Facebook today made some much-needed updates to its commenting platform for third-party sites. Among other things, the commenting plugin now features permalinks to specific comments, a dark colorscheme and support for signing in with Hotmail accounts. Facebook also announced that about 50,000 sites are currently using its Comments Box plugin.
Support for Hotmail Logins
For users, the most important update is likely support for Hotmail logins. Until now you had to either use your Facebook, AOL or Yahoo credentials to sign in and comment. Starting today, Hotmail is joining this group, though website owners have to enable this functionality first (it’s available in the settings menu on the Comments Box itself).
Given that Facebook itself forces users to use their real-world identity, sites that use the Facebook Comments Box have seen quite a few complaints from their readers. Adding support for more login services (and especially Twitter) will be vital to the success of the Comments Box.
While Facebook added a dark colorscheme to the plugin with this update, it’s worth noting that this new version won’t support custom CSS, meaning developers won’t be able to customize the plugin to their own site’s layout in quite the same way as the old version.
Facebook will automatically upgrade all sites to the new version of the comments plugin on April 29th, though you can already upgrade today by adding the ‘migrated=1’ parameter to your existing
Third-party sites can now also customize how comments appear in a user’s news feed (you can add the post’s title, summary etc., making the comments more interesting for those who see them in a user’s stream). In addition, developers now have the ability to use the Graph API to search and export comments, which, according to Facebook, will allow websites to “highlight the most interesting comments, perform analysis on the comment stream, reward top commenters, search through existing comments, and use comments to improve SEO on their site.”