News Leadership 3.0

October 19, 2008

What if you threw a ‘comment’ party and nobody came?

Medill’s Team Crunchberry
examines barriers to participation
Why don’t young people comment on your site?

Rich Gordon and a Medill student team are at it again, this time offering great insights to any news site that would like its users—especially young ones—- to engage more fully. Gordon summarizes the team’s research so far into participation at gazetteonline, the Web site of The Gazette in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. The student team has been surveying young people in Eastern Iowa to find out why they don’t comment more often on the Gazette site. At the Mediashift Idea Lab, Gordon offers a preliminary cut: “The Five Biggest Barriers to Participation—And What to Do About Them.” And take hope. In the full post, Gordon offers several possible solutions for each obstacle.
Here is Team Crunchberry’s list of the barriers:
- Don’t think existing comments are valuable
- Lack of payoff or gratification from participating in online discussions
- Lack of interest in communicating with strangers
- Participation is intimidating
- Don’t think comments are believable

What have you learned about attracting good comments to your online site? Please comment!


Our company uses Topix for comments(which double as a forum), I’ve found the good commenters tend to stick around if they get a feeling of community. The point mentioned above about lack of interest in communicating with strangers is a big one, but our top commenters now talk about each other back and forth as if they’ve known each other for ages. I think the basic format of Topix helps this (it tracks your different posts, and lets you fill out a profile).

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Exploring innovation, transformation and leadership in a new ecosystem of news, by journalist and change advocate Michele McLellan.

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