September 6, 2017 Last Updated 6:58 am

The Washington Post rolls out Talk commenting platform

But new platform appears to do little to help readers understand who among them are actual readers and who is a bot or troll

This site has been a huge critic of The Washington Post’s comment policies, which appears to me to be to encourage bots and trolls so as to boosts web traffic. Today, the site touted its roll out of its Talk commenting system, and though the system offers a few improvements, it misses badly in solving the Post’s main problem.

The system’s main positive involves moderation. With ModBot, the Post can look at a commenter’s contribution history and remove comments that violate Post policies.

What the system doesn’t appear to do, however, is help readers understand who is commenting, and to see their previous comments in an easy way. In other words, the Post appears to be hoping the bots and trolls will stay, and that only the most egregious comments will be pulled.

We’ll see how the roll out goes, and if new features are added later. But for now, the comment system doesn’t look much different when viewed from the reader’s perspective.

Here is the Post’s announcement:

WASHINGTON DC — September 6, 2017 — The Washington Post announces it is rolling out Talk, a new commenting system that will allow The Post to better engage with readers who comment on its stories and help promote civil conversations. The software was developed by the Coral Project, a collaboration between The Post, the New York Times, and Mozilla, funded by a grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. The Post will integrate Talk with ModBot, The Post’s AI-powered comment moderation technology.

“Many of our most loyal readers are commenters. The combination of Talk and ModBot will allow us get to know them better, more easily interact with them and quickly find and highlight thoughtful and insightful comments for all readers to see,” said Emilio Garcia-Ruiz, managing editor at The Post. “This is a first-of-its-kind commenting system that takes a comprehensive approach to comments, giving us the technical capability to connect with commenters in a deeper, more meaningful way at scale.”

Using this technology, The Post is more readily able to engage with its readers at scale. Talk’s moderation panel serves up statistics to help moderators understand a commenter’s contribution history at a glance. Then using ModBot, the system can remove comments that violate Post policies, approve comments that don’t, and provide analytics for moderators about the tenor of a conversation. The combined result is more efficient human-led moderation that is primed for the challenging task of surfacing and curating the best reader contributions.

Talk’s platform offers many benefits for readers, including letting them sort comments under a story by a variety of criteria, providing more deeply threaded conversations. Talk makes it easier to edit published comments or report comments or users who violate Post policies. Users also have more control over their comment experience, including whether or not they want to load new comments when reading on mobile.

“The Coral Project has been an unprecedented partnership that took on one of the industry’s biggest challenges: improving the digital dialogue about the news. Its exhaustive research, which included collaborating with hundreds of journalists around the world, has produced technology and best practices that will have a lasting impact on the way newsrooms and readers engage with each other,” said Greg Barber, director of newsroom product at The Post. “Post readers have been a key partner in Talk’s development. Through surveys, interviews, and comment threads, their feedback has helped shape what Talk looks like today.”

Talk and Modbot technologies are available to Arc Publishing clients.

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