Getting comments right

Mark Potts runs through the details of's reborn commenting system, which takes a good-enough approach to the complex problem of encouraging conversation in a world where an unfortunate percentage of us are idiots. As I've said previously, pseudonymity is a reasonable Middle Way.

Heed Putnam's call, build social capital

Robert Putnam's theories about the formation of social capital are foundational to much of what I've been focusing on for the last several years, especially the 2005 launch of Blogging for the Readership Institute at Northwestern University, Rich Gordon describes troubling new findings in Putnam's latest research, and declares:

Just don't spoil my soup

Neil Thurman of City University, London, has published a review of the ways British news media are using the tools of interactivity -- "user generated content initiatives," as he calls it. In many cases it's been a struggle and the outcomes have not met everyone's hopes.

Reading through it, I was struck by a recurring theme in his interviews with UK journalism executives. It goes like this: How can I add some of this user-generated filler to my soup without losing control of the flavor?

Opening the door to comments

Jonathan Dube points out that the Washington Post, CBS News and Newsweek all have added comment capabilities to story pages. I don't think comments are the best way to build community, comments are infinitely better than no conversation at all. We've come quite a way from the days when editors would look at you and say, in all seriousness: "You mean you let them say anything they want?"

The interactive skill set

If interactivity is one of the four keys to a successful news website, don't we need community management skills?

Is video the lazy answer?

At the Online Journalism Association conference in Washington earlier this month, I heard several people say too many newspapers are grasping at video and because it looks like the easy path to multimedia. Now comes Paul Bradshaw in the UK, blogging the same point of view.