Content + Commentary: How Media Brands Invite, Manage, and Benefit From 
User Commenting and Participation Online
Upcoming SlideShare
Loading in...5
×
 

Content + Commentary: How Media Brands Invite, Manage, and Benefit From 
User Commenting and Participation Online

on

  • 8,999 views

Bond Art + Science looked at how traditional media and online publications invite, manage and benefit from user participation, and we identified some best practices and common pitfalls.

Bond Art + Science looked at how traditional media and online publications invite, manage and benefit from user participation, and we identified some best practices and common pitfalls.

Statistics

Views

Total Views
8,999
Views on SlideShare
8,976
Embed Views
23

Actions

Likes
15
Downloads
157
Comments
0

6 Embeds 23

http://www.felgner.ch 10
http://www.slideshare.net 5
http://www.linkedin.com 5
https://twitter.com 1
http://translate.yandex.net 1
https://www.linkedin.com 1

Accessibility

Upload Details

Uploaded via as Adobe PDF

Usage Rights

© All Rights Reserved

Report content

Flagged as inappropriate Flag as inappropriate
Flag as inappropriate

Select your reason for flagging this presentation as inappropriate.

Cancel
  • Full Name Full Name Comment goes here.
    Are you sure you want to
    Your message goes here
    Processing…
Post Comment
Edit your comment

    Content + Commentary: How Media Brands Invite, Manage, and Benefit From 
User Commenting and Participation Online Content + Commentary: How Media Brands Invite, Manage, and Benefit From 
User Commenting and Participation Online Presentation Transcript

    • CONTENT + COMMENTARY How Media Brands Invite, Manage, and Benefit From User Commenting and Participation Online Content + Commentary | September 2008
    • The general interest of the masses might take the place of the insight of genius if it were allowed freedom of action. If you ever want to lose faith in humanity, read any comments —Denis Diderot, section on the internet. French philosopher (b. 1713) —Benjamin Dolnick, American author (b. 1982) Image by lemontwist301 quot;Race Crowdquot; on Flickr 2 Content + Commentary | September 2008
    • POWER TO THE PEOPLE Traditional media brands are accustomed to being in For the last few power, defining the message and controlling the years, the locus of control conversation. has been shifting and consumers not only expect to + Magazine and newspaper editors publish, and people read. customize their media experience, they demand it as a condition of + Radio hosts speak, and people listen. engagement. The horizon line for when a newspaper on the street is + Television producers broadcast shows, and people watch. serving as a kind of brochure of a rich online product does On the web, these former audience members are now not seem far off. users, which means they take an active role in shaping the message and contributing to the conversation. – David Carr, All of Us, the Arbiters of News, August 10 2008 3 Content + Commentary | September 2008
    • BRANDED DIALOGUE Instead of a 1-way push of information, media brands now enable conversations among their audience members. Media Brands Audience 4 Content + Commentary | September 2008
    • OPPORTUNITY KNOCKS? Every media brand is wrestling with how to deal with the internet — how to profit from new revenue streams, how not to be left behind as consumer behavior changes. Finding constructive and engaging ways for users to participate is one critical way that media brands stay relevant: + Some brands want to take advantage of this new discourse but don’t know how to integrate it with their own content + Others are wary of diluting the editorial credibility of their brand + Still others fear that the voice of the people can be cacophonous and uncontrollable 5 Content + Commentary | September 2008
    • Nec audiendi qui solent dicere, Vox populi, Vox Dei, quum tumultuositas vulgi semper insaniae proxima sit. Do not listen to those people who keep saying “the voice of the people is the voice of God,” since the riotousness of the crowd is always very close to madness. —Letter from Alcuin to Charlemagne, 798 6 Content + Commentary | September 2008
    • We examined how media websites balance the need to facilitate reader participation with the desire to maintain editorial integrity and serve their paying advertisers. We reviewed: + Mainstream media brands with well-established editorial POV and growing audiences online + Web publications with frequent publishing schedules and significant user participation We found some good strategies and some common pitfalls in how they’re coping and adapting. 7 Content + Commentary | September 2008
    • OUR FINDINGS The First Hurdle: Set Appropriate Barriers to Entry Typically users are asked to register in order to participate. This registration process can be a short hop or a long climb, based on the site’s goals and brand. The Carrot and the Stick: Encourage Quality Discourse The dream of citizen journalism dies a little after seeing the comments people post on YouTube videos. There are ways to raise the quality. The New World Order: Treat Comments as Content User contributions can languish in the comments ghetto if they aren’t actively repurposed as content. Valuable contributions should live alongside editorial. Content + Commentary | September 2008 8
    • THE FIRST HURDLE: SET APPROPRIATE BARRIERS TO ENTRY Who should be able to post comments on your site? When and how should people register to contribute? What information should you require during registration? Content + Commentary | September 2008 9
    • The First Hurdle: Set Appropriate Barriers to Entry THE 1% RULE 90% of postings from In any online community, the majority of users don’t 1% of users actively participate — they read, they observe, they lurk. For a traditional media brand which doesn’t expect much audience interaction, this may not seem like a problem. 10% of postings What it means, though, is that the majority of comments from 9% of users come from a tiny minority of contributors. No postings from 90% of users Is this a problem? It depends on the goals of the site and the type of people who come there. 1% Heavy Contributors 9% Some sites may want to set low barriers to entry, to Intermittent Contributors encourage more people to participate. Others may want to set the bar higher, assuming that asking more from participants will weed out lower quality contributions. 90% Lurkers Jakob Nielsen, Participation Inequality: Encouraging More Users to Contribute, October 9, 2006 10 Content + Commentary | September 2008
    • The First Hurdle: Set Appropriate Barriers to Entry REGISTRATION OPTIONS Allow Anonymous Comments Ask for Name + Email Require Registration + Password Ask for Optional Demographics Charge a Registration Fee Keep Login and Registration in Context Content + Commentary | September 2008 11
    • The First Hurdle: Set Appropriate Barriers to Entry ALLOW ANONYMOUS COMMENTS Data gathered by Topix, a news aggregator and community forum, indicates that “systems that require registration get an order of magnitude less commentary Anonymous Users than systems that don’t.” Anonymous posts account for three times the comment volume, even if they also account for approximately 50% more deleted posts. Registered Users The non-registered user base provides the majority of acceptable comments, so “eliminating anonymous comments is only going to limit the number of comments at the end of the day, not dramatically improve the 0 10,000 30,000 50,000 70,000 quality of discourse on the web.” Accepted Posts Rejected Posts Chris Tolles, Anonymous Comments — By The Numbers, January 8, 2008 Mark Glaser, Traditional Media Ready to Elevate the Conversation Online — with Moderation, January 16, 2008 12 Content + Commentary | September 2008
    • The real issue here is that the Internet’s real mission is to empower many-to- many conversations. The long-term play is thousands of conversations between the people in the forums, not an editorial opinion being foisted on them by a battery of editors. With regard to anonymity — it’s pretty much a misnomer. We know roughly the same about people who post anonymously, as we do about people who register with an email address, and can ban people either way. We’ve found roughly the same amount of abuse from both kinds of people, and all you’re doing with registration is making people jump through hoops. Bad people jump though hoops more or less as much as good folks, at least with regard to commentary. — Chris Tolles, CEO of Topix Mark Glaser, Traditional Media Ready to Elevate the Conversation Online — with Moderation, January 16, 2008 13 Content + Commentary | September 2008
    • The First Hurdle: Set Appropriate Barriers to Entry ASK FOR NAME + EMAIL Asking for only name and email (with no password) sets a low barrier to entry. This communicates to users “please share your ideas, we want to hear them.” With an interface that makes it so easy to contribute, users may be more likely to comment first and think later. This also makes it easy for spammers to contribute, so some form of automated review is required. Because login information isn’t saved, users need to enter name and email every time they comment (or accept a “remember me” cookie for their computer.) This also means that users don’t maintain an identity or Users submit the minimum amount of information on some of the profile across the site, which limits the ability to New York Times blogs. Information is not saved. recognize, reward, or restrict people on the basis of their comments. 14 Content + Commentary | September 2008
    • I am not a supporter of registration or other prior-restraint gating processes that ultimately only hinder the conversation. Our role is to activate and engage the conversation, not stifle and control it. Our role is to open ourselves and our sites to all kinds of communities and all kinds of people — not just those who fit our demographic filters or don’t like to cuss or don’t get rambunctious or don’t sometimes just say stupid things just to make a point. —Scott Anderson, vice president of shared content for Tribune Interactive Mark Glaser, Traditional Media Ready to Elevate the Conversation Online — with Moderation, January 16, 2008 15 Content + Commentary | September 2008
    • The First Hurdle: Set Appropriate Barriers to Entry REQUIRE REGISTRATION + PASSWORD Asking users to register before they can submit a comment places a higher barrier to entry, and site owners can expect that as many as two-thirds of potential users will leave without completing the form. This dropoff may be acceptable (or even desirable) if it reduces the amount of noise in the system. We assume that only users who have something valuable to say will invest time entering their personal information. On the other hand, too high of a barrier to start may prevent a lively community from getting off the ground. Users need to feel like their contributions are wanted and that there are other people to share ideas with. Fast Company requests personal information that is appropriate for the site content and purpose, and it is used to start a personal profile. 16 Content + Commentary | September 2008
    • The First Hurdle: Set Appropriate Barriers to Entry ASK FOR OPTIONAL DEMOGRAPHICS Many sites wish to gather a significant amount of data from users during registration, since this information can be used for marketing and to target online ads. Asking for demographic information like gender, age, job title, salary, or industry requires real engagement from users. Even if these questions are optional, users may still perceive the form to be too complex and abandon the process. One option is to ask for the minimum information to start, and then ask for additional information as they use the site. Rolling profile creation allows users quick access to the site, and then asks them for information in context. BusinessWeek asks new users to make a significant number of decisions and respond to numerous fields before they are able to register for a site-wide profile. 17 Content + Commentary | September 2008
    • The First Hurdle: Set Appropriate Barriers to Entry CHARGE A REGISTRATION FEE Charging a fee helps to cover costs of maintaining and moderating the site, but it also provides an incentive for good behavior. Users who have paid the fee have a stake in “ownership” of the site, and may be more inclined to behave appropriately. By charging for registration, users risk losing their investment if they are banned by site moderators, so they may post more cautiously. Sites which benefit from an international audience should offer an alternative fee structure for users in developing nations, or tell these users to contact site moderators to have the fee waived. Metafilter charges a $5 registration fee to become a member and participate in its discussions. Freakonomics, Can $5 Improve Reader Comments?, April 10 2008 18 Content + Commentary | September 2008
    • You take a site like Metafilter, and the commentary is the content, for a lot of folks. Not everyone, granted—tons of folks use the front page of the site as a link dump and never click into individual threads, and that’s fine. But the gateway of having to sign up (for which the $5 fee is a speedbump to scare off those who wouldn’t quite be fazed by a free signup process) does a good job of reducing the number of driveby yakkers, which helps keep the signal high. —Josh Millard, Metafilter Moderator Freakonomics, Can $5 Improve Reader Comments?, April 10 2008 19 Content + Commentary | September 2008
    • The First Hurdle: Set Appropriate Barriers to Entry KEEP LOGIN IN CONTEXT Having to register or login to a site can be an obstacle to users who want to comment. Because users have to shift their focus to a different task, they can become distracted USA Today allows users to register without navigating or decide to give up. away from the article page. Ideally, users should be able to log in or register for the site without losing the context of what they’re doing and forgetting their place. Overlays and expanding forms allow users to log in or register and then quickly return to the task at hand. On the Huffington Post, users can log in via an overlay and are not taken away from the article page or the comment list. 20 Content + Commentary | September 2008
    • THE CARROT AND THE STICK: ENSURE QUALITY DISCOURSE What strategies help create useful and intelligent commentary? How should comments be moderated? How do inappropriate comments become a social liability? What measures are needed to ensure comments aren’t overrun by spam? Content + Commentary | September 2008 21
    • The Carrot and the Stick: Ensure Quality Discourse COMMENT QUALITY This is the crux of the issue: if media brands are going to invite users to participate in the conversation, they want it to be good. Of course, standards for quality discourse are different online than they are in other media. Should the conversation stand on its own, as messy and uncontrolled as discourse can be in the real world? Or should it be shaped and guided by editors? Who has the right to judge whether someone’s comment is appropriate, topical, or worthy? What tools are available to help site owners and site users make these assessments? XKCD, YouTube XKCD, YouTube 22 Content + Commentary | September 2008
    • Leaving a comment on someone's weblog is like walking into their living room and joining in on a Having lots and lots of comments conversation. As in real life, online is not a sign of success if those there are some people who are comments are racist, sexist, a pleasure to converse with, homophobic, ad hominem, or just and some who are not. generally obnoxious. It doesn't help your brand, and it doesn't —Gina Trapani, Lifehacker encourage the ninety percent of lurkers to either participate, or look well upon you. —Suw Charman-Anderson Gina Trapani, Lifehacker's guide to weblog comments, July 6, 2007 Suw Charman-Anderson, Is participation inequality actually a problem?, July 6, 2007 23 Content + Commentary | September 2008
    • The Carrot and the Stick: Ensure Quality Discourse COMMENT QUALITY INFLUENCERS The Commenting Interface Automated Moderation Human Moderation Community Moderation Commenting Guidelines Ratings Reputation Systems Social Liability Content + Commentary | September 2008 24
    • The Carrot and the Stick: Ensure Quality Discourse THE COMMENTING INTERFACE The quality of comments begins with the input fields. A well-designed interface for commenting will result in more thoughtful replies. The height of the input box will influence the length of the post, so use it as a way to signal users how much they should write. Sites that have a maximum post length should alert users as they type. New York Magazine forces users to preview their Forcing users to preview their comment before comments before they can submit them, and alerts submitting it will cut down on typos (and hopefully users if they enter “banned” words. reduce insulting comments submitted in haste.) The system should review comments and alert users to spelling errors or words that are banned under the posting guidelines. Twitter prominently counts down the number of characters left for the post. 25 Content + Commentary | September 2008
    • The Carrot and the Stick: Ensure Quality Discourse AUTOMATED MODERATION The first line of defense is an automated review. Comment spam is a significant problem but can be controlled using tools like Akismet or Mollom. Automated tools can also be used to filter out posts with profanity or other banned character strings. These tools can also convert ALL CAPS shouting to mixed case. Publishers provide comments so that their readers can easily share their thoughts and ideas. Making it easy for readers to add comments makes it more likely that readers will do so. The problem is that by making it easy for readers to add legitimate comments, you also make it easy for spammers to abuse your – Six Apart comment system. Six Apart Guide to Comment Spam http://akismet.com/stats/ 26 Content + Commentary | September 2008
    • The Carrot and the Stick: Ensure Quality Discourse HUMAN MODERATION Choosing to actively moderate comments is a complex Does moderating comments decision for many publications. The desire to ensure that on a website make the website only high quality comments appear on the site trades off owner more liable? against the cost and effort required to approve them. This is an important question that a lot of Some publications believe that comment moderation website owners have. The short answer diminishes the immediacy of the conversation, essentially under U.S. law is that you are right, going against the open ethos of the internet. Others website owners generally are not liable choose to focus and shape the discussion, choosing the for comments on their site, even if most thoughtful and weeding out the incoherent, profane, they moderate them. and repetitive. Many companies are concerned about legal liabilities associated with moderating comments. Under U.S. law, site owners usually are not liable for comments made on their site, even if they have reviewed them before posting. International law may differ. —Jason Schultz, Electronic Frontier Foundation Fellow specializing in intellectual property Mark Glaser, Traditional Media Ready to Elevate the Conversation Online — with Moderation, January 16, 2008 Derek Powazek, Just One Question for Jason Schultz, July 30, 2008 27 Content + Commentary | September 2008
    • I’m a big believer in the conversation. I believe the conversation makes us all smarter, when it’s a good conversation. The great, wonderful beauty of the Internet is that it enables everybody to join the conversation. In order for us to really benefit from the conversation, and not see it crushed by bad actors, [we need] to try and guide that conversation. I think there is a role here for journalists to play in elevating the expectations for that conversation…That’s the high ideal behind what I’m advocating, even as it flies in the face of the wide-open ideals of some digerati. —Howard Owens, director of digital publishing at GateHouse Media Mark Glaser, Traditional Media Ready to Elevate the Conversation Online — with Moderation, January 16, 2008 28 Content + Commentary | September 2008
    • The Carrot and the Stick: Ensure Quality Discourse COMMUNITY MODERATION Readers can flag comments as “abusive” on the Huffington Post. It’s appropriate to enlist users in helping to moderate contributions. Users can flag content they deem inappropriate, which increases the sense of communal responsibility, and removes some of the burden of moderating comments from the editorial staff. Don’t think that you can tidy up comments any better than you can Sites that do not have editors actively review comments tidy up the world. I would kill the before posting should do this. worst, most spiteful and off-topic Some human intervention may still be required to review comments and let the rest speak for and evaluate comments that have been flagged. themselves. – Jeff Jarvis How to Interact, January 30, 2006 29 Content + Commentary | September 2008
    • The Carrot and the Stick: Ensure Quality Discourse COMMENTING GUIDELINES Sites should create a set of guidelines that communicate how user-contributed content will be moderated, and what constitutes acceptable use of the site. These guidelines should address your policies towards: + Profanity, obscenity, personal attacks, and defamation + Copyright, including your license to publish user-generated content and your approach to dealing with copyright infringement + Commercial promotion, including spam and paid commenting + Violations and how they will be handled (by requesting changes from the user, deleting the comment, or banning the user) + Changes to these terms of service and how they will be communicated Jeremy Steele, What A Comment Policy Should Cover, July 9th, 2007 30 Content + Commentary | September 2008
    • Past deletions have prompted charges of censorship. Let’s define some terms: If we attempted to pass a law preventing you from saying something terrible, that would be censorship. If you showed up in our living room attempting to say the same thing, we’d have the right to throw you out. The First Amendment forbids Congress from passing laws that abridge freedom of speech on a national level; it does not in any way apply to our right to delete posts on this site. —The Onion A.V. Club A.V. Club, Why we delete comments. (And how you can make us stop.), July 14, 2008 31 Content + Commentary | September 2008
    • The Carrot and the Stick: Ensure Quality Discourse RATINGS Systems that allow users to rate and recommend comments provide another way to filter. The simplest approach is to include a button to recommend the comment. Highly recommended Readers can recommend insightful comments in the New York Times Opinion section. The number of recommendations is comments can then be highlighted more prominently. displayed next to the comment. Another approach is a thumbs up/down rating, which enables sites to hide comments that don’t meet a minimum threshold. Ratings also provide a quick and easy way for users to participate in the discussion without having to write their own ideas. Readers can vote comments up or down on Digg. Comments are hidden if they do not meet a minimum standard. 32 Content + Commentary | September 2008
    • The Carrot and the Stick: Ensure Quality Discourse REPUTATION SYSTEMS Rewarding users for good citizenship can be managed by tracking positive behavior and then displaying it publicly. Amazon.com rewards users with “badges” for their performance. Points can be awarded for writing comments, receiving high ratings or recommendations from other users, or for providing their real name or extended demographic information. Sites usually give users only a general description of which behaviors result in more points, to avoid users gaming the system. Folio: MediaPRO displays points on a user’s profile, and top scorers appear in a leaderboard. 33 Content + Commentary | September 2008
    • The Carrot and the Stick: Ensure Quality Discourse SOCIAL LIABILITY Users may be more circumspect in their comments if they know their words will follow them around the site. By aggregating all of a user’s comments onto a profile, clicking on a username will enable people to get a sense of that person’s previous interactions and tone. This is an easy way to create an identity for users with no explicit profile creation. Users do not have to set up a profile themselves because the system does it for them. On Slate, clicking on a user’s name displays their comment history. 34 Content + Commentary | September 2008
    • Perhaps a reputation system with a mix of human and automated filters — and having positive and negative reinforcement — is the answer to that long- standing conundrum of opening up the conversation online but keeping it civil. —Mark Glaser, PBS Mark Glaser, Traditional Media Ready to Elevate the Conversation Online — with Moderation, January 16, 2008 35 Content + Commentary | September 2008
    • The New World Order: Treat Comments as Content THE NEW WORLD ORDER: TREAT COMMENTS AS CONTENT What’s the best way to expose commentary? How do publishers foster community and reward participants? How do publishers use commenting to their benefit? Content + Commentary | September 2008 36
    • The New World Order: Treat Comments as Content COMMENTARY IS CONTENT Reader responses and discussions are becoming a popular form of online content for users to consume, just like they would an article or photo gallery. Sites with an engaged audience and vigorous or even controversial debate are becoming more popular, as If you treat interactivity, and interest in the community sometimes outstrips interest in the people who do it, with the original content. respect, good things will come of it: traffic, engagement, content, For many media brands, opening their minds and hearts collaboration. to the opportunities created by multi-directional conversations is the most difficult aspect of change. –Jeff Jarvis, How to Interact, January 30, 2006 37 Content + Commentary | September 2008
    • Interactivity isn’t easy. I must confess that when I wrote for large publications, I said that I loved my audience … but that didn’t mean I wanted to actually meet or talk with them. The people who reached out to me as often as not did so with crayons and crackpot conspiracies, and that helped set my view of interactivity. I think the same is true for much of mass media. The old forms of interactivity helped make us into — or rather, gave us an excuse to be — isolated snobs. The internet changed all that. Online, for the first time in my career, I developed eye-to-eye relationships with readers. And I learned to respect the knowledge, intelligence, goodwill and good taste of those I saw as a mass. I embraced interactivity with obnoxious fervour and would not stop repeating, “News is a conversation …” —Jeff Jarvis Jeff Jarvis, How to Interact, January 30, 2006 38 Content + Commentary | September 2008
    • The New World Order: Treat Comments as Content COMMENTARY DRIVES COMMERCE There can be huge benefits to fostering lively debate and featuring this discourse prominently. Make use of reader comments to generate interest in and drive traffic to I think the most remarkable editorial content. result we’ve seen so far is the dramatic increase in frequency of New reader commentary keeps content fresh longer, reader visits. Our most loyal readers extending the shelf life of articles, and giving readers a now come back many times, and that reason to visit even when no new content has been creates lots of opportunities for published. commerce. Increased interaction with the site is not only a better user experience, Displaying the level of activity on a post or articles enables it’s a better commercial opportunity readers to quickly scan and assess the level of controversy, for publishers looking for loyalty drawing them in to debates. and engagement. Featuring commentary prominently begets further discussion — a virtuous circle of content generation. – Ed Sussman, President of Mansueto Digital FastCompany.com and Inc.com 39 Content + Commentary | September 2008
    • USING COMMENTS AS CONTENT Invite the Discussion Display Comments Appropriately Don’t Bury Good Comments Show Off Hot Topics Highlight the Best Comments Make Comments Part of the Story Content + Commentary | September 2008 40
    • INVITE THE DISCUSSION One of the best ways to bring users into a conversation about your content is also one of the simplest — just ask Including specific questions in them. posts definitely helps get higher By asking a specific question, you invite your readers to numbers of comments. I find that when I participate. That simple act can make the site feel more include questions in my headings that it is open and interested in reader comments. As any good a particularly effective way of getting a teacher could tell you: people who are uncomfortable response from readers as you set a sharing their ideas in a public forum will be more inclined question in their mind from the first to respond to specific questions. moments of your post. Authors should write a specific query at the end of each article to spark discussion. It’s surprising how few publications actually do this. – Darren Rowse, 10 Techniques to Get More Comments on Your Blog, October 12, 2006 41 Content + Commentary | September 2008
    • The New World Order: Treat Comments as Content DISPLAY COMMENTS APPROPRIATELY Comments should appear at the bottom of article pages, and it should be easy for users to read and engage with the replies. Putting the comments in chronological order encourages people to read and then respond. On the other hand, displaying comments in reverse chronological order makes users who come in late to the discussion feel like their comment will be read — not buried at the end of several pages of replies. Putting the comment box at the top of the replies also encourages replying before reading, but makes it easier for people to comment. Women on the Web displays comments in chronological order and indents replies. 42 Content + Commentary | September 2008
    • The New World Order: Treat Comments as Content DON’T BURY GOOD COMMENTS Some sites (like Wired, which should know better) don’t feature commentary at all. Despite having active comment threads on article pages, the homepage and magazine table of contents don’t mention how many comments each article has. This makes the site seem unnecessarily static and top- down. Other sites relegate commentary to separate pages or sections of the site, creating a “user-generated ghetto” that benefits no one. 43 Content + Commentary | September 2008
    • The worst thing you can do is separate the “community section” away from your content. That creates a backchannel, where people feel safe being inappropriate because, why not? They’re at the kids table, anyway. So link stories to community conversations as closely as possible. This will give the conversation a central topic. —Derek Powazek, author of Design for Community Derek Powazek, 10 Ways Newspapers Can Improve Comments, July 28, 2008 44 Content + Commentary | September 2008
    • The New World Order: Treat Comments as Content SHOW OFF HOT TOPICS Many sites highlight their “most viewed” or “most emailed” articles, but “most commented” is often treated like a second-class citizen. Highlighting the number of comments prominently shows the level of engagement users have with the stories. A site may draw roughly the same number of readers for most articles, but some will garner significantly more comments than others. The Huffington post prominently displays the number of views and comments in a most popular box. 45 Content + Commentary | September 2008
    • The New World Order: Treat Comments as Content HIGHLIGHT THE BEST COMMENTS Sites are always looking for ways to drive increased page views, particularly by helping users “stumble across” articles they might not actively seek out. By highlighting interesting quotes from readers, sites can Women on the Web features reader comments prominently in use comments as a way to highlight articles on the the right column, and includes responses from the author. homepage or in a sidebar. The In Your Face feature on the BusinessWeek homepage highlights one comment in particular. 46 Content + Commentary | September 2008
    • We are rewarding our readers who make comments on our site by going to the reader and saying, “We like what you’re saying and want to feature it in a prominent way, can you send us a digital picture of yourself so we can put it on the home page?” This is about elevating our conversation and giving credence to the idea that the web is a dialogue and not a lecture. The truth is that very few people are delivering on it, having reporters really engage with readers or elevating comments and saying, “This is as important as any story we have, any video we have, any audio we have.” — John Byrne, BusinessWeek.com executive editor Mark Glaser, Traditional Media Ready to Elevate the Conversation Online — with Moderation, January 16, 2008 47 Content + Commentary | September 2008
    • The New World Order: Treat Comments as Content MAKE COMMENTS PART OF THE STORY Gawker maintains control and makes comments part of the experience through weekly “commenter executions.” Commenters feel that they are part of the experience, helping to craft the brand, and they know that site editors are actively trying to maintain quality. A clever play on using commentary as content, and perfectly on brand, this approach may be too controversial for more traditional news outlets and print titles. Gawker highlights witty comments and features weekly “commenter executions.” 48 Content + Commentary | September 2008
    • The tsk-tskers treat the web as if it is a media property and they judge it by its worst: Look what that nasty web is doing to our civilization! But, of course, that’s as silly as judging publishing by the worst of what is published. It’s even more wrong because the internet is not media — no matter how much media people insist on seeing the web in their image. Instead it is, as Doc Searls points out, a place where we talk. —Jeff Jarvis Jeff Jarvis, Comments on Comments on Comments, July 28 2008 49 Content + Commentary | September 2008
    • METHODOLOGY Content + Commentary | September 2008 50
    • METHODOLOGY Bond Art + Science looked at user participation across a broad range of sites, from traditional, long-standing print publications such as National Geographic and The New York Times, to newer web-only publications such as Women on the Web and The Huffington Post. By examining sites across a range of criteria, we were able to identify trends in how these brands address user participation and identify best practices and common pitfalls. Criteria: Sites Examined: Barriers to Entry Amazon.com Newsweek Prominence of Commenting The American Prospect Pitchfork Integration Within Content BusinessWeek Popular Science Ease of Use Cool Hunting Portfolio Ratings Cut&Paste Scientific American User Submissions and UGC Fast Company Slate Commentary As Content Folio: MediaPRO Time Magazine Accountability and Community Policing Gawker Time Out Forums Good Magazine The Times (UK) Quality of Discourse Huffington Post US News & World Report Metafilter USA Today National Geographic The Washington Post New York Magazine Wired The New York Times Women on the Web 51 Content + Commentary | September 2008
    • SOURCES We also spoke with several experts in managing user comments, and researched additional sources in blog posts, articles, and comments online. A.V. Club, Why we delete comments. (And how you can make us stop.), July 14, 2008 Chris Tolles, Anonymous Comments — By The Numbers, January 8, 2008 Darren Rowse, 10 Techniques to Get More Comments on Your Blog, October 12, 2006 David Carr, All of Us, the Arbiters of News, August 10, 2008 Derek Powazek, 10 Ways Newspapers Can Improve Comments, July 28, 2008 Derek Powazek, Just One Question for Jason Schultz, July 30, 2008 Derek Powazek, This is Not a Comment, July 26, 2008 Freakonomics, Can $5 Improve Reader Comments?, April 10, 2008 Gina Trapani, Lifehacker's guide to weblog comments, September 21, 2005 Howard Owens, Chris Tolles brings some stats to the anonymous vs. registration debate, January 9th, 2008 Jakob Nielsen, Participation Inequality: Encouraging More Users to Contribute, October 9, 2006 Jeff Jarvis, Comments on Comments on Comments, July 28, 2008 Jeff Jarvis, How to Interact, January 30, 2006 Jeremy Steele, What A Comment Policy Should Cover, July 9th, 2007 Lorelle van Fossen, Comments on Comments, September 17, 2005 Mark Glaser, Traditional Media Ready to Elevate the Conversation Online — with Moderation, January 16, 2008 Suw Charman-Anderson, Is participation inequality actually a problem?, July 6, 2007 The Onion, Local Idiot To Post Comment On Internet, August 6, 2008 Virginia Heffernan, Stet, July 20, 2008 52 Content + Commentary | September 2008
    • BOND ART + SCIENCE By providing insightful user experience design services, Bond Art + Science makes the internet better for the people who use it. + We are a leading firm in New York City focused on The Women on the Web delivering better user experiences through our expertise in information architecture and interaction design + We offer workshops, expert assessments, and persona research, in addition to our core offerings of concept prototyping and user experience design + We primarily work with clients who expect to derive significant business value from increased user engagement, participation, and loyalty online + We were founded in 2006 by four veterans of the interactive services industry + Everyone on our team shares a passion for making technology work better for the people who use it 53 Content + Commentary | September 2008
    • WE’D LOVE TO HEAR www.bondartscience.com web info@bondartscience.com email @bondartscience twitter YOUR COMMENTS. 38 West 21st Street 3rd Floor New York, NY 10010 212-226-6344 main 212-898-0369 fax
    • HAHA You guys are dumb!11!1!! This article is st00pid! LULZ! — Commenters Everywhere 55 Content + Commentary | September 2008