The value of online comments

As online commenting grows more and more popular, news organizations have been struggling with how to best handle the comments. The Globe and Mail’s communities editor, Mathew Ingram, says, comments are “messy and flawed, but still important in principle.”

News organizations (including here at J-Source) have to deal with issues such as whether to allow anonymous comments, how and how much to moderate comments and how to keep the discussion on topic and away from ad hominem attacks.

A recent study in the U.S. showed that “extreme enthusiasts” tend to dominate online discussions and participation is dominated by less than 10 per cent of web users. Increased interest in two-way conversations in journalism has also encouraged research into how public comments affect reader perception of the news.

Check out this list of “what comments should not do” for a good overview of the types of things many editors are hoping to avoid in comment threads.

What do you think? Feel free to comment!