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Wikimania2010 - Reflect: a tool for discussion summarization and active listening

  1. Hard to do in lengthy threaded discussions
  2. TL;DR
  3. Active Listening
  4. Many people engage in “serial monologue-y”
  5. call out restatement
  6. nudge people toward grounding
  7. anyone can add a point
  8. indicator of listening
  9. get up to speed
  10. anyone can add a point
  11. read wear
  12. how to read a comment board
  13. drawn into the discussion
  14. how to effectively frame your points
  15. How difference is encountered
  16. Summarizers can demonstrate good faith, commenters may be less likely to flame them
  17. Greater prevalence of deliberative activities
  18. Synthesis of other people’s points, common ground
  19. WordpressPlugin

Editor's Notes

  1. Reflect is the name of both the tool and the team that works on it. The reflect team is a (very!) interdisciplinary project group at UW that focuses on designing tools to make it easier to to conduct deliberative discussions in online spaces. Our goal is to design tools that support sensemaking, decision making and group deliberations across a variety of media, platforms and genres, including Wikis. Reflect is one of those tools.
  2. I feel that I should disclose before I continue that although I am a true believer in reflect and all that it represents, I am not the author of this tool. All the credit for Reflect should really go to my colleague Travis Kriplean, a PhD candidate in Computer Science and Engineering at UW, who conceived and developed what I’m going to show you today. There’s Travis’s glamour shot up there.
  3. However, we think that there are still fundamental issues that are inherent in the threaded discussion paradigm. The first of these is the sensemaking challenge that threaded discussions present to readers. Whether you as a reader are just entering a lengthy discussion already in progress, or just trying to keep track of what’s been said in a conversation you’re actively engaged in, a long string of comments can be overwhelming. Another problem is the lack of actual communication in many of these threads. People are often more interested in standing on their own soapbox and announcing their own opinion than reflecting on, responding to or making a reasoned assessment of what other people have posted. And this phenomenon is not limited to places like YouTube—it also happens on Wiki, especially on the lengthy conversation threads attached to controversial pages. (where deliberation is needed most)These two related problems are contributing factors to the low deliberative quality of many (most?) online threaded discussions.
  4. We take the stance that focusing on a few key design choices meant to address the specific problems of sensemaking and active listening can subtly encourage “good” deliberative behavior without creating new barriers to participation. Reflect can help bridge the feedback gap between listener and speaker without overly distracting the discussion.