NYO: Gawker's writers are nervous about new comments system

The New York Observer | Adweek

Gawker Media boss Nick Denton tells Kat Stoeffel he wants to "erase this toxic Internet class system,” so he developed Kinja, a commenting system that is making Gawker writers nervous:

Asked if Kinja, in its fully realized form, even required writers, Mr. Denton replied, “As long as readers want to see discussions in which our staff writers participate, we’ll have staff writers.”

Not especially reassuring news for his editorial employees, who are fretting that those who fail to adapt will be fired.

Kinja rolled out on Gawker properties Jezebel and io9 Wednesday morning, having conquered the company's flagship site in late April and Deadspin this Monday. Kotaku and Lifehacker still look like they're using the old system. Stoeffel writes that Kinja's completed the alienation of Gawker's original commenting base. Editor A.J. Daulerio explains:

They’ve helped build the site, helped make Nick Denton rich, they actually care about the quality of the site, their voices are important. Now they can’t have their little chats with the people they’ve made imaginary friends with.

The hope is that advertisers will follow a desirable comment base to the lower half of pages that many readers avoid, a tactic Charlie Warzel reports Talking Points Memo has rolled out with "conversation ads" to some success:

In all of TPM’s conversation ads, users can interact with high-res images, branded content, and then send an email to the company to receive a direct response. This direct dialogue is what Marshall hopes will foster meaningful clicks and engagement with advertisers, even if they're not flashy or sexy brands.

TPM's seen 10.2 percent and 37 percent overall engagement rates, Warzel writes.

The interactions with posters ("comments" as a term has been banned, Stoeffel reports) will help ease the writers into the future, Denton says:

Once the comments become a “safe space” for writers, as he put it—and not the battlefield of psychological warfare Jezebel writers are sometimes advised to avoid—the tipsters and insiders will stop depending on the privacy of the email tip box.

“Everybody will do everything in public,” he said. “Just give it time.”

Related: "On the list titled 'This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things On The Internet,' Item #1 has always been human nature." || Previously: Gawker plans a business model based on comments and conversation, not posts and ads | Nick Denton’s new advertising system may foreshadow a post-blogger future

  • Andrew Beaujon

    Andrew Beaujon reported on the media for Poynter from 2012 to 2015. He was previously arts editor at TBD.com and managing editor of Washington City Paper. He's the author of the 2006 book "Body Piercing Saved My Life," about Christian rock and evangelical Christian culture.


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