Thursday, March 20, 2008

I know that it’s the big new thing to allow comments on newspaper websites but I wonder what they are trying to achieve by doing this and is there any research behind it. Does it make people care or get involved any more?

It seems like a knee-jerk reaction to the issues affecting traditional journalism. Almost like they feel like they need to do something so they just pick the simplest option. People will feel involved if only they can add their own $.02

So the ultimate question has to be whether this capacity actually adds to the news or detracts from it.

Based on reading these comments for the last few weeks, I can definitely say that for me the comments on the Strib do not add to the content in any meaningful way. As with everything of course there are exceptions to the rule and you do occasionally get insightful comments that add to the discourse and fill in missing information. Unfortunately the vast majority of comments only lowers the discourse.

Take this example from an article today about towns bracing for flooding, a reader registered as Hipocryt85 writes:
“Maybe we better BAN FLOODING too. Flooding hurts people, property and sometimes KILLS. Maybe we better BAN them too. Makes about as much sense as banning GUNS.” From here he/she goes on to continue his anti-gun control rant in several other comments to this story and as a side note he/she must have lots of free time because he/she has similar comments in practically every story I have read in the last couple of days."

Now this begs the question, is this what the Star Tribune had in mind when introducing this capacity? I am guessing the answer is no.

The whole idea of web 2.0 is a bandwagon that people are jumping on before finding out where it is headed. The Strib already provides forums communities for people so why do they need this additional piece?

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