Hey RiotACT Community!
Since acquiring the RiotACT in August last year, Tim White and I have been working long hours to get our heads around this wonderful community site, develop a go-forward strategy, and begin ramping up our involvement and investment.
The RiotACT’s new motto is, “Passionate debate between intelligent people who disagree produces better outcomes”. We have used this extensively in planning the strategy for the new RiotACT.
When we first took over, we heralded that we intended to review the RiotACT’s policies and reach out for community feedback. Now that we’re getting our heads around this wonderful community, we’re ready to fulfil that commitment.
Community consultation begins
We have spent a significant amount of time extracting data and trying to decide what works and what doesn’t on the RiotACT. We understand that the primary difference between the RiotACT and other platforms is its role as a community conversation forum. It is this function that is the key to the site’s success, which makes our policies on contribution and moderation vitally important. Having digested the vast amount of data on the back end, we are ready to open our new policies for public consultation.
Since taking over the site, Tim and I have reviewed an overwhelming majority of moderation in consultation with RiotACT editor (now editor-at-large) Charlotte Harper. This has been intentional, and while not sustainable in the long term, it has been very useful for us to gain an understanding of how comments drive the site. Once community consultation on the new contribution and moderation policy is completed, we will broaden the moderation team and ensure its members are accountable to the new policy.
Moderation is currently a two-step process. Every comment is briefly reviewed initially and, if it clearly meets the guidelines within the policy, is approved. If we are in doubt, the comment gets flagged for editor approval. The editor then does a thorough read of the comment and makes the final call. The moderators also have the choice to “Approve” or “Approve (hide from activity stream)” in the event that a comment doesn’t breach the policy but is borderline, or relates to an older article that should not be drawn to the top of “now trending”. Obviously, moderators also have the ability to flag as Spam or Trash comments they believe do not meet the policy.
As you can imagine, there are a truckload of comments every month. The process is not an exact science and we do make mistakes. We are very happy to be called out if you believe we have made a mistake, and we take it very seriously when you do reach out to us. Please keep a copy of your comment and email the text with your query to firstname.lastname@example.org if you believe that has been the case.
Beyond the policy: Valuable commenters and comments
As we have worked through the data, it has become overwhelmingly clear that comments have a HUGE impact on readership, both positively and negatively.
Articles that receive comments that are both constructive and positive, and respond to the content of the article, have a strong correlation with increased readership and engagement. They attract significantly more views, likes, shares and additional comments, creating a positive feedback loop which is very important for the site.
Articles that receive comments that are negative, consist of only a single sentence, encompass a small number of users going back and forth with each other, or go off topic, have a strong correlation with decreased readership and engagement.
Our comment utopia would be to see every article with 10+ comments (both on the site itself and on Facebook) from a variety of users who respond to the content of the article in a meaningful, positive and constructive way. Where commenters feel they cannot get their full position across in 300 words, we would like them to pen and submit a full article on the topic in question.
How you can support the RiotACT community
We hope that you love this community as much as we do. We need your support to continue to grow in terms of readership, content and commercial partners.
To support the RiotACT, please:
- Make sure you are registered on our site, subscribe to our weekly newsletter, and like us on Facebook.
- You can also follow us on Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn.
- Consider making guest posts, or apply to become a Featured Contributor.
- Encourage any businesses looking to promote their products and services to consider partnering with RiotACT.
- Check the site regularly (maybe set it as your homepage), and participate in the comment debate.
- Let all your friends and family know to check out the new RiotACT and do the same.
Below is a draft of our new policy. We’d love you to take a look and provide feedback. Remember that we are open to modifying the draft policy if clear concerns develop and so please take the opportunity to have your say in the comments below.
Draft editorial direction, contribution, sponsored content and comment moderation policy 2017
We believe that passionate debate between intelligent people who disagree creates better outcomes.
At the RiotACT, we strive to promote debate by providing clear editorial direction, while encouraging the community to participate within the guidelines of our contribution and comment moderation policy.
The directors of the RiotACT have made it clear that, while we have a commercial agenda, we do not have a political agenda. We strive to provide balanced coverage in terms of news and opinion content about the key events and developments that affect the lives of the people of Canberra and surrounding regions.
Each news article is to be balanced, factual and adhere to industry standards.
In order to promote robust debate, balance in opinion coverage is to be maintained by the editorial team by engaging a range of contributors across the political spectrum. We aim to ensure that on any given topic, even-handed publishing of a diverse range of views is delivered to our readers.
We strongly encourage our opinion writers to lead the debate by taking a position on any given issue and thoroughly arguing their case. We encourage writers (both featured and guest) to engage with each other through comments, and to write opposing pieces where they feel alternate arguments on a specific topic have not been canvassed.
Comments and social media participation
We recognise that the heart of the RiotACT is community participation in the debate. We maintain that a key point of difference for the RiotACT is its delivery of a high standard of comment and social media moderation. Our goal is to promote vibrant, intellectual, entertaining, and on-topic discussion while screening out anything that is illegal, immoral or fattening.
In the near future we intend to enable Facebook and Google sign on, in addition to the current manual log-on process. We believe that syndicated sign-on will streamline the ability to easily post content directly to the site.
To promote more lively conversation, we intend to limit the length of comments on the site to a maximum of 300 words. There will also be a minimum of 300 characters per comment.
Moving forward, the primary criteria for comments on the site or our social streams to be approved is that the comment makes a meaningful contribution to the debate while adhering to our contribution and comment moderation policy.
Contribution and comment moderation policy
The RiotACT will not publish content that:
- infringes intellectual property rights or copyright
- is defamatory
- violates laws regarding harassment, discrimination, privacy or contempt
- is abusive or offensive, including obscenity, blasphemy and racial vilification
- is condescending
- promotes hatred of any kind
- attacks the writer not the argument
- is inflammatory or blatantly off-topic
- is intentionally false or misleading
- doesn’t make sense or is of nuisance value
- is inappropriate or vexatious
- could place the writer at risk.
For example, the RiotACT reserves the right to reject contributions on topics that have already been widely canvassed in the forum. It also reserves the right to reject contributions from participants who seek to dominate the discussion.
We will also not publish material that:
- compromises the privacy of our readers, contributors or staff
- contains inappropriate personal information or content
- seeks to endorse commercial products or activities or to solicit business (with the exception of sponsored content, which is published by arrangement and clearly marked as paid material – see more details below)
- deliberately provokes other community members.
Repeated breaches of these guidelines will lead to suspension from the site. Posting on behalf of a suspended member may also lead to being blocked.
The RiotACT will continue to encourage its readers to submit articles for possible publication, but these must be published under the real name of the submitter except by arrangement with the editor in cases where the writer feels anonymity is necessary.
In certain cases an article can also, by arrangement, be published under the name of a business or organisation.
Despite our best efforts, from time-to-time something may slip through the cracks. If you believe this has happened, please report the article or comment to us for a secondary review.
Sponsored content policy
In order to support the RiotACT, we have a number of commercial partners who recieve featured articles and banner advertising, as well as provide us with sponsored content. Below are the details of our sponsored content policy.
Wherever a contributor has a current or prior relationship with the subject of a RiotACT article or receives any form of patronage from them; this must be disclosed either in the content or at the conclusion of the article.
Contributor feature articles
RiotACT partners can commission news, opinion, or feature articles from our featured contributors as part of their partnership package. If the content is to be published as news, the sponsor cannot determine the content of the article and it must meet journalistic standards for news content.
RiotACT partners can sometimes supply sponsored content articles as part of their partnership package.
All sponsor-provided content must be posted from their organisation’s RiotACT account, and disclosed as sponsored content at the conclusion of the article.
We welcome a full and fearless debate of the new policies and encourage you to provide feedback in your comments.
Onwards and upwards, RiotACT!
What do you think of the new editorial direction, contribution, sponsored content and comment moderation policy? Please let us know in the comments below.