Facebook comments live, with a twist; Mobile bugs resolved.
I got a lot of very cool JSF-related stuff accomplished yesterday!
One of the big projects I completed was to incorporate Facebook comments into my daily blogs. This was a challenge because most WordPress/Facebook comment solutions I’ve seen are problematic–at least from my vantage point. Let’s take a look at some of them…
One path WordPress webmasters take is to install a Facebook comment plugin, and only allow people with Facebook accounts to comment on blogs and posts. Facebook is popular, but certainly not everyone uses it. I never want prevent people who don’t have Facebook accounts from commenting, so this solution was totally unacceptable to me.
Another common solution is to install a Facebook comment plugin, and run that alongside of the native WordPress comment system. This is less restrictive than the solution mentioned above since registered members and Facebook users can all comment, however it creates a very disjointed environment. Because these two comment systems are independent of one another, essentially there are two completely different discussions happening at the same time. So I’m not wild about this solution, either.
Then there are third party comment systems, such as Disqus. Services like Disqus require the user to register on yet another site, creating a new barrier to commenting. And it still doesn’t address the Facebook issue. Unacceptable for my purposes.
What I’ve found is that most comments to my blogs are made on Facebook. Sure, some registered JSF members comment directly to the blog using the native WordPress comment system, but most people prefer to comment to my blog posts on Facebook. Even most registered JSF members who are also on Facebook seem to prefer commenting on Facebook. I get it. I’m a Facebook user, too, and it’s often the easiest and most convenient way to comment.
My ideal solution was to somehow sync the comments attached to my blog posts on Facebook to the native WordPress comment system. Further, I wanted that syncing process to happen automatically via a cron job. I also wanted a way to import those comments from not just the official JSF Facebook page, but also my personal Facebook page. Finally, I wanted Facebook comments from older blog posts to be imported.
I was checking out the Facebook API, and mulling over the possibility of rolling my own solution. Of course this would be a big programming job, and I don’t have a ton of time to devote to this right now. Also, my programming chops are a wee bit rusty. 🙂
I actually found a paid (but worth it) solution that not only meets all my requirements, it actually surpasses them in some ways. After some setup and testing I made it live yesterday afternoon. Now when comments are made on Facebook, they will be automatically imported and become part of the native WordPress comment system here at JSF! So, when someone comments to one of my blogs on Facebook, JSF members will see the comment here, and they can reply to it–even if they are not on Facebook! I’ve scheduled the syncs to occur every 15 minutes, so the delay between when a Facebook comment is made and when it appears here will be no more than that.
I’ve synced all the Facebook comments made to every blog so far in 2016, so if you look at past blogs you’ll see many, many more comments now.
I’ll continue to sync old blogs, but I have to meter that process so I don’t run up against Facebook’s daily API limit.
There are a couple of minor issues that I’m working to resolve, but overall things are humming right along. This solution is not perfect (for example, there is no way to sync the comments made here on JSF over to Facebook), but it’s damn close.
On another subject, yesterday the developer of the JSF mobile theme was able to resolve the remaining known bugs with the mobile site (the bugs involved the Recipe section, the FAQ, the Favorite Things section and the Current Promotions section). Those are all working perfectly now.
Finally, I got the sidebar widget that shows the latest forum posts working. The old widget only showed new threads, which I never liked. This one shows all new posts (not just new threads), so it’s a lot more useful.
Hope you all enjoy the new functionality! If you have any questions, comments or think you’ve found a bug, leave me a comment (here, or on Facebook–it’s all the same now!) 🙂