Friday, April 08, 2011

The LA Times and their idiotic "Facebook only" commenting system

The LA Times has launched a test on some of its blogs whereby a reader can only post comments if they're a Facebook user. You can read about the [so-called] logic behind this concept in their Testing a new system for online comments article, or at the end of this post where I've pasted it in.

If you're not sure what the big deal is, stop and think about it for a moment. For one thing, being forced to have a Facebook account in order to post comments on the LA Times is just counter-intuitive--the two sites are in no way related. Second, if you're forced to post using your Facebook account, but you don't want your real identity known...well, you're fucked! You can either post and let everybody and their brother know that it's you, or you can not post. Some of us like the relative anonymity provided by aliases and would rather keep that separate from our REAL identities.

Here's the comment I posted at the LA Times article:

"I don't use Facebook. I hated it, so I deleted my account last year. And now I'm locked out of posting comments on the LA Times? Why? What the hell does the LA Times have to do with Facebook? It's like saying, well, if you want to use your Bank of America debit card at Bank of America, first you have to go to Wells Fargo and open an account there. Huh? What kind of logic is that?

This truly sucks.

By the way, I've been online with the LA Times since its "TimesLink" days on Prodigy. Yes, really, that long. And now, instead of seeing LAT as the innovator it's always been, I'm seeing it as something...well, entirely different...and I don't like it.

The old system of requiring registration--and then staying logged in, instead of constantly having to log in to assorted services to post--worked great. Why screw around with something that worked fine?

Please just go back to a registration system for the site and have *ALL* comments fall under its registration."

I really like my Bank of America/Wells Fargo analogy, and wish the LA Times would see that that's what they're saying: If you want to use OUR site and post comments on it, first you have to be a member SOMEWHERE else. It just makes no sense.

If you're unhappy with this idiotic plan, please go to the article about it and leave a comment--which, for now, anyway, can be done without having a Facebook account.


LA Times article:

Testing a new system for online comments

March 15, 2011 | 11:46 am

Having our site built on different content management systems provides some hurdles. One is our commenting system -- there’s not much uniformity.

Some of our stories require registration; some do not. Some of our comments appear right away, while others languish for a moderator to approve or deny. Still others disappear after one day, never to be seen again.

It's not a good practice to make you wait to see your comments. It's also not a good practice to have your comments vanish from an article. All issues we're dealing with.

We need uniformity. And reader engagement is a high priority. Can we get some uniformity? What's the best way to get there?

Facebook has a new commenting system that we're interested in. It allows for "right away" commenting while providing an authentication system no one else can match.

Both are important. By allowing comments to go up in real time, it provides instant interaction among readers. By requiring a Facebook registration, it will cut down on the mean-spirited, profane and sometimes useless responses because one's friends will also see the comments in their newsfeeds.

Sites that have initiated this commenting system have received criticism for being Facebook-centric. The comments have also been seen by critics as being much more sterile.

We're going to test it on two blogs: Technology and the Fabulous Forum. These are two of our more active blogs, and the editors are willing to be guinea pigs. Technology is going to go first (sometime Tuesday), with Fabulous Forum later this week.

Will this move be a "troll-killer" or will it make our blogs seem hollow? We don't know, but we're going to give it a shot. You tell us.

-- Jimmy Orr, managing editor/online

Twitter: @latreadersrep
Facebook: latimes

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