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Facebook comments: Fewer and better, or just fewer?

Alistair Croll and Sean Power examine the impact of Facebook's embedded comments tool.

Alistair Croll and Sean Power recently reviewed how embedded Facebook comments affect the number of comments on posts. They used TechCrunch as a test case, comparing comment totals, Facebook likes, Google Buzz and Twitter activity one week before and one week after TechCrunch implemented the FB comment plugin.

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On first blush, the numbers might be surprising, and even a bit disconcerting. Croll and Power’s analysis showed:

  • For all posts, implementing FB Comments caused a 42% reduction in the total amount of comments, and a 38% reduction in comments per post.
  • For the average post, implementing FB Comments caused a 58% reduction in the total amount of comments and a 56% reduction in the average amount of comments per post.

(Note: For the “average” analysis, they discarded the data from the top and bottom 5 percent.)

The results also indicated, however, that Google Buzz increased 30 percent overall and Facebook likes increased in total and average analyses as well. While the reduction in comments may appear to be a bad thing, one TechCrunch reader (not at all involved in Croll and Power’s analysis study), noticed the change post-FB comment plugin and was thrilled with the reduction in spam and troll comments.

As reader engagement not only requires real readers with real thoughts, but also improves based on the quality of engagement, perhaps forcing commenters to log in with a real Facebook persona improves interaction in a quality-over-quantity kind of way.

You can read Croll and Power’s complete report here and download their data here.

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  • Aaron

    I don’t think I’m alone in saying that I will never comment on a blog that requires third-party authentication.

    I like to think that some of us in this camp have something valuable to add to some conversations, so I’m always disappointed to see these walls go up.

    There are plenty of robust, accurate spam-blocking solutions on the market for free or cheap. So, whenever I am forced to “login to comment” I can only assume that my information is being harvested and sold. No thanks.

  • http://www.directmarketingobservations.com Marc Meyer

    Jenn, interesting that the thinking was or is, integrating the FB comment plugin will increase comments and yet did not-I doubt they thought that it would reduce the # of troll comments. As for GBuzz-When you start at 0, 30% isn’t as significant as one might think-but hey it’s a start.

  • http://blueboden.com/ BlueBoden

    People tend to avoid sites who require authentication to comment, there is the exception with more popular sites. But generally, people will pass on the commenting for smaller unknown blogs, that they happen to pass by.

    captcha solutions are also bad, especially when no alternative is provided. I.e. Validation of comments by mail.

    I especially dislike reCAPTCHA, because you can’t control which books you help to digitize, (not all books are worthy).

    People should also understand, that some policing will be required. Currently we can only automate very little, to avoid false positives. And captcha systems are either to easy for bots, or to hard for people.

    Authentication is actually not that important, given you have a good infrastructure, which can help prevent, and even delete spam.

  • http://eternalydenied.wordpress.com/ Swapan

    Well, to the fact i do agree with Aaron. Third party authentication is a big time NO-NO for me. However, i play with my tech brain at times to make a conclusion before my information are harvested for nothing.

  • attractingwomen

    I agree with it, this may show the reduction of the amount of comment simply because of inconvenient of some third party authentication… most don’t want to because of time spent on it, some just want to express it immediately so doing this authentication takes for most readers time, but as all we know it reduces those not serious to serious readers.