The Case of the Comments

November 15, 2010 § 1 Comment

There are sites out there that leave their comments unmoderated, and the results can be somewhat … disastrous. It seems that behind the veil of anonymity, people are likely to write anything and everything, indecent or immoral as it may be.

But here’s one site that has fixed the problem: Money.cnn.com

It’s commenting text field isn’t just a product of the website platform the site uses; instead, the site uses a social plugin from Facebook that integrates comments on the website with an individual user’s Facebook wall. In other words, in order to comment, a reader must first sign in using his or her Facebook account, and comment on any given article with the option to publish that comment on Facebook. Here’s an example (scroll down to the bottom of the page).

Linking comments to a person’s Facebook account makes him or her instantly accountable. The person’s name, picture, and even more personal information, like his or her birthdate, is tied to the comment. And so suddenly, those rogue, ne’er-do-well commenters are shooed away, and all that’s left are comments that are relevant and respectful.

One site that doesn’t do comments so well? MSNBC.

And not for a reason you would think. Ostensibly, the comments on this site are moderated, which is a step in the right direction. But here’s the thing: At the bottom of every article, one comment is displayed. If you want to read more, you have to click on a link that brings you to a different, comment-specific page. (View it here.) Meaning that if you read a comment that provoked you and wanted to counter it with an intelligent comment of your own based on information from the article, you would have to toggle back and forth between both pages, write your comment in a word processing program, and then finally paste it onto the site. It’s baffling to me why MSNBC would set up comments this way. It completely disengages readers, which is the entire purpose of allowing them to comment in the first place.

If you ask me, the Facebook comments are the way to go. No anonymity, only real names. That way people are forced to put their money where their mouth is, or something like that. But I will say that anonymous comments are better than none. The Internet is about interaction, and it would be foolish to disallow comments on an article, except, of course, if it was an obituary or something of such a delicate nature.

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§ One Response to The Case of the Comments

  • dankennedy says:

    Agree that Facebook is a great way of authenticating comments, although you wouldn’t see all the information that you describe unless you were “friends” with that person.

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