Media companies and publishers used to revere the comments sections of their articles. In recent years, several well-known properties, including NPR and Popular Science, did away with their comments sections. Their reasons for removing them were plentiful and valid. However, smaller publications rely on comments to foster interaction and engagement, and that engagement leads to more readers and more revenue.
If you still value your comment sections but don’t have time to wade through all of the negativity and vitriol, discover some solutions to this problem as you continue to mine your resources for extra revenue streams. This is a great time to give your comments section a thorough cleaning on the road to revitalizing this resource.
The number one reason media companies began removing their comments sections was due to hateful attacks.
The number one reason media companies began removing their comments sections was due to hateful attacks. Above the Law noted that comments on its legal articles started as a very good way to get more information and have relevant discussions. Comments eventually turned ugly when people started calling authors derogatory names and even hurling racial slurs at them. This happened at other media properties as well. Internet trolls became more prevalent and turned the comments section into an abyss of negativity wherein people just slammed the author, slammed each other and nothing good ever came of them. Companies couldn’t spend valuable time or resources moderating the comments because that would reduce profits.
Yet, the engagement opportunity associated with comments is still highly valuable to publishers. The Guardian analyzed 70 million comments made from January 1999 to March 2016. The newspaper found nearly 12,000 users, and a vast majority of the blocked comments came from violations of the publication’s standards. Other comments disappeared because they were spam. People were allowed to comment on articles for up to three days after publication before The Guardian shut off the pipeline for comments. Luckily, there are some tools you can tap into that can both preserve your stream of comments while gaining valuable feedback.
At SquareOffs, we offer a solution that both inspires conversation (40% more comments) and keeps it clean. Framing the conversation with a question, requiring authentication to comment, allowing readers to push up the top comments, and utilizing both AI and social comment moderation allows for productive discourse. SquareOffs can accompany your article or act as the post itself.
As you add to your website’s tools, rethink your approach to comments and audience engagement with SquareOffs in mind to both gain readership and increase your bottom line. Rather than kill your comments section, have it evolve.