One of the setbacks of using Facebook for comments is that comments are not hosted in your own database. This can be a problem if you ever want to change your commenting system. For a few months I used a combination of Facebook Comments and the default WordPress commenting system though last month I migrated to the Livefyre comment service.
Livefyre syncs all comments from and to your WordPress database though it can’t import Facebook comments. I thought that the previous comments that had been left via Facebook had been lost forever however Brandon Kraft left a comment the other day that showed that the comments could still be seen in the Facebook Open Graph. This gave me hope that the comments could be imported to Livefyre.
Therefore I contacted Jeremy from the Livefyre team (they offer great support). He advised that the functionality to import comments directly from Facebook to Livefyre does not exist however he recommended the WordPress plugin Facebook Comments to WordPress. The plugin copies comments left via the Facebook Comments Social Plugin into your WordPress database.
Once installed, the plugin will work in the background to import your comments to your database. You can change the refresh interval for importing comments and set the locale for comment imports too.
There are two import modes: Append New and Remove Missing. In the append mode, only new comments are imported. In remove mode comments that have been removed from Facebook are removed from your database too. I noticed that after selecting the ‘Append New’ option, the page refreshes and shows that ‘Remove Missing’ has been selected. I’m not sure if this means that the append option is not working or if the settings page just has a small bug.
The bottom of the settings area informs you of the number of comments that have been imported so far. The import process can take some time. Depending on how many comments you have, it could take 30 minutes or a few hours. It works in the background though so you don’t have to check anything after activating the plugin.
I wasn’t sure whether the import process had worked at first. I initially assumed that imported comments would be shown at the top of the comments page. Clearly this wouldn’t be the case as comments are sorted in date order (newest first) by default. I checked the post editor for posts which I knew had comments left via Facebook previously and saw that the comments had been imported. All I need to do is wait for the comments to be synced to Livefyre.
I was very impressed with Facebook Comments to WordPress. It imported all of the previous comments left on WP Mods via Facebook and was straight forward to use. You don’t even have to enter any Facebook details such as your app id or app secret. All you need to do is activate the plugin and wait for it to import all of your Facebook comments.
Those of you who used to use Facebook comments should use this to import all of your old Facebook comments to your database. It’s worth installing if you are still using Facebook comments too as it ensures that a copy of your comments is always backed up on your own site. This gives you the freedom to migrate back to the default WordPress commenting system or a third party service such as Livefyre or Disqus at any time in the future.