Do Newspapers Need Comments?

from the probably-not dept

A few weeks back, we wrote about the question of whether or not newspapers should be getting into the community business by noting that you don't build communities, you enable them. But, the question still remains how you enable those communities. Gawker had an interesting post recently along those lines arguing that newspapers shouldn't allow comments on articles. The argument is, basically, that a lot of the comments are really dumb, and don't add very much. That may be true, but in many cases, that's because the newspaper doesn't give anyone incentive to add smart comments. There's no indication that anyone at most newspapers read the comments. The authors of the articles rarely, if ever, respond to people in the comments. There's little to no engagement or discussion. So, instead, the comments just become a way for readers to vent. Just tossing up comments and thinking you've created a community is a mistake -- but that doesn't mean newspapers shouldn't enable comments. It just means they should do so in a more intelligent manner.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    Matt Bennett, Jul 25th, 2008 @ 2:26pm

    I dunno,does Techdirt make a incentive to leave intelligent comments? I see some very ham-handed comments around here, particularly of the "Government sux, Bush sux, Corps suck" variety. Some are wholly off-topic.

    Not that I'm against comments, of course.

     

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  2.  
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    GeneralEmergency (profile), Jul 25th, 2008 @ 2:28pm

    The Authors won't comment because...

    ...Journalism is Dead. The only thing left today are partisan/agendamaniacal elitist hacks.

    If they had to respond, their bias' would quickly be exposed.

     

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  3.  
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    Matt Rowe, Jul 25th, 2008 @ 2:29pm

    Same

    Then why does GAWKER allow comments...

     

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  4.  
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    NP Editor, Jul 25th, 2008 @ 2:37pm

    Comments suck

     

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  5.  
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    Bill W, Jul 25th, 2008 @ 2:47pm

    Comments, dumb?

    I read a lot of blogs and blog-like things and there are a LOT of dumb comments. Who knows? Some may consider THIS a dumb comment! While it may dilute the experience it doesn't destroy it if you can find a dialog somewhere in there.

     

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  6.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 25th, 2008 @ 2:53pm

    I personally refuse to read articles without a comment section at the end. I must skim comments for at least one alternate viewpoint. The notion of a single article with a single viewpoint and no comments is seriously out of date. Why should I willingly make myself a slave to your soapboxing or biased reporting?

     

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  7.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 25th, 2008 @ 2:54pm

    I moved and have kept reading the online editions of the news papers of my country of birth. A while back some began allowing commenting from readers.
    Now, I have a facebook account, I'm on LinkedIn so it isn't like I am opposed to the community idea. But the quality of reader submitted comments on news paper content is so poor, offensive and biased that it reduced the value I used to have from reading homeland news while drinking my morning coffee.

     

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  8.  
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    Greg Drogan, Jul 25th, 2008 @ 2:54pm

    F U ! Comments rulez!!

    F U ! Comments rulez!!

     

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  9.  
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    VitaminCM, Jul 25th, 2008 @ 3:03pm

    Comments on News Papers

    I just got done reading an article on a legit news paper's website. There were about 200 comments that were straight out of a 5th grade forum's flame war. It was really disappointing.
    I think that maybe they should be moderated.

     

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  10.  
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    Matt, Jul 25th, 2008 @ 3:04pm

    comments: yes

    Answer on comments is yes. How else can someone correct something said?

    IF there's deceptive or angry comments, thats just the nature of the internet.

     

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  11.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 25th, 2008 @ 3:15pm

    I wonder if Mr. Drogan (in comment #8) is being ironic, as the sort of comment he posted is a good argument for not having comments.

    Or he could just be a semi-literate twerp.

    However, my knee-jerk reaction to the title of this article was "no" and some of the more well-spoken of you have convinced me that I may be wrong. Thank you.

     

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  12.  
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    Mort, Jul 25th, 2008 @ 3:15pm

    Comments should be moderated

    I think comments should be moderated, especially mine.

     

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  13.  
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    ultra, Jul 25th, 2008 @ 3:17pm

    Actually some journalists do comment on their articles. For example, Tarik El-Bashir, Washington Post's beat writer for the Capitals, writes articles and maintains a Capitals blog on the site, and he's very good about reading and responding to the comments on both. His articles and blog posts are the only reason my browser ever makes its way to that paper's website.

     

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  14.  
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    Grouchy Dude, Jul 25th, 2008 @ 3:18pm

    Re: comments: yes

    It's all Matt's fault that my posts online are angry.

    GRR!

     

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  15.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 25th, 2008 @ 3:53pm

    Well thought out comments add to an article

    I think (good) comments are essential;they often inform me of problems with the original article and give a balanced view.

    Obviously, it depends on the calibre of the writers who respond. I like slashdot.org, eetimes.com,theeconomist.com for the mostly good comments.

    Slashdot has a grading system that works. (I also think it has a huge army of informed readers who add great info many topics, Science, Law, Med, IT etc).

    Oh Yes I like the comments here also.
    But a piece of advice. If in doubt - don't post.

    ps - Mike , Have you thought of using the slashdot grading model. It seems to make the most informative comments float to the top.

     

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  16.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 25th, 2008 @ 4:04pm

    That's why I like community comment ranking. It helps filter out the dross for the real gems. Granted that ranking systems can be gamed it still has the advantage of floating most of the cream to the top. It is especially important for the authors of the articles to respond to articulate commentary. It is that kind of correspondence that I really enjoy. You see that here on Techdirt quite frequently which is one reason many consider it to be one of the better blogs.

     

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  17.  
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    cmb, Jul 25th, 2008 @ 4:27pm

    they are almost entirely worthless

    It's depressing to see the level of absurd stupidity the comments on newspaper sites display. Is the general population *really* that stupid? There are some that don't resemble a "5th grade flame war" as a previous commenter so aptly put it, or apparently come from someone with a 5th grade level of intellect and knowledge. But it's 1 in 100 maybe.

    Most of the websites I frequent are tech-related, mostly focused towards IT professionals, and the comments generally add value to the article and contain intelligent discussion. I'm driven away from even glancing at the comments on newspaper sites because the mass stupidity on display just pisses me off.

     

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  18.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 25th, 2008 @ 4:34pm

    Editorial Page

    It's ok for the "news" paper to have an opinion, but the common folk ? - No Way !

    The professional journalists have their integrity to protect, can't have the riffraff scooping them all the time.

     

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  19.  
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    Jason, Jul 25th, 2008 @ 4:52pm

    Hidden comments

    I sort of like when a news site knows that their commenters are dumb, and so they don't show the comments unless you click comments first. Clutter, only if you want.

     

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  20.  
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    Mike (profile), Jul 25th, 2008 @ 5:27pm

    Re: Well thought out comments add to an article

    ps - Mike , Have you thought of using the slashdot grading model. It seems to make the most informative comments float to the top.

    We're working on some stuff, but we're not sure what's going to make the most sense yet. But stay tuned... :)

     

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  21.  
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    Strib Reader, Jul 25th, 2008 @ 6:10pm

    Mpls StarTribune Comments

    The Strib started allowing comments on their articles. I always read the first comments at least, although more often than not it's a cesspool of trolling and flamebait.

     

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  22.  
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    Paul, Jul 25th, 2008 @ 7:49pm

    Re:

    Mike is known to respond to comments. In fact, I half expected him to respond to this one =P

     

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  23.  
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    Paul, Jul 25th, 2008 @ 7:52pm

    I kinda like...

    Slashdot. It's not even that the author's ever respond and it doesn't report its own news, but just picks the good stuff. The community there is pretty good. With the moderation system they have, its relatively simple to hide the bad stuff and highlight the good stuff.

     

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  24.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 26th, 2008 @ 7:59am

    Re: I kinda like...

    So that is why Angry Dude does not like Slashdot.

     

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  25.  
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    FarSide, Jul 26th, 2008 @ 9:36am

    Upside of Comments.

    Those "idiot", "foul", "ignorant", and "laughable" comments reflect, exactly, a nation of drop outs who have been told what to think, and barely how to write. People whose opinions are a mile wide and and inch deep.

    Sadly, if you listen to teacher unions, and education think-tanks, the always unbiased left wing of the country, they sadly decry the country's state of education. In there eyes, another 10 trillion thrown their way and everyone can finally be an uneducated and ignorant drop out.

    Well folks, they represent a majority of Americans. I am grateful they are involved to any degree. Barely half of America votes... and those are the ones who probably do not even comment. Sorry state of affairs, isn't it?

     

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  26.  
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    Paul, Jul 26th, 2008 @ 9:38am

    Matt Bennett (1) and Anonymous Coward (16) have it right - You need an incentive to leave better comments, and a way to skip the inevitable dross.

    Newsvine's ranking system is simple to understand and use, while maintaining comment order and threads.

    BTW - Did the NY Times have reader comments on most stories for a few weeks and then withdraw it? I think the Chicago Tribune launched and withdrew comments, citing poor quality and offensive content. SF Chronicle's comments are particularly idiotic (if you average more than 50 per story, most recent should be at top).

     

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  27.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 26th, 2008 @ 3:52pm

    Re: Upside of Comments.

    Dear Farside,

    You bemoan the education level of our "nation of drop outs" and yet you lack an acceptable command of the english language.

    Or, maybe it is just a troll ......

     

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  28.  
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    BlatantDisregard, Jul 26th, 2008 @ 9:58pm

    I agree with what many of these people are saying. While it is true that you often get morons who can't figure out HOW TO TURN OFF CAPS-LOCK, or are biased or merely idiotic, comments also help me see all different points of view on an issue and also are occasionally just as informative as the original article.

     

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  29.  
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    Jason, Jul 27th, 2008 @ 1:45am

    Re: good movie

    Excellent point.

     

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  30.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 27th, 2008 @ 10:02am

    Re: Re: good movie

    Yeah - excellent point.
    Go watch your stupid movie and stop posting your spam

     

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  31.  
    identicon
    SV, Jul 27th, 2008 @ 11:55pm

    Re: Excelent exampel

    Yes a very good example of crap commenting. Not adding any thing in the way of information or well thought out opinion.

    I don't normally read comets because of this. I don't usual leave comments saying "Your comment is crap" but this time it seemed on topic.

    I think any unmoderated forum tends to drown in peoples vapid self indulgence.

    Vewww thank god that's off my chest.

     

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  32.  
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    st, Jul 28th, 2008 @ 12:11am

    the only thing

    The only thing more worthless than blogs is blog comments.

    Slate's "The Fray" forums might be what you are describing as the best way. Slate takes the time to highlight the best of the forum comments, so even though I never read the forums I get the benefit of them and they must be more high quality because they might get highlighted by the editors.

    There may be some necessary foundation for a "The Fray" style forum, such as audience size, and quality of the audience, and new media cluefulness of the editors.

     

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  33.  
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    Brandon, Jul 28th, 2008 @ 1:58pm

    Indy Star

    The Indianapolis Star allows comments and like many people have said, it is almost always just people complaining about something. If the article is about the suburbs, people complain about the suburbs. If it's about crime, they complain about the crime. If it's about the new Colts stadium, they complain about how much it cost. Even when it's a tragic story, such as last week when a lightning storm started 5 house fires in one suburb, some people lost everything but most of the comments on the article were about how stupid these people were to live in the suburbs or that it was Gods revenge for urban sprawl.

    On the flip side, the Indiana Business Journal allows comments on their online articles and there are actual real discussions and opinions there. And by opinions I mean, telling people what you think without putting down the people that think different. Maybe it's just the different type of people that read those articles as compared to the main Indianapolis newspaper.

     

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  34.  
    identicon
    knightrider, Jul 29th, 2008 @ 1:46am

    commeting

    complaining or commenting something should be done always, because , it may results in the change.....
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    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  35.  
    identicon
    gossard, Aug 17th, 2008 @ 7:31pm

    Exam

    On the flip side, the Indiana Business Journal allows comments on their online articles and there are actual real discussions and opinions there. And by opinions I mean, telling people what you think without putting down the people that think different. Maybe it's just the different type of people that read those articles as compared to the main Indianapolis newspaper.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  36.  
    identicon
    anonikm, Nov 3rd, 2008 @ 12:21pm

    new file engine search!

    A modern search engine of the web is available for everybody- get the link and download- http://newfileengine.com -everything is simple!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  37.  
    identicon
    Nimesh, Jun 20th, 2009 @ 4:17am

    Excellent one

    It is nice to read it.
    Nimesh

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  38.  
    identicon
    Nimesh, Jun 20th, 2009 @ 4:18am

    Excellent one

    It is nice to read it.
    Nimesh

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  39.  
    identicon
    دردشه, Jul 5th, 2009 @ 3:42pm

    Go watch your stupid movie and stop posting your spam

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  40.  
    identicon
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    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  41.  
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    Houston Webdesign, Aug 25th, 2010 @ 10:19am

    Nice one. I loved it Thanks for sharing it.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  42.  
    identicon
    Magento Development, Oct 22nd, 2010 @ 5:37am

    Great post. It is nice to read it.
    Thanks for sharing such an interesting stuff.....

    Magento Development

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  43.  
    identicon
    web design houston, Apr 14th, 2011 @ 10:38am

    reply

    all comments should be verified before approved

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  44.  
    identicon
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    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  45.  
    identicon
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    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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