Last night many Facebook users were surprised to see the familiar comment button disappear from beneath the textbox where comments are written under wall and news feed posts. They got a further surprise the first time they hit the enter button: instead of going to a new line (i.e., a carriage return), their comment posted.
Judging by a sampling of Twitter last night, many users were unhappy with this sudden and unannounced change. Of course, Facebook users seem to revolt against any change just because it’s a change. But at least in this case, they could state a reason for their unhappiness. Most seem to fear an onslaught of incomplete or incoherent comments because inevitably comments will get posted before the author intended (e.g., when the commenter was intending to start a new paragraph). My take is that that will only be a problem for a short while; within a few days most regular users will probably be adjusted to the fact that “enter” now posts what they’ve written.
NOTE: You can still insert a new line into a comment by using SHIFT + ENTER.
In this case, though, where Facebook taketh away, Facebook also giveth. Along with the new “enter to comment” change, Facebook also gave users the ability to edit their recent comments. It’s a feature that may be the biggest protector of relationships since browsers added private browsing modes. To edit a just-posted comment, hover your mouse to the right of the comment until you see an “x.” Clicking this “x” used to only give you the option of deleting the comment, and it still does, but now when you click it the comment goes back into edit mode. You may now either edit and repost it, or delete it completely.
The question remaining is why did Facebook implement “enter to comment”? My best guess is that it is a further Twitter-ization of Facebook. Many of the changes Facebook has implemented in the past couple of years appear to be efforts to create more interaction on the site, to keep things moving and changing. Many studies show that web readers routinely skip over long posts or comments. In response to that, on many forums such as Reddit, users deploy a convention known as “tl;dr” (for “too long; didn’t read”). On long posts or comments, they will add a one or two sentence summary at the end, labeled with “tl;dr,” to try to capture readers who will otherwise skip their contribution.
With enter-to-comment, Facebook encourages briefer, more rapid-fire comments that keep the conversations rolling. This keeps users engaged, which keeps them on the site, and of course, exposed to more ads.