20 May 2008

Online Newspaper Comments A Failure

The online editions of the Rocky Mountain News and the Denver Post both have comment features. Users can post comments to almost every story, just as they can to posts on this blog.

Of the two, the Rocky's is worse, not technically, but in terms of moderatation. It is an ocean of inarticulate xenophobic hate. The Post's comments are sometimes more reasoned and civil, but rarely inform.

Without the effective user moderation and common purpose found on sites like Daily Kos, or the reasonably vigilant owner moderation found on most individual or small group blogs, political discussions on the Internet (which most commentary on news stories amounts to) seem inevitably to degenerate into online shouting matches by users that few intelligent readers care to hear.

Newspapers are good producers of original content. While the dead tree version of their medium seems to be losing steam, this particular expansion of the medium has not been well executed and is better off abandoned for now. A return to the historical model of "Letters to the Editor" which are published only if they are deemed worthy contributions to the discussion, while high handed, would improve the product.


Michael Malak said...

I agree. But I still find the comments useful to gauge the pulse of public sentiment. I do not want to see comments go away.

If there were user moderation, we would get the added benefit of being able to select to read only the informative comments.

Andrew Oh-Willeke said...

User moderation works only if the users are moderate.

Dex said...

in too many ways, the online editions of newspapers are a lot like the organic foods section of walmart - just not gettin it.

"ocean of inarticulate xenophobic hate" - awesome!