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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

New York Times screws around with reader comments

One thing we've learned about "new media" is that reader comments are an essential part of a modern website. Keeping an eye on what readers say, and making sure the discussion doesn't get too ugly, are not always pleasant tasks, and they never let up, but making the wrong moves to lighten that burden can be damaging.

Today the New York Times initiated a new system for comments that relies in part on Facebook, and overall makes it a lot harder for readers to make themselves heard. The Times is going to learn pretty quickly that anything that hampers the instant gratification of posting a comment will hurt readership. Yes, it's time-consuming and distracting to be watching comments all day, and some readers do have a tendency to try to monopolize the discussion, but without a general policy of allowing instant comments, you lose people.

Comments (17)

This is actually a great idea, I wish sites like oregonlive and YouTube did this because there are so many bad trolling comments where people sit behind anonymity.

Andrew Sullivan has never (to my knowledge) allowed comments (though he occasionally posts reader emails) and he's one of the most popular bloggers on the internet. I do think comments are a great tool, but you can make a site work without them.

Not usually.

It rains on the reign when the reins are....oh never mind.

Anonymity as in "Sam Clemens"?

The problem is, if you require use of Facebook, you are requiring that commenters disclose information to a company whose whole business model is gathering as much information as much as possible about you, and then selling it.

I think that if O-Live required Facebook registration and real names, comments would drop to 10% of current levels, and readership would drop off substantially.

Are you saying more than you're saying?

Another question: there's someone who reads Oregonlive?

"Another question: there's someone who reads Oregonlive?"

2.28 million unique visitors and 23.1 million page views per month.

All I know is that when someone disagrees with my comments here it seems like an old pal telling me I could be wrong (even best friends use sarcasm and humor to make their point) Links are also often provided to help with a particular opposing point of view.

At other sites less controlled or monitored responses can be angry and personal. OL is an example. Much like arguing with a snotty 10 year old, so most with meaningful comments just stay away.

It's all about managing the site, having a name at the bottom of your comment has little to do with the direction the thread takes.

Prior restraint anyone? (moderating all comments before posting..). Hilariously ironic coming from the largest newspaper in the land..

Other papers have already started using this system, the Times are a little behind on this one.....

^^ Intentionally funny? Prior restraint refers to government actions, not a private entity. I'm always amazed at how little people understand about the first amendment.

I expect the Times is doing this in part to put some dampers on anonymous commenters and in part to raise some revenue.

^^ Intentionally ignorant? Prior restraint is a type of censorship, not just a US legal definition. I'm always amazed at how little people understand because they interpret their bias vs. what was actual written.


I expect the Times is doing this because they want to put the damper on their editors looking like idiots because the first comments usually point out spelling errors and factual inaccuracies.

Anonymity is freedom.

Case in point Jack: Blueoregon; once they required facebook to post a comment the number of comments dropped off immensely.

Vancouver's Columbian paper is another example of reader comments plummeting after moving to Facebook.

I used to comment on their real estate articles (countering the rah rah glorified press releases) but wouldn't do that under Facebook.

Hmm, remind me who wrote the Federalist Papers again?

Yeah man. I get annoyed when I have to re-enter my email address because my browser forgot to save it. I need that instant fix!

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