Globeandmail.com Comments on Comments

Angus Frame, editor of Globeandmail.com, presented an interesting CaseCamp study this evening in Toronto. He showed how the many twists and turns it took to implement one simple social media aspect to the site have paid off.

Globeandmail.com launched its “Comments on Every Article” feature in September 2005. Frame explained that the motivation behind allowing readers to leave comments on all articles was to leverage its unique audience, which skews to readers with higher education and income.

The biggest challenge was managing the volume of comments that were submitted on an hourly basis. As the volume of comments increased steadily, the quality of the comments started to deteriorate. Frame pointed out that it was critical to monitor the comments to ensure that the site’s brand was not compromised by poor content from its own readers. Eventually a tiered approach was implemented whereby articles were separated into three buckets — closed (no comments), semi-moderated and fully moderated. This approach has made marked improvements but Frame said “comments are becoming standard across all newspapers and now we are focusing on developing a higher level of sophistication.”

In terms of sophistication, Frame alluded to the focus on building relationships between journalists and readers and readers and readers. Adding persona pages for users who comment and the ability to rate comments were two enhancements that were definitely in the mix.

Some fun stats:

  • In the first month of launching the comments platform (September 2005), 5,146 comments were submitted.
  • Last month more than 100,000 were submitted and generated 1.6 million page views.

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