A model for moving beyond reader comments

By Steve Outing

Here’s my latest Editor & Publisher Online column: “Web Integration on a Grander Scale.”

I present a model for moving beyond reader comments, and activating community-member contributions and participation at the article level.

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!

4 Responses to "A model for moving beyond reader comments"

  1. Paul Bradshaw
    Paul Bradshaw 9 years ago .Reply

    I completely agree that comments are a poor form of interaction. The model you’re talking about suits a wiki – and Wired are already doing it for some stories. In my paper/taxonomy on wiki journalism (http://onlinejournalismblog.com/2007/09/10/wiki-journalism-are-wikis-the-new-blogs/) I called this a ‘supplementary wiki’
    But beyond that I think we can do so much more – help readers connect with each other; open up our sources; personalise; map and date. My bid to the Knight foundation proposed a technology that would enable this, and was based on this post: http://onlinejournalismblog.com/2007/11/12/five-ws-and-a-h-that-should-come-after-every-story-a-model-for-the-21st-century-newsroom-pt3/
    PS: I’m commenting here because, ironically, the E&P post asks for email comments.

  2. Carl Natale
    Carl Natale 9 years ago .Reply

    Comments have turned out to be a great form of interaction. Steve is right in that they aren’t the best or ultimate form. But commenting is easy for most readers. It is usually immediate. A good system can encourage good interaction.

    Steve is on the right track when he suggests going the extra mile by soliciting video and photos. Integrating them into the coverage will make the news report richer.

    I have an issue with the concept though. Map the process on a timeline. About how much time goes from news story publication to video/photo publication. This is important because the longer you wait to publish the submitted content, the fewer people will see it.

    This isn’t so much a problem with the “big” stories such as natural disasters. These stories have a longer life. “Small” stories such as those about wildlife chases get bumped quickly off the Web page – replaced by other “small” stories. And readers don’t revisit them.

    Newspapers need the small stories and lots of them to survive. But their life spans are short – too short for submitted content to be seen.

    Perhaps the problem is the publish news, submit reaction model. What if the newspaper accepted any content and published it. Yeah, I know. This isn’t a new idea. Many have tried and failed.

    But what if the newspapers used that content as inspiration for stories? The professional journalism could become the comment. Again, not entirely new. But it could inspire more readers to add comments, video and photos.

  3. Beth Lawton, NAA
    Beth Lawton, NAA 9 years ago .Reply

    Hi Steve — You’ve got good advice on how to handle comments and incorporate other forms of reader participation to better the story. Earlier this year, the Newspaper Association of America released “The Online Community Cookbook,” which covers a lot of these topics (what types of participation work, how to manage community, etc.). It’s at http://www.naa.org/digitaledge/cookbook if you’re interested.

  4. Michael
    Michael 9 years ago .Reply

    Totally agree. Although comments are okay, i like your new system much better. The better the interaction with the visitors, the more likely they are to visit your site again.

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