When we set out to create Newsvoice, one of our core ideas was to build the app in close cooperation with our community. Only by working together will we be able to make a real change in how the news media works. Change cannot be made by a single person or by a single company, it can only be achieved by a movement of people. In this spirit, we want to invite all our readers to be part of any large changes and decisions we make to the app.
In the past month Newsvoice’s readership has grown rapidly. In fact, we just passed the 10,000 active readers mark and are set to continue to expand. Thank you for all the positive feedback, all the emails, the encouragement, and all your suggestions for improvements.
The challenges we are facing
With more users come new challenges. As many of you have pointed out, our biggest challenge right now is our comment section. Many comments are racist, sexist, or really don’t add much to the discussion. We already remove the comments that are clearly unacceptable or even illegal, but we need your help in finding out where and how to draw the line.
We are committed believers in free speech (hey, that’s why we started Newsvoice in the first place) and always want our readers to be able to state their opinions regardless of where they may find themselves on the political spectrum. We see Newsvoice as a platform for change, and believe that there is a greater chance of swaying opinions by stating facts, being respectful, and listening to other perspectives. With this in mind we propose the following changes regarding comment moderation.
Reform the level system to not give points for upvoted comments
We had hoped that the way the system was designed it would encourage people to write substantial quality comments, but instead it seems to encourage quantity over quality. By only giving points for contributing summaries, adding stories, or other contributions to the news, we think we will avoid a lot of the spammiest comments.
Use stricter moderation
By tightening up the rules about the content of comments, we think we can also improve their quality. We propose that Newsvoice should:
- Remove comments that are off topic.
- Remove comments that show that the commenter clearly hasn’t read the news story.
- Remove insults directed at other readers.
- Be stricter with removing sexist or racist language.
Make a clear path to becoming a moderator
We will soon start bringing in moderators from the community. Moderation is a very important function. We will need to find people that we can all trust to do a good and objective job. We want to make sure the moderators we bring in don’t let their political bias stand in the way of their moderating decisions and that they can be trusted by the community. We are thinking of the following criteria, i.e. that moderators should have:
- Reached level 6 (you advance in levels by contributing).
- At least 80% of their last 20 summaries approved without revisions.
In addition we will review all comments posted by members applying to become moderators and have a short chat with them over a video call.
What do you think?
We would love to get your input! How do you perceive the comment section? Where should we draw the line? How can we create better incentives to have an open, civilized, and constructive comment section?
Voice your opinion in the comment section on this story on Newsvoice. Let’s fix the news. Together.
Viktor / Newsvoice