Friday, May 28, 2010

Yes, comment? Online, it's becoming a habit

You were thinking/hoping/praying that stupid/off-topic/random comments on your Facebook/blog/Twitter posts would just go away? Think again, especially if you're publishing news online (in my view, that goes for organizations making announcements as well as media coverage).  MIN Online shares data here from a recent survey of 1450 people 1450 people surveyed, and notes:
Commenting on news stories has become an engrained habit. Eighty-two percent of adults have interacted with a news story on a site, and about the same number (83%) say they are comfortable commenting publicly on news sites.
NPR recently covered the struggle some web managers are facing with comments, which may not only focus on your organization's posts, but heap scorn on your contributors.  As the story notes, some sites are screening comments, going back to the process from letter-to-the-editor days when only a few comments were published after screening. (And in the related post linked below, some news sites are banishing the anonymous comment and giving higher placement to trusted commenters.) Others are taking a deep breath and learning from the feedback.

On YouTube, Download Squad notes that the online video service's new moderator service may "fix the problem of stupid YouTube comments," as it offers.  Here's the key:
Moderator gives you control over the topic, length of submissions, and the type of submissions you want (Questions? Votes? Something else?), and then gives you the ability to remove submissions as they come in. Your audience can vote the submissions up or down, and then you can respond to the top-voted submissions. It's the same system YouTube used when users interviewed President Obama and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
Moderating comments is always a good idea, if only to avoid spam.  But when you moderate, how heavy a hand are you using?  If you publish no other social media policy, your policy on comments should be clear to your readers and viewers--and you should stick with it.  Keep in mind that most U.S. federal agencies only lightly moderate comments (check out the TSA blog to see some vitriol if you like).  In general, I'd advise that it's better to know what's being said, good or bad, than to scrub it--and your company and organization will look more approachable if you can be seen to withstand public criticism.

Related posts:  The devil's in the comments: Is anonymous dead?

Check out don't get caught on Facebook, where I'm floating ideas and discussing them before they appear on the blog.  It's shaping up as a great networking community for communicators.

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