14 December 2009

Times Online: Comments service = better reader interaction

One of the oldest, most basic forms of reader interaction on news sites is the trust comments box, the “letters to the editor” of the 24/7 digital age.

But, reports journalism.co.uk, one technology firm behind such tools for newspapers Pluck claims there's still plenty of opportunity to improve and increase this facility.

They would be expected to say that, says the report. Otherwise they’d be out of work pretty quickly.

However, it also points out that recent figures back up the company’s suggestion that news sites can do more.

Following the implementation of Pluck's social media platform on Times Online in July there was a 30 per cent increase in user comments over the first three months.Numbers from Pluck suggest that more than 170,000 comments were made on the site during this period.

Journalism.co.uk have spoken to Times Online assistant editor Tom Whitwell to find find out how the Times making use of this commenting community and what can it offer in return.

Whitwell told the site that one of the key benefits of Pluck’s features was “simple customer service” with comments being moderated more efficiently and quickly.

Readers also get feedback on their comments via the “recommend” button, which Whitwell says is clicked 40,000 times a day.

The dizzying numbers from a national paper may seem academic to local publishers but Whitwell says that it has created an active, dedicated core readership who are more valuable in the long term than “drive by visitors”.

He also told the site: “We're learning that all the time, finding ways to create a closer connection between journalists and readers.

“Journalists often want to contact commenters to follow up their stories and we're increasingly seeing Times journalists in the comments responding directly to readers.”

Whitwell says the planned relaunch of the Times Online site in the new year will see a more prominent comments service.

The full Q &A can be read here.

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3 Comments:

At 31/3/10 11:13 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can never see comments or comment while logged in, Times has not responded to my emails. Huge failure in terms of interaction.

 
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