Community discussion is an integral feature of online news sites. Comments can also be a basis of perception of the site’s quality. Un-moderated comments—which are often irrelevant, threatening, and insignificant—change the way we think about the article and by extension the news site itself. This is turn could have implications for the bottom-line metric of the web—traffic.

Soapbox is a new take on solving the issue of “comment trolling”, irrelevant, and often lengthy discussions that are usually found in free-form comment boxes. It’s a platform for readers to comment on stories, but with the twist of a 140-character limitation to ensure concise and focused discussions on a particular section of the article.

Top posts for each section that represent contrasting perspectives are seen side by side. Clicking on any one of them shows the other comments/posts in a stack, automatically ordered according to their readability and relevance to the section. Each comment is color-coded—green for positive remarks, red for negative, and blue for neutral.

Benefits:

Commenting is made simple and efficient.

Soapbox focuses readers’ comments on the story instead of lengthy (and often irrelevant) back and forth dialogues that go off on tangents.

By contextually moderating the comments, the site is better able to draw attention to its most deserving content—the articles themselves.

Soapbox presents a balance of viewer opinions and perspectives.

A conversation on sections of the article meshes with reader’s texting and tweeting habits.

Improving the quality of commentary on a site enhances the news brand.

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