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Why I Will Never Post A Comment On Huffington Post Again

Tim Mcdonald, Huffinton Post’s director of community, has announced that posting comments on HuffPo henceforth will require a Facebook identity, unless you apply for permission to post anonymously:

Tim Mcdonald, Turning the Page on Anonymity: The Future of HuffPost Comments

Now, as Arianna Huffington announced earlier this year, we’re going a step further to evolve our platform — which has always been about community and engagement — to meet the needs of the grown-up Internet. On December 10, after weeks of fine-tuning our commenting technology and platform, we are pulling the switch in a way that will keep the best parts about commenting on HuffPost while bringing more civility and accountability to the experience.

Here’s how to get started under this new system. When you log in to your account and go to make a comment, you will be prompted to link your commenting account to your verified Facebook account. Then, choose how you’d like your name to be displayed. You can either display your first and last names, or your first name and last initial. This is the only information that will be viewable to the community at large, and you will have control over your private information via Facebook’s privacy settings.

verified account

If you do not want to link your Huffington Post account to Facebook, you can still log in to your account and fan and fave other users and their comments. And if, for whatever reason, you fear posting a comment under your name — if you are a whistleblower, or fear harassment, or any other reason — you can apply for the right to comment anonymously by filling out this form.

Oh, yes, how very grown up! You must use only this one identity, and at all times and in all contexts, and we’ll put that power in the hands of a company — Facebook — that has proven itself incapable of putting the interests of people ahead of corporatism.

Now that Zuckerberg and co. are turning the Facebook news feed into a daily newspaper, maybe Facebook will acquire AOL and integrate HuffPo into the user experience directly.

Quartz has created a Medium-like paragraph-by-paragraph commenting system, and selling the sponsorship of the comments. Here you see Citi is sponsoring.
But shouldn’t they be dynamically auctioned off, based on the content in the articles and comments?

Quartz has created a Medium-like paragraph-by-paragraph commenting system, and selling the sponsorship of the comments. Here you see Citi is sponsoring.

But shouldn’t they be dynamically auctioned off, based on the content in the articles and comments?

Popular Science Drops Comments

Suzanne LaBarre, the online content director of Popular Science, Why We’re Shutting Off Our Comments

A politically motivated, decades-long war on expertise has eroded the popular consensus on a wide variety of scientifically validated topics. Everything, from evolution to the origins of climate change, is mistakenly up for grabs again. Scientific certainty is just another thing for two people to “debate” on television. And because comments sections tend to be a grotesque reflection of the media culture surrounding them, the cynical work of undermining bedrock scientific doctrine is now being done beneath our own stories, within a website devoted to championing science.

There are plenty of other ways to talk back to us, and to each other: through Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Pinterest, livechats, email, and more. We also plan to open the comments section on select articles that lend themselves to vigorous and intelligent discussion. We hope you’ll chime in with your brightest thoughts. Don’t do it for us. Do it for science.

Never feed the trolls. Let them go to Twitter, where people can block them and there’ll never see sunlight.

(via joshbyard)

Taking Down Disqus Comments

I am finding that Disqus style comments are increasingly out of step on Tumblr. The overwhelming majority of interaction here is native Tumblr reposting, likes, and replies.

If you are a Tumblr non-user, I suggest you get an account and try it. Here’s a post where I describe how rich the ‘inside view’ is at Tumblr.

If you’d like to chat with me about something posted here you can try @stoweboyd on Twitter, click on the ‘contact me’ or ‘ask me anything’ in the right hand margin. 

Trolls do more than spoil our reading enjoyment

Researchers have found that trolls not only make reading posts and articles less fun, the psychological backlash leads people to increase their sense of the negative implications in the writing, as well.

Dominique Brossard and Dietram Scheufele, This Story Stinks

We asked 1,183 participants to carefully read a news post on a fictitious blog, explaining the potential risks and benefits of a new technology product called nanosilver. These infinitesimal silver particles, tinier than 100-billionths of a meter in any dimension, have several potential benefits (like antibacterial properties) and risks (like water contamination), the online article reported.

Then we had participants read comments on the post, supposedly from other readers, and respond to questions regarding the content of the article itself.

Half of our sample was exposed to civil reader comments and the other half to rude ones — though the actual content, length and intensity of the comments, which varied from being supportive of the new technology to being wary of the risks, were consistent across both groups. The only difference was that the rude ones contained epithets or curse words, as in: “If you don’t see the benefits of using nanotechnology in these kinds of products, you’re an idiot” and “You’re stupid if you’re not thinking of the risks for the fish and other plants and animals in water tainted with silver.”

The results were both surprising and disturbing. Uncivil comments not only polarized readers, but they often changed a participant’s interpretation of the news story itself.

In the civil group, those who initially did or did not support the technology — whom we identified with preliminary survey questions — continued to feel the same way after reading the comments. Those exposed to rude comments, however, ended up with a much more polarized understanding of the risks connected with the technology.

Simply including an ad hominem attack in a reader comment was enough to make study participants think the downside of the reported technology was greater than they’d previously thought.Simply including an ad hominem attack in a reader comment was enough to make study participants think the downside of the reported technology was greater than they’d previously thought.

While it’s hard to quantify the distortional effects of such online nastiness, it’s bound to be quite substantial, particularly — and perhaps ironically — in the area of science news.

An estimated 60 percent of the Americans seeking information about specific scientific matters say the Internet is their primary source of information —  ranking it higher than any other news source.

Our emerging online media landscape has created a new public forum without the traditional social norms and self-regulation that typically govern our in-person exchanges — and that medium, increasingly, shapes both what we know and what we think we know.

Another great reason to move commentary from blogs to other venues, like Twitter. 

I’m considering dropping comments from this blog altogether.

A Speculative Design: How Tumblr Notes Should Work

In the hopes of getting someone to fix Tumblr’s notes — either inside Tumblr or an outside developer — I am offering the following proposal for a how I’d like Tumblr notes to work. (By the way, anyone who is interested in implementing, give me a call.)

Today’s notes work like this:

  1. A user, say gbattle, reads something of mine, let’s say in his Tumblr stream. He takes an action, let’s say he replies to it (which I have enabled), and that gesture is reflected in the list of notes associated with the post.
  2. Later on, others looking at the post — either in the stream or on the post’s page — can see his reply along with all the other social gestures left behind by others, including other likes, rebloggings, and replies.

The problem is that I can’t reply back.

Solution:

Imagine a product called Notr, that replaces the notes section of Tumblr themes. It would interact with Tumblr’s API to fetch notes, but it would also keep track of the relationship between notes implied by nesting. Where Tumblr’s notes system is inadequate, or blocks the creation and management of notes, Notr would conserve the notes in its own database.

Note the little talk balloon next to gbattle’s reply, which is provided by Notr here. I could re-reply to gbattle by clicking the balloon, and typing in some text:

And then others could also reply to that thread:

The implementation would be something like Disqus, but integrated with the Tumblr notes system, to the extent that it is possible.

Obviously, it would be simpler if Tumblr would implement notes this way, and we could all drop the amazingly annoying use of unintegrated Disqus. Alternatively, Disqus could implement this as a version of the product.

(This post is related to this gripe, from earlier today.)

New Disqus

I noticed that Disqus has revamped the look and functionality of their commenting system.

Note the prominent capability to share a comment on Twitter, as well as the ability to subscribe to a comment thread by email or RSS, and a trackback URL. The last is interesting since Tumblr doesn’t support the trackback protocol.

The tweet that Disques generates is fairly standard, and it did pull Jevon’s Twitter handle out of his profile, which is quite helpful:

I wonder if Disqus is planning to do something like their own social network? It may seeema bit disjoint, but it might be interesting to see the stream of comments from someone you admire, so long as Disqus set context in some way. It would certainly be interesting to see what Flipboard might do with information like that.

I learned that Disqus is rolling out a new Use Ranks functionality, too. I’ll have to look into that more deeply.

News is a subset of the conversation « BuzzMachine

http://www.buzzmachine.com/2011/05/21/news-is-a-subset-of-the-conversation/

Sounds like Jarvis had an ulcer-inducing trip to London, where the BBC pissed him off, big time.

Jeff Jarvis via

I’m seeing that news organizations think it is their role to lead the conversation (they set the agenda), allow the conversation (you may now comment on our story, now that it’s done), and judge the conversation (see Bill Keller’s sniffing at vox polloi).

That’s why I went theatrically batshit on Twitter against the BBC for holding the first day of a meeting this week about *social media* under Chatham House Rule, which decrees: “participants are free to use the information received, but neither the identity nor the affiliation of the speaker(s), nor that of any other participant, may be revealed.”

That’s a fancy, British way to say “not for attribution.” Or as I said in another tweet, “Chatham House Rule turns everyone into an anonymous source. Precisely the wrong thing for a journo org to do!” That is especially an issue for a public journalistic institution, which should be setting an example for other journalists and their sources.

But it’s most shocking that the BBC would impose this rule on a meeting that is not only about *social media* — I thought all Brits bragged about having a sense of irony Americans lack; apparently not — but worse, one that carried the haughty ambition to formulate “a universally accepted set of verification guidelines for social media material” and “an accepted ethical framework for using sensitive material from social networks.” Don’t they see that one can can longer set true standards for the rest of the world in closed rooms with invite-only guests who are gagged or anonymous and prevented from interacting with that world? Then the outcome becomes a standard only for that small subset of people, which negates its authority as a standard. At best, it’s another club rule.

He also is peeved at the way that newspaper view their interaction with the public — via comments — as a way to, at best, get some feedback, and at worst, a way to stifle real discussion.

The problem with comments, I’ve argued lately, is that the form and timing of them is essentially insulting to the public: It says we journalists don’t want to hear from you, the public, until after we are done with our work making content for you to consume. Then the public speaks and journalists don’t listen (because they think their stories are done) and the commenters are insulted and so they insult the journalists and the journalists say that’s the proof that the comments and the commenters aren’t worth the attention. A very vicious cycle. The conversation catches cooties.

The reason the BBC cut its comments down to 400 characters is cost. In a discussion on Twitter with the BBC’s Nick Reynolds, the social media executive who oversees moderation of all BBC social media, that became clear. Comments require moderation and that’s a cost. True enough. But I tried to argue with Reynolds in Twitter that the conversation writ large could also save costs. I couldn’t get it through to him. He kept defining the conversation as comments and “UGC.” I kept defining the conversation as collaboration.

Collaboration is not allowing people to comment. Collaboration is not giving them opinion polls. (Carey, by the way, argued that polling is “an attempt to stimulate public opinion in order to prevent an authentic public opinion from forming,” but that’s another topic.) Collaboration is not enabling them to send in the pictures of the snow on their back porches, something I hate when TV news does it as it condescends — it says the public can’t provide real news or quality images; we’re merely humoring them. “UGC” is bullshit.

No, collaboration is about sharing the work of journalism.

This is really about conversational control, though.It’s not about the comments on the newspapers or the distancing involved in terms like ‘user-generated content’. It’s about the demassification of The Public into a million publics, and therefore the decrease of influence of publications that think they shape the opinions of a Public.

The reality is that Jarvis obsesses more about old school media because they keep inviting him to their confabs to and speak on their TV shows. A lot of us are just looking ahead, and not worrying so much about what the BBC thinks about ‘the verification of social media material’.

Disqus Raises $10 Million, Doubles in Size Despite Facebook Comments - Mike Melanson

http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/disqus_raises_10_million_doubles_in_size_despite_f.php

Melanson runs down the numbers:

Disqus, which this week celebrates four years of existence, raised the $10 million with North Bridge and Union Square Ventures. In its blog post today, the company said that it’s all about the numbers. But what are those numbers?

Disqus says that it reaches nearly 500 million unique visitors per month across the 750,000 websites using its commenting system. Over the last year, that’s an increase of 500%, with much of that growth in recent months. As a matter of fact, the company says it was at only 200 million uniques per month last November, meaning it has more than doubled unique visitors in six months. The post also mentions a recent study by Lijit, which it says that Disqus is used by 75% of websites that use a third-party commenting system.

Doesn’t mention Tumblr: how much of the growth is Tumblr-related? Tumblr should acquire and integrate, but David Karp, Tumblr’s founder is deeply ambivalent about comments.

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