If user comments go crazy, be thankful; seek more

By Steve Outing

Just a short tip today. … Allow your readers to post comments on your content. (And yes, I mean all of it.) That’s hardly a new idea. Many news websites allow users to post comments on their content. Surprisingly, some still do not. (Which is pretty sad; allowing user comments is the base level for online media interactivity. There’s just no reason not to allow it.)

A recent article by Miami Herald executive editor Anders Gyllenhaal confirmed the wisdom of allowing user comments. In the Letter to Readers, he wrote:

“In the six months since The Miami Herald began publishing comments at the end of online stories, the response has been like nothing we’ve seen before. Hundreds of thousands of readers are posting comments or following along with them each month.”

Predictably, a large newspaper like the Herald ran into problems with abusive comments. As a way to curb the worst abuses, it (among other measures) began to require that users register with the website before being allowed to post. There are ways to keep things at least somewhat under control, and knowing the identity of abusive commenters is a good start.

The Herald’s experience with explosive usage of user comments points out how important being open to user feedback can be. When a commenting system is that well used, that’s a lot of pageviews, and thus adds to advertising revenue. Let the people speak their minds!

Author: Steve Outing Steve Outing is a Boulder, Colorado-based media futurist, digital-news innovator, consultant, journalist, and educator. ... Need assistance with media-company future strategy? Get in touch with Steve!