Facebook Are Testing a Chatty New Approach to Comment Threads

Have you ever looked a comment thread on Facebook and thought '"man, I wish I could see all this unfolding in real time."? Me either, but it seems like someone must have been clamouring for it, because that's what Facebook appear to be doing.

Some users have noticed that when someone else comments on their post, replies to their comment on a post or tags them in a comment, a kind of real time chat box appears, turning the comment thread in question into a kind of chaotic group chat. The idea is to turn threads into a more chatty, free-flowing experience which makes it easier to actively converse with people.


If you're thinking that having boxes pop up constantly could be a bit of a pain in the neck, Facebook have addressed that concern, sort of. If someone comments on a thread you were already commenting on, it just comes up as a minimised box, which basically means that it will only marginally annoy you, rather than really annoying you.

The other issue with this is that comment tagging isn't often an actual conversation starter. At the moment, it's mostly just 'tag a mate who looks like this expired sausage', or 'tag a mate so they have to stare at this picture of a slightly used ladle'. I don't know about you, but I'm not exactly gassed about the idea of having those notifications suddenly transform into chat boxes, even if it does make it marginally easier to tell the friend in question where they can stick it.

Obviously, the mentality behind this is to stimulate discussion where it actually applies - news story threads and such like - but that of course assumes that the kind of talk which appears on those threads is reasoned and civil. In my experience, it tends to be the exact opposite. This seems like it would be far more useful as an opt-in feature, rather than a standard issue one, but since it's still in the testing phase the feedback Facebook get may well prompt them to do exactly that.

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