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May 4, 2009

The Comment Problem (Old Style)

It took newspapers a while to figure out that allowing reader comments on stories was a good idea. Problem was/is: most reader comment sections in newspapers are fetid pools incubating the lowest common denominator. Now news organizations tout their "interactivity" because readers can comment. Problem is, most haven't figured out ways to curate comments in ways that make meaningful contributions to the story. And interactivity doesn't mean the up/down kinds of conversations newspapers think they are. Here's a story about newspaper comments framed in the traditional newspaper mindset:

Comments are a tricky proposition for newspapers, which must be vigilant about their abuses. But as they struggle to hold on to readers and find ways to engage them, online comments have become a bright spot, helping them build new, stronger relationships with users.

The added comments keep readers on the Web sites longer and create engaged communities, which can turn into more money-making opportunities through increased advertising, said Steve Semelsberger, senior vice president and general manager of Pluck, the company that provides social-media tools to 250 newspapers, including USA Today, the Washington Post and The Chronicle.

He said comments can boost page views by 5 to 15 percent and can serve as a starting point for social-media interaction on a news site.

"Comments are both an offensive and defense move," he said. "You have to do it to be a relevant conversational Web property, and you can also make money off it."

May 4, 2009 8:31 PM | | Comments (1)

1 Comments

Honestly, I find it frustrating I can't comment on any time/dated content I find online. Any news/journal/feature without a comments form just feels so 90s to me.

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