Back in October of last year, news started to trickle out that Facebook was completely revamping their commenting system plugin. The very thought had to send a chill down the spine of commenting startups like Disqus, Echo, and Livefyre. In a statement to us at the time, Facebook confirmed the upgrades, and vaguely said, “we’ll have more to share in the coming weeks.” Well, weeks turned to months — nothing. But that may be about to change.
Facebook is on the verge of launching a full commenting system for third-party sites, CNET’s Caroline McCarthy reports today. She cites multiple sources who claim the product should be ready to roll out in a matter of weeks. And apparently it could be implemented at launch on a number of high-profile sites (no, not us — unless AOL has us totally out of the loop on this one).
As you can see in our original screenshot, the system (which was in place on Facebook’s own blogs) was starting to look a lot like one that could compete with the aforementioned commenting startups. But looking at the comment system on Facebook’s own blogs today, it looks a little more refined — you can post as a Page, for example. And the voting element has been removed — or replaced. Interestingly enough, if you hover over a person’s name, you not only see how many comments they’ve left, but what their “like” percentage is. Perhaps that’s the ratio of “likes” their comments get versus the number of times they’re “X”-ed out — though that’s just a guess.
Here was Facebook’s full statement to us in October:
We’re currently testing a new comments plugin on the Facebook Blog and Facebook Developer Blog that incorporates feedback from users and developers and features around authenticity, social relevance, ranking, and distribution. We’ll have more to share in the coming weeks.
Authenticity is clearly the key as to why anyone would use Facebook’s system. But interestingly, McCarthy also notes that Facebook’s plugin could allow people to log-in with Google, Yahoo, or Twitter IDs. That’s odd — unless those accounts are already tied to a Facebook account ensuring people are who they say they are.
If Facebook does indeed get fully into these waters (Connect comments have obviously long been a staple of other services), it will have very interesting implications for the entire blogosphere. Will anonymous comments become a thing of the past? Could this be a troll slayer?
Update: And here come the responses. Echo’s Chris Saad notes that they’re a week away from their “e2” product launch, and points us to the fact that Reuters, Universal Music Group/Interscope, Sports Illustrated and others will be there to unveil the new system. He says that they’ve known Facebook has been working on something for some time, but says that steps have been taken to “counter this increasing pressure”.
Update 2: And here’s the official comment out of Facebook (that’s similar to the last one, but without the promise of more to come):
Based on feedback from developers about ways to improve our existing comments plugin, we’re testing an updated plugin that leverages authenticity and social relevancy to increase distribution. We’re testing the plugin on our Facebook Blog and Developer Blog but have no further details to share at this time.