About the Cool Work category


This is where we share interesting examples of community engagement / platforms.

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The simple action of de-emphasising comments until they are explcitly noted as worthwhile improves signal:noise ratios within the discussion.

New comments on Forbes are collapsed by default for most community members. Comments by authors of the article being commented on are expanded by default and badged with “Author.” Comments by other authors across Forbes’ network are also expanded by default and badged with “Staff” or “Contributor” as appropriate. Comments from other community members can be called-out by Authors and others who’ve been granted permissions to do so. Non-staff or Contributor community members can have their comments expanded by default once they reach a certain reputation threshold.

(NB - understood there’s now a LOT going on on these Forbes pages that makes the participation UX … “not always optimal;” I’m specifically noting the comments here.)


Low-tech and effective: Get article authors involved in the discussion. Many authors steer clear of comments for all the aforementioned reasons. Being involved makes the community feel part of the process. It often mitigates trolling and vitriol. It also provides the adjacency members want: when the author engages with other commenters, it makes me believe they may engage with me, too. This has the added benefit of making me want to contribute something worthwhile to the conversation to increase my chances of the author engaging with me.

It’s obvious and intuitive but still does not happen nearly enough. Fred Wilson does it; Jay Rosen does it; others can and should do it more often.

The same benefits are in effect when other authors from the same publication engage in the discussion. Promoting ways to make this engagement happen – among staff and other contributors – pays off w/r/t conversation quality.

Introduce yourself!

(160119 - Edited for [attempt at more] clarity)

Slashdot Moderation and Meta-Moderation remain a model for emulation. Moderation allows for categorization of the moderated comment – Upvotes include: Insightful; Informative; Interesting; Funny*; Downvotes include: Off-topic; Redundant; Troll; Flamebait.

Moderation uses game mechanics. Only every so often will mod and meta-mod points be handed out to a sub-set of community members. Members with points are notified in the header of all pages. The 5 points have a ttl of ~48 hours. You feel privileged to get them; there’s a call to action to use them; there’s a time-limit by when they must be used. By extension, getting points and not using them may impact if and when you’re again given points. (being more clear about this would help leverage the loss aversion mechanic.)

All members can set comment thresholds below which comments would be collapsed by default. E.g. At threshold +3, I’d see only comments that had a net of at least 3 up votes.

Meta-Moderation asks for a binary categorization of the moderation rather than the comment: Fair; Unfair. A goal is “to increase fairness by letting logged-in users “rate the rating” of randomly selected comment posts.”

By extension, iirc, Moderators whose moderations are frequently marked as Unfair are less likely to be given moderation capabilities in the future.

Meta moderators are given a list of comment subjects, their Moderation categories, and links to the full comment and article on which it appeared.

How do you measure comment quality?