Wesabe takes personal budgeting and socailises it. I doubt I'd ever have the discipline to do this but if I did I'd be able to see who else used the same shops as me, comments and disputes about those places etc. etc.
introducing this AOP discussion, in what seemed like a casual aside, chairperson Jemima Kiss said
something that wasn’t further discussed but seemed to
me to cast a cloud over the afternoon:
“All the best sites often seem to me to be
just very clever CMS’s and databases built by very clever people who then sit
back and let other people populate them.”
Assembled old media types worried about editorial standards,
community management, and brand risk while being only too aware that the new
social media winners just don’t seem to care because, for them at least, these things
The unvoiced question was whether there really is a middle
way – a nuanced blending of branded
media and the Wild West. Instead we proceeded on the assumption that such a
route must exist and the discussion was framed in terms of ‘control’ -- when and how to let go.
Paul Brannan, Deputy
Editor of BBC Interactive, had a four-point plan: -
1. Be transparent. Beeb publishes statistics on how many comments get through
(50pct) which reinforces the fact that feedback is moderated. They e-mail those rejected with the reason why. And they publish their editorial guidelines in full to help those criticising them understand some of the notions behind decisions.
2. Make it easy to engage. Paul and his team had fought long, bloody battles with
individual programmes to persuade them that having a single place to send
material would maximise the flow.
3. Commit resources. Beeb has six people just monitoring UGC!
4. Check. Having been stung several times, BBCi’s six-person hub was developing a
sense for authenticity in submissions. He stressed getting the submitter on the phone and asking questions (making the point that this is just like the old journalism). How many photos had been taken? What else was going on? Who else was there?
Kim Walker of law firm Pinsent
Masons focussed on some practical measures you need to take to
Breach of IP rights: Site terms and conditions must forbid the uploading of
infringing material and it must be possible to ban offenders
Safe harbors: Kim reinforced the point that although it won’t make for a
brilliant user experience and poses a brand risk, you are not liable as an author,
editor or publisher if you have no effective control over comments and
contributions. If you allow defamatory material onto your site but you didn’t
know it was there and take it down expeditiously then you won’t be liable.You need a button to report complaints and you need a
procedure for taking down very quickly.
Mumsnet and the issue
of what constitutes ‘expeditious’: The childcare author Gina Ford objected to negative comments
appearing on mumsnet – a site for mothers run by seven volunteers. She wanted
all comments relating to her removed from the site and a full apology. The site responded that it wasn’t possible to
monitor all comments and said they had acted expeditiously in taking down the
original source of complaint within 24 hours. However, they settled out of
court after losing confidence that within 24 hours would be judged to have been
sufficiently expeditious.Kim notes that the Terrorism Act requires site owners to
remove material that might incite terrorism within 48 hours!
Director of Beginnings (chatroom moderators) responded to the notion that self-policing was the only way
forward by saying: “Do people understand copyright or defamation law? The point
is that just relying on a complaints button is expecting a community to police
something they don’t fully understand.”
I’ve not heard this discussed before but Robert thought that
profiles were crucial in setting the tone for your community and that your
policy on nicknames and on pictures were critical. Allowing references to sex or
violence in profiles or images would send strong signals about what you would
put up with.
He thought the number 1 mistake for sites was not dealing with
‘trolls’. Cited last year’s launch of the Sportsman newspaper and associated
site. The site initially picked up a good volume of posts with 300+ per day.
But they rapidly lost 95 pct of these as trolls took over and nothing was done
to stop them. Robert believes that many of the trolls were those banned by the
competing betfair site which has a more rigorous policy.
One intriguing idea he had was to have a policy of
pre-moderating the first 3-5 comments of a new registrant and then okaying them
to post direct.
Neil McIntosh – head
of editorial development at Guardian Unlimited -- had some interesting data on blogs at the Guardian. Said
that collectively they generated a quarter of a million comments in March and
that thebusiest time for comments
is between 3-4 in the UK afternoon.
In response to the criticism of how loose their moderation
policy was, The Guardian had done some research into just how many comments were
‘problematical’. They adopted a five point scale which went from ‘off-topic’ at
the low end to, I think but the slides went rather quick here, highly offensive including hate speech at the other. They
reckon that only 6 % of all comments raised any concerns and only 1.5% should
have been taken down.
Neil's overall observation was that there was a huge amount of
effort required to deal with relatively few comments and that the secret had to
be finding ways in which the ‘good people’ could be used to sort out the bad
ones. He quoted Meg Pickard, a recent appointment as ‘Head of Community User Experience’, "The naughty step and no ice cream is not
the only way.”
Neil showed a slide of bored looking commuters on a tube
train and then a shot of the clientele of a ‘50s pub. He felt we were all stuck
in the tube carriage with only the eccentrics saying anything and that social
software and editorial could get us to the pub scenario with journalists as the
bartenders. Asked if the pub metaphor really scaled he said he thought social
software was the secret.
He finished with three lessons learnt: -
Editorial and community: comments work best on comment and analysis NOT news.
Layering: You need to provide different levels of participation to encourage people to get involved with your site without having to spend a lot of time
The conversation around your material is happening off your site and you need to find ways in which you can reap that dividend (neither Guardian or the BBC had made any progress here)
Anonmymity There was a brief discussion on whether removing anonymity
would encourage better behaviour in community. Neil McIntosh doubted whether
you could actually do this. Robert Marcus thought this was the wrong way of
looking at it. If you could get users to invest in the site in other ways,
profiles? collected comments? they would behave better. He also felt that
community ought to behave a bit like school in that teachers couldn’t be
everywhere so there was a prefect system and you had to choose your community
prefects very carefully. He didn’t have a neat answer to the audience member
who worried about the legal and brand risks associated with putting community moderation
in the hands of people with whom you had no formal relationship.
At the end of last year the top 10 sites took 40 pct of all Web traffic against 31 pct five years earlier. So it's a bit like Old Media with a big head and a (very) long tail. And it's mostly Google's fault.