Yesterday I posted about Robert Scoble calling for a Digg Boycott following his reading of the comments on the Kathy Sierra story. I posed the question: what, if anything needs to be changed with regards to Digg’s comment system?
As a result of commentary that for the most part adds nothing to the discussion of the featured content, the comment system on Digg has rendered itself almost useless. Sure, some people leave helpful remarks, but that is hardly the norm. While comments could make Digg a much stronger community, instead they are tearing it apart.
Engtech also did a post yesterday, outlining five ideas for fixing Digg’s comment system, and his story actually managed to make the front page of Digg, indicating that at least some in the community are also concerned about this deterioration of quality and are willing to embrace the changes.
The most-mentioned idea is a Karma system similar to one implemented by Slashdot. Under this system, rather than just rating comments (as Digg is doing right now), the community also indirectly rates the commenter. Every comment’s rating is added to your rating which builds up over time so the next time you leave a comment everyone will know whether they should expect something insightful or asinine. Slashdot’s karma system takes this a step further so that comments marked as ‘funny’ don’t count for karma. This would be important for Digg as many times the highest “rated” comments are the funny ones.
The karma system for comments is a proven one. It would require a small shift in policy for Digg, but the potential outcome should be worth it: a comment system that actually pulls people into the site instead of turning them away.
The residual effects of the reworking of Digg’s comment system will have important consequences for content producers whose content gets Dugg. Anyone who has ever had a story hit the front page of Digg knows that while you get a lot of traffic very fast; you also get a lot comments, which often times are of the same negative variety as found on Digg. As a result, sites are quite often forced to fully moderate comments, or worse, turn them off completely.
Looking at these comments and taking care of them appropriately is very important for any content producer and simply disregarding them can have far-reaching negative consequences as far as building the audience of your site is concerned. Any first time visitor to your site will obviously be looking to see how your content is helping further the conversation (and thereby distinguishing itself from all the other sites out there) and if that first time visitors see that the commentary is entirely juvenile, they are unlikely to ever return.
Fewer senseless comments, more discussions on topics, it could all start with Digg. While you celebrate the thousands of visitors coming in from Digg, keep in mind that these visitors are of all ages and can at times be rather malicious.