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« An informatics-based news org | Main | The "Lack of Vision" thing? Well, here's a hopeful vision for you »

Friday, May 08, 2009


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One other thing, which occurred to me in the car just now: We ought to be thinking more about incentives to good behavior instead of punishments for bad behavior. That's touched on in the reputation-system suggestion, but I didn't go far enough.


These are the kinds of things I've been saying to people in person, but I am so glad you have written it down in such an organized fashion. I will bookmark this for future reference, for whenever someone asks me about the comments on newspapers, why they are so bad, and what to do about it. Thank you.


You're welcome. As usual, the good ideas are already out in the cloud, and the job is just noticing them.


From the tech perspective, I think that the tools for facilitating conversation through comments on an article could use a lot of improvement. NewsMixer.us is a radical rethink that I wish more news organizations would experiment with, and the NY Times adds value by marking certain comments as "Editor's Pick"s.


Terrific points, Dan. I'm with a global, third party comment system, and I'd love to talk at some point. We think day and night about all of the above and have learned quite a bit about what's effective and what's not along the way. Clearly you're very well versed yourself, so would be great to share thoughts. ro at disqus dot com if you're interested. All the best..

Dave Winer

Dan, I did many of the things you say to do and I have an absolute rule, people aren't allowed to make statements about other people who are present, and I have low tolerance for personal statements about people who will never be there. You can say what you have to say without saying the other person is grumpy or angry.

I don't just see it as a living room, I see the comments as amplifying in some way what I have written. If you have a statement to make about me or someone else, you're free to do that, in your space. Blogs are incredibly easy to set up and free of charge. There has to be a reason for what you're saying to be attached to my writing, and I have the final say as to whether it belongs there.


This situation is exactly why my company (Groupee, Inc.) offers technology that allows integration between the commenting and a full-blown community (same profiles and registration). This gives the admin complete reward and punishment tools as well as response notifications via email, so that commenters can see when others respond and come back for more conversation. Comments can also be turned directly into threads on the forum.

Ultimately, though, the point is that you can't host a gathering and not be there. The blog is absolutely spot-on with that point. Great insights!


I can't seem to reply about the manifesto so this seemed an ironic place to put my reply rather than just having wasted the time trying to be nice in replying.


Yes I was aware of when you wrote your manifesto. Do you not want to hear a different point of view anymore about it? If so, that's fine. Just found the rest so well written I thought you might look at the possibility of changing your mind about something as a positive thing much like I do.

Are you sure you read Manufacturing Consent by Edward Herman and Chomsky? I ask because there's another book with the same name that's nothing in comparison.

This one is the correct one:

You say you don't clash with Chomsky... yet you say: "Journalism is to politics as art is to culture.
Journalism cannot fix what is wrong within a culture. It simply chronicles and catalogs the pathology as it winds down to death. To heal and correct requires art, and if art is unavailable to regular people, any healing will be incomplete."

While the very name of the book Chomsky is most famous for is called Manufacturing Consent. The title itself is quite a clash with the above quoted.

You talk of advertising for example:

"Advertising creates more unhappiness in American than drug addiction does, but you never hear anybody talk about launching a "War on Advertising."

I think you just mean how annoying it is? The reality of advertising is far worse than that.

"Major news organizations are for-profit ventures that naturally seek to give the customer what he or she wants."

And the primary customer, of course, is the advertiser. And these advertisers generally don't want to fund leftwing news.

As to your personal experience this is how it is at most companies. The employer doesn't want someone generally who thinks too much. They want someone who'll do as they're told and (especially in journalism) mirrors the views of the employer. And the employers and the advertisers generally aren't in favor of any socialistic economic policies because they feel such policies would hurt them personally. The result is an incredbile rightwing slant to the beliefs of the populace.


I'm sorry to post it where it doesn't belong but it's incredible to me that someone who'd write a seemingly intelligent thing as your manifesto would then be that absurdly closeminded with respect to a conflicting view on it.


I don't get your response at all. I sure didn't feel combative or closed-minded when I wrote the comments you reference. I agreed that you were right, admitted I hadn't read the book when I wrote the manifesto. After I wrote that, I looked at what I wrote for the first time in a long time and thought, well, I wouldn't write it quite that way now, but it's not incompatible with what I took away from my Chomsky reading.

re: Advertising. No, it's not about annoying, but the way that advertising is designed to sell products by telling human beings that they are inadequate without a particular product. That's incredibly corrosive, and I think we need to prepare our children to understand how they're being manipulated by these messages.

I'm not a Chomsky scholar, but that book spine is staring at me from my shelf, so yes, that's the one. But I'm not trying to claim that I can channel Chomsky, or even that I understand Chomsky well enough to summarize him as well as you can.

As for the passage you cited, I do believe that -- because journalism is materialistic. It isn't cure for the soul of a culture. But that's probably neither here nor there.

Anyway, it's cool for you to comment here, or whereever. I'm glad you like my original thing in general, sorry my comment caused a communication break.

Anna Haynes

a couple things.

Don't wipe the old comments clean; yes it removes crap, but it also punishes the people who took the time to make thoughtful comments (and perhaps linked to them from their blogs...) before, which leads them to think twice about bothering to do so again.

Do allow recommendations, and do make it possible to see _who_ recommended a comment. This makes it possible for [someone to write a tool that allows] users to do their own moderation, by dividing the discussion space into tables of congeniality - which prevents robotic cockroach infestations from interrupting and drowning out constructive conversation.



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