#Scio14 prep: Read the comments?

Feb 05 2014 Published by under Uncategorized

This year, I'm the facilitator for a Scio14 session on comments. The idea was originally Ivan Oransky's, so I asked him what he thought about the session. Based on his feedback and ideas of my own, I came up with the following:

Some might say “Don’t read the comments!” Lack of moderation and free reign of trolls can be enough to make sites like Popsci shut down comments entirely. Scientific articles have shown that negative tone in comments can influence what people think of the science presented. On the other hand, some sites are embracing comments, such as Pubmed. Should you allow the comments? Which should flourish, and which should go to the spam folder? This discussion will talk about legal obligations and different types of comment policy. The goal will be to set up a guide of best practices which bloggers, old and new, might find helpful as they don’t read the comments.

So. Which is it? Shut down comments entirely? Let them free? Moderate them carefully? I'd like to have a discussion on all three of these options, all of which may be useful in some situations.

I also think it's good when a discussion at Science Online ends productively. So I'd like to facilitate this session with a goal of coming up with "best practices" or "guidelines," for running your own comments show. How to engage and moderate, or not.

What are your thoughts on this? What commenting issues would you like to see discussed?

7 responses so far

  • JakeLW says:

    I'm not sure its really appropriate to compare PubMed's new comment system, which seems to be strictly limiting the who can comment to actual working scientists, you know the people who are (at least in training to be) domain experts, to a more open commenting system like what PopSci's used to be, or this one, where any yutz with a keyboard (like me) can just spew whatever comes to mind. Though, I suppose that vetting the commenters, rather than the more common practice of screen the content of comments, could be considered just another form of moderation, to fall into that debate.

    • scicurious says:

      Right, I think this is a point I want to discuss. Moderate the commentS? Or moderate the commentERS? There are people in both schools.

      • Julian Frost says:

        I have a foot in each camp. Even normally moderate commenters can sometimes say things that are inappropriate that they will later regret. At the same time, some commenters are trolls who will spew vitriol. The former can be managed by moderating the comments, the latter by moderating the commenters. My take? Use both, if it's practical.

  • Chris Anderson says:

    I like what metafilter does. One time barrier for entry to comment, moderated with input from community (but definitely a team of moderators with final say so). They are pretty transparent about guidelines, with a detailed FAQ/wiki. But it's appropriate for the size of site they are, I'm not sure their model makes sense for brand new sites with a small commenting base, or if it scales to be huge like reddit-sized. The site's founder, Matt Haughey, has written all forts of clever stuff about building online communities.

  • Eva says:

    In setting up the Node (in my previous job), we moderated the authors (who wrote posts) but left comments open for anyone, and just made sure to read them all. We didn't have many comments, so that was easy.

    For F1000Research, we require that people log in to their account to leave a comment, because you're commenting directly on papers, and since even the formal referees of the paper are public with name and referee report, we have to use the same standard for commenters: nobody is anonymous/pseudonymous! Logging in makes sure that people are commenting as themselves. All comments are also moderated by editors - the same ones who moderate the formal peer review reports - so they don't immediately go live. The downside of that is that it has been confusing to some commenters who expected their comment to appear immediately.

    The work blog (which does allow pseudonyms because they're not commenting directly on research papers) uses Disqus, which is easy for people who have social media accounts associated with their commenting identity but can be a bit annoying otherwise.

    Finally, on my own blog I've switched on all the WordPress spam filters and comments are open to anyone. I have one older post that regularly attracts very useful comments, so it's mainly for that one, but I also don't get very many comments (3 per week perhaps? Everyone just comments on Twitter/Facebook these days) and I get email notifications for each comment so I can immediately follow up with things that need attention. (Usually spam that slipped through the filters)

    I also know someone who moderates comments professionally, for a company that carries out moderation for big publishers or online forums that require lots of care in moderation. That's really only worthwhile for very large, comment-rich, sites like newspapers who need 24/7 moderation.

  • After this phase, the Houston oral surgeon would drill holes in the patient?s gums all the way to the jaw bones.
    If you successfully get through this qualification test than you can consider yourself perfectly eligible to enter degree training program either for
    associate. It's why we cannot afford to take our mouths for granted ever yet again.

Leave a Reply to Julian Frost Cancel reply