Leveraging the Social Web & User Comment Tools

Written by Chris G. DennyMarch 7, 2011

User Comments have been a part of the web for decades. In the early 90’s, forums were the medium for aggregating and organizing user comments through interests (ie: car forums, tech forums, gaming forums, business forums, etc). Anybody with a geocities website could throw on a forum and begin interacting with the community.

Today, the face of user comments has changed dramatically. Comments are more effectively integrated within the online experience, and user input has become a cornerstone of the most influential blogs and social sites (ie: YouTube, TechCrunch, Reddit, etc). The tools that have developed in the wake of old school forums, allow webhosts to easily and simply implement user comments into any page of their website. Websites are implementing these tools in order to engage and retain users by creating a highly social experience that can be tracked and preserved for building an engaged and invested social community. There are a few key firms that have noticed this need for user comments and developed highly simple, effective, and useful tools to do just that:

Gigya is a powerful tool leading the user comment industry. They offer comprehensive solutions for managing user comments, from social sign-on, to analytics, full mobile integration, and an extensive library of APIs to connect with the social web from every angle. Gigya’s punch is that it allows users to sign in via existing identities (Facebook, Twitter, etc) and authenticate with the site’s brand to post comments. This feature alone makes Gigya an incredibly effective tool for building brand loyalty. The iRank Key feature provides in-depth analytics to help websites optimize and scale social CRM. The information from this report is available real-time through their API, can be used to host and launch promotional opportunities for users, and it indexes a ton of data: number of users’ friends, number of shares, referral traffic volume, and activity frequency.

Pluck is another tool that has quite an impressive breadth of functions. Pluck allows moderators to manually or automatically approve by user tier, filter words, and easily report user abuse. It allows users to link directly to a comment on another site, and sort comments via a variety of dimensions. Pluck, although less social than Gigya, has its own basket of goodies—including an RSS feed and toolbar with social bookmarking, and allows users to post their comments directly to Facebook and Twitter as well. Pluck uses the threaded conversation model, which allows users to reply to any comment in the system. The downside is that it costs over 10 times more than the alternative solutions.

Disqus is another major contender in the user comment management tool marketplace. Its user comment front-end is much simpler than competitors Pluck and Gigya but that doesn’t have to be a bad thing. The simplicity of it is inviting for new users to post comments, but it does require users to authenticate with Disqus and create a Disqus profile. Disqus is light and mobile, offering analytics, social integration, and a widget called the Community Box to give users a summary of users and user activity on the site. Disqus allows users to post rich media content directly to their comment, and brings Tweets and mentions from around the web back to the comment feed. Disqus uses a powerful anti-spam technology and brags a simple blacklist and whitelist tool for moderators to manage users and user content.­

Facebook Comments Box is another plugin that has been making its rounds on the internet since its latest facelift just a few days ago. This plugin includes some simple moderator and filtering tools to dispose of spam, blacklist words, and ban users. The biggest selling point of this plugin is that it publishes comments directly to the users Facebook newsfeed with an accompanying link to your website. Also, if somebody replies to a user’s comment, Facebook will inform that user of it—bringing them back to your site. Facebook also plans on adding new login-providers so that non-Facebook users are able to comment. But like many Facebook plugins, you won’t be able to access any user data or conduct in-depth analytics—which makes the Facebook Comments Box plugin quite unappealing. 

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