Tag Archives: comments

Do blogs make reporting restrictions pointless?

The leaked DNA test on 13-year-old alleged dad Alfie Patten has revealed a big problem with court-ordered reporting restrictions in the internet age. (NB This is a cut down version of a much longer original post on blogging and reporting restrictions that was featured on the Guardian).

Court orders forbidding publication of certain facts apply only to people or companies who have been sent them. But this means there is nothing to stop bloggers publishing material that mainstream news organisations would risk fines and prison for publishing.

Even if a blogger knows that there is an order, and so could be considered bound by it, an absurd catch 22 means they can’t found out the details of the order – and so they risk contempt of court and prison.

Despite the obvious problem the Ministry of Justice have told me they have no plans to address the issue. Continue reading

Advertisements

Could moderators collect potential leads from comments?

Guardian community moderator Todd Nash* makes an interesting suggestion on his blog about the difficulties journalists face in wading through comments on their stories:

“there is potential for news stories to come out of user activity on newspaper websites. Yet, as far as I know, it is not a particularly well-utlised area. Time is clearly an issue here. How many journalists have time to scroll through all of their comments to search for something that could well resemble a needle in a haystack? It was commented that, ironically, freelancers may make better use of this resource as their need for that next story is greater than their staff member counterparts.

“The moderation team at guardian.co.uk now has a Twitter feed @GuardianVoices which highlights good individual comments and interesting debate. Could they be used as a tool to collect potential leads? After all, moderators will already be reading the majority of content of the publication they work for. However, it would require a rather different mindset to look out for story leads compared to the more usual role of finding and removing offensive content.”

It’s an idea worth considering – although, as Todd himself concludes:

“Increased interactivity with users builds trust, which in turn produces a higher class of debate and, with it, more opportunities for follow-up articles. Perhaps it is now time for the journalists to take inspiration from their communities as well.”

That aside, could this work? Could moderators work to identify leads?

*Disclosure: he’s also a former student of mine

Removing Nofollow on blog links and meta – and invisible comments

A couple months ago I installed a plugin on the blog that meant search engines would index links in comments: by default WordPress uses ‘nofollow‘ on comments to stop spammers abusing them to boost search engine rankings, but that prevents genuine commenters getting credit for their contributions.

One problem: as one commenter pointed out, the blog as a whole was set to ‘noindex-nofollow’ “which equals a no trespasing sign for search engines for ALL of the site’s links. It’s Google suicide.” Continue reading

Are your comments invisible? How about your website?

If your news organisation uses javascript for its comments, or for any other part of the site, you may well be advised to start doing some testing.

Malcolm Coles, the Editor of Which.co.uk, has been highlighting some of the problems with the technology for search engine optimisation and accessibility (the two are often closely related) on his blog. Continue reading

Lessons in community from community editors #4: Tom Whitwell

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.

What do you think of the new commenting system (IntenseDebate)?

A couple weeks ago I switched to the IntenseDebate commenting system, which has a number of advantages (threading, voting) and disadvantages (er, video commenting is disabled). The result seems to have been fewer commenters, but commenting more often – an increased sense of community.

How have you found it? (Feel free to comment via Twitter if it annoys you that much)