Cultivating a healthy commercial ecosystem

Submitted by gsamek on Wed, 06/09/2010 – 1:31pm

Session Convenor:

Geoff Samek

Session Reporter:

Geoff Samek

Discussion Participants:

Helen Fu, Jeffrey Jones, Kaarli Tasso, Travis Mitchell, Eugene Daniel III, Andrew Humphrey, Eric Galatas, (Two others only left email addresses)

What’s good about commenting on Websites?

  • One participant noted that it can increase attendance to a venue and used a museum as an example
  • Gives a sense of empowerment to the users
  • Like many letters to the editor at the same time
  • Can help you find like minded people
  • Can also expose you to disparate opinions
  • Reading the comments can help give you a sense of an article before you read it
  • Can increase traffic
    • Example was given of a site who removed commenting and then site traffic took a nosedive

What makes a good comment system?

  • Notifications for replies to comments
  • Article’s author helps moderate conversation

What are the problems with current comment systems? (Solutions if talked about found below each problem)

  • Bullying online can drive people to be depressed
    • Take an off-ramp from a conversation thread, allow one-on-one conversations
    • Moderate comments from a live chat
  • Older people accessing comment systems is tough
  • Permanence of comments is scary
  • Don’t want to blog because afraid of commenters
  • Not understanding what your privacy rights are
  • Dominating personalities can silence voices
    • If you are a facilitator, actually ask more people to chime in
    • Education
    • Problem is intimidation, perhaps let a person know that they can contribute
    • Post in another forum, or another reporter
  • Misinformed rants show what people are truly thinking
    • Bring order to the conversation
    • Vote to ask for more
    • Using a message board to help shape your opinion on issues
    • Showing people how they arrived at that conclusion
  • Feedback on ads
    • Comments on ads
  • Vulgar comments
    • Limit comments, then push them out of the conversation
    • Huge dose of positivity from commenters (fire extinguishers)
    • Communities regulate their community behaviors, self-policing, that is real life reflection
    • Facebook allows you to you report comments that are bad
  • Putting up personal information
  • Woman accused of molesting little girls, small town story became really big

If all else fails, when should we ban users from commenting, how should we handle banning?

  • After banning, keep in touch with people
  • Freedom of the press not true, being on a given website is not a right
  • Suspend not ban
  • Comment probation
  • Trial of your peers

Other thoughts?

  • Every article should have comments, even if it’s a tough article
  • Have to involve the community in everything


  • Great book on managing communities
  • Another book referenced by a session participant
  • Stats on online participation by demographic
  • widget that shows your political leaning
  • I have the full audio of the session, however I have yet to figure out how to get it online.
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