ESPN cleans up its fan boards by requiring Facebook log-in, but risks a big drop in traffic
Website owners are very familiar with the problem: what to do about trolls who like to hang out on fan boards, posting inane, often offensive fan posts. For ESPN, which allows comments on each of sports scoreboards, moderating is difficult.
So ESPN came up with a solution: force fans to sign into their Facebook accounts if they want to post a comment.
It has worked, the trolls (for the most part) are now gone. But so are the comments, and the website traffic that came with them.
Readers had been warned a month in advance of the change, but the actual launch of the log-in program has had a drastic effect on the number of readers willing to be, shall we say, more public in their commenting online. Many commenters have referred others to the SI.com boards to comment, where readers can log in using Facebook, AOL, Twitter, Google, Yahoo or LinkedIn accounts – or, as many trolls prefer, can create their own SI account name in order to continue to troll.
Last night, for instance, the LA Dodger game on the ESPN scoreboard attracted less than 100 comments (it’s slightly over that number this morning), down from the usual 1,000 or more. On the SI.com board, though, over 1,500 comments were submitted.
Of course, the quality of the conversation is now quite distinct. “Joe”, on the ESPM board wrote “In the last 3 games Kemp has played in he is 7-14 with 3 homers….just need to get him healthy.” While at SI.com “I_speak_the_truth_is_gay” wrote “I wonder if DR PHIL can help me.”
One wonders if SI.com will be the next to have to crack down on the comments on its boards.