I’ve been speaking to news organisations’ community editors on the lessons they’ve learned from their time in the job. Today, The Times’s Tom Whitwell:
1. Trust the readers
Self-policing often works. I had a case where a sports writer was annoyed by a commenter who said he’d got his facts wrong. He wanted us to take the comment down, but by the time we got to the page, there were 3-4 other commenters backing up the writer. On the whole, we have very intelligent readers who leave great comments.
2. Interaction is incredibly subtle and variable
Similar articles with similar traffic can get very different responses – something in the wording of one will inspire hundreds of comments, but not the other.
Some people are hesitant about leaving a comment, but they might be very willing to vote in a poll, or fill in a survey. There are an infinite number of ways that websites can get readers more engaged.