Facebook testing new comments system, ranked by likes and with inline replies

13 Nov 2012

Facebook is testing a new comments layout on brand pages that will highlight the most popular comments first and allow users to reply directly to a comment with an inline response.

The new test feature is one of those that, when you hear of it, you think, “What took them so long?” when you consider this is a format that has existed in various forms online for years now, perhaps most notably on Reddit. Here, users can either up-vote or down-vote posts so that only the most popular ones appear in prominent positions on the site.

Likes for users’ comments on Facebook could now operate in the same way if the new layout is implemented. For Facebook pages, this will mean that user comments with the most likes will appear first beneath a post.

The point is for pages to be given the opportunity to interact with the most engaging comments first, and ranking is based on the number of times a post is hidden or responded to, as well as the number of likes.

In the current format, it is difficult to tell which comments are replies to the original post and which ones form part of an alternate conversation, but the new layout also clears this up by providing users with the option to reply to a specific comment. These replies will then sit in-line under the selected comment, which makes it easier to follow the overall conversation.

Facebook comments layout

Image via Inside Facebook

It will also enable more conversation between users that aren’t connected on Facebook and therefore cannot tag each other in comments.

For now, Facebook is just testing this feature with certain pages and not on personal Timeline posts, but should a decision be made to implement it across the site it will be a welcome feature for the sake of conversation and readability.

Elaine Burke is the editor of Silicon Republic