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Edith Manosevitch analyses user comments on online editorials April 18, 2009

Posted by Raquel in symposium.
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Edith Manosevitch, a researcher from the Kettering Foundation, discussed her research paper “Reader’s Comments to Online Editorials as a Space of Public Deliberation.”

She touched on the research that’s been done before on UGC and the potential of online media. But she asked what has not yet been enough of work done is the content: does it manifest productive participation?

There’s much quantitative work not but not enough qualitative, especially reader’s comments.

She discussed the mission of editorials as an outlet for healthy reasoning and communication.

“Reader’s comments on the online format have a potential to really fulfill this mission,” she said. “Are people really getting each other?”

The research was based on TCPalm.com and DesMoinesRegister.com… for one week they analyzed readers comments, one by one, under a 9 deliberation criteria.

Examples of the criteria they used are one was whether the narrative has something related to experience, or fact, or whether the person that put the post linked to other sources, or providing additional information, values, position, reasons.

Our data show that both social and analaytic connections were happening within the comments.

“Looking through the threat, we noticed that throughout the threads people were commenting back and forth within a conversation,” she said.

So there’s a nature of people having a conversation, not shooting out comments like parachutes without coming back and following up. She also mentioned the importance of a site’s design to encourage user participation.

“How you design your platform really makes a difference as to what you get out of it,” she said.

She concluded with the thought that when you think about reader’s comments, how this may fulfill the financial needs but at the same time it also is an opportunity to bring more voices, more people and more productive participation.