Facebook Comments – Not For Healthcare Blogs?

On March 10th, Kevin Pho, M.D., creator of KevinMD.com tweeted a question to his 31 000+ followers:

kevinmd Kevin Pho, M.D.
I’m considering switching to Facebook comments on KevinMD.com, forcing people to use their real name to leave a comment. Thoughts?

When it comes to commenting on health related blogs, is it too much to ask readers to leave comments with their pictures and Facebook profiles showing? Is it helping to cut useless comments? Definitely. Is it keeping patients from commenting because of its revealing nature? Maybe.

Generally speaking it is a good idea for blogs to switch to Facebook comments. People tend to think twice before posting something when they have their names and pictures to go with the comment. Maybe it stops them from going on a rant about a celebrity, a blogger, a politician or a specific news piece. So moderating becomes easier, the quality of comments become higher. Not to mention the fact that people are already comfortable using Facebook, and this feature lets them comment without going through another registration process.

But should a healthcare blogger continue to provide the option for anonymous comments? Would Facebook comments stop patients to engage in a conversation about their illness and experience with different treatments? As long as the answer is maybe, switching to the new Facebook comment setting is a risk.

On one hand Facebook comments are very user-friendly because of the numerous reasons mentioned above. On the other hand it is hard enough to get patients involved in an online discussion as it is, expecting them to share their pictures when talking about health related issues might be too much to ask. Even on TechCrunch, the highly popular blog about technology startups, as a result of the switch to Facebook comments, the number of responses decreased significantly. Concerns arose that the new commenting system was working too well, preventing people from giving much-needed feedback. And it’s safe to assume, that posting about technology is not as personal as posting about one’s illness or treatment choice.

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