Aardvark DailyNew Zealand's longest-running online daily news and commentary publication, now in its 18th year. The opinion pieces presented here are not purported to be fact but reasonable effort is made to ensure accuracy.
Content copyright © 1995 - 2013 to Bruce Simpson (aka Aardvark), the logo was kindly created for Aardvark Daily by the folks at aardvark.co.uk
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As this site proves, people love to talk about the news.
The Aardvark formula has remained unchanged for many, many years -- and it seems to work...
Introduce a news story and then invite people to tender their own opinions and comments.
Instead of being stuck with some journalist's perspectives, bias, opinions and understanding of events, sites like this act more as a catalyst for discussion and the real value lies in the comments made by others.
Indeed, this is the format that sites such as Slashdot and Reddit eventually twigged to and which has made them very popular (and valuable).
I've always been surprised therefore, that our own "news" publications didn't more fully embrace the user-generated content potential of their offerings -- and now one has -- almost.
Coinciding with the relaunch of the NZH site and print-edition, Stuff.co.nz has launched a slightly social-media oriented offering they're calling Stuff Nation.
I have to admit, I was kind of excited when I saw this appear. At last, a news site that accepted comments on *real* news stories, not just opinion-pieces. This is what we've all been waiting for -- right?
Initially, my optimism seemed well-founded. There were some interesting (albeit somewhat formulaic) stories and an invitation to leave your comments on the bottom.
Of course the first down-side was that the comments were moderated.
Yes, moderation is important -- but relying on an employee of the paper to laboriously approve each and every posting means delays and the ability to introduce editorial bias that can skew the true effect of pubic opinion. Far better instead to use some form of ranking system controlled by readers. This way, spam or other undesirable comments soon get pushed below the level of visibility and worthy comments get promoted to the top -- all without any meddling from management.
I posted two comments to two different stories.
One was accepted and appeared within minutes - the other obviously failed the moderation test and has not appeared. Perhaps it was because I included a totally relevant link to a non-commercial website -- perhaps because the moderator just didn't like what I'd said (although it was completely innocuous and highly relevant to the story).
That's when the wheels began to fall off Stuff Nation for me.
Clearly the moderation process (as I suspected) will kill the true potential of this interesting experiment.
This morning I also noticed that not all the true news stories accepted comments -- why not?
Not only are we going to have full editorial control/moderation of the public's comments but Stuff are also going to be very selective about which stories can be commented on.
What a shame -- a great idea -- scuttled by idiotic decisions like this.
If this is going to work, only stories about cases before the courts ought to be restricted from receiving readers' comments and if editorial control/moderation is to be applied in the seemingly very tight-fisted way it presently is then the whole value of being able to see what others might think about an issue is utterly destroyed.
I also notice that on the special Stuff Nation page, the stories are incredibly lightweight and tabloid. For instance, the lead story in Stuff Nation this morning has been written by a transsexual, in which the phrase "Believe me, men love transsexuals" is used twice by the writer as she describes her experiences.
I'm pretty sure that people would much rather voice their opinions on more important issues such as ACC's suicide snub adds to family pain or Gloomy indicators hit economic expectations -- but they can't.
No, I'm sorry Stuff -- unless you rethink your policies and expand this to encompass all the stories on the site and introduce a system of community-based moderation that works in real-time then I'm afraid it's "Stuffed Nation".
What a shame. Next player please!
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