Recently, Facebook changed its layout involving the commenting functionality on Mini-Feed items. Before, you had to click on the plus sign (“+”) to add a comment, but now the word “comment” is written out. VentureBeat is reporting on this change and notes that it’s probably to make the new commenting functionality more visible to users, since it appears that few are currently using this feature. But is it possible that the lack of use isn’t because Facebook users didn’t notice it, but because they just don’t care?
On the new layout, the word “comment” does make it much more obvious what the new feature allows you to do, but even so, will Facebook users care to use this?
Maybe It’s Just Not Useful?
For one thing, this functionality is built into the Mini-Feed (the feed on a user’s profile page) as opposed to the News Feed (the stream of all your friends’ updates), which means you only have the ability to add a comment if you’re visiting a friend’s profile directly – a place where you already have many options for commenting – like the Wall, for example.
Also, unlike FriendFeed, which this feature is obviously modeled after, comments don’t cause the news item to bubble up to the top, so it’s possible you could miss seeing the comments. This could especially be an issue if you log in and do a lot of activities – like adding applications, joining groups, and friending others – before glancing at your Mini-Feed. All your latest activities will still be at the top of your feed, while the commented-on item(s) will have fallen further down the page.
You aren’t alerted about the new comments, either, like you are with application notifications, so there’s even more of a chance that they can be missed.
Yet all that wouldn’t matter so much if this meta-commenting was actually a feature users were clamoring for. But are they? Outside the early adopter set, commenting on updates and posted items in this manner may not really be an activity that many people care about.
Do Mainstream Facebook Users Get It?
When explaining the feature to a few mainstream Facebookers to see what they thought, the responses were just lukewarm. Obviously, this wasn’t a scientific survey, but their reactions could possibly be indicative of the typical Facebook user mindset: Why comment on a feed item about a photo upload when you can just comment on the photo itself? Why leave your friend a comment they could miss when you can write on their wall…which they are notified about?
With these questions in mind, we wonder if it is possible that the commenting feature hasn’t taken off yet not because it wasn’t visible, but because most Facebook users don’t really find the feature that useful? What do you think?