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.

Filed Under: comments, community, newspapers


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  1. identicon
    Paul, 26 Jul 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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