Objects in Mirror

Fever for the fervor of online comments

Posted at 3:35 PM on October 31, 2007 by Julia Schrenkler

MPR Reporter Tim Post just published this feature: Newspapers struggle with online comments.

Not to navel-gaze, but what company doesn't struggle with online comments? Even if a site doesn't host them, the topic of online interaction is hot hot hot. A fan or a detractor can fire up a free blog in literally less than 10 minutes and lay their praise or criticism out there, so why not just host an online space to communicate? Everyone is doing it except the companies who don't, and many of those that don't are afraid to do it because of the horror stories told by the companies that do. Speaking as an Interactive Producer, it is a completely exasperating circle of fear, uncertainty, and sometimes just plain foolishness. I firmly believe companies should pay attention to what people have to say about their product, especially if their product is news.

So where does that leave you, reading this blog on Minnesota Public Radio?

At MPR we don't currently have comments on our features, although we do host a set of discussion groups on Gather.com. The site allows people to upload images and even video. Anyone can fire up a topic - about anything - and article authors can moderate comments made on their discussions. These are key features requested by our former forum/online discussion boards users, but we simply couldn't support the functionality here. Frankly, I like the freedom Gather offers to both company and individuals. I like that MPR can host guests online or connect with people outside our broadcast area who wouldn't have found us any other way. But guess what? I'm listening. Join the online discussion about online discussions.

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