STLtoday has started using Facebook's commenting system on all stories throughout the site.
This will allow comments to appear more quickly, improve the quality of comments and allow comments to be shared more broadly.
In our current system, comments are cached; that is, they don't appear on the site until about five minutes after they are entered. Facebook comments appear instantly. They also are threaded by topic. So responses to a particular comment appear with that comment, as opposed to being intermingled in a straight chronological string of comments.
Associating the comments to a Facebook profile brings more accountability for the comments because they are not anonymous. Other sites have found that this results in more on-topic conversation and less trolling and name-calling. Users who wish to remain anonymous will be able to comment in our forums.
The new system has the potential to broaden your message, because comments also will be posted on your individual Facebook page. This will take the discussion outside the walls of STLtoday and allow more people to participate.
For the past few months, we've been evaluating the Facebook system on several blogs and on the STL High School sports site. The system has been easy to use and seamless for most readers.
We expect the quality and readership of our comments will grow, even though the overall number of comments might drop.
Although we are using the Facebook commenting system, we will maintain our standards and guidelines for commenting. We'll continue to have moderators review comments as they are posted. We expect comments to follow the guidelines in the site's terms of service. That includes refraining from posting content that is harassing, threatening, vulgar, obscene, hateful or racially, ethnically or otherwise objectionable.
If you already are logged in to Facebook, you likely won't notice any difference at all as you try to comment on a story. If you are not logged in to Facebook, you will be asked to log in before submitting your comment. If you don't have a Facebook account, you will be able to share your thoughts in our forums, but not on our stories. You can read comments on the site without a Facebook account.
Some of you have asked if there is away to avoid having your STLtoday comments posted to your personal Facebook newsfeed. There is. When making a comment on STLtoday, simply uncheck the box that says "Post to Facebook." That will keep your comments only on STLtoday.