Notice anything different about the Digital News Test Kitchen website? Take a moment to scroll to the bottom of this page and investigate. …
Welcome back. You probably noticed that the we’ve installed a new commenting system, and we chose a relatively new entrant into the third-party commenting industry: Livefyre. We made this decision after I conducted an analysis of the commenting systems currently available to website and blog publishers. (Livefyre’s competitors are for the most part excellent; we decided to try Livefyre primarily because of its open approach to combining user comments with connected conversation about any specific story from other parts of the social web and realtime comment streaming into threads.)
Those of you who have ever been part of an online commenting community probably know how jarring a change to the comment system can be. We hope that this transition will be smooth, and that you will welcome this change. By installing Livefyre, we hope to provide an improved commenting experience over the default WordPress comment system that we have been using, and use Livefyre to help further our research into what techniques and applications can be used to cultivate more civil online discourse.
Livefyre is a San Francisco-based software developer with a system that embeds comments on websites, similar to Disqus, IntenseDebate, and Facebook Comments. Though not the biggest name in the third-party commenting system game, the company has enjoyed some quiet success over the past year. It is currently used on more than 14,000 websites ranging from bloggers to major news publishers such as The Sun, The Times, Talking Points Memo, and MIT Tech Review, and it recently secured $4.5 million in funding to hire new more staff and expand its product. That funding is timely, since in addition to competing with Disqus, the number one service in online commenting, Livefyre now has to contend with Facebook, which recently introduced its own commenting platform.
Livefyre works like any other comment system, but also provides some nice advantages. Like Disqus and Facebook Comments, Livefyre requires commenters to log in before they post. Users can either sign up for their own Livefyre accounts or they can connect with their existing Facebook, Twitter, Google, LinkedIn, or OpenID accounts. This constructs barriers to entry for spam, trolling, and other disruptive comments associated with anonymous log-in while simultaneously ensuring that as many people as possible will be able to connect and converse with ease.
Once logged in, users can comment and read comments in real time. There’s no need to reload the page as new comments or external related social conversation appears. Livefyre also permits nested comments which makes conversation with specific users easier and helps organize the conversation into different themes. Users also can drive comments to the top of the thread with the “Like” feature and organize comments by newest or oldest.
Most of these features are not unusual. However, we believe Livefyre’s strongest contributions to the commenting experience are strong community-building features. Livefyre accomplishes this through a few features. First, all activity is recorded in your Livefyre account. This includes comments you make, “Likes” given, and “Likes” received. Second, if you look at the comments below, you will notice that you can follow the conversation. The number of users following the comment thread is indicated as “X persons listening.” Once the conversation is “followed,” the user will receive updates in his or her e-mail as the conversation on the page progresses.
Additionally, users logged in with Facebook or Twitter can invite their friends to the conversation by “tagging.” This is similar to Facebook and Twitter’s “@” function. Simply type “@” plus your friend’s name to extend the conversation beyond the boundaries of the page. You also can post comments directly to your Facebook or Twitter feeds or share other users’ comments through Facebook, Twitter, or Livefyre. Social networking is perhaps Livefyre’s most appealing feature; it’s one we hope will improve the character and have a positive effect on the culture of online communities across the web.
This image was taken from an article at DannyBrown.me. User DannyBrown has responded to PhilipNowak and tagged Livefyre user jennalanger and the Livefyre Twitter account.
The best commenting communities are comprised of respectful users engaged in productive dialogues with each other and with authors of the content they’re discussing. This rarely “just happens”; site managers must cultivate a community by directing conversation and being clear with their values. However, applications can play a role as well. Third-party comment systems, such as Livefyre, can be useful in the quest for more-civil comments. Livefyre encourages users to engage in dialogues through features such as real-time updates, nested comments, and bringing in external social networking conversation. User profiles help make the commenter an individual and not an anonym, thereby encouraging etiquette in the digital space. With the addition of Livefyre to the Test Kitchen’s site for experimentation, we hope to provide you with a rich commenting experience and lay the foundation for what we hope will be further insight into how to help news organization that are struggling with coarse commenting communities.
Let us know what you think in the comments!
Comments management certainly is subject to constant changes and evolution. Your views on the subject show you took time to think, review, understand and master the system. Thanks
Nice article (even if I'm a bit behind on its publication). One thing that is needs mentioning however...
Anonymous comments are of dubious business value. Certainly that is an entire article and an argument in and of itself, but I feel comfortable in the data backing that assertion. Livefyre, like Disqus, does little more than wrap anonymous comments behind their platform logins. The ability to gather specific as well as general information about visitors to a business web site is critical and anonymous commenting, however nicely it's packaged, impedes that process.
Congrats on the conversion to Livefyre, I myself made the switch specifically for the social media integration features that you pointed out. Now that Livefyre supports guest commenting my commenting numbers have been increasing quite a bit too.
Thanks a bunch for this writeup Anthony! I had the pleasure of meeting steveouting at CU the other week, and I'm excited to learn more about the projects you're working on. Let us know if we can help in anyway.