5 min readUpdated Oct 27, 2022

How live comments are changing the way we communicate

How live comments are changing the way we communicate
Freddie GaddFreddie Gadd

Realtime Round-up #2 — Live Commenting & Realtime Updates

The  evolution of Web and Mobile has resulted in an explosive content  creation. Consumers can now engage with news, information, and updates  across a wide variety of publishing platforms including social media,  blogs, and news sites. In order to capture the attention of the users,  organizations are recognizing the importance of realtime connectivity to  keep readers engaged.

One  of the main use of realtime connectivity by digital publishers is  through live features. These enhance user experience and help keep  readers hooked for a longer period of time.

What is live commenting and how does it work?

There are conceivably two ways in which live commenting can be made available — and that is by pushing or polling data.  The goal of every digital platform is to allow users to see all the  comments without having to reload the page. This makes way for a  spontaneous and interactive experience online without having to take any  action on the users’ end and view live comment updates as they happen.

When  you are dealing with 100 million pieces of content and 650,000 comments  being published every minute — it becomes hard to manage the  engineering process. When Facebook was building their live commenting feature,  they initially tested using a polling approach to simulate a realtime  experience. However even after increasing their polling frequency to a  5-second interval, it was still not good enough to meet the speed at  which users wanted to interact in a live commenting environment. An  alternative method had to be found.

With  a push-based approach, you are able to push comments directly to the  users. However, you need to know who might be viewing the content piece  that will be receiving a live comment. The team at Facebook Engineering  was able to come up with a genius solution to this, which they called  “write locally, read globally”.

By  storing the information about the content piece that a user is  currently viewing, in their local data center, and fetching the viewers  info once a new comment has been published across their various data  centers, they are able to combine both sides and push updates out in a  much more efficient way.

The  primary reason for this to be a viable solution is the fact that most  of the digital publishing platforms nowadays consist of more reads than  writes as the speed of producing content is much lower than the speed of  consuming it.

Digital communication is no longer a one-man show

Primarily  publishing platforms used to push information out to their community of  readers, but the latest digital publishing has started to shift this  trend to more of a conversational and nurturing relationship among the  user community.

According to a research by Wibbitz, on how millennials consume news, 40% rely primarily on  digital outlets for their news while 43.41% primarily get their news  directly on their smartphones. The change in how news is consumed shines  a light on a new reality, i.e, the need of not just staying informed  but also being able to respond and react in real time, irrespective of  the conversation happening on web or mobile.

Recently Reddit decided to add real-time comments and chat support for their new mobile apps that were long available through third-party  clients. Its main goal of taking back control of the media consumption  doesn’t just include media assets but also an introduction of live  comments feeds, in-app chat and much more. By adding these updates the  team at Reddit hopes to enhance the realtime user experience and build  upon the existing community.

With over 1.69 billion users accessing Reddit every month, a large proportion of their young users  come from mobile — a reported 58% of users, aged 18–34, preferably using  only mobile or web apps. In order to tailor the advertising experience  both for the users and the advertisers, it’s crucial to nurture a native  app experience on their own mobile application.

Create a sense of Urgency and a Need to Share

The  new digital age platforms such as Facebook & WhatsApp have allowed  users to dwell and spend time reflecting on the information they receive  besides the ability to share live experiences. This challenges the  simple interaction of sending information and receiving instant feedback  as a normal means of communication.

On  the other hand, some of the media platforms such as SnapChat, that  allows users to only show their content for 24 hours, have brought a  sense of urgency in reacting to a specific content within a certain  timeframe. With 191 million daily active users, Snapchat is causing a  shift in user online behavior and setting high expectations in terms of  how a true real time experience should look like.

The  overall sense of urgency is easily replicated in other areas such as  financial stock updates. Due to the nature of the data shared when live  trading is taking place, there are stock ticker updates such as in the  case of Bloomberg Quint by providing realtime updates with the latest stock prices.

How can you start adding live commenting feature to your application?

At  Ably, as a realtime data delivery platform, we’ve seen how  organizations are revolutionizing their user online experience by  enabling live comments on their Web, mobile and IoT devices. We  recommend that you read more about how Quintype Technologies is helping digital publishing platforms  to add live commenting and how they were able to provide scalable  realtime features.

If  you are looking to add live commenting features to your application and  build a realtime commenting system with React, you can follow Ably’s tutorial and get started right away.

Any questions? Feel free to reach out to us.

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