The Facebook Comments Widget

Facebook Comments Giving your website visitors the option of leaving comments into your page is almost a must nowadays for most websites, depending of the type of website and the information that it offers. Not every website requires a comment system but in most cases is a nice way to receive user's feedback and to increase the content and value of your web pages.

There are many comment systems over the web; we already offer some of them under the Feedback Tools category but in this case we would like to remark the widget that Facebook launched for placing a Facebook-based comment system into external websites.

The Facebook Comments Widget is one of the social plugins published by Facebook and like most items that Facebook makes available for developers it lacks of documentation and simplicity. Despite the documentation and support problems, we have to say that it's still a valuable option to publish comments into your website if your requirements match one or more of these:

  • Want to get comments from users with real Internet profiles, less spam, more value to the comments.
  • Want to avoid users the hassle of creating an account to leave comments
  • Need to promote your website at Facebook
  • Need to get fast access to moderation options

Getting the basic comments widget is easy since Facebook offers a simple form to generate that code. Good... but the problem begins when you want: to add the moderation options, to locate your language locale at Facebook to customize the widget language, to place the widget into every page of your website without having to re-generate the code once and once again and to get notifications when a new comment is posted.

Yes, with a bit of patience, some amount of time and programming knowledge you can start to navigate through Facebook and to make some Google searches in order to complete the information not (easily) offered by Facebook and finally you will get all of the above done. In particular the notification option cannot be done without writing some lines of Ajax/JavaScript and a server side script (Ex: PHP, ASP, ...) ... but the fact is that not everybody has enough time to dedicate to this task and the cost of that time can be a demotivating factor.

To make this process easier to everybody, the CodePeople / Team has developed a Dreamweaver extension that packages the Facebook Comments Widget into a unique wizard, already including all the extra features mentioned above: moderation options, language support, automatic page URL detection and notifications. The most interesting option is of course the "notifications" since there is a bunch of code behind it, which saves us the need to write the code by ourselves.

Comments widget
Image 1. Sample Facebook Comments Widget

If you are using a Wordpress or a Joomla CMS probably the best way to include the Facebook Comments Widget will be to get a plugin/extension for those systems, but if you are developing classic websites and/or you are using Dreamweaver then the Dreamweaver extensions seems to be the logical solution. For advanced developers the coding way may be a solution, but isn't the development time an important factor? In most cases, yes, it is, time in money.

In the meantime we also expect that someday Facebook takes more care and dedication to the tools that it offers to developers; probably now that Google+ is entering into the social networking scene we may expect better widgets and better support for them.