Reading Response #10

This week, read Briggs Chapter 10 and Melody Joy Kramer’s 64 Ways To Think About a News Homepage. Both readings relate to a relatively new idea: that journalism is not just about getting information out to news audiences—it is also about receiving, managing, and responding to feedback from audiences.

Briggs writes a lot about comment sections in this chapter, and on p. 285 quotes Newsvine’s Mike Davidson:

“Yes, everybody has an opinion but not everybody’s opinion matters… Part of the key is to foster a culture of moderation, self-moderation. We’re not really concerned with users who come by one time and leave a comment. What we care about, and what we measure, is how many people come back to the story 5 times, 10 times, 50 times because they care about what people have said in relation to their own comment.”

What do you think about this statement? Does it reflect your views of what comment sections should be like? What’s the best way to encourage participation while discouraging trolls?

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12 thoughts on “Reading Response #10

  1. Its crazy that we can connect with people all over the globe virtually within seconds. When news creates a conversation between different people around the world it creates a community within the blogosphere, which Briggs discussed in his previous chapter of his book. In my opinion I think it’s very important to try and create a community that can agree and relate to the news because it gives them a sense of security. The comment section really allows people around the world to come together and agree/disagree or even add outside information about the specific topic being discussed.

    In terms of “everyone’s opinion not always mattering” It kind of depends. There are certain people who comment on comment boards about things that are completely irrelevant to the topic, HOWEVER! those types of people who comment irrelevant things can also be the people who are constantly commenting multiple times. Then you can have people who comment occasionally, but when they do, their comment can be one of the best comments on the comment boards. At the end of the day, I think effort is the main key. WE WANT people commenting on comment boards because it shows that they took the time of their day to comment about a topic, whether it be an irrelevant comment or relevant comment

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  2. I very much agree with this statement. I’ve found that its extremely rare that I find a post in which I would actually go back to and continue on with a discussion. I think maybe it depends what the posts are actually about as well. Is the post about something that’s just informing us and isn’t a lengthy post, or is the post about, I don’t know, a political debate that could actually continue on further? So, it can depend on what you’re commenting on and depending whether your comment really does add to the conversation. I think to encourage more discussion maybe there should be specific points to make in your comments. Also, we know now that we need to ask questions for our audience to discuss with us, but there are many blogs I come across that don’t ask for others opinions and sometimes it’s hard to come up with something to add and not all blogs even respond back to my comments or some others I know of. I’m not even sure if you really can avoid “trolls” people are free to comment whatever they want but I think to keep your questions and want for participation open to everyone to allow all opinions to be present.

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  3. One of the very first sentences in chapter 10 stood out to me, and it was “News is a conversation.” I think it is very true that news is no longer just the idea of receiving news, but it has evolved into the notion of receiving, giving, and reflecting upon the news – having those conversations and discussions is what makes news what it is today. “The socialization of news is clearly the right direction for journalists.”

    As for the comments section, I think Biggs touches on a very important part of news socialization. “The power of the web comes from its interactivity.” Indeed, making news participatory is very helpful for not just the readers, but the journalists as well. However, to me, reducing trolls is almost impossible, but I think striving for more positive and progressive comments and “conversations” and less trolling, is a doable goal – and one that every journalist or blogger should strive for.

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  4. I think Mike Davidson’s statement is similar to my views as to what the comment section should be. The comment section should be a place where people can express their opinions and start conversations with other people who are commenting on the same article, video, etc.
    As for what the best ways to encourage participation you could ask your readers for feedback on a post, maybe you were thinking about adding something new to your site and you wanted to get their opinion before you changed anything. Discouraging trolls is a greater challenge since they leave comments to enrage other commenters, leave spam in the comment section and just gives everyone a hard time. The only solution that has a good chance of working is to block the trolls before they have a chance to cause a lot of damage or do your best at managing your comment box keeping them clear of troll comments.

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  5. Since we’re continuing to comment on the blogs of others this week, I think Briggs’ chapter 10 was a great reading. Both Briggs and Kramer prove that there is an increasingly important role in the comments section of digital journalism because of the continued emphasis on writer-to-reader engagement.
    I cannot completely agree with Davidson’s comment about the value of comments from specific users/readers. I am aware that trolls are an issue, but I think that great conversations can come from comment threads on digital journalistic pieces. Therefore, I don’t agree with Davidson when he says those readers that comment only once don’t matter. They are still contributing to the conversation about the article, so I think that that makes them relevant and valuable. Interaction is the future of journalism, so any type of engagement should be celebrated, not ignored because of a lack of frequency. Although I do think that responses from the author can improve upon this. If an author responds to an individual comment saying something worthwhile, it’s likely that the reader who wrote the comment will come back to the site to see what was said. Who knows, maybe the response can turn into another more valuable comment thread.

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  6. Aside from the quote that Prof. Fink mentioned on page 285, there was another quote underneath that particular quote in which captured my attention: “Treat your comment areas like a garden: A little care and nurturing every day will go a long way toward making a healthy community. And remove any weeds as soon as they appear (p. 285).

    I feel that this is a very important mental note because, although we should appreciate the comments we receive, there are some that we shouldn’t pay too much mind to. For instance, bloggers should pay attention to each and every one of their comments, however, we should disregard those who leave comments every once in a while to pay somewhat of a contribution to our posts as opposed to the ones who actively comment and want to continuously contribute and add to the conversation. We should care about those who care about our posts. We should pay closer attention to those who want to be a part of the conversation – those are the people and commenters that we should give the care to – to nurture our garden.

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  7. I think it’s interesting that Briggs says that before the digital age, “information wanted to be free” but now it wants to be “analyzed, shared, synthesized, curated, aggregated, commented on, and distributed”. I think that it really depends on the information. Sure, I like to know if what I’m reading is true and my interests have a limit, so the RSS feed I use is nice because it aggregates information I care about. But I don’t think that everyone really cares about commenting and sharing. And when it comes to the quote by Mike Davidson, I don’t agree. Who says that these people don’t know what they’re talking about even if they only commented once and don’t take the time to look back at responses? As a person with strong opinions and not enough time, I don’t see the point in looking back at comment responses or who shared what.
    I can see how it would matter to a journalist who owns the page/website — they want to build a community that stays, like those who used to subscribe to magazines. But now these subscribers can talk to each other, and that’s what keeps the websites alive (with advertisements being played or popularity measured by clicks). So that’s probably why journalists want people to contribute to the community and not trolls (which I think has two meanings). The first one is someone who looks but doesn’t respond to any of the content publicly. They don’t spend time in the comment section, they’d rather just browse. The second type is the jerky one we all know — who leaves unnecessary and rude comments on articles that have creditability and a good opinion.
    Anyway, about the people who comment once and leave. I wouldn’t discourage them for the reasons I said before, they may very well know what they’re talking about but don’t come back to look at who said what about their opinion. And I don’t think it should be discouraged either, no traffic and feedback should be discouraged. Sure they want a community but it’s not a perfect world, and those once or twice commenters could have a lot of good to say.
    The best way to encourage participation in the comments section is probably mention it in the article. Personally, I don’t even look down to see if there even is a comments section. Being encouraged to comment and share reminds readers that they have that ability, not just the “community” they see already established on the page. That could bring trolls out into the light.

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  8. I really like the quote Briggs makes about Davidson on the content of website and users who comment. To break it down, the first sentence is very important. I agree that everyone’s opinions don’t always matter, especially if they are a troll. What that means is if a person leaves silly comments that are not beneficial to the article or contribute to the conversation, it is irrelevant. Trolls on the internet usually just comment to be funny or be mean, usually never something productive. I also agree with self-moderation in the culture. It’s up to the commenter to realize what they will post is good or bad, like basic things in life. Having the freedom to write on blogs or articles allows commenters to discuss amongst each other, but sometimes a troll can ruin that.
    The last two sentence of the quote are very important. An author of a blog or article should not be concerned for users who only come around once to comment. People like that are either not interested or just want to be mean and “troll” on the post. What truly does matter are the users who come back multiple times to read their content because those are the ones who are interested and the author would know what their audience likes and wants to read about. Trying to encourage users to participate but make sure the trolls stay away could be hard. If comments are monitored, users might feel like they are being restricted on their opinions, but if it’s not monitored it can attract trolls on the page. Perhaps the best way to discourage trolls would be to either delete their comments and block those user, if possible.

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  9. “[N]ewspaper journalism benefits from reader comments.” This idea, which has echoed resoundingly throughout the Briggs text (and is quoted specifically from page 265), seems to frame Davidson’s statement well. Journalists want their comments, whether positive or negative, to be beneficial. Positive comments reinforce, while negative comments teach, and all comments add to the conversation. That is, unless they’re “one and done,” as Davidson describes. These commenters have no intention of contributing to a larger conversation or benefiting anyone. Without context, it’s easy to dislike such commenters.
    But, Briggs offers that when it comes to keeping the conversation going, the author is just as responsible. His advice to respond to all questions and even negativity aims to keep readers checking back and increase page activity. I like that Rebecca mentioned in her comment that she responds back to her own. This isn’t a habit that I actively practice. In fact, when Briggs’ wrote “Many journalists have long preferred news as a lecture,” I could completely relate. There is something very uncomfortable about allowing others to pass judgment about something you have written. But, ultimately, I do see it as a benefit.

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  10. This week’s reading is really interesting I think. It seems to do a really good job of reflecting how technology and social media have really changed the journalism landscape. Thanks to the internet the world has gotten a lot smaller; we can now connect with virtually anyone in any part of the world, making it easier to communicate. Because of this, we seem to have developed an even greater need for connection with other humans and I think that ties into what Briggs is saying in this chapter. This idea that news should be a conversation harks back to the idea of creating a community in this blogosphere, which we talk about a lot in this class.
    I think that it is important to try and create a community within the news outlets because it gives people a sense of belonging and a sense of security in a way, knowing that there are people out there they can relate with. Especially for people who might have social anxiety or anything of that matter, people that just find it hard to socialize and talk with people- they would probably find this very beneficial. These comment sections really give them a chance to connect with other people in a way that might be easier for them.

    The idea of not everyone’s opinion mattering is also an interesting one. It is true in a sense because when you go on comment boards, the people who take the time to post multiple times, to read what other people say and to respond to them, those are the people you want to have in this environment. They are the ones that will help build that community and they are the ones who will be engaged and hungry for more information. But as mentioned in the reading, its very easy to get trolls as well and its not so easy to get rid of them. In these situations I think its important to try and make sure the situation is contained but also to not spend that much time with it.

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  11. Chapter 10 Managing News as a conversation is really important when it comes to blogging. Because there is so much information and so many people out there doing it it is important to be able to manage the conversation that is commented on because the comments in a way are creating the conversation. Newsvine’s Mike Davidson’s quote was really interesting because like he says everybody does have an opinion but some matter less than others. You have to be able go through all the comments and find which ones add to the conversation as well as matter to the discussion as a whole.

    I agree with him that we should be less concerned with the people stop by one time and leave a comment that is either not really relevant or doesn’t have a purpose. Although it’s good to have people commenting on your post or news story you want the people who will follow other stories and continue posting to add conversation to stay on your site.

    I think his comment should reflect what my blog should look like, if someone leaves me a comment, I respond back, and then hopefully they look at what I wrote and the conversation continues. However, this is not always easy to do as many people do not care enough to check back.
    Chapter 10 also stated how people should be paying more attention to especially online newspapers the commenters on their posts. I found it interesting that Briggs said most journalists actually hate reading their own comments as it is “stinging and distracting, and readers rarely plow through long comments.” I was surprised that many journalists don’t enjoy reading the comments – I would think they like it.

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  12. I really appreciated Davidson’s statement on filtering opinions. I feel that his perspective towards comment sections actually is relatable to other aspects in life beyond the media. People are always going to have something to say, so to be able to learn and grow from constructive criticism, you need to first establish the ones that matter. And the secret to that is simply exactly how Davidson shared, be aware of the people that consistently return.

    I feel that within comment sections you rarely have control over what’s posted (unless you micromanage it to be individually approved). So I feel that having users who just swing by, leave their comment, and don’t ever come back is inevitable. And in an ideal scenario we would have only the people who return and post beyond their first opinion. But I don’t believe thats realistic and I don’t believe that it would be as entertaining. As much frustrating some irrelevant comments can be, they do spark others to share their perspective. So I feel that every little piece counts. It’s just important to realize from the pool of people, which opinions are worth the headache over.

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