Monday, December 24, 2007

Comment Moderation Discussion

Well it seems that the Ombudsman's column about comments posted to articles has drawn a collective yawn from Herald readers. But it did provoke Alesh at Critical Miami to comment.

It seems that the future holds a registration system and/or comment moderation for the Herald, and with the ratio of useless/offensive comments that currently plague the site, I can’t say that I see this as a particularly bad thing...

...what’s putting the breaks on readership is the registration system required for reading the site, which is not only invasive and tedious, but broken — I’ve personally repeatedly re-registered for the site, only to have it forget me after a couple of months...

The obvious non-controversial solution is to make the site as easy as possible to read, and require registration for commenting. Throw in a few simple social-networking features, and your offensive comments will decline drastically, and be much easier to enforce.
Alesh's readers also have some thoughts:

from a herald insider: the comment issue is just as contentious inside the newsroom as outside. many, many reporters do NOT at all support the random, unregulated commenting that happens now. a new editor position has been created for which part of the oversight areas include “reader exchange” and how to handle commenting issues. they are working on things — slowly — but they’re trying, i guess. as you know, 1 herald plaza is not the best when it comes to anything web…


The Herald’s website sucks. It’s really not an accurate reflection of the actual newspaper, which in my opinion, is still one of the best in the country.

But the website looks like it’s managed on auto-pilot because there are always grammatical errors in the headlines and many times, they have the same story posted twice or even three times in different locations on the site at the same time.

And many times, they don’t even bother running a photo with the story...

...the website has space to run many more photos than the print edition, but they failed in doing that.
Of course all of these observations are correct. Alesh has been advocating for unregistered access to the Herald and its archives for some time. The benefits of a such a move should be evident to even a casual observer. More content means more eyeballs which means more money that one can command for ad space. And of course Jake is right in that the folks at 1 Herald Plaza move very slowly. Now I wish Carlos Miller was right when he heaps praise on the printed edition of the Herald (we're going to have to agree to disagree on that one) but he brings up a good point, you don't have the space limitations with online, that you do with print. The online edition of should be loaded with pictures and video. That's what people like about the web.

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