Articles about "comments"

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Report: Stories about politics inspire best, worst comments

Researchers from the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA) spoke with online editors and community managers at 104 news organizations from 63 countries to help assemble a report written by Emma Goodman about what works and what doesn't when it comes to online comments. Many said stories about politics attracted the most high-quality comments. Several respondents, however, said such stories are "the type of articles that attract the worst comments."
Next best were niche lifestyle areas such as travel, women-specific content, cars, technology, science and history, with 12 mentions.
Sebastian Horn from Germany's Die Zeit cited "anything that is technical in nature" as a good-comment magnet. But a respondent from The Dallas Morning News told the organization most people in its newsroom "are not interested in comments or feel they’re a necessary evil." On average, respondents said they deleted 11 percent of comments. But few organizations view moderation as a chance to do more with the remaining comments. “Your most frequent commenters are your best customers," The Seattle Times' Bob Payne told researchers.
They know more about your site than anybody else. They know more about your reporters and how they write. And they’re constantly on your website giving you page views. And yet we do very little to acknowledge or commend these people. I think very few sites do - some give badges for most positive commenters but most don’t do anything and a lot of people wish commenters would go away. But in fact these are the people who live and breathe your site. They call it this ‘my college football blog’, 'my photo area’, not The Seattle Times because they are so ingrained in it.
Seventy-one percent of respondents said they block commenters who violate their rules. The Winnipeg Free Press said it uses "what we call a bozo filter" to block trolls: Such posters still see "their comments but no one else does." The New York Times' Bassey Etim says the organization has blocked people "maybe once or twice in our history." The report recommends best practices for publishers, including hiring a community manager and encouraging journalists to join discussions. Publications should also try to "protect minority opinions," it says: "If a publication moderates actively, they can use this procedure to ensure that minority voices aren’t continuously drowned out." Related: Popular Science editor: Comments ‘became too much to really fight back’ against | NYT community manager: Good comments shouldn’t sit among those designed to cause conflict | 25% of people have posted anonymous comments, Pew finds | Huffington Post deletes 75 percent of incoming comments Related training: Managing Comments on Your News Site | Designing the Web for Democracy

Popular Science editor: Comments ‘became too much to really fight back’ against

KPCC | Paid Content | Slate | The Atlantic
Bad comments "became too much to really fight back" against at Popular Science, associate editor Dan Nosowitz said in a radio appearance Wednesday. "We're not in favor of discouraging discussion or discourse," he told KPCC. "It’s just that we think that the current form we have for comments wasn’t doing our readers much of a service.”

Popular Science is “totally in favor of substantive disagreements," Nosowitz said. "What we are not in favor of is having those published on our site. I don't think that diminishes public discussion, to just decline to publish anything on our site that anyone wants to write."

Popular Science's decision to shut off comments prompted both negative and positive reactions this week: (more...)

Popular Science eliminates comments

Popular Science | The New York Times
Intellectual debate has been overwhelmed by "trolls and spambots" in Popular Science's comments section, Suzanne LaBarre writes. So the publication is turning them off, as of today. "Comments can be bad for science," LaBarre writes.

A politically motivated, decades-long war on expertise has eroded the popular consensus on a wide variety of scientifically validated topics. Everything, from evolution to the origins of climate change, is mistakenly up for grabs again. Scientific certainty is just another thing for two people to "debate" on television. And because comments sections tend to be a grotesque reflection of the media culture surrounding them, the cynical work of undermining bedrock scientific doctrine is now being done beneath our own stories, within a website devoted to championing science.
Coincidentally, Michael Erard, whose New York Times Magazine story about comments said news organizations may have erred by placing comments below stories, offered several ways to improve comments in a blog post Monday afternoon. Publishers should deputize readers to do more moderation, for instance, because the idea that the Web offers infinite space is flawed: "The tragedy of the comments is a tragedy of the commons, because the unreplenishable resource that has been overexploited when comment threads go awry is the finite amount of attention that we have to spend reading."

Related: NYT community manager: Good comments shouldn’t sit among those designed to cause conflict

NYT community manager: Good comments shouldn’t sit among those designed to cause conflict

The New York Times | Digiday
Newspaper comment sections are often "filled with racism, homophobia and barely literate anti-feminist rants," New York Times community manager Bassey Etim says in an interview with Samantha Henig.

I don’t see how you can claim to respect your readers and allow their well-considered thoughts to live side by side with comments from people who write countless posts every day to satisfy a perverse craving for causing conflict among humans.
Etim and Henig spoke about Michael Erard's think piece about comments, published in Sunday's Times Magazine. Among the ideas Erard floats: By placing comments below posts, news organizations misread their potential and created "the steerage class of the public discourse." (more...)

25% of people have posted anonymous comments, Pew finds

A quarter of all Internet users have posted anonymous comments, a Pew study about online anonymity says.

But when it comes to posting any material online, people "are more likely than not to attach their name or a recognizable screenname to their material: 49% of internet users say they have used their real name and 47% use a screenname or username that people associate with them," the report says. (more...)

Huffington Post deletes 75 percent of incoming comments

The Huffington Post
The Huffington Post will soon no longer allow anonymous comments. In a post published Monday afternoon, HuffPost Media Group Managing Editor Jimmy Soni said the news organization "recognizes that many people are not in a professional or personal situation where attaching their name to a comment is feasible." They'll have to verify their identity when they create an account, "which will reduce the number of drive-by or automated trolls."

Good news, Conan: "Existing accounts will be grandfathered into the new system."  

Soni says HuffPost now doinks three-quarters of all comments "either because they are flat-out spam or because they contain unpublishable levels of vitriol." (more...)

Huffington Post will end anonymous comments

Trolls are just getting more and more aggressive and uglier, and I just came from London, where there are threats of rape and death threats,” Barb Darrow reports Huffington Post founder Arianna Huffington said at a conference in Boston. Huffington said the site would rescind anonymity in September: “I feel that freedom of expression is given to people who stand up for what they say and not hiding behind anonymity."

In an email to Poynter, Huffington Post spokesperson Rhoades Alderson confirms the move and says HuffPost's army of moderators -- it has about 40 -- "will be freed up to engage more with the community, facilitating the kinds of productive conversations our community members want to be having." (more...)

More news organizations try civilizing online comments with the help of social media

ESPN this week becomes the latest major news organization to rely upon social media to help civilize its online comments.

Starting Wednesday,’s 25 million active users will have to log in through a Facebook account if they want to … Read more


Former publisher’s bill would have compelled newspapers to ID commenters

The Spokesman-Review
A panel in Idaho's legislature rejected a bill that would have forced newspapers to disclose the identities of commenters in the event of a lawsuit, Betsy Z. Russell reports in The Spokesman-Review. Last summer, Idaho Judge John Patrick Luster ordered The Spokesman-Review to reveal the name of a commenter after a Kootenai County politician sued the paper, saying she'd been libeled in a comments section in a blog post.

That commenter revealed herself before it came to that. But there's an interesting footnote to the story of the rejected bill: It was submitted by Rep. Stephen Hartgen, the former publisher of The Twin Falls (Idaho) Times-News. When a fellow representative asked Hartgen why the legislature needed to get involved in "rules within the judicial system,” Hartgen replied that Luster's ruling was "narrow." “This is an area of the law which has evolved to the point where anonymous blog comments are part of our daily life," Russell reports he said. (Here's a copy of his bill, which misstates the name of the politician whose suit inspired it, red meat for an anonymous commenter if I've ever seen it.) (more...)

Seattle Times columnist can’t stand commenters, retires

Seattle Weekly
Seattle Times sports columnist Steve Kelley has standard reasons for retiring at 63: "I find myself at a lot more games thinking 'I've written this story 411 times now. Isn't that enough?'" he tells Seattle Weekly contributor Rick Anderson.

But another complaint puts him squarely in league with former Ohio Rep. Steve LaTourette and fans of science writing: ""The reader comments section, it's a free-for-all," Kelley said.

"The level of discourse has become so inane and nasty. And it's not just at the Times, it's ESPN, everywhere - people, anonymous people, take shots at the story, writers, each other. Whatever you've achieved in that story gets drowned out by this chorus of idiots."
Kelley says he won't write a farewell column. His last column will run near the end of January, Anderson says.