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Traditional Media Face Challenges Managing Online Conversation

 6:37 pm on Jan 18, 2008 (gmt 0)

Major media sites have started to get the religion of audience participation, but there's been one big hitch: How do you harness the audience's knowledge and participation without the forums devolving into a messy online brawl that requires time-intensive moderation?

Traditional Media Face Challenges Managing Online Conversation [pbs.org]

A fascinating commentary on the challenges faced by media companies as they open up to enabling comments and feedback on news.



 12:55 pm on Jan 20, 2008 (gmt 0)

I found that part interesting:

The Communications Decency Act of 1996 was largely struck down by the courts, but one important part that remained, Section 230, protects online services from liability for people’s comments even if they are edited prior to publication


 1:24 pm on Jan 20, 2008 (gmt 0)

This article is real food for thoughts.

We will soon release a new site expected to become a leader in its category, based on “one topic only”
That will for over 50% of its content relies on user input (in the social networking fashion but in a tamed way)

I am not concerned with the “for a fee” membership (main revenue source since we do not rely on ad) but am concerned about the other user category “free level” that gets some benefits, among those is posting upon a “lighter” required registration (in the actual model).

In our actual development stage we are questioning if “free level” calls for registration or no registration?
A registration with a verified valid email address allows for a tighter control
Although registered or not the discussion could easily get out of hand
(Fortunately this will not be a political site!)

I made a bad word filter but we both know that those could easily be manipulated in the spammer writing form.

Let’s now think about three options:
24*365 moderated (cost a fortune, unless we really make it :) )
Semi-moderated (not an option, one wants the comments to appear immediately)
And indeed: Free wheel

Free wheel might become the model, our society is more permissive, everyone kind of expect some level of bad words/bad test comments (and unfortunately became used to…)

There is a difference in between the noble art of fencing and barbaric attack
But again aren’t we trained to expect blood?

[edited by: engine at 11:30 am (utc) on Jan. 21, 2008]
[edit reason] typo correction requested by henry0 [/edit]


 4:01 pm on Jan 20, 2008 (gmt 0)

We allow comments with no pre-publish moderation. Auto flag kewords, auto remove links and well known spam.

Some staff tend to also read all the commentson the their stories and finally the users themselves report comments all the time via a little link next to each. So the group moderate and decide what is acceptable I guess...

If you hold comments back for moderation then you tend to just get comments on the story rather than an evolving conversation about it as people react to others, which I think is more interesting.

But some wild stuff at times and very distrurbed individuals about.

One thing I noticed is that our forums are a wasteland, but our comments number in the thousands per day. Quite a pain as would like to have those people as 'users'. Indeed there are often problems with people using other users 'usernames' etc.

[edited by: FattyB at 4:03 pm (utc) on Jan. 20, 2008]


 4:10 pm on Jan 20, 2008 (gmt 0)

Will good, free mods be harder to come by in the near future?

Landman says that the team of four part-timers who were helping to moderate comments has already grown to 11, and he expects the Times to hire more people and train others to help out as comments expand onto other stories.


 6:27 pm on Jan 20, 2008 (gmt 0)

Agreed on: remove links and "report"
I like report but (I know it's not the thread topic)
How do you make sure that an automated system will not send thousands of "report"?
maybe log ip and time; if more than X reports from the same ip and same post id .. exit?

BTW free mods sounds good!


 7:36 pm on Jan 20, 2008 (gmt 0)

Well say you get 100 people reporting a post then although they all appear in the admin (people have to give a reason) once you delete one report and the post they will all go.

With say a spam bot...our overall server security will block anything like that for X minutes and eventually forever..flag in admin report as well.

I believe likes of craigslist auto delete things when flagged by X number of different users. You could do the same with them being registered by IP.

But I would say keywords, link removal, popular spam phrases (I really like your site. Most valuable material... or free phones etc). Make it easy for staff to add new ones and you wil catch 90% of the crap and offensive.

A little bit is always going to get through but users will catch the most offensive of that. The approach gives little granuality as well since in some topics certain words and phrases might be acceptable to the readers. Like comments on a news story about a bomb attack in Israel are going to have different level of acceptability regards language to a review of a heavy metal band popualr with teenagers.

[edited by: FattyB at 7:39 pm (utc) on Jan. 20, 2008]


 6:43 am on Jan 21, 2008 (gmt 0)

The decision as to whether comments are deleted or censored or not should be given to users so they can control the level of moderation themselves.

Options like:

a) I want to see everything everyone writes.
b) I want sex-related / toilet-related slang terms to be censored.
c) I don't want to see any post which includes sex-related / toilet-related slang terms.
d) I don't want to see any post by [Member X].

should be easily accessible to all users.

Why do we enable users to contribute and then deny them the ability to moderate what they see themselves?


 7:45 am on Jan 21, 2008 (gmt 0)

Yeah, but that only works if they register in some form...right? BUt I agree that is ideal. Though of course there is also the issue of advertisers and the law.

[edited by: FattyB at 8:28 am (utc) on Jan. 21, 2008]


 11:52 am on Jan 21, 2008 (gmt 0)

Why do we enable users to contribute and then deny them the ability to moderate what they see themselves?

That would be true in a perfect world seasoned with some degree of anarchy
And where the forum/blog does not supply any form of T O S.

Running such a site will be suicidal, (not to mention liability ect.) don’t expect the users to fully enforce some form of self moderation.
Trash attract trash and trashy will become trashier, as such the user that could have been “mods” will run away and never look back.

Debating a thread within a forum is like pertaining to a “club”
Do you mingle with any crowd that you have no feeling for?

Being controversial is fine, as well as contesting
But one should first agree with the “rules of engagement”

Democracy and freedom only happen by obeying to a set of rules

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