Introduce yourself!


Hi Cliff,

Welcome.I love that there are classes in this. What do students want to know about online communities? What is the next online community you’d like to create?


I want to hear more about the mystery!That sounds amazing.


There were two cases like this as the Times, over the last several years. In the first case, an amnesiac turned up at a park. The story revealed everything it could, and then asked readers to do more – and they did and figured out who he was.

Another was a case of a Texas woman who died. When they went through her stuff, they found clues of a past life here in Washington, under a different identity. We specifically designed the package to present to readers the clues and have them do their own digging and speculation.

I always thought that a great series for a Metro paper would be on Jane/John Does, inviting readers to help solve the cases. It shows that you value the smarts of the readers.


Oh my goodness that is SUCH A GOOD IDEA!!!


Hi everyone! I’m David Karger, a professor of Computer Science at MIT. I study and create systems that help people manage information. I started out in information retrieval and visualizations, but have since moved into the study of online discussion tools.

Our NB system (paper here ) is a tool that looks at combining discussion with annotation, putting the discussion forum in the margins of the documents you want to discuss. It’s primarily been targeted at education (course lecture notes, textbooks, and papers) and has been used in several hundred classes in dozens of universities around the world. We’re figuring how to make online discussion an effective part of education.

We also study mailing lists. Amazingly, mailing lists have persisted—for over 40 years!—as a preferred tool for community discussion, despite there many obvious flaws. We’ve studied mailing lists and their users (paper here) and drawn conclusions about ways to fix their flaws without losing what makes them great. Based on what we learned, we’ve created Murmur, an experiment in reinventing mailing lists.

If you’re a journalist, check out Tipsy, a Knight-prototype-funded experiment in driving donations to news sites. I’d love to talk to you about trying it on your site, which should take only 5 minutes to set up (honest!)


Hi Sydette-

The online community curriculum is different for the professional Masters program than it is from the undergrad. The Undergrad version focus more on theories of technology mediation, and the Masters version is more practically oriented on converting that theory into action. For example, we’ve been using the case of Knowledge Engine debacle at Wikimedia Foundation to discuss potential tensions between site owners and contributors.


Hi gang, I’m Nate Orshan (Nato), a web analyst and amateur musician from Burlington, Vermont. I’m participating in the Coral Project at the suggestion of @asuozzo, who thought I and the Project might benefit from my inclusion. All I can say is, I’m glad I held off reading this “Introduce yourself!” thread until now, because if I’d read it a couple of weeks back, I’d have been way too intimidated to come. :grin:

My experience is limited to having been an assistant editor of monthly tabloid “Computer User Vermont” 20 years back, working in ecommerce since then, and being relatively active in social media (emphasis on Twitter: Any value I contribute to the conference will probably come from being an informed civilian, not as someone who’s in the trenches (as most of you appear to be). Oh yeah, and I’m on the steering committee of a neighborhood planning committee for one of my city’s precincts (called “Wards”), so I also have an interest in involving the public in civic participation, democracy, transparency, etc.

I hope to return to Burlington with a better understanding of the possibilities for greater public engagement with journalism and government. If I can be a better instrument for facilitating that engagement, so much the better!


Welcome Nato! We’re delighted to have you here - it’s really important that people like yourself are part of the conversation.

What platforms/spaces/real-life or virtual communities do you think can serve as models for how to encourage productive public engagement?


Hi all! I’m overwhelmed by the amazing moderation and commenting experience in this thread! I’m Kendra Albert, a third-year student at Harvard Law School. At this point, I identify as a tech law generalist: if something involves the internet and law, I probably find it interesting and have done some work related to it.

More specifically to the Coral Project, I’m deeply interested in the effects of legal regimes on online discussion (specifically when it goes badly). To tip my hand a bit, I feel appeals to law are not productive methods of resolving conflict, and I often turn to literature on design and empathy as a better solution set for the problems of online spaces. I’m so excited to be part of this amazing group, and to learn more from all of you about what works and what doesn’t for different communities. I also will resist the urge to participate in this community the way I participate in most of them online - by lurking.


Hi everyone!

My name is Sravanti, and I’m currently a senior at Wellesley College studying computer science. I came across the Coral Project by way of the “Talking Back to the News” event hosted by some of the folks here.

I have some journalism experience and am very interested in the intersection of CS and journalism. I’d love to contribute to the project any way I can as an open-source contributor, whether that be through code or otherwise.


Thank you Kendra! Law and internet comments is a really interesting space (in fact we published a piece about CDA 230 on our blog)

There’s certainly a lot of work to be done to understand where legislation could be, and could not be, helpful in online conflict resolution. Are there any examples you can think of that have been particularly unproductive?


We have been working on a novel form of crowd-scale online deliberation that asks people to organize their contributions using a simple logical structure called a “deliberation map,” which is made up of “issues” (questions to be answered), “ideas” (possible answers for each question), and pro/con arguments describing the strengths and weaknesses of each competing answer. Using this structure, our evaluations have shown that hundreds of people can produce compact substantive and easy to harvest “maps” of their discussions, even for complex and contentious topics. For an example of this, see:


which shows a comment thread for a Washington Post article and what the discussion would look like if carried out using a deliberation map. Click on the links in the document to see the system itself and get more info about it.

Look forward to seeing you all tomorrow!

  Jared Bataillon


Hi everyone! My name is Cynthia Peacock and I am a researcher with the Engaging News Project (ENP) at the University of Texas at Austin where I am also finishing my PhD in political communication. At ENP, our goal is producing research that identifies ways to engage news audiences in ways that are beneficial for news rooms and news audiences alike. Understanding how we can foster reader interaction and civil discourse in online comment sections is a key research area for ENP. I can’t wait to meet you all tomorrow and hear about how everyone is approaching a similar set of goals!


Greetings! My name is Lisa Williams and I work in R&D at an NPR affiliate; it’s my job to think up new things for people to engage with and enjoy.


Our repos are right here!


Hi all, Trevor Knoblich, digital director at ONA here. Happy to be part of the coral community!


Hi! I’m Mark Klein, a Principal Research Scientist at the MIT Center for Collective Intelligence. I develop software aimed at enabling more effective large-scale online deliberation and knowledge sharing, which I guess is an important part of the purpose of the comment streams for newspaper articles and the like. See for an example of how to summarize, and even replace, long messy comments streams, and see if you’re curious to learn more about my other work.


Hi everyone. I’m Ken. I am retired, some 18 years from political life and government service. I am a writer and actively involved in promoting civil discourse in the political arena. I was invited to the MIT media day and am interested in what the Coral project is about and what it is doing.


I do feel bad that it’s taken me so long to get back to you, Andrew, but I’ll gladly invite Eric to get involved here. We were actually talking about how to further improve the commenting experience on The Verge last night, primarily from a community curation point of view.

I’m sending out an email to a number of colleagues inside Vox Media, as I’d really like to push for us to use this place to discuss with y’all how we can impact positive change within all communities, not just our own.


I also forgot to say what I’m doing now. I’ve since moved from Community onto the Product team at Vox Media, where I’m assisting in the day-to-day of managing support queries from internal and external folks related to our verticals. I also help where possible with the moderation teams, advising on best-practices for community management.

Still super in love with my job, old and current and looking forward to getting those folks into talking things out here.