Facebook comment plugin
In the event that anybody else runs into this problem, we identified an issue a few weeks ago where the Facebook comment plugin on our website, GazetteXtra, developed a bug that prevents users of iOS mobile devices from posting comments.
I filed a ticket with Facebook development and was told they have no plans to fix this bug. There is at least one other Town News site, stltoday.com, who identified the same issue as us.
We're going to look at other options for commenting on articles.
Customer support service by UserEcho
I'm the other person who noticed this issue and jumped onto the ticket with you... I'm feel like I've been smacked upside the head with a mackerel, that response from Facebook left me floored. I have to assume that somebody at that end mis-read the ticket.... I can't believe they're just going to drop support for all things Apple.
Right??! The only thing I can think of is that they are either suspending development on the comments plugin at some point in the near future or they just can't be bothered to fix something they probably aren't making any money on.
When I saw your comment on the ticket, I thought maybe they'd take it a little more seriously since the Post-Dispatch is in another universe from us as far as number of users and visibility, but that didn't seem to have any effect.
It really is quite unbelievable.
We have a few contacts at Facebook, so I can see if we are able to at least get a little more information about what this means or making sure they understand that this basically means the plugin doesn't work on nearly half of all pages. Across our network, iOS is 41% and Mac is 4%.
That being said, we've seen a trend among our customers to actually move off of Facebook commenting in recent years. I think a few years ago we (we = media industry) thought that making users post with their Facebook identities (i.e. real names, usually) would cause them to be more civil. But, that certainly didn't happen. If anything, Facebook comments has almost made it easier for troll types to participate in article-page discussion. (I don't think this is a controversial opinion - I'm curious if anyone disagrees.)
And, since the Facebook comments plugin does take TIME to load on the page (and since it is on an external server there can be random latency issues) it does end up being a page speed "investment." (My philosophy is that anything you put on your site - especially third-party widgets - requires that you "spend" some of your valuable page load time on that widget. If it takes 2 seconds to load, even asynchronously, it increases your page abandonment, which costs you money via ad impressions and ad viewability scores).
(Sorry about the overuse of parenthesis in the two paragraphs above! (I need to work on that.))
So, what are the other options? We have built-in support for:
Livefyre - This is now part of Adobe Experience Manager, which is $$$
The World Table - My recommended third-party vendor. They have great engagement features and robust moderation tools. It also has a page you can set up that has all the most recent comments, so a user can just go into that area and reply to other comments, sort of like a forum. It is ad supported, but not as many ads as Disqus.
There is also BLOX Comments. We don't have as many features as other third-party systems - however, since it is not an external system, it has almost no additional weight page load.
As a side note, if you chose to implement your comments with a "load comments" button, it should not have any impact on your regular article page speed - though I assume you would lose some commenting engagement. So if you're using a third party, that could be a way to go.
Some sites recently have been implementing Viafoura. We don't have an official integration with it, but it can be done. I'm not familiar with the pricing or other details, but it looks like it has a lot of media customers.
"I think a few years ago we (we = media industry) thought that making users post with their Facebook identities (i.e. real names, usually) would cause them to be more civil. But, that certainly didn't happen."
A little off-topic but I just wanted to chime in about this particular thought. We instituted a "Real Name Policy" back in 2015 and definitely found that it did make our commenters more civil. We spend much less time now responding to reported posts and dealing with trolls.
Thanks for adding that. I definitely agree with that for BLOX Comments, and possibly other less-popular commenting systems.
And I do feel that having to post under your real Facebook profile will deter some users from posting bad things.
The problem is that it facilitates bad actors on Facebook to be able to post more easily, and that offsets the gain from requiring real names.
That's just my opinion though, it would be interesting to actually look at real data.
In addition - there seems to be a big reduction on troll versus real comments on Facebook in the last several months.
Christine — Can you post a link to The Word Table? I'm not getting anywhere in Google searches.
Hi Elizabeth, You can find more information about The World Table on our website:
Thank you. I found where the Daily Herald is using it, do you have any other sites using it that I could take a look at?
Hi Elizabeth (and others :),
I'm product manager for World Table, and I'm happy to answer any questions you have about World Table. You can find some helpful information about World Table from our website: www.worldtable.co. Also I would direct you to a couple of case studies we've published from Daily Herald and The Salt Lake Tribune, here: https://www.worldtable.co/category/case-studies/
At the Daily Herald, we share how Daily Herald grew their commenting community and the power of in article surveys to guide conversations, and increase engagement (including signups). At the Salt Lake Tribune we share how we are helping them manage what was a famously raucous community of commenters and actually increase page views significantly on comments.
We've built a suite of tools tailored specifically to build engagement on Newspaper sites, and would love to share how we can help you build and manage your commenting community - and more. Feel free to ask questions here or send me an email (email@example.com) - happy to set up a call, or demo.
Product Manager and COO
A couple examples of sites using World Table:
Salt Lake Tribune https://www.sltrib.com/
Daily Herald https://www.heraldextra.com/
East Idaho News https://www.eastidahonews.com/
Ogden Standard Examiner https://www.standard.net/
Jack, I sent a query email yesterday. I'd love to do a call/demo. Thanks!
Thanks for that information, Christine. I've got a dialog open with our sales manager Phil Pracht and we're currently looking at the other solutions you offer, namely Disqus.
In looking at our analytics over the last month or so, we have a similar 39% iOS/4% Mac user base. Though I'm sure most of those users never comment to begin with, so wouldn't notice any issues.
I agree with everything you said, we had a hope that the commenting would be more civil through the Facebook plugin and while it is an improvement from some of our past experiences with anonymous comments, it's no magic bullet. On the other hand, we've also seen a decrease in commenting on GazetteXtra over the last few years. We have the usual 10-12 users that comment regularly, but otherwise it's a lot of one-off comments, much of the time to stir the pot.
In the last week, we recorded 56 comments on GazetteXtra (plus 41 spam comments) while comments on our Facebook page numbered 819. Clearly, people are more engaged with discussion and comments on Facebook itself.
I look forward to seeing if you're able to pull any further information from Facebook as to why they decided to let this bug go and not address it.
I'm the product manager for World Table. We are another BLOX integrated system for commenting but also additional engagement tools built collaboratively with the News publishers we have partnered with.
We would love the opportunity to explain how (and show you) why we're the best choice for commenting on GazetteXtra. Have a look at the case studies we've recently released: https://www.worldtable.co/category/case-studies/ that show how World Table in-article surveys can grow community and our approach to moderation can transform a commenting community.
Our website will give you an idea of what we are about www.worldtable.co, but I would love to talk with you and show you what we have to offer. Can we schedule something? (firstname.lastname@example.org or my personal email email@example.com)
Product Manager and COO
We are in a similar boat and debating what switch to make to move away from Facebook comments.
I'm extremely intrigued by the Talk project. It's now owned by Vox, but it was developed to serve The Washington Post and The New York Times. It's open source, but we don't have the development staff to build it in. I'm wondering if TownNews is considering this as a future option or if any customers have figured out how to integrate it on their sites.