Changes are coming to comments on Columbian.com

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The Columbian will soon start testing a new commenting system to improve the reader experience on our website and encourage new commenters to join the conversation. In the next few weeks we will start requiring all users to comment on our stories using Facebook. This will promote the use of real names when commenting on our stories and also allow commenters to share their thoughts on local issues with their Facebook friends. Those who wish to remain anonymous will find a place to continue using their existing Columbian login in a separate forum, which we’re setting up.

Read our FAQ below for more about Facebook comments and how it will affect you. We welcome your feedback and questions. Leave a comment below, or e-mail Web Editor Libby Tucker (libby.tucker@columbian.com) or Social Media Coordinator Matt Wastradowski (matt.wastradowski@columbian.com). We hope that you’ll join us in the new community.

What does this mean for commenters?

Anyone wishing to comment on Columbian.com stories will need a Facebook account. If you don’t have a Facebook account, you can sign up for one at http://www.facebook.com. Don’t worry – it’s free, quick and easy to do so.

Why the switch?

The new system holds commenters accountable by linking their comments to their Facebook account and, by extension, real name and face. We’ve found that comments are generally cleaner and more informative on our Facebook page than on the site. This change hopefully will dissuade some troublesome commenters and keep things relatively clean for the rest of us.

Do terms of service and community guidelines still apply?

Yes. Real names or not, we will continue to ask that all commenters adhere to the community discussion guidelines outlined at http://www.columbian.com/guidelines.

What’s in it for me?

The benefits for commenters are numerous. First and foremost: You won't need to remember another log-in anymore.

You can also include your Facebook friends in the discussion. Commenters can post comments both below the story and to their Facebook newsfeed, and the commenter’s Facebook friends can respond on Facebook and Columbian.com.

Do I have to post my comments on my Facebook wall?

No. There will be an option next to the “post” button below your comment that keeps it from being posted to your Facebook wall.

Will people be able to click on my Facebook profile from my comments on Columbian.com?

Yes, but what they see is determined by your Facebook privacy settings.

What other sites require comments through Facebook?

If you’re interested in seeing what Facebook comments look like in action, you can see them used on the many sites, including the following:

You can also use Facebook to leave comments on sites such as CNN.com and LATimes.com.

What if I don’t want to use my real name or don’t feel comfortable with Facebook?

We will set up a section of Columbian.com for those who wish to continue conversation using their existing Columbian profile. Users won’t be able to comment directly below each story with their existing Columbian.com profiles, however. We will have more on this as the switchover approaches.

What makes you think Columbian.com readers want to use Facebook to comment?

We are also responding to reader input. We surveyed our registered users about commenting practices late last year. Several intriguing statistics came out of that survey:

  • 25% found comments offensive and 17% had a negative response.
  • 78% have a Facebook account and more than half of respondents use Facebook to comment on other sites.
  • 31% of those who don’t currently comment would be more likely to comment with their Facebook accounts.

When will the change-over take place?

We are rolling out the new comment system and the forums within the next few weeks.