Improving My Ballard comments with Facebook

Since My Ballard began in December 2007, we’ve worked hard at keeping the site open, inclusive and community friendly. Through your comments, forum posts, emails, Facebook posts and tweets, you’ve truly made My Ballard part of the community — the site has even won two awards for it, including a national journalism award for community collaboration.

But recently, we’ve received several well-written emails from longtime readers who say the comments have become such as frustration, they’ve stopped visiting the site. “I realize clicking comments is optional, but the conversations I get in with friends always focuses on the negativity of the comments,” writes one. “Overall it gives people a bad taste about MyBallard.”

We’ve noticed it, too. So after careful consideration, we’ve decided to make a change. Beginning immediately, we’ve changed the comments platform to Facebook. You can still leave comments, but you’re required to post under your Facebook name, which is your real name. In effect, this ends anonymous commenting on My Ballard stories. The forum is not affected by the change.

We’ve watched as several national news sites and blogs have switched to Facebook comments, and we’ve spoken with Facebook ourselves about the impact of such a change. Most sites have seen a decrease in overall comments but an increase in quality. After all, it’s easier to leave negative comments under a cloud of anonymity. Similarly, there’s a downside — you’re less likely to leave a comment with a news tip if it’s attributed to your real name.

That’s why we’re leaving the forum as an open discussion area, and you can always email us with an anonymous tip ( But for story comments, we’re giving Facebook a try. Please feel free to let us know your thoughts in comments or over on the forum. And thanks for your support.

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