We’ve been playing around with commenting functionality on the Foreign Office blogs for much of the summer – trying out our old system (which, oddly, asked you to perform basic maths before commenting), with Facebook Connect and with another proprietary system.
In the end, we’ve plumped for none of them – and all of them. We’ve settled on Disqus, and we’ve done that for a number of reasons.
The first is the ease of login. For many people, handing over any information to a government website makes them uncomfortable. There’s no need to go into the whys and wherefore of that here, suffice to say we’ve moved to a system which doesn’t need you to tell us anything, and uses systems with which many of you are already familiar. So for those with Twitter , Facebook , Yahoo or OpenId accounts you can, with just a few clicks and no extra details handed over, be in and commenting on our blogging platform and debating with each other and senior figures in British foreign policy. And me.
Once you’re commenting, you’re commenting as yourself (or the public version of yourself you present elsewhere at any rate). Comments are linked to your social media profile (or we would hope that they were, you can also comment as a ‘guest’) . That doesn’t mean you’re going to get lots of unlikely new followers on Twitter (though you might), it just means that there’s one less level of anonymity which would mean, I hope, that the level and nature of the comments is a mite more mature than it could otherwise be.
Not that the tone of debate is a particular issue – more important is to increase the amount of debate and discussion. The fact that you are commenting via your social media profile means that we can hope for a greater amplification of the discussions on the blogs. There’s some important issues being discussed here, we want more people to join in.
So it has gone live this week on a number of blogs – this one and, indeed, this one for instance. Once we’re happy that it works pretty well, then it’ll be across the entire FCO blogging platform. But let me know what you think.
You can follow more of this sort on blather on Twitter.