Hi, all. I wrote this to see if we can generate some discussion about potentially changing the Missourian’s and Vox magazine’s commenting systems. Currently, each requires a commenter simply to log in to the appropriate web site, type in the box, and hit “submit.”

There’s been some discussion among a group of editors about moving our commenting to the Disqus system, which allows users to log in once and comment across multiple web sites. Joy Mayer also has a capstone student who had asked us to add a Facebook “like” button, which is trivial, to the sites; and also to use commenting from Facebook.

I’m tentatively against the change to comments, for these reasons, which I had sent in an email to Joy, Jake Sherlock, Nick Jungman and the capstone student involved:

Either solution (Disqus or Facebook) would duplicate existing functionality, and would thus replace our current commenting system (unless we want two commenting systems running at once, which sounds nightmarish).
So commenters would have to have a Facebook account (or an account on a social media site supported by Disqus) to be able to comment. And there are plenty of people, my wife being an example, who don’t have an account on any social media site.
Also, we’d be handing over control of the commenting to a third party; comments would be subject to the commenting policy of Facebook or Disqus, not ours.
That all said, we can certainly implement Facebook or Disqus commenting if the newsroom’s ok with the tradeoffs, but I’m going to probably wait to see if there’s a consensus on that.

Joy responded as follows:

Poynter did a piece on some news orgs using Facebook Comments.

The bottom line seems to be that the number of comments goes down but the civility and level of discourse go up (because it links to an established online identity).

There is an option to use Facebook Comments but still allow people to log in in other ways if they prefer. From the Poynter piece: “However the use of real names is not a required component of Facebook comments. The system enables users to sign-in using AOL, Yahoo, and now Hotmail accounts – all of which allow screen names. The option to require Facebook-only sign-ins can be selected by the site owner.”

So, at this point, I’m going to throw it out to the community. There are basically three response paths I see:

a) keep the current system
b) use Disqus
c) use Facebook

Which do you like, and why?