Don’t Mix Business And Personal – Why Facebook Comments Is A Bad Idea For Your Site

I like to leave comments on articles and blog posts I find interesting, and interact with the author. However, if the only option to leave a comment is through Facebook comments, I probably won't use it for the following reasons:

  • My professional persona is separate from my personal persona. I don't want my friends and family reading my comments on "How To Make A Two-Sided Business, One-Sided". It's not relevant for them, and I'd like to keep my feed clean of those messages.
  • I don't want people I interact with for business / professional reasons to view or connect to my Facebook profile. I have a linkedIn profile for those purposes.
  • I have no idea if the author is notified when I post using Facebook comments. One of the main reasons I comment on an article is to start a conversation with the author on the subject. If I can't tell if he's even notified, I probably won't bother.

I understand why people think adding Facebook comments will help drive traffic to their site. Perhaps in some contexts it makes sense, but if you were wondering why no one is commenting on your articles, consider if better engaging your readers is more important to you than polluting their social feed. Also - visitors might not even have a Facebook account, or they are not logged-in at the moment. Don't make this a barrier for engagement.

If people do feel they want to share your article on Facebook, use social sharing buttons, like the ones you see on this blog. Don't force commenting and sharing as a bundle package to readers.

Edit:

After reading and responding to the comments below, I understand it was not completely clear what my stance is. First, I'd like to make it clear I have nothing against Facebook, or its comment widget. I was questioning the appropriateness of having the comment widget on sites / blogs where I read for professional reasons, and would like to keep it separate from my personal Facebook profile.

Keep it separate doesn't mean just that my friends on Facebook will read it, but also whether other readers of the blog will have access to my Facebook profile, which I'd rather avoid.

In addition, I was writing the post from the viewpoint of a site visitor who's been frustrated by having no recourse other than using Facebook comments - not from the viewpoint of the publisher. Content publishers have their own objectives which might not align with mine, and it might be perfectly fine with them that I don't leave a comment on their site. There's nothing wrong with that.

To sum it up - if you care about people who want a separation between their Facebook profiles and their professional reading, you should think twice about using Facebook comments in your site.

  • BrianJones

    Interesting how no-one has commented. It is also good for people who don’t have facebook.

  • http://www.binpress.com Eran Galperin

    Great point! I’ll add it in

  • http://twitter.com/joetorious Joe Horvath

    Completely agree. I deactivated my FB account a while back for various reasons. Having done so, not only am I prohibited from commenting on many articles/blog posts/stories, but apparently many companies would consider me to be a psychopath (
    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2184658/Is-joining-Facebook-sign-youre-psychopath-Some-employers-psychologists-say-suspicious.html).

  • http://twitter.com/sgergely Gergely

    Facebook comments are better because it keeps away trolls, most of the time.

  • http://www.binpress.com Eran Galperin

    I’ll quote something I saw somewhere else – “You must be new to Facebook” ;)

    I’ve seen many facebook troll comments, even with a real profile. It stops nothing. More important to even have comments in the first place – worry about trolls when you have a decent bulk of comments.

  • http://twitter.com/sgergely Gergely

    Fair enough. What about evil spambots?
    I know there are several possibilities like mollom or disqus.
    Also you don’t have to send your comment to your facebook profile but you will be notified by facebook if you have a reply on your comment.
    The last thing what you mentioned is LinkedIn for professional purposes but I think that company will die soon.

  • http://www.binpress.com Eran Galperin

    I use disqus right here, and I like it overall. When I didn’t, I had akismet active – it blocks 99.9% of spam. You can even use both in tandem.

  • http://www.matmullen.com/ Mat Mullen

    @erangalp:disqus You can also turn on Akismet within Disqus for an extra layer of spam filtering.

  • http://www.binpress.com Eran Galperin

    That was my meaning about using both in tandem

  • http://www.techmansworld.com/ Michael Hazell

    Though there is a bug with Akismet right now that allows some legit comments to be detected as false positives.

  • Pete

    I agree.

  • Elhana

    Trolls have another account for trolling, on the other hand I don’t use FB and quite a few times it stopped me from leaving a comment.

  • curious reader

    Why do you then have a “share on facebook” button on this?

  • http://www.binpress.com Eran Galperin

    Read the ending paragraph.

  • http://www.pyrodogg.com Pyrodogg

    I like these particular share buttons. Mind sharing your source?

  • http://www.binpress.com Eran Galperin

    I made those custom, using jquery and a design my colleague used for my startup. I plan on putting a bunch of those on github soon

  • http://www.techmansworld.com/ Michael Hazell

    Can you shoot me an email when you do so?

  • gary

    And believe it not – some of us don’t actually have a facebook account……

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Ryan-Merket/136300045 Ryan Merket
  • lucian303

    Absolutely. There’s a lot of us that refuse the FB ecosystem. Not to mention when FB goes down your site goes down with it.

  • Al_1978

    I had to create a empty facebook account to comment in some sites that forced me to. I don’t like Facebook as a social network and quit a long ago, but I still have this “fake” account to be part of the group. Bad!

  • http://techmansworld.blogspot.com/ncr Michael Hazell

    Instead you should pester those sites via a contact form of some sort to switch to another comment system.

  • http://www.facebook.com/1mandeep Mandeep Janjua

    It’s optional to share your comment on your news feed

  • http://www.facebook.com/testy.testerton.33 Testy Testerton

    Yeah, I’m pretty sure most implementations make sharing to facebook optional.

  • http://www.binpress.com Eran Galperin

    That’s not the point – first off, not all widgets have that option. Second, visitors might not be aware of that option, and just avoid commenting when seeing the widget. And third, that’s not the only reason not to use it in some circumstances. Read the article.

  • phwd

    Umm, that is a point, you have it as a bullet in your post. “Not all widgets have that option”. Wrong. There is only one Facebook Comments Plugin, hiding the option to select/delect share to feed is against policy.

    Saying “Read the article” is quite the snark, how would he know to say it’s optional if he didn’t read it.

  • http://www.binpress.com Eran Galperin

    Maybe the widget has changed, but I have certainly seen widgets in the past without that checkbox. I wasn’t being snark – commenting to only one of the bullet points as if it refutes the article says to me the guy just didn’t read the whole thing.

  • JLei

    Nobody claimed it refuted the whole article. He was correcting one datum you relied on. For all we know, the original commenter could think this article was absolutely brilliant except for that minor fact-check.

  • http://www.binpress.com Eran Galperin

    He posted the same comment on Hacker News before he posted it here, and there he wrote “It’s optional to share your comment on your news feed so I don’t know why author is hating FB comments.”

    It would only seem I’m “hating” if you don’t read the article thoroughly or choose to ignore it.

  • phwd

    There is only *one* plugin which is at http://developers.facebook.com/docs/reference/plugins/comments/ Best to back up (the absence of the share option) where you see this occurs, so that people that are against it, like me, can report it to Facebook Dev Team.

    As to “It’s optional to share your comment on your news feed” there is no way anyone can see that as refuting your whole article. It’s a simple comment responding to one of your points, not one bit of subtle refutal in there.

    “Read the article” is at best rudely brief (because he did read it) at worst snark. Would have been much better to highlight what portion of the article you were trying to make known to him.

    The only thing I would agree with in your article is that not being notified sucks as it requires a FB.Event.subscribe to comments.create event. This isn’t something the regular website owner thinks about, but assumes it is built-in, as an option.

    As to separating personal and business/family, I use a Facebook fan page that represents my internet identity with all the proper links (Stack Overflow, Twitter, Blog) to validate it. Haven’t encountered any issues since. Again the Facebook Comments Plugin loses out in such that you cannot have a certain page profile to comment as by default.

    If you are placing Facebook comments on tech/programming sites, then without a doubt you may see friction. That’s a given. Until you can say same for other areas of interest cooking, sports, etc then I am convinced of your argument within the realm of the tech pseudonym favoured communities.

  • http://laander.com Lasse Boisen Andersen

    If the site is targeting mainstream users/consumers and they are indeed acting as a personal individual when commenting, it might make sense. For instance when shopping around (and given that the products/information isn’t private).

  • llbbl

    I agree with your reasoning. One reason why I like Disqus. With millions of fake facebook accounts, it doesn’t do much to stop the motivated trolls.

  • http://www.facebook.com/reilly3000 Chris Reilly

    Facebook comments means less spam and more comments due to less auth. hurdles. It works exceeding well in that regard. Futhermore, it never requires having the post appear in one’s news feed. But as a publisher, wouldn’t you want the additional traffic social exposure to comments can bring?

  • http://www.binpress.com Eran Galperin

    As I wrote in the article, that is just one reason. I’s rather use the comments for it’s main purpose – having a conversation with the readers. If someone refrains from commenting because of that (like I and most of the commentators here usually do, that’s a loss for me.

    I have social sharing buttons if people want to share, it shouldn’t be a package deal.

  • http://www.spoilertv.com DarkUFO

    @facebook-832465071:disqus Really?

    With 80 Million Plus fake accounts on Facebook I would not be so sure.

    Using Disqus which uses Askimit on our blog Spam is almost completely gone. And we can very easily Block/Ban users/words/links.

    IMHO Disqus is the best commenting system to eliminate spam, Not Facebook.

  • http://techmansworld.blogspot.com/ncr Michael Hazell

    Disqus’ moderation tools are so good.

  • Jules

    I use Facebook Disconnect to avoid Facebook tracking me around the web. As a result, I don’t even get to see comments on Techcrunch anymore, let alone the chance to leave them. Huge disadvantage.

  • http://techmansworld.blogspot.com/ncr Michael Hazell

    Another point to add is that TechCrunch used to use Disqus as their comment system, but then they ditched them for FB’s socal connect comment system. Someone must have been seriously high over there when they decided to do that, because Disqus is flat out better then FB. They even allow you to log in using FB.

  • sanguit

    Interesting points. Since you mention a post from my blog (Reference: http://platformed.info/two-sided-market-seeding/), I’d say I’m experimenting with it because a leading blog where I guest-blog recently saw a spike in commenting because of FB comments. Moreover, one always has the option not to have the comment published to their feed while commenting.

    BTW, If you had any comments on the post, I’d love to discuss. Blogging, as you mention, has the discussion as its reward. :)

  • http://www.binpress.com Eran Galperin

    I really liked that post and wanted to leave a comment, but ultimately refrained because of the Facebook comments.

    If you remove it, let me know – I’ll be glad to leave a comment there, as the subject is very close to my heart.

  • http://www.techmansworld.com/ Michael Hazell

    Heads Up: That URL now has Disqus for comments.

  • PickedName

    True story. I usually like to comment on the stories I read, but when the website asks me to connect with Facebook, Twitter, Google+, etc., I just don’t leave a comment at all.

    Oh, and I don’t like this one as well. I will just enter random@e-mail.anyway, so why is it mandatory?
    Please enter both a name and email address.

  • jz

    Agreed. If Facebook, etc is required I wont comment either.

    What is worst is that at work Facebook is blocked so on some websites I can’t even see the comment section. Not 100% sure but I think usatoday is one of those sites.

  • Pingback: Don’t Mix Business And Personal – Why Facebook Comments Is A Bad Idea For Your Site « techfounder | facebook in the news()

  • http://www.spotsift.com Peter Chang

    Points 1 and 3 seem invalid. In all likelihood, your parents/friend wouldn’t see your comment regarding professional content due to how they filter content that they will see. Considering they are your personal connections and not professional, I doubt they would see it. Or, if they did, it would be filtered out over time as they choose to not interact with the content (assuming they have a learning algorithm which it appears they do based on what I see on my feed).

    If the author/site put the Facebook comment widget on their site, then in all likelihood they will be notified if you do comment. That would be the point of the widget. But, even if they weren’t, do alternative commenting systems guarantee that they would more than the FB widget?

  • http://www.binpress.com Eran Galperin

    Not all facebook comment widgets allow posting without posting to the stream. Regardless, many are not aware of this distinction and will not comment even when the option to avoid positing to Facebook exist.

    Regarding your second point – you don’t expect visitors to your site to know how the facebook comments widget works, do you? having never used it myself, it looks like a stream of facebook posts which is detached from the site – it looks like it’s on Facebook. It raises the suspicion it’s only there to get social traction, instead of engaging the author.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Ryan-Merket/136300045 Ryan Merket

    Can you please show me a Facebook comment widget that doesn’t allow you to turn off sharing your comment to your stream? It’s agains the Facebook Platform TOS and something Facebook takes very seriously.

  • http://www.binpress.com Eran Galperin

    I really don’t remember where I saw any Facebook comments widget recently, aside from the site that triggered this post. It’s possible the widget changed from then and now always includes that checkbox.

    If you can find where it says in the Facebook ToS that such a widget cannot exist, I will make the effort of tracking down that widget.

  • phwd

    https://developers.facebook.com/policy/#integration

    IV.4.d. You must not obscure or cover elements of our social plugins, such as the Like button or Like box plugin.

    I asked you for proof before, but either my comment didn’t go through or you didn’t approve it :/

  • http://www.binpress.com Eran Galperin

    I didn’t moderate any comments on this post, I assure you.

    That clause doesn’t say anything about a widget having not having the checkbox natively – I never said it was a custom modification in an attempt to hide the facebook interface – what I meant was that last I saw the widget, it didn’t have that checkbox. Probably Facebook added it after complaints from users.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Ryan-Merket/136300045 Ryan Merket

    https://developers.facebook.com/docs/guides/policy/policy_checklist/english/ – -“Social Channels” last bullet.

    “App does not automatically post Stream stories on a user’s behalf and instead obtains consent by providing users with an option to click a button or check a box that clearly explains their content will be shared.”

  • http://www.binpress.com Eran Galperin

    This is not an app, it’s a native facebook widget. Those terms only apply to app developers, not facebook itself.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Ryan-Merket/136300045 Ryan Merket

    Wrong. Anytime you put a widget on your site you have to create an app_id. That app_id is subject to ALL of the platform policies. For context I used to be on the Facebook Platform team… Here’s an example of the native/Facebook created widget running in the wild:https://skitch.com/rmerket/ec4

  • http://www.binpress.com Eran Galperin

    Alright, now I understand where this defensive stance comes from… if you say that such a widget never existed, I’ll believe it. I’m positive I saw it in the past, but I could be wrong. It doesn’t change any of my points, however.

    Please note that I’m not anti-facebook, or anti Facebook-comments widget, only against using it in specific situations where I feel it’s not appropriate and prevents people (myself included) from joining the conversation for our own reasons (with which you may disagree, but you cannot dismiss).

  • phwd

    You still haven’t shown this website that has this, in addition the option to post to Facebook has been available for at least a year.

    P.S. I had wrote two long comments that have been ate up by your comment system, too bothered to rewrite them again. I am pretty sure it’s in your queue or spam.

  • http://www.binpress.com Eran Galperin

    You were right, those comments were caught in the spam filter. I released them, so they are published now.

    I will make an effort to find that widget later, though it’s possible that the current version of it simply does not have that option (and you said it’s been like that for over year, so I guess that search will be futile now). In any case, that is not the point of my article at all (it’s not even mentioned in the main article).

  • phwd

    Again, there are many people asking for an honest example of where you saw this. The checkbox has been natively there for a good few months (http://developers.facebook.com/blog/post/472/ ) That post was in March 2011, so more than a year. Please show this website you speak of.

    And as such removing it or in other words the user doesn’t know about it or in other words *it is obscured* gets back right in line with the clause.

  • KH

    In my experience it also discourages critiques or criticisms in some contexts, and those who end up posting are much more sycophantic. For instance, TechCrunch used to have some comments that would be critical of an idea, or VC firm, or new startup, but after putting in the FB commenting system those went away. This greatly degrades the discussion into yes-men, and gives the impression of validation because anyone who disagrees just doesn’t post.

  • http://www.binpress.com Eran Galperin

    Very good point – I stopped commenting on TC altogether since they switched to FB comments.

  • timrpeterson

    ditto, deleted my fb acct too

  • http://www.spoilertv.com DarkUFO

    @erangalp:disqus
    Same here. Never comment on any site/blog that does not use Disqus now. I like how all my comments that I’ve posted are on a single dashboard.

  • RP

    I used to have FB comments on my blog, and I’ve always had some doubts in the back of my mind, I think I’m switching it Disqus after reading this article

  • http://www.themana.gr/ Flavio Martins

    +1. I don’t comment on them because I don’t want my Facebook timeline littered with “commented on XYZ…”.

    Also, I think that FB comments gets used because authors believe that it’ll be easier for the audience to comment and maybe be more apt to actually leave a comment.

    As a blogger, I know first hand how little readers will actually comment on articles so I can see how it’s tempting to throw FB comments in there and make it a little easier since so many people are connected on FB.

    But at the end of the day…just don’t do it. It’s not worth it.

  • jobjod

    so true. FB is going down.

  • ___-____

    Just found out this one in hacker news. Could not agree more.

  • http://tomakefast.com/source2 pjbrunet

    Just use WordPress comments and keep your data. Disqus is not running a charity.

  • http://tomakefast.com/source2 pjbrunet

    And let me tell you something. I know from experience these comments are worth many thousands of dollars if you know how to throw up some Adsense or an affiliate program. When you use a widget for comments, you’re essentially flushing money down the drain.

  • http://techmansworld.blogspot.com/ncr Michael Hazell

    Disqus tells you that you own your comments, and they don’t sell data to advertisers. If Disqus was to ever turn into something like the FB comment system, then I’d have to ditch them.

  • http://engag.io/ William Mougayar

    What if they gave them to google?

  • http://techmansworld.blogspot.com/ncr Michael Hazell

    You mean like indexing comments? If you are referring to that, then yes, I guess Google is indexing comments. But isn’t that what everyone wants?

  • http://engag.io/ William Mougayar

    Isn’t that similar to Facebook indexing your Facebook Comments too? (I’m not taking sides with either or saying it’s bad- just trying to understand what users want)

  • http://techmansworld.blogspot.com/ncr Michael Hazell

    The new Disqus 2012 is SEO certified by Google, so Google can index comments. It has to with SEO. They detailed this on one of their posts on the Disqus blog.

  • http://twitter.com/MyEzApp My Easy App

    same here. this article has a very good point.

  • http://www.facebook.com/lingzbao Ling Bao

    I work on the developer products team at Facebook. We considered many of your points when building the comments product and made a few explicit decisions as a result that should help with the issues you raised. First, posting back to Facebook is optional (uncheck “post to Facebook”). Second, our comments plugin works without a Facebook account (Use AOL, Hotmail, Yahoo, etc). We appreciate the feedback – it’s clear that some of these product and design decisions might not be obvious enough.

  • http://www.binpress.com Eran Galperin

    Thanks for adding your input here, Lin, it’s always interesting to hear from the developers of the product. Can you verify whether an earlier version of the widget shipped without the checkbox (or whether it was optional previously)? I’m sure I saw that but it could be just that I’m used to seeing that comment box from Facebook itself that I just didn’t see it was slightly different.

  • http://techmansworld.blogspot.com/ncr Michael Hazell

    You still need to add more login options, and even if I do connect with something such as Windows Live, FB demands too much access to my account and personal info. I only use Disqus for commenting because it does not demand me to give up all of my privacy.

  • jbax

    Disqus on the other hand is pretty sweet

  • timrpeterson

    disqus will supplant fb commenting

  • none

    what an irony, you allow people to comment using facebook.

  • http://www.binpress.com Eran Galperin

    I’m not sure how that is ironic – if people choose to comment using the Facebook login through disqus, that’s perfectly fine. My point was that having it as the only option will deter many people (including myself) from commenting.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Ryan-Merket/136300045 Ryan Merket

    So why not do a blog post on how to allow people to login to other service providers using the official Facebook Comments plugin? https://skitch.com/rmerket/ec4cp/easypromos-for-timeline-appbistro-facebook-app-directory-facebook-timeline-apps-and-business-tools

  • http://www.binpress.com Eran Galperin

    You see, you can add constructive comments if you choose to. So far you’ve only been attacking my position without offering alternatives.

    I was voicing my opinion as a visitor to a site that used Facebook comments which prevented me (for my own reasons which are listed in the post) to comment. Not as a publisher who knows the ins and outs of configuring Facebook comments (which I don’t). That site didn’t offer any alternative sign-in options.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Ryan-Merket/136300045 Ryan Merket

    I’m sorry, but this entire post reeks of wildly whining with little fact checking.

    1) Uncheck “Post to my Timeline” before you click “Post” within the Facebook Comments plugin. Please don’t respond and say, “well, other plugins don’t have this” — BS. It’s against the Facebook Platform TOS and not having it will get you banned from the Facebook Platform. If there really is a plugin that doesn’t have this option, prove it.

    2) Change your privacy settings so that the general public can’t see anything but your profile photo and name (same data they see in the comments).

    3) I can’t tell that if I write a comment on your blog, or any other WordPress blog for that matter, if my comments are going to notify the author. This is a moot point and seems something you scrounged together to have 3 points instead of 2.

  • http://www.binpress.com Eran Galperin

    Do you really expect people to go through your checklist before using Facebook comments? I expect they will just avoid commenting all together when they see it

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Ryan-Merket/136300045 Ryan Merket

    This checklist is for you. Mind you, that not everyone has this list of requirements before using Facebook comments. Looking at the number of comments on my blog and company blog pre-Facebook Comments and post-Facebook Comments, I would say you are in the minority here.

  • http://www.binpress.com Eran Galperin

    I might be, though I doubt it considering the reaction so far. Even if I am in the minority, I think I’m allowed to have my own opinion on my blog.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Ryan-Merket/136300045 Ryan Merket

    Where did I say you can’t have your own opinion?

  • http://www.binpress.com Eran Galperin

    Your previous comment implies that my opinion is not important since I am the “minority”. Your other comments as well try to dismiss my arguments as “whiny” and “incorrect”. You need to consider this an opinion piece on a blog, and there’s nothing technically incorrect in the article. I was writing it from the viewpoint of a site visitor, not an expert on Facebook comments.

  • http://www.techmansworld.com/ Michael Hazell

    If you have your own site, you might as well as embed a list of all of these points if you have the Facebook comment system. Using Disqus is just a simpler way to do comments. No reason to really not use it unless you hate them.

  • timrpeterson

    fb commenting is a lethal mistake

  • http://www.spoilertv.com DarkUFO

    Some other small points.

    1) Facebook is blocked at a lot companies which makes it impossible to read/leave comments.

    2) Not everyone has Facebook and thereby they feel excluded

    3) There is no central way to see all the comments I’ve made across numerous sites

    4) I could see no RSS feed for comment threads using Facebook.

  • http://techmansworld.blogspot.com/ncr Michael Hazell

    Good points. It is also sad to hear that Disqus is blocked by some company firewalls and some schools (LightSpeed Systems specifically).

  • http://techmansworld.blogspot.com/ncr Michael Hazell

    I love using Disqus. FB commenting is terrible.

  • http://abdallahalhakim.tumblr.com/ Abdallah Al-Hakim

    Facebook is my least favourite medium for posting comments but I still do it anyways. If i don’t want the comment to appear on my FB page then I uncheck the box for that. However, sometimes, the comment might be relevant to my facebook page so I keep that box checked. My biggest problem with FB comments is that it forces people to get a FB account. I understand that many people already have one but it shouldn’t be a perquisite for commenting

  • Executor89

    Finally people are realizing facebook seamless integration is a violation of privacy rights and usability

  • lumpygravy2

    The social graph is total BS. All these gullible people will regret their actions some day. Farcebook is a pox and I will have nothing to do with it.

    Glad to see a professional say what needs to be said about that garbage. Remember AOL, same deal.

  • Shan

    Great point

  • TJ JR

    Nice