Wick Communications

Bringing meaning to the crowd

In Online media on 28 Jun 2013 at 7:22 am

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This is fascinating. I guess you could call it structured reader response.

Faced with the polarizing Supreme Court decisions this week, the Washington Post wanted to steer reader comments beyond the predictable (and sometimes offensive) blather. What you see is the result.

You can read all about it here, in Joshua Benton’s post for The Nieman Lab.

Now, some won’t like it. They want to be able to frame their own argument. They don’t want to admit their biases. They just don’t like being led by leading questions of newspaper people.

I think there is some cause for concern. It would be easy to skew your questions to get the responses you desire. Ask any pollster. But, to me, this is merely an extension of our old work as gatekeepers. Newspaper editors have long framed news stories and suggested outcomes and even painted sources into one box or another.

Used judiciously, I think this could be an important augment to the way we currently handle comments. And let’s face it, many of our comment boards are not particularly illuminating. Wouldn’t it be nice if those who read comments were able to glean something about the current of opinion on one topic or another?

I think efforts like this are really interesting because they use data to help us gain a better footing in the world in which we live. By the way, this technology is becoming easier and easier to use. It won’t be long before every blogger will be able to create “interactives” like this.



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