Comments sections on websites are designed to be a place for healthy debate, yet so often they can become dumping grounds for hate speech and abuse.
News sites have tried everything from human curation to automated filtering and yet the outcome is almost always the same: They’re get turned off.
Well all this could be about to change as Norway’s public broadcaster NRK has come up with an incredible, yet simple, solution.
If you want to comment on a number of stories in its Tech section you will have to prove that you’ve actually read the story by answering three short multiple choice questions.
When you actually think about it, it’s genius.
By making sure that people have actually read and processed the story it naturally means that any further comments around it will be constructive, rather than abusive.
In an interview with NiemanLab NRkbeta journalist Ståle Grut said: “We thought we should do our part to try and make sure that people are on the same page before they comment. If everyone can agree that this is what the article says, then they have a much better basis for commenting on it.”
The idea came about after the writers realised that when their stories got features on NRK’s main homepage the quality of the comments on their stories dropped dramatically.
“We have a pretty good commenting field to begin with, mainly because it’s a niche product,” explains NRKbeta editor Marius Arnesen to Neiman.
“It’s a lot of tech guys, smart people who know how to behave. But when we reach the front page, a lot of people that are not that fluent in the Internet approach us as well.”
Wondering how they could prevent this from happen, the team came up with the idea for the quiz.
The hope is that even if a person is spending just 15 seconds engaging with the quiz that’s 15 seconds that then allows them to disengage their “rant mode” as Arnesen calls it.