“Cleaning up the comment cesspool”

Cleaning up the comment cesspool: Ventura County Star editor Joe Howry has penned what is either the most eloquent column a newspaper has ever published on the problem of comment threads and trolls — or the most cliché-laden — or possibly, both.

If you can get past that, it’s an interesting approach they’re taking: They know how to keep a comment thread interesting and useful, but they only have the resources to do it on a few stories a day.

(via Jack Lail)

Who’s your community site manager in the newsroom?

Questions I have coming out of the first session:

  • For newspapers with community sites, like Bakersfield and Raleigh, who is the go-to person in your newsroom for managing threads, policing comments, and general cheerleading for the site? Do you have a dedicated position leading it or is it rolled into other Web roles?
  • Is cloud-seeding on these sites only necessary in the early days of the site, before the crowd starts to manage itself, or is encouragement, seeding, and moderation from the newsroom an ongoing task?

A quick informal poll:  Who handles your community site, and is it an every-single-day job or just an occasional role?

Crowd wisdom, some assembly required

Scott Karp points out the difficulty in waiting for the monkeys to write Shakespeare and Ian King reminds us all that free content requires filtering that costs time and money.

Both are talking about the NYT bit on Heinz’s ketchup-stained UGC ad ploy.

Which brings me to the point: User-generated advertising content should be amateurish. That’s the whole idea. You’re trying to appeal to an audience that prefers YouTube to slick production values. They’re looking for people who look and act (and are lit) like themselves. That’s pretty basic stuff, I thought.

Now let me put on my news hat: User-generated news content must be edited. (Damn, I just felt my workload increase.)

Seriously, it’s all well and good to aggregate the YourTownNameHere Flickr tag on a community site, but you’re going to need to keep an eye on it, depending on your audience and how much they like your publication.

If we’re talking about crowdsourcing the news, then, yes, the wisdom of the crowd is fully in play.

But if you put out a call for comment and get 100 replies and 4 of them lead to sources, congratulations, you’ve done well, because it’s not the 96 people with an opinion that are going to make your story, it’s the 4 with a personal experience to share. Find them. Give them places to talk to you and give them places to talk with each other.

The Ian King post closes with this:

“Don’t tap the wisdom of the crowd; it doesn’t exist per se. Find the wise people in the crowd, and tap into them.”

I’d expand that: Tap into the crowd of 100 to find the 4 wise people and then do it again and again with every story. Pretty soon you’ll find yourself with a field of community leaders to do some of that UGC filtering for you. (Ah, now I feel my workload going back down a notch.)

Newspaper sites criticized for publishing inappropriate comments – CyberJournalist.net – Online News Association – Citizen Media Monitor

Notes on comment and forum moderation, through the lens of issues at the Sun-Sentinel as tweaked on by the New Times.

Newspaper sites criticized for publishing inappropriate comments – CyberJournalist.net – Online News Association – Citizen Media Monitor