Wick Communications

Is it time to kill comments?

In Online media on 8 Jan 2015 at 11:41 am

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Is this the year we ditch online comments? Maybe.

I admit my first reaction was, “ah, hell no!” Why would we cede the back and forth, the communication, the connection to our readers? If we don’t do it, someone else will, right? Can’t we leverage that traffic to bring more people to our journalism?

Well … we’ve been trying.

Consider me agnostic on the idea at this point. And that’s a big leap from where I was even months ago, when I believed the social Web – Web 2.0, for crying out loud! – had the potential to bring journalism into the 21st century.

This isn’t just Clay on a bender. Rational minds are mulling the same topic. DigiDay outlined why some publishers ditched comments in 2014.

First, let’s acknowledge there is certainly value in the sturm und drang of reader participation. Just ask Facebook shareholders. Twitter, Yik Yak, Nextdoor, Vine – the industry that is harnessing that potential is exploding and changing daily.

Second, let’s stipulate that it’s a pain in the butt, particularly in a local context. Monitoring comments, deleting racism, participating in the debate, trying to get people to play nice… Add it up and it’s a full-time job. …

Now let me suggest we’re just not very good at it. Most of our comments languish. Few of our news stories get much commentary at all. It tends to be one or two stories here and there that bring the most commentary and most of that commentary is … how do I say this … blather.

Lastly, those other social media platforms are just better at it. They have many more users. They evolve more quickly. They are self-policing (or at least not our problem.)

Let’s just say that my feelings on the subject are evolving and I’m sure this will be a topic of conversation when Wick convenes its Digital Task Force this year. Do you have an opinion?

— Clay

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