Tendo Dev Blog

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Freedom of speech?

As the Web becomes more and more interactive, news organizations and others may be shifting away from interactivity. According to an article on KFMB-TV’s website in late January, "Yahoo quietly pulled a discussion feature from its news site in recent weeks. Before, readers were allowed to post comments on individual news stories. The message boards were suspended, according to a note from Yahoo’s general manager for news, Neil Budde, because they allowed "a small number of vocal users to dominate the discussion."

The article goes on to say that most news organizations don’t allow readers to freely publish comments on their sites. I did a quick search and found that some news blogs, and also corporate blogs, do still publish comments. Whether readers can "freely publish comments," however, is another question.

As readers, we may never know what’s been weeded out, but a quick peek can be telling. For example, NBC’s Meredith Veira has a blog called "Behind the scenes with Today’s leading lady." After my unscientific perusal of the comments, I’d say they run the gamut from gushing to highly critical.

Sun CEO Jonathan Schwartz blogs regularly and Sun is courting responses. The February 6 home page asks readers to "comment on what Sun’s CEO is blogging about." Readers are complying, but I have a sneaking suspicion that the comments are being screened, and not just for language or appropriateness. The 21 comments in response to Jonathan’s January 30 blog posting are either positive or somewhat neutral. Is that possible? I have my doubts.

Reader feedback is key to a blog’s success. Comments are often interesting to read, they can spark debates, and they show that the blogger is touching on topics that spark interest. But how does a reader’s right to express opinions co-exist with a company’s right―or desire―to control messaging on its own website? ―Julie Jares, managing editor

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February 12, 2007 - Posted by | Customer Care, In the News, Julie Jares, Web Content

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