This report describes what we learned from analyzing 9,616,211 comments people posted to The New York Times website between October 30, 2007 – the date on which The New York Times began allowing users to post comments to news stories – and August 13, 2013
We research a variety of areas related to comment sections, with the overall goal of improving civility in the comments. We hope that our results will provide real-world guidance for newsrooms.
We describe the demographic makeup, attitudes, and behaviors of the people who comprise the online commenting world.
People are more willing to get involved in political discussion when they’re provided with background information containing pro and con arguments.
There are several benefits – and limits – to using a three-column comment section as opposed to using a traditional one-column section.
For three months, we attempted to code for incivility within online news comments in new ways. In this progress report, we share thoughts on what worked, what didn’t, and what research can be done next.
Uncivil comments decreased when a journalist interacted with online commenters.
We have partnered with the National Institute for Civil Discourse to research how to improve online discourse. We began by reviewing academic research on creating civil online spaces. In the coming months, we will conduct a series of focus groups to understand people’s thoughts about discussing politics online.