Talking with Canadians, and facilitating the exchange of ideas, is at
the core of CBC News' mandate and we believe that no other Canadian
news organization does it better.
We're proud to say that, because of you, CBC News has one of the most active online audiences of any news site in Canada. Since March 2008 we've received more than 8,000,000 comments; this past January alone, our news properties received well over 300,000 comments.
While there's no question these statistics are impressive, all comments are not created equal.
We've learned first-hand that when you try to gauge the general quality and health of an online community, it's not just about volume. It's also about understanding the quality both of reader contributions and of our conversations with you.
Building a vibrant community is an important part of our strategy as we continue to remake CBC News: Over the past few months we've challenged ourselves with questions like:
- How active is our membership?
- How constructive are the conversations happening across the site?
- Do members try and better the community, evangelize about the space and welcome new members? Do we?
- Are members posting helpful and relevant content?
- Are members challenging us in ways that help us improve?
- Do we respond to questions within the comments?
Replying to specific comments (comment threading)
Commenters will now be able to reply to specific comments by hitting the "Reply" button. This will allow lively discussions to take place around a specific comment, and will give the community the option to select which discussions they want to participate in or follow on a particular story. To avoid clutter, comment threads will appear closed by default. Click on "Reply" to respond to a comment, or "Show replies" to read the entire thread.
Rating of comments (Recommendations)
Previously, you voted "thumbs-up/thumbs-down" on an individual comment, and we displayed the number beside the item. Now the score will subtract the number of thumbs-down from the number of thumbs-up, resulting in an overall score. This provides a more accurate ranking of comments and will help surface what the community deems to be quality contributions.
Layout of story comments
We've improved the overall layout of comments in a number of ways. Not interested in the community discussion? We've now made it possible for you to hide the comments so you can focus on the news. You can also control how many comments you see on each page (5, 10, 25 or 50).
Sorting of comments
You will now be able to select how many comments you would like displayed below a news story. You'll also be able to sort by the highest rated (a quality indicator factored by the thumbs-up minus thumbs-down recommendations) or most active (stories which have the most activity around the recommendation function - a total of thumbs-up and thumbs-down).
Comments will not be open on every story
CBC News has to make decisions about where to direct our limited resources. We must balance our collective hunger (ours and yours) for conversation, with our ability to surface the best community contributions, responding to your questions and managing an ever-growing number of community members.
Rather than opening every story to comments, our editorial team will select which stories (e.g. stories with a major impact at home or abroad), will be open for comments. That will include a smaller number of stories from our other sections.
Our goal here is to focus on the stories we think Canadians want to talk about. By reducing the number of stories with comments, we hope to redirect some of our editorial resources to monitor and respond to the conversations and incorporate your thoughts and opinions into our coverage. Some of our news colleagues are already doing this in interesting ways.
Commenting is only one of a number of ways in which our audience engages with us. We've made it easier to submit photos and videos on individual stories and through our Community page, participate in our online chats and blogs as well as interact around our stories on social networks and share our content in order to deepen the conversation and advance the story. And when there's no commenting available we'll continue to ask for your opinions and thoughts via email: when there's a story that receives a lot of attention, we'll ensure that we create additional ways for you to engage around the topic on our site.
Hiding other community members
If a particular community member's comments are putting you off, you can now hide all of their comments, on every story, without them knowing. Simply click on the "Hide" button above one of their comments and you will no longer see their contributions (you'll still see their name and a message saying that their comment is hidden). If you change your mind, you can click on the "Show" button above one of their comment's ratings and their comments will appear again for you.
We're rolling out a "trusted user" system that rewards users for active and insightful interactions. A community member gains trusted status by frequently contributing and maintaining a good reputation (all their submissions consistently fall within our guidelines and are suitable for publishing).
Clearly identifying CBC News staff members
As part of our community improvements, we will be increasing your opportunity to directly engage with CBC News journalists in our comments section. In the spirit of transparency, they will be clearly identified with a "Staff" icon beside their name.
The changes we are making are rooted in our goal to deepen our relationship with Canadians, by providing a space where they can actively contribute and engage in meaningful ways around the stories that matter to them. We'll continue experimenting to find new ways to engage you in our newsgathering and storytelling process.
Let us know what you think and share your ideas about how we can do things better; let's keep the conversation constructive and ongoing.
Sr. Producer, Community
CBCNews.ca relaunch: Working out the bugs
Meet the Community Team
CBC News Community team, from left to right: Andrew Yates, Andrea Lee-Greenberg, Lauren O'Neil, John Bowman
If you're part of the CBC News community, you're likely to meet one of us: we're the folks working to produce and promote your stories. Read more about us.
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