The Daily Mail to stop moderating comments, so how should they display comments?

This morning, the new media age reported that The Daily Mail – (unfortunately) the UK’s most popular news site, will stop moderating user comments and adopt a free for all ideology to improve user experience. I’m all for open and lively debate but I wonder whether The Daily Mail suits really have a grasp on the can of worms they are about to open. If their comment system had always been open then they might have been OK – to announce they are changing from a closed door policy to an open one turns heads.

The most influential and powerful communities online tend to be left of centre, websites like reddit, b3ta and 4chan all have histories of comment bombing, poll hijacking and mass trolling if they feel the cause is just. When they hear that The Daily Mail, the most (in their eyes) laughably square and “old world” newspaper is opening the doors to descent the creative among them will more than likely think of a way to abuse the open system.

Who can forget the time when 4chan poll bombed the Time Top 100 poll? At the time, the press only reported that the most influential person in the world was 4chans founder moot, after he was voted to the top by 4chan poll bombers. The reality was even more incredible. What actually happened was that the entire Time Top 100 had been precision hacked so that the first letter of each person spelled out “Marble Cake also the game” – a reference to 4chans Scientology hacking past.

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This isn’t the only example of large communities “having their way” with public votes and comment systems. Reddit went through a phase of poll bombing, having fixed the results here and on many other occasions. Of course who can forget the time when Reddit almost single handedly hijacked a poll to name a humpback whale being tracked by Greenpeace as “Mr. Splashy Pants.”

With a track record of running polls as ridiculous as “Should the NHS allow gipsies to jump the queue?” The Daily Mail now run the risk of having a “left of centre” community of commenters polluting their articles. Which brings me neatly onto my next point; with such a huge amount of comments coming in, how will readers navigate through the minefield of opinions? Reddit.com gets a huge number of comments on most articles submitted, and I’ve always considered their threaded vote based system as the best I’ve experienced.

Leaving comments in the order they were submitted is such a waste of a good discourse, The Daily Mail need to make good use of their vote based comment system to allow for mass participation moderation – a hive like mind. The best comments (as the Daily Mail community saw it) would float to the top, whilst flame like or troll like comments would be down voted into nothingness. If they’re serious about going “unmoderated” they should change their default comment display to show comments with the highest rating first rather than those who commented first.

TLDR is a new graphical visualisation system for large scale discussions, it aims to help readers navigate the massive threaded conversations that go on at popular online destinations. Here’s an overview of what’s on offer:

I think it’s a good start to solving a problem that needs looking into. A really clever system would not only show you where trolling was going on, but which communities those comments were coming from. So if blue represents trolling, green might represent “came from Reddit” and red flashing alarm bells would represent “came from 4chan”.

Would the Daily Mail, and other online publishers benefit from researching and implementing graphical representation systems to help moderate their massive amount of comments?

Phil Harper - Social Media Consultant
  • Rob

    They’ve already started pre-moderating the messages again on the dm. Shame

  • Rob

    They've already started pre-moderating the messages again on the dm. Shame

  • Liam

    There is nowt wrong with the Daily Moral. I read it every day!

  • Liam

    There is nowt wrong with the Daily Moral. I read it every day!

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