Commenting has been both a blessing and a bane for many site publishers. On one hand, fostering an open dialogue with your people reaps huge rewards. Dealing with inappropriate, racist, and hateful comments can drive publishers (and their lawyers) to think about radical solutions for dealing with the complaints, time wasted spent moderating,and/or the endless requests for comment deletions. If only there was a full proof solution…
I remember a friend telling me once that on the old CBC.ca forums every discussion eventually dissolved into “Leafs Suck!” or “Leafs Rule”. It didn’t matter what the discussions started off as, they always ended up off topic and out of context.
Anonymous posting is often cited as the main cause of poor comments, but adding registration requirements for commenting and comment volumes drop dramatically. Moderating comments still allows anonymous posting, but it is a large investment in resources on the side of the publisher. Another option is to allow communities to police themselves. So is it controlled commenting, the ‘wild west’ of commenting, or no commenting at all?
When I hear novel approaches to managing commenting, I have to pay attention. So, the Sun Chronicle newspaper proposes to charge people to comment in an attempt to evolve “encourage intelligent and meaningful conversation”, I had to read about that. So, in a nutshell, all posters must register their complete name, address, phone number, and email to start. Then, they have to pay $0.99 on their credit card to activate their accounts. The credit card transaction is used to verify the identity of the commenter. The Blog ReadWriteWeb posted the following looking at the Pay for Commenting phenomenon:
Newspaper Wants Readers to Pay to Comment http://mtn.bz/ayCwZn
My gut feeling is that charging people for the right to post their opinion on a media site seems like we are heading in the wrong direction. I get the benefit of identity validation and there may, in fact, be less flame wars and nasty comments. But, I think there will also be less controversy and less user engagement. What if I have a strong opinion about something that I know my friends and family won’t agree with. I’m not likely to post a perfectly valid point. The same can be said for whistle-blowers and people who could feel at risk by identifying their race or gender. People will likely only post safe comments, if they post at all.
What is your solution to commenting?