Google Quietly Kills Off Its Commentary Feature For News
from the time-to-try-something-different dept
Back in 2007, Google released a feature for its News service that let folks comment on news stories. However, there were some weird quirks to it (eg. you had to be somehow involved in the news articles in order to add your comments to them), so it’s not really surprising that it didn’t really get much use. It was an interesting idea, though, and the feature isn’t devoid of merit. But there were other (and, ahem, better) ways for people to respond to the news, and the benefit of commenting via Google News didn’t really solidify. So, as Google is wont to do recently, it shut down its news commentary feature, saying that the experiment had ended.
But what is the real lesson here for content platforms? Obviously, businesses shouldn’t continue projects that are not generating enough interest. But besides that, this seems to be a case of assuming that “build-it-and-they-will-come” should work for a high traffic site like Google News. However, even when Google actively tried to get people to comment, people still didn’t participate for the most part. The problem likely wasn’t that people didn’t want to comment on news items, but that they wanted to comment and respond in their own way — on their own site, on their own terms. And Google News didn’t really allow that — and even made it difficult by requiring a step to verify the submitted comments. So it seems that the takeaway for other content platforms is to make it easy to create content (or commentary, in this case), but also, don’t try to control or restrict users’ content. Lessons that Google should probably have already learned from YouTube and Blogger?