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UK IMC Comments

In the autumn of 2005 the display of comments on the ImcUk web site was debated and was changed on 20 Nov 2005.

Drafts for feature contents on

When the new comments display goes live, we can publish a feature on the uk startpage and on the indymedia topic (proposal)

Draft 2

abstract: You may notice we have changed the way comments to articles are displayed. If you want to know why and how, please read the full article.

Indymedia is an open publishing platform for alternative grassroots news. The comments functions allows everybody to correct or add to posts. Quite often, comments are used for quick discussions or rants, in a way that would be more suited for a discussion forum like libcom or urban75. Some comments seem to be designed to discourage, disinform and undermine activists. Constructive additions that correct or add to articles often get lost in wider debates. Some regional collectives have found it difficult to develop a local news site when articles immediately get hit with large numbers of bad comments.

To address this problem, we have introduced a feature that allows imc uk site admins to promote comments to "additions". A comment can now be manually "promoted" to an addition when it adds information or thoughtful criticism. We hope that displaying constructive and focussed comments underneath the articles will add to the quality of imc uk news. Additions will be displayed with their full text at the end of each posting. The titles of all other comments will be listed after the additions. Clicking on a title displays that comment along with all the others.

Discriminatory or disruptive comments will continue to be hidden according to our editorial guidelines. From now on comments that are hidden will be accessible in the same manner that hidden articles are.

end of feature text

Comment: I've tried to change the tone of the feature to something more positive - not starting by waving an index finger at pp ("this is not a forum"). but it still needs improvements...

Problem: Sometimes we have to "unpublish" some comments, for expl when peoples names and adresses are made public. This should be introduced in this feature as well.

Question: is it really necessary to make all hidden comments in the past accessible? I think that our guidelines are evolving, in the past, comments were hidden for other reasons than now. I think this dynamics should be reflected on the site by not making old hidden comments visible, but make a fresh start. IonNec.

Draft 1

It has been suggested that a text should be written for the front page of the site announcing the changes... a first draft based on cutting and pasting bits of emails from imc-uk-process follows... please improve it!

You may notice we have changed the way comments to articles are displayed. If you want to know why and how, please read the full article.

Indymedia is not a discussion forum, it is a news service. Comments on articles are to correct or add to posts. To promote this comments that directly add to a post are now fully displayed under a posting. Most other comments will have their title shown and be accessible by clicking through to them from the article page.

Indymedia users have in the past found comments submitted to posts on the UK newswire to be not essential corrections or additional information but rather insults and opinionated rants that seem to be designed to discourage, disinform and undermine activists.

This has had the effect of driving away users and contributors — some regional collectives have found that it's difficult to develop a local news site when articles immediately get hit with large numbers of bad comments.

So we have developed a way to display the comments that will hopefully reduce some of these problems. Comments will now be displayed after the article, as before, but only the titles will be displayed initially. Clicking on a title will display that comment, and also reveal the other comments.

In addition the ability for Indymedia site admins to promote comments from this title-only status has been developed — so that good comments, adding information or thoughtful criticism, can be initially displayed in full as additions to the article.

We think that this will give us the ability to keep down the "discouragement factor" that contributors feel when an article they post has a bunch of "f*** off you suck" comments posted within 5 minutes of it appearing in the newswire, and also to provide a higher-quality site by showing good-quality comments underneath the articles.

The existing editorial guidelines do cover comments but this section might be added to as needs be following the implemention of these changes.

The ability for users of the site to access hidden comments has also been implemented but at the moment none of the old hidden comments have been converted to allow them to be viewed, however this might be implemented...

Process discussion

Various discussions, including at the UkNetworkSheffieldWeekend about comments and the problems of trolling have been ongoing for a while, especially on imc-uk-features and the problem has reached such a level that people are resorting to posting to regional sites and unticking the UK topic to aviod the abusive comments that articles on the UK newswire attract.

On 4 Oct 2005 a proposal - comments email with a number of suggested changes to the way comments are displayed was sent to imc-uk-process and this was followed by a discussion on the list.

On Oct 20 2005 a collapsed comments on UK site proposal was sent to imc-uk-process and this was followed up on Oct 24 with a revised change to comments layout proposal with a deadline of 31 Oct, hence the nickname of THE HALLOWE'EN PROPOSAL.

Nov 4 2005 statistics of hidden comments: "last night there was 95,282 visable comments on the site and 9,877 hidden ones -- in other words are are around 10k hidden comments and this represents 10% of the comments people have posted to the site..."

Nov 9 2005 a change to comments display - final version proposal was sent to imc-uk-process regarding the display of the count of additions and the link to hidden comments being moved to the viewallposts page. This recieved one email in support and no dissent.

On Nov 13 2005 a useability and hiddens proposal was sent to imc-uk-process to suggest some changes to the comments publishing form with a deadline of 20 Nov.

To be added - the debate about what to do about old hidden comments that took place in October - Novenmer 2005 on imc-uk-process.

See also the ImcUkCambridgeModeration#How_to_avoid_minimise_trolling ideas.

Tech implementation

Basically this has been done using SSI, see a thread on mir-coders discussing this and this proposal to imc-uk-process.

-- IonNec - 02 Nov 2005 added 2nd draft for comments feature
Topic revision: r12 - 21 Nov 2005, ChrisC
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