September 22, 2013

Kinja, Gawker's answer to the problem of ugly, out-of-control comments sections.

"Kinja flips on its head the idea of comments and conversation below a story on Gawker Media’s Web sites...."
When people sign up for Kinja, they are given their own Web address on the Gawker platform — similar to a Tumblr Web site — which becomes a collection of that person’s comments on stories. Kinja will also enable readers to write headlines and summaries — comments that have graduated from college, if you will — for stories on Gawker and even from other sites. Readers will then be able to use Kinja as a central hub for discussion on these stories, almost like their own chat room protected from the commenting maelstrom.
Great. I hope the design works. Seems similar to what Metafilter has been for many years. It's good to allow people to take possession of their collected comments that are otherwise scattered about. You can take some pride in your body of comments, at least within Gawker blogs (as, on Metafilter, you have a page that collects your comments on all the various Metafilter posts you've commented on). It makes being a commenter more like being a blogger, and it lets a popular commenter drive traffic to blog posts. But it's all very intra-Gawker, just like Metafilter is intra-Metafilter. I'd like to see an overarching comments system like this. And I'd love to see Blogger provide something like this for Blogger blogs like mine.
Along with the updates to the comments service on Monday, Mr. Denton is set to unveil “a manifesto” of sorts that will outline Gawker’s plan to further blur the line between reporters and readers and explain readers’ rights. Among them, there is “the right to experience legible conversations” on the site.
I've had a big struggle, peaking over the summer, with the problem of "illegible conversation," as problem commenters maliciously disrupt what might otherwise be a readable comments section. Now, I don't know that the Kinja solution will work. It might empower some of the most disruptive commenters, as they go off topic to entertain and win admirers for some agenda or style of comedy or edgy satire who'll relocate to their Kinja page. But Denton just wants you within the Gawker media empire, and not off on Twitter or Facebook, because he wants the page views in his operation, where he gets the ad revenue. The situation for a blogger is different.

I blog to publish my own writing, and I include comments as a way for me to interact with readers and to amplify and get different angles on things I want to talk about. I'm not about devoting my work to maintaining a social media website for people who don't care about what I'm writing. That's the enterprise of people like Denton who are designing a mechanism for making a lot of money. As an individual expressing myself — with the long-time motto "To live freely in writing" — I am more like the commenters upon whom Gawker is leveraging its Kinja scheme.


Kate said...

This is headed in the right direction, although I think anonymous comments on Kinja will sabotage the effort.

A couple of years ago I would have balked at using my facebook sign-in for comments, but I am more open now to using my name. The anonymous, slash-and-burn comments have become very tedious. Some sites with my favorite opinion writers are not worth the attention anymore. We all blog; we're all burgeoning writers who want our opinion taken seriously. A site that encourages dialogue and ownership of comments is ahead of the curve.

You happened to hit on my latest pet peeve.

Edward Lunny said...

Up front I'll state the obvious ;I'm no "techie" or coder and I can survive quite well without any electronic devices. But, it seems to me that considering the capabilities of various software and the popularity of different blogging engines there should be some simple and transparent means to filter the comments on ones blog without trashing the comments section. Again, read my opening statement, but, that being said with the iniquitousness of this medium there should be some simple solution.

Donald Douglas said...

"And I'd love to see Blogger provide something like this for Blogger blogs like mine."

Well, we'll see, although I doubt it. Those of us Blogger loyalists have to do the best we can. Blogger is a low maintenance, low service platform, although you'd know more about the service than most people.

In any case, an interesting post. I think comment moderation is working out pretty good for you and comment sections have been pretty "legible," you might say.

Conserve Liberty said...

Maybe you should consider monetizing Althouse. Get Meade to take the Gawker/MF Comment-verse meta-web.

tim maguire said...

It sounds kinda similar to disqus, which collects my comments from across the disqus-using blogosphere. I really appreciate it because sometimes I want to look back at a comment to remember what I said or see what kind of feedback it got. Outside of disqus, that is hard to impossible.

I've never thought of using my disqus or anybody else's as a blog in its own right (an echo-blog?). A blog without the original posts? That doesn't seem like a good idea.

Biff said...

As Tim mentioned at 4:27 PM, this sounds a little bit like the Disqus commenting system, which can be used with Blogger. I like having a dashboard that shows my comments and interactions with other Disqus users, and I like the user notification features.

I use it as the comment system on a site that I help to run. It's fairly easy to use for that purpose once it is set up, though it requires some small, technical steps to integrate it with Blogger.

Charles said...

Having been an avid reader of Deadspin (a subsection of the Gawker empire) since it's inception, I am of the opinion that the use of Kinja has actually degraded the quality of the comments.

The best of the commentariate has left never to be heard of since the changes began.

Of course once Will Leitch left for other pastures, the quality of the site went straight to the dogs.

Deirdre Mundy said...

I was just thinking this morning how much better the comments have gotten since you've started moderating.

I wish there was a less work-intensive solution for you, though.

Edward Lunny said...

" with the iniquitousness of this " What ? that should be ubiquitousness. Where the heck did that come from ?

Bob Ellison said...

Your own writing gets boring and predictable. Comments made it interesting. Now you are digging a hole.

Kirk Parker said...

Disqus is a disaster. Nested comments/inline replies completely destroy any notion of an ongoing conversation.