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CommentsAreTerrible
(ButThey Don’t HaveTo Be)
Panelists:Greg Barber,The Coral Project & Talia Stroud, Engaging News
Projec...
Trolls are
terrible people,
says science
 A commenter attacking a post can skew a reader’s perception of
the post – and t...
To ward off
trolls,
publishers are
killing
comments…
right?
 Sacramento Bee:
Dropped comments in 2013, restored them in 2...
What good are comments?
We see real value in our site playing host to intelligent, polite
conversation. We will continue t...
So are you
here to tell us
every news site
needs
comments?
No.
We don’t need
comments.
We need to interact with users.
My organization has…
No money
Tight deadlines
Overbearing bosses
Giant bees
…how do we find time to interact?
Limited tech...
That’s where
we come in.
The Coral Project
 Collaboration: Mozilla,The NewYorkTimes,TheWashington Post,
funded by the Joh...
And us.
Engaging News Project
• Based at the University ofTexas at Austin, funded by the
Democracy Fund, Hewlett Foundatio...
What can we
do now to
improve online
dialogue?
Interact
 Chances of an uncivil comment declined by 15% when a reporter
in...
“I’ve had a really positive experience getting involved in the
comments. It encourages me to look at the comments section
...
What can we
do in the
future?
 Incentivize thoughtfulness
 Determine best contributions
 Highlight best contributions
...
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Comments Are Terrible (But They Don't Have To Be)

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SXSW PanelPicker submission for The Coral Project and the Engaging News Project.

Published in: News & Politics
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Comments Are Terrible (But They Don't Have To Be)

  1. 1. CommentsAreTerrible (ButThey Don’t HaveTo Be) Panelists:Greg Barber,The Coral Project & Talia Stroud, Engaging News Project Moderator: Erica Palan, Philly.com
  2. 2. Trolls are terrible people, says science  A commenter attacking a post can skew a reader’s perception of the post – and the science behind it (Brossard & Scheufele, 2013)  Readers might misattribute opinions expressed in comments as coming from the article (Lee, 2012)  Trolling behavior correlates with the DarkTetrad of human personality: sadism, psychopathy, narcissism, and Machiavelliannism (Buckels, 2014)
  3. 3. To ward off trolls, publishers are killing comments… right?  Sacramento Bee: Dropped comments in 2013, restored them in 2015  NationalCatholic Reporter: Dropped comments in 2014, restored them in 2014  LasVegas Review Journal: Dropped comments in 2015, restored them in 2015  Kyiv Post: Dropped comments in 2015, restored them in 2015 Not Exactly.
  4. 4. What good are comments? We see real value in our site playing host to intelligent, polite conversation. We will continue to prioritize maintaining a safe and welcoming atmosphere as we try to provide a way for our community to engage in a mature dialogue around our content -LasVegas Review Journal in a post on Medium.com
  5. 5. So are you here to tell us every news site needs comments? No.
  6. 6. We don’t need comments. We need to interact with users.
  7. 7. My organization has… No money Tight deadlines Overbearing bosses Giant bees …how do we find time to interact? Limited technology Quiet bees A horrible CMS
  8. 8. That’s where we come in. The Coral Project  Collaboration: Mozilla,The NewYorkTimes,TheWashington Post, funded by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation  Goal:To improve dialogue on news sites through open-source software and improved best practices
  9. 9. And us. Engaging News Project • Based at the University ofTexas at Austin, funded by the Democracy Fund, Hewlett Foundation and the RitaAllen Foundation • Goal: Provide research-based techniques for engaging audiences in commercially viable and democratically beneficial ways
  10. 10. What can we do now to improve online dialogue? Interact  Chances of an uncivil comment declined by 15% when a reporter interacted in a comment section.  Commenters providing evidence increased by 15% when a reporter interacted.
  11. 11. “I’ve had a really positive experience getting involved in the comments. It encourages me to look at the comments section more.The readers respond well when I go in and comment. They generally will thank me for my response.” -Jessica Parks, county reporter The Philadelphia Inquirer
  12. 12. What can we do in the future?  Incentivize thoughtfulness  Determine best contributions  Highlight best contributions  Invest in the social architecture (The Engaging News Project is working on this)  Model desired behavior  Create software that’s free to use and integrate for publishers of all sizes (The Coral Project is on it)

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