Nick Denton Plans To Revamp Gawker’s Commenting System

Nick Denton, founder of the Gawker, Gizmodo, Jezebel and Lifehacker doesn’t like most of the comments on his blog. “For every two comments that are interesting…there will be eight that are off-topic or just toxic,” says Nick. Because of this, will undergo huge renovations to it’s commenting system.

At SXSW Interactive last month, he revealed a depressing realization that his goal from years past to connect like-minded people online has failed. Accoring to CNN, he said that, “It didn’t happen…[and] has so not happened that people don’t even have that ambition anymore…The idea of capturing the intelligence of the readership–that’s a joke.”

Despite his frustration, Nick continues to evolve his websites’ commenting systems. Gawker has tried a revamp before, but to no avail. They proposed a model a couple of years ago where commenters would be given rewards for good commenting behavior. As GigaOm points out, it was supposed to be something like what The New York Times has done, which is to awards benefits to those who post great comments. But the plan backfired. Instead, leading to terrible abuse from those gaming the system. Denton elaborates:

“It was a terrible mistake. It doesn’t work because people game it — and the people who game it are the people with time and social-media expertise, and those are not the people with information or insight. What person who actually has a job and a reputation… would give a f*** about getting some little badge like they’re in high school? It’s patronizing.”

Denton has a new plan that will come out soon, but he hasn’t shared much about it. He points out one of the problems the commenting system faces now, “The problem is the boring people online — they’re incredibly difficult to get rid of, because they’re often really nice,” he said. “But they simply haven’t contributed anything to the discussion.”

Thanks to, for the criteria by which Gawker will make its choices on what is an acceptable comment or not. The criteria will be:

  • A reply’s acceptance (or dismissal) by the original contributor
  • The thoroughness with which a discussion’s participants have in general curated these replies
  • A textual analysis of the contribution
  • An editorial evaluation of the contributor’s track record, if any
  • The company a commenter keeps: don’t associate with trolls and bores!
  • The “shape” of each discussion thread
  • Recency of the latest addition to a thread

Nick Denton wants to reinvent the way people interact with social media. To him, the discussion surrounding a story is just as important as the story itself and he continues to work hard towards meeting that end.

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