Can good design stop bad comments?

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Christa Mrgan and Aja Bogdanoff of Civil Comments

Christa Mrgan and Aja Bogdanoff of Civil Comments

The comments at the end of popular news websites are where civility goes to die. In fact, some sites have simply removed comments from their articles, having given up policing the rabid trolls, rant merchants and insult peddlers.

But could design with a dose of behavioural psychology help solve the problem? The makers of Civil Comments, a new commenting platform for websites, certainly think so:

“Right now, most commenters are presented with an empty box, and then it’s published, with no filter,” says Mrgan. And that’s a problem, because it gives no incentive to be reasonable, and no time for reflection. It’s just a blank box for your rampaging inner id. So when you make a comment on Civil Comments, the first thing that happens is you’re asked to rate two other comments on the site, for quality and civility. Then before you can post, you are asked to rate your owncomment under the same criteria. It’s only then that you can post your comment to the site.

There’s more to Civil Comments than that, including an algorithm (weighted by the way the rest of a community rates the content of comments) that will automatically reject comments that seem abusive despite how a user rates them. But according to Bogdanoff, the very step of asking commenters to rate their own comment is enough to get many people to be nicer. On a troll-bait test post made to Civil Comments’ own site on how Star Wars is better than Star Trek, Bogdanoff says, on the backend, they could actually see trolls pause when they were asked to rate their comment, then change what they wrote. “It’s hard for people to write something bad, then say, ‘Yes, this is high quality,'” she explains.

Read more at Fast Co Design.

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This entry was posted in Behavioural Design, Design, Digital, News, Social Media, User Experience, Website and tagged on by .
Relevant Pages: Web Design & Development

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