From IVP Wiki

Reader commenting: How can you manage it effectively with limited resources?

HOST: Bob Payne, Director of Communities, http://www.seattletimes.com
Other participants:

  • Peter Rinearson, Intersect
  • Sandy Frost, independent journalist
  • Brook Jarvis, Yes! magazine

Opening thoughts:

  • Reader feedback via comments on the bottom of stories can be a lot of things: frustrating, exasperating, uplifting, depressing, educating. In most cases, journalists miss the opportunity to engage readers in the comments and harvest it for its journalistic value. How might we change that? And how we deal with people who disrupt the comments?

Solutions, ideas:

  • The New York Times moderates comments, which makes reading them much more satisfying. In typical unmoderated comment threads such as on seattletimes.com, the name-calling is frustrating to wade through.
  • What is mainstream media created 30 percent fewer stories and instead used that time to work on reader engagement via participation in the comments?
  • The journalist can use critical comments to their advantage: It's an opportunity to add even more information to back your findings.
  • Reporters can further and protect their reputations through engagement in the comments.
  • What if Web sites drew attention to the best comments as a reward? Maybe comment of the day, or of the week. Put them in a prominent place on the site.
  • What if reporters actually made a project out of analyzing comments on the site, to mine them for a trend story for example. It's another form of crowd-sourcing.
  • There need to be better tools that provide a rich way for readers to express their reaction to comments. And then you use this to highlight and sort the comments. More than just a thumbs up or thumbs down.
  • What if there were programming tools that were smart enough to weed out or otherwise minimize comments that are likely to be attempts at manipulation. Examples: 200 comments from the same IP address in Houston, with comments only on political stories.
  • "Hijack Prevention" should be our mantra: How to keep the extremists from taking threads in unproductive directions.
  • There should be a clear distinction between comments that are about the article vs. comments in response to another comment: a mix of threaded and highly rated comments.
  • What if you had a "comment corral": Ask commenters how THEY would tackle the problem and make the threads a more constructive environment. ENGAGE them!