking that there are many, many spots where a move to FB comments could improve the discussion. But don’t you find that those that are interested in this blog are really “here”? That said, I don’t think it could hurt.


  3. Funny, but since I use Facebook Blocker (since I don’t want Facebook tracking my activities on other sites), when I’m on the TechCrunch site I see no comments at all. The prob w/Facebook as the commenting system is not the removal of anonymity, but the fact that now all my comments elsewhere also appear on Facebook (which may or may not be desirable but the user isn’t given a choice about this).


    1. The fact that the comments are automatically shared really is a problem.
      I comment on sites all across the web, a lot, and would hate for every single one of them to appear in my timeline on my profile, even more so if they appear in my friends’ news feed…


    2. Just like me 😉
      I dont see comments either. Meaning site lost its main purpose, the lols. I sometimes read the article they refer to though. Not anymore.


  4. disqus is a pain.. to me at least.. the question i have is if i comment on your blog do all my other comments pollute you blog too? how much of my facebook is integrated with your blog? do all the comments posted on your blog that follow my comment notify me on facebook, that someone else commented on your blog? so facebook then becomes the message destination, for all of our social comments?


  5. The big problem is that I, like a lot of other people don’t want to link my private/personal/facebook life with my geek/community/business life. There are aspects of both that I want to keep separate. Sure, you can turn off the “Post to facebook wall” option (which you annoyingly have to opt out of every time), but what about my profile picture, and more importantly, my primary network that facebook seems to display without remorse (I really don’t want TechCrunch readers to know where I go to school…)? I wrote up a quick blog post on these issues: http://phrot.com/b/68


    1. Entirely agree. I am particularly at the end of my tether at having to opt out of every change facebook make to their privacy policy.


  6. People should be able to post anonymously. FB and Disqus destroy the safety net of sharing online. Oppressive governments and stalkers will love it if publishers force people to expose their identities.

    Between Facebook Connect and this, you’re essentially being tracked by Mark Zuckerberg all over the internet. The only difference is that he can file a restraining order.


    1. I agree that people should be able to post anonymously, but certainly not everywhere. Places of a sensitive nature obviously have options to maintain some of this anonymity, but others lose all kinds of quality by letting anonymous cowards post with none of their own reputation on the line. It’s all about the specific medium, and in the context of public blogs, I think the benefit of forcing people to put their reputation behind their words is worth changing the status quo for.


      1. Facebook is stepping over the bounds of personal privacy and there’s going to be retaliation. Brian Kennish is only one of a growing number of people who can fight back that will fight back with technical force.


        These are the people you’re giving your private info to. They’re not public officers or trusted officials. They’re yuppies from the valley chatting with their friends at a booth. They could care less.

        Oh noes, we can see the people on the other dixie cup/string thingie!!! :X
        Oh noes, they’re a bunch of dumb valley snobs!


    2. OK, let’s protect those use cases SOMEWHERE but I’ve found that for every “get me out of my tyranny” anonymous message, there are 1,000 that just destroy conversations. So, I’m willing to get rid of anonymity.


      1. “So, I’m willing to get rid of anonymity.”

        You were also willing to be Bill Gates’s megaphone and for somebody unwilling to put advertising on your blog EVER, you are now willing to show the world what Rackspace’s logo looks like.

        You were also willing to say Origami was the next big thing simply because you worked at Microsoft.

        I’d hate to see what you’d say if Google offered you stock options.

        Don’t get excited, they won’t.


      2. My employer is Rackspace, glad you noticed!

        What any of this has to do with anonymity is beyond me. I guess you missed that while at Microsoft I regularly attacked them and told the world about how cool Google was.

        Origami excited me. I just messed up, it was Steve Jobs that shipped the real Origami, not Bill Gates. So shoot me.


      3. “I guess you missed that while at Microsoft I regularly attacked them and told the world about how cool Google was.”

        LOL, that’s some revisionist history.

        “Steve Jobs that shipped the real Origami, not Bill Gates”

        Ah, isn’t it good to speak in metaphors! Why can’t we all!

        “What any of this has to do with anonymity is beyond me.”

        You’re promoting Facebook here on this post as did your friend Michael for 5 long years in a valuation bubble. You want Facebook to have as much XHR javascript snippets on disparate sites on the internet as humanly possible to collect as much data as possible.

        At some point you’ll get your Facebook supporter reward.

        The plight of Robert Scoble continues.

        But this is your domain, and you’re ultimately going to be right.
        I just thought I’d throw in an opposing opinion.


      4. Facebook commenting will simply stifle debate and expression, it’s not just tyrants, it’s the growing trend of social networking policies in the workplace.

        When that’s the price of trying to avoid trolling, then the trolls have won and they’ll still be around, plenty of other people won’t be.


  7. My online, geeky identity has been PXLated since the late 70s. Facebook won’t let me register as that – nor you Robert as Scobleizer. So, I won’t be joining any conversation that uses Facebook. I probably wouldn’t even if they let me use that as I don’t believe in a central identity system in any way, shape or form from anyone.
    I much prefer comments that require registration with a valid email address – Even though I know you can still fake it. It at least makes it an extra step and weeds out a lot of quick response, anonymous, comment artists. I even prefer sites that block people – On Dave Winer’s blog, being blocked is like a badge of honor 🙂


  8. And now facebook owns your comments! Yaaaaay. More facebook garbage that I despise. I really just wish they would go away.


  9. Erica Albright: “As if every thought that tumbles through your head was so clever it would be a crime for it not to be shared. The Internet’s not written in pencil, Mark, it’s written in ink. And you published that Erica Albright was a bitch, right before you made some ignorant crack about my family’s name, my bra size, and then rated women based on their hotness.”


  10. I don’t like it. I prefer to comment under my Twitter account. I don’t troll in comments. My Facebook is private. I use it to contact close friends and family. I hope you don’t change it Robert, I believe Disquis has huge potential for the future and I think you should continue to support startups. I wish Techcrunch would support a startup like Disqus too.

    I’ve never seen any trolls on Techcrunch using their Twitter login to leave comments. Perhaps Techrunch should have disabled anonymous comments instead.


  11. I’ll say that same thing here that I said on Tech Crunch: there is enough difference between my social graph on Facebook and what happens here that I would rather not use FB comments. My FB friends and my brother won’t really be interested.

    However, I can see how they might move into the default choice because so many people are already on FB.

    I feel sorry for Disqus. This will be a battle.


  12. The more I think about this the more it bothers me. Where is the transparency in what data is shared and how it is used. The more facebook go on, the more it feels like users are considered owned commodities to exploit. Judging by the comments on Techcrunch, many are overjoyed by the new system but from a personal perspective, I can’t help but feel like Turkeys are voting for Christmas. Be interesting to see how it pans out.

    I won’t be commenting on Techcrunch any time soon, which is a shame. I will read comments from time to time but the site will see less page views from people like me. In the end I doubt they care, as they will be dealing with all the traffic generated from facebook contacts, drawn in by the brilliance of their friend’s endless comment streams.


  13. One huge problem. If you’re using Facebook as your page identity and not your personal profile, you won’t be able to read or post comments. Nice of them to allow us to use Facebook as our page identity but they need to fix that bug quick.


  14. What this means for me is, while I am at work (8 to 10 hours a day) I wont be able to comment on any of the techcrunch articles. (company blocks FB)
    It is not feasible for me to bookmark articles, go home, and then refer to them later, find the comment I wanted to reply to, and then reply.


  15. The main issues I see so far:

    1) Anonymity: Total BS. Check out the TC posts a week from now, it’ll be business as usual, with plenty of trolls. They’re just adjusting to the reset at the moment, but it’s dead simple to make fake FB accounts, to post as a fan page (which can effectively be a troll, and a single “real” user can create MANY fan pages).

    2) Privacy: Getting conflated with the anonymity problem, but it’s totally separate. I want not only to keep my various life-roles a bit separated (if only to make addressing each datastream in the best time/priority appropriately possible), but also to keep the overall volume of content within each stream at a manageable level. By turning everything on every site into a facebook comment/like, we’ll be inundated, and unable to follow the conversation.

    3) Readability: Where’s the sort button that allows me to display posts by, say, most recent posts, or “old fashioned threading”? I don’t ALWAYS want my friends to float up to the top of a comment stream, because I likely already know what they’re going to say. By filtering comments by the stuff I’m more likely to like/respond to, FB is creating an echo chamber effect, similar to what happens on Quora with certain users.

    4) Inability to flag: No downvotes. No unlike button. Basically, there’s no way to filter OUT what you see, and float better stuff up – you either like what you get, or you scroll down and click ‘more’… Hopefully they’ll iterate on this quickly…

    5) Opt-Out vs. Opt-In: Typical Facebook, hating on the users for their own benefit. Eventually, this is going to bite them on the ass when every third post is made by Taco Bell.

    Nevermind that every site that uses FB comments carries all the supposed “cons” of Disqus, times a billion: reduces the unique chemistry of the community, homogenizes the discussion to the lowest common denominator, etc.

    I’m not against de-anoning discussions online… Honestly, I kinda like how Quora does things – anonymous answers, but no anon-comments. Ideally, anons wouldn’t be allowed to vote on the topics they are anon’d on, too… Still, the idea that somehow FB is a magical wonderland where all users are verifiably real is… just beyond naive.


    1. Deano,
      You did a good job here. Fred Wilson would say that you never should post such fine material on someone else’s site! Yes, I confess, I LOL’D at Taco Bell in item 5.

      Lots of online newspaper sites as well as some U.S. government sites are using Facebook commenting systems. Exclusively. Which is a real problem for me, since I don’t want to use FB anymore.

      I love TechCrunch comments. That is one of my favorite ways to spend time on the internet.

      This is just awful news.

      Disclaimer: I loathe Facebook, think Disqus is excellent. And I like Quora.

      Second disclaimer: The only U.S. government site that is using exclusively FB for commenting of which I am aware is The Voice of America. But lots of the armed services sites show a strong preference for FB’s URL shortener. Better than a *.ly registered domain. Maybe.


  16. Please don’t switch to Facebook comments, Robert. I like your blog and you are the only person that follows me on identi.ca. You follow over 26,000 other people on identi.ca in addition to me, but I am grateful nonetheless.

    Opinion has been trending very much against Facebook commenting in response to your post tonight. I’d ask that you consider that. Also, consider the fact that Disqus is a small start-up competing against a megalithic entity with a market valuation of $50 billion? $70 billion? Which is why I realize that you might not have much choice other than going with Facebook’s comment system.


  17. Excellent point about facebook being able to distribute Robert. I prefer Disqus, I’m not interested in pushing stuff to Facebook. Disqus need to beef up on community and follow features to differentiate themselves.


  18. You can easily change font type and size over DISQUS by CSS. It’s not a big deal for Facebook Comments; instead, it’s a fault, since you can’t change the default font there.

    Plus, there are a plenty of disadvantages on it, most of them commented by Schonfeld in the second paragraph of this post (by the way, no links on Facebook Comments).

    FB Comments is a step back on blog’s comments. DISQUS FTW!



  19. I think they should still use Disqus. Since not everyone uses Facebook. But everyone who wants to comment on a certain post, Facebook user or not will be able to use Disqus. Oh well, I just hope it goes well for TechCrunch.


  20. I don’t hide my identity. But I don’t want to spam my Facebook friends with commentary they can probably give a shit about.


  21. I’m sorry but I think this is the greates BS TC pulled ever. The only reason why TC implemented disqus has nothing to do with “trolls” – it’s just to get more view for their site – and that’s good for them. But seriously what the…? Why you kick out disqus?
    TC always claims that they have an eye for start-ups but now they just cut one of the biggest start-up out of their site?
    TechCrunch is as evil as AOL and I’m proud to say that I have just deleted TechCrunch from my favs and rss feeds. This is just BS….
    Nice one Arrington… keep flirting with Zuckerberg… fits to you and your army of Webtrolls…


  22. I hope you don’t switch to Facebook comments. I don’t post here much, but just keep in mind that not EVERYONE wants Facebook in their lives. We don’t ALL live our life online.


  23. Which WordPress.org plugin would one use to add Facebook commenting? I see there are several, but none of them look like the “official” one.


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