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#jpod: Lessons from the NY Times and Guardian in managing reader comments

December 9th, 2011 | No Comments | Posted by in Online Journalism, Podcast

The New York Times last week introduced a new category of “trusted commenter”, which it describes as an “invitation-only programme designed for our most valued commenters”.

In this podcast Journalism.co.uk technology correspondent Sarah Marshall speaks to Sasha Koren, deputy editor of interactive news technologies for social media and community at the New York Times; Meg Pickard, head of digital engagement for Guardian News and Media; and Tamara Littleton, CEO of eModeration, a social media management agency that handles outsourced commenting.

The #jpod looks at how the New York Times pre-moderates the majority of comments and how the Guardian post-moderates most of its comments. The podcast also has tips for community managers in encouraging debate, diffusing heated arguments and rewarding readers.

You can also read advice from Tamara Littleton in this guide on how to manage reader comments as a journalist.

You can hear future podcasts by signing up to the Journalism.co.uk iTunes podcast feed.

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Shane Richmond: The value of reader comments to online newspapers

April 23rd, 2010 | 3 Comments | Posted by in Editors' pick, Online Journalism

Telegraph Media Group’s head of technology Shane Richmond weighs in on a debate about the value of comments left by readers on newspaper websites.

Journalism professor Jeff Jarvis recently suggested a turnaround in his view on reader comments: “I defended [newspaper] comments for years. But the problem is that comments are too often the voice of assholes.” He added in a blog post: “[C]omments are an insult because they come only after media think they’re done creating a product, which they then allow the public to react to.”

This prompted a response from Ilana Fox, who ran online communities for the Sun and Mail Online, disagreeing with Jarvis and arguing that the majority of people interacting with newspapers online aren’t “assholes” at all.

Richmond says both are right – his post is worth reading in full – and makes a particular point about the effect of journalists’ involvement in comment threads:

Jeff makes the point that inviting readers in after the fact is disrespectful, which is what leads to the unconstructive nature of much commenting. But I’ve noticed that engagement by journalists breeds a culture of respect. If journalists join the conversation, they are more likely to be respected by readers.

I don’t think the “true collaboration” that Jeff would like to see is a replacement for commenting. Many people are happy to comment and don’t want to do more. True collaboration builds on the work we’ve done so far. And it is a goal that many of us are working towards.

Full post at this link…

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Cloud on Economist.com aggregates reader comments

April 16th, 2010 | 1 Comment | Posted by in Handy tools and technology

Not sure how long this has been a feature on the Economist’s website, but aggregating readers’ comments around different topic areas is an interesting way in to a story.

The cloud of terms show the most popular topics from across the site and can be viewed for one-week, two-week or a 30-day period:

Clicking on a term displays all reader comments from across the website relating to that subject, with a link to what article they were left on.

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Nieman Journalism Lab: Barriers to entry can improve quality and quantity of reader comments, says Gawker

In 2009, blog network Gawker Media introduced a new, stricter commenting system in an attempt to free the site from certain readers who were dominating comment threads. Nieman Journalism Lab has the full rundown of how the system now works, which includes trusted commenters having greater access to discussions and most recent comments placed at the top rather than bottom of threads to steer discussion.

“We’ll be able to encourage the kind of discussion that *we* want – not one that is dominated merely by the most prolific of our commenters. It’s our party; we get to decide who comes,” wrote founder Nick Denton at the time.

A graph on the blog of Gawker Media chief technology officer Tom Plunkett shows an initial dip in comment volume when the changes were first made, followed by a steep incline:

Though there were some calls to do so, purging commenter accounts is not a solution for the out-of-control commenter community. Nor is a large moderation staff. We believe pruning, and a commenting platform as we have implemented, will lead to increased participation, while at the same time encouraging quality. This data, and the subjective opinion of many, seem to back this assertion.

Full Nieman Journalism Lab report at this link…

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