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Google News Allowing Story Participants To Comment 100

Posted by kdawson
from the starting-at-web-1.0 dept.
Jamie found this analysis of Google News's foray into community commentary. They are starting it off by only allowing people involved with the story to comment — and participants must first be authenticated by email. The article rounds up other bloggers' views on the game-changing nature, and the possible dangers to Google, of this new feature. Here is a sample of comments to a Google News story.
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Google News Allowing Story Participants To Comment

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  • by niceone (992278) * on Thursday August 09, 2007 @12:39PM (#20171419) Journal
    But I'm not involved in the story. So I won't.

    Copying this policy could really work for Slashdot I think.
    • It's Google.com.
    • by Vexorian (959249)
      hmmm I would personally love to mod Steve Ballmer a flamebait, or perhaps I did already?
    • This doesn't make any sense. What will people who need to comment to get their website publicized do?!?!?! reciperate.com [reciperate.com]
    • Copying this policy could really work for Slashdot I think.

      That would not be Slashdot, if the editors did that. On slashdot,

      1. Somebody posts a story,
      2. We (the community) read (theoretically)it,
      3. We discuss.

      That last bit is what makes slashdot Slashdot. We talk. We have discussions, we learn from each other, or we just have fun. The discussions are great. They go off on all kinds of tangents, people bring in information that couches the story in different perspectives, and, for the stories that a

  • So you get two comments - a response from the company and a decent response (except for weird ED/abstinence bit) by someone who claims to be a professor of pediatrics. While I think the first may be typical, I think you should look more to slashdot and digg for what the comments will look like. Registering by email in an age of free and plentiful anonymous email addresses is hardly a filter.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Oh, and just to head off a couple of the replies saying things like "well, they also filter based on who you are and if you're involved." What's keeping anyone from saying they are "Professor of X", where X is whatever they claim. Unless they are sending in more credentials than their email address, it's rife for abuse. And as you see from this page, both responses are opinion. I'd say a good portion of stories on Google News "involve" just about everyone (otherwise, they wouldn't be on there) in some w
      • Re:Atypical (Score:5, Informative)

        by TubeSteak (669689) on Thursday August 09, 2007 @01:32PM (#20172129) Journal

        Oh, and just to head off a couple of the replies saying things like "well, they also filter based on who you are and if you're involved." What's keeping anyone from saying they are "Professor of X", where X is whatever they claim. Unless they are sending in more credentials than their email address, it's rife for abuse.
        Next time, RTFA.
        Not only does it specifically state that an e-mail address needs to be verified, TFA links to the Google Help page which states their policy.

        http://www.google.com/support/news/bin/answer.py?a nswer=74123&topic=12285 [google.com]

        The email should contain:

        Your comment
        A link to the story you are commenting on
        Your contact details: your name, title, and organization
        How we can verify your email address.
        For example, if the Tooth Fairy wanted to comment on a recent story about dental hygiene, she might sign her comment:

        "Sincerely, Tooth Fairy.
        Verify my identity by losing a tooth and placing it under your pillow. I will leave you a business card along with a small payment for your tooth. Alternately you can call 1-800-TEETH-4-ME and speak to my assistant, The Tooth Mouse, who can confirm my email address and comment."
        Yes, that really is the example Google uses.
      • by Shotgun (30919)
        So right you are. In the case of the example article, I'm involved. I'm a parent who is responsible for teaching my two boys not to be suckers for Madison Avenue*.

        *Madison Avenue...a street in New York, renowned for the number of marketing firms located there.

      • In the case of professors, at least, their email addresses are usually publicly available on the school's website, so Google could at least check that it's coming from the right account. Of course, most other professionals that might be interviewed in an article, not so much; no clue how they would verify those.
      • What's keeping anyone from saying they are "Professor of X"
        I first read that as "Professor X", and thought to myself, "Only an idiot would claim to be Professor X and risk getting their head exploded for their insolence". Then I realized my mistake, and thought, "You idiot, Arthur! Professor X would never explode someone's head just because they claimed to be him."
    • It's not exactly high-security, but they might, for example, filter people who say they're a professor at Columbia according to whether they have an @columbia.edu email address. Similarly, a supposedly corporate official from macdonalds.com might have more say than macdonalds_really_important_bloke@hotmail.com
      • by illegalcortex (1007791) on Thursday August 09, 2007 @12:52PM (#20171625)
        No, it's not high-security. It's just giving you a false sense of confidence. Every Tom, Dick and Harry at Columbia could claim to be a professor there. And for big companies, we already have press releases and responses to the story right there in the article. For smaller or mid-size companies, plenty are using services like hotmail or gmail instead of their own hosted email. On top of all that, you also get people who work at companies who could fake up an "official" company response. Imagine a disgruntled employee from a @macdonalds.com commenting in a hilariously embarrassing way. Or, more likely, just someone at the company responding before it was cleared through their communications department.
        • by MorpheousMarty (1094907) on Thursday August 09, 2007 @02:23PM (#20172821)
          It is not that hard to get reasonable confirmation of this kind of thing, or quoting people would be nigh impossible. Can anyone who actually works in a news room say how they verify things normally? I'll bet a simple phone call is all most major newspapers require and it won't kill Google to have a dozen people on the phone. Personally I can't wait until someone comments something really dumb, and then claims it wasn't them. Google may become my only source of news at this point.
          • As I've said above, I think it highly unlikely google will do all this confirmation for everyone who applies to comment. We're talking about a worldwide service. They post a lot of articles each and every day. Can you imagine if everyone who signed on to slashdot had to be "verified" in this method? And you might suggest that they'd only try to "verify" someone after they submitted a good comment. Well, then they'd have to read all the comments.

            I very much expect the "verification" step will only happe
            • I don't know. As far as being a "world" service, it is English only. Again, anyone actually work at a newspaper? Maybe I should get a news story on Google about it and then Google could comment on their own article, no verification needed.
          • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

            by Magic5Ball (188725)
            Can anyone who actually works in a news room say how they verify things normally?

            In real news, it ideally works like a web of trust:
            1) We use more than one source for each story first to get contrasting or concurring opinions on a subject, but also to establish at least the plausability of what each of the other sources has told us. Experts are more than happy to point out and provide evidence that another source is a kook.
            2) We find the contact information for interviewees through reliable sources, such as
    • Re:Atypical (Score:4, Funny)

      by russ1337 (938915) on Thursday August 09, 2007 @03:05PM (#20173327)
      >>> I think you should look more to slashdot and digg for what the comments will look like.

      Good call, And I think the webcomic XKCD summed it up with this post [xkcd.com]
  • by bigattichouse (527527) on Thursday August 09, 2007 @12:41PM (#20171469) Homepage
    Yep, its me alright.. promise. See the email address K4r1@rove.info - how could it not be me. They'd have to employ a large number of, oh, say journalists to verify each and every participant.
  • Neat idea (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Cleon (471197) <cleon42@y a h o o.com> on Thursday August 09, 2007 @12:43PM (#20171487) Homepage
    This is kind of a cool idea; it's a way for direct commentary from the people involved without a journalist's filter.

    Plus, it'll get really entertaining when they apply it to political campaigns and the press secretaries get into flame wars. :D
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Filter=bias here. This is a good thing...it may help show all sides of a story and cover those points which reporters leave out, and hopefully provide context to news stories.
    • "This is kind of a cool idea; it's a way for direct commentary from the people involved without a journalist's filter."

      Yes, rather than journalists filtering, it's Google doing the filtering. We only know what they post, not what they don't.
    • I'm sure this will be an unpopular idea, but I like the idea of journalists pre-filtering things for me -- at least when those things are bloated press-release material from corporate PR types. Yes, in the case of an issue that I find extremely interesting, I guess I may want to read as many words as possible on the subject. But in the case of the McDonald's story linked here, I didn't find anything relevant in the corporate response. McDonald's seems to be eager to spout the party line about all the healt
      • by FleaPlus (6935)
        > In other words, even if someone can prove their identity as the subject of a story, it doesn't necessarily mean they'll feel compelled to tell the truth in their comments.

        That's what other commenters are for. If someone is bullshitting, somebody else can call them on it and make them look like a fool.
  • by eboluuuh (1139173) on Thursday August 09, 2007 @12:44PM (#20171505)
    This is a lot better than simply thinking they're silent until they're quoted in a future article.
  • Good idea (Score:3, Interesting)

    by bcmm (768152) on Thursday August 09, 2007 @12:52PM (#20171615)
    I've been to demonstrations which have been seriously misreported by mainstream media. I'm thinking of this not so much as a way to get extra eyewitness accounts of big events as as a way of correcting media which parrots government and police press releases.
    • Re:Good idea (Score:4, Insightful)

      by eln (21727) * on Thursday August 09, 2007 @12:56PM (#20171681) Homepage
      That's a very optimistic view. The people that have the time and the resources to monitor this stuff are the big corporations though, so I think you're most likely to see comments made by a company spokesman trying to spin articles that are unfavorable to that company. The first comment on the sample article seems to be bear that out.

      So, instead of the article followed by a separate press release spinning that article, you get the spin on the same page as the article itself. I'm not sure what's really gained in that case.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Chyeld (713439)
      And exactly how would they verify by email address that you were at the demonstration? Oh yeah, you registered an email address at anarchist.org before you went....

      This might be useful for 'human intrest' stories, and company/stock news stories, but I fail to see it being even doable for large scale stories like a demonstration, natural disaster, or etc.
      • The address itself might not help but, if they contact you at that address, you could attach a picture to the response showing that you were actually there.

      • And exactly how would they verify by email address that you were at the demonstration? Oh yeah, you registered an email address at anarchist.org before you went....

        It would just be like any other event that's covered by the media, you'd just send in your email a week in advance scripting your quotes just like if they were being delivered during the demonstration. If the demonstration really did occur the way you described, Google could safely assume that you kept your word, behaved as you originally chore

    • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      I'm with you on the mis-reporting.

      I was on a flight that had to return to the airport. The galley had no electricity, and therefore no coffee (early morning - we can't have that!). In the next day's paper, the "cabin was filled with smoke". Yeah, right! I was sitting one row back and opposite the galley, full view of the coffee pot, and I never saw even a frog-fart's worth of smoke.

      So much for our free press...free to sensationalize, alright!

      Well, they did say it was free, not accurate.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Wordsmith (183749)
      And what makes you think sources involved in an incident are any less prone to bias and misreporting than the media? The media gets its accounts from involved sources, and most media really does make the effort to portray those accounts fairly; but when there's room for debate in an issue or even an observation, each side is prone to thinking of the other as slanted, and blames the media for acknowledging that account.
    • I've been to demonstrations which have been seriously misreported by mainstream media. I'm thinking of this not so much as a way to get extra eyewitness accounts of big events as as a way of correcting media which parrots government and police press releases.

      I've been witness to events which were not only misrepresented by the mainstream media - but which were also misrepresented by the participating parties and their after-the-fact supporters. (I was neither.) Not one of the three accounts (media, parti

  • If they allowed every John, Rick and Larry to post comments on links to news stories, would that be like..oh I don't know...Gdot.org?
  • Felix LaPoubelle: "It is I, Sidney Feldman."

    That scene from Grosse Pointe Blank just popped into my head regarding this authentication by email.
  • This smacks to me of Google trying to figure out a way to appear journalistic without actually having to engage in journalism.

    If they feel it so necessary to invite commentary from those actually involved in a story, then why do they not simply hire journalists to interact with such people? If their goal is simply to invite public commentary on news items, why do they not simply build a Slashcode server, or some other group discussion system that can achieve the same end?

    Heck, why not use an NNTP server? NN
    • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      If they feel it so necessary to invite commentary from those actually involved in a story, then why do they not simply hire journalists to interact with such people?

      Because journalists are invariably people who really, really wish they were paid to write fiction. Isn't that obvious to anyone who's ever seen a mainstream news story covering a topic they're personally familiar with?

      Disintermediation is a good thing, mmkay? Most of the time, "journalists" are just valueless middlemen who deserve to be cut ou
    • by FleaPlus (6935)

      This smacks to me of Google trying to figure out a way to appear journalistic without actually having to engage in journalism.

      What are you considering journalism? Google is collecting facts... is that journalism?

      If they feel it so necessary to invite commentary from those actually involved in a story, then why do they not simply hire journalists to interact with such people?

      Why would they need a journalist, when all they want is volunteered verbatim quotes from the people involved?

      If their goal is simply to invite public commentary on news items, why do they not simply build a Slashcode server, or some other group discussion system that can achieve the same end?

      Well, because they're not interested in public commentary (at the moment), they're interested in responses from people involved in the news itself.

  • insightful? (Score:4, Funny)

    by hey (83763) on Thursday August 09, 2007 @01:08PM (#20171809) Journal
    How insightful is this?

    Evil Corp: we aren't evil, you are mistaken

    Expert: oh yes you are, but i love those fries
    • I feel the same way about the entire news story. How it constitutes news that presentation impacts a person's enjoyment of food is beyond me.

      I expect Iron Chef Sakai to issue a blanket apology to to the millions he has hoodwinked with his fancy knifework and flower littered platings.
      • Except it's not presentation. It's name recognition, driven by ads. It's like if you said "this meal was made by Iron Chef Sakai" to someone, simply to make them think the food tasted (and looked) better.
    • by l0rd (52169)
      And of course the inevitable "wasn't me". I can see problems where people will use your comments online in court against you, especially as google has "verified" that you are who you say you are.
  • by Opportunist (166417) on Thursday August 09, 2007 @01:11PM (#20171859)
    But what if one side can't? Not everyone has net access. Not everyone actually knows about it being on the Google news page when he is involved, even if he has access.

    Of course, large businesses, governments and the like who can employ someone to monitor such activities will benefit from it. But you and me? Imagine you're getting into a legal battle with a large company. You have your hands full, meeting with lawyers and trying to keep from going under, do you have time to react to Google News? Hardly. Does the company you're suing (or that's suing you), on the other hand? With a few 100 to a few 1000 people working for them, most likely.
    • by ghyd (981064)
      Large companies already have more ways to get their point across than individuals do. Also, Google news users may give more credit to the "smaller side". Isn't it this trend that Slashdot and other news oriented social sites represent ?
  • by icepick72 (834363) on Thursday August 09, 2007 @01:13PM (#20171873)
    All of a sudden everybody involved in a news article is responsible for controlling their own public face through comments on the article. Some of the more newsworthy Tom Dick and Harrys will be vehemently defending themselves online all day. And I thought Facebook was bad.
    • I kind of hope you are right. This could act as a deterrent for some not to do something stupid. Of course there are those who have no shame *cough* Bob Allen (R-FL) *cough*, but those are the people we are supposed to laugh at.
  • Funny... (Score:1, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward
    ...back in my day companies used to issue a "press release" to comment on these types of things; you know, something that could actually be vetted as accurate and coming directly from the right people?
  • I Love this! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by djrogers (153854) on Thursday August 09, 2007 @01:40PM (#20172233)
    This is great - we will not longer have to rely on the mass media journalists to decide what comments make it in a story, and in what context. I'm sick of seeing stories that ignore or downplay one side or the other by skewing the comments of the person that doesn't meet their agenda.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by BlackCobra43 (596714)
      I think your reasoning is fallacious; the story is no more informative if it includes bullshit from both sides than it as with only bullshit from one side. What ever happened to just reporting the facts?
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Wordsmith (183749)
        And from whence do these facts come, if not from the involved parties - who, like all human beings, are potentially prone to bias? Certain things are directly observable by a reporter, and certain aren't. But the very fact that those on various sides of an issue can come to radically different conclusions, and even make radically different observations, suggests the "facts" of a given issue aren't as simple to decipher as one would hope. Very few things in this world can boil down to inarguable, objective t
      • by rhakka (224319)
        even choosing which facts to report is a form of subjective slant in reporting.

        there is no such thing as objective reporting. this allows for more discussion. good stuff.
    • I'm curious what viewpoint you feel is being shut out. I regularly see news shows have 2 people on them, one "for" and one "against." The only viewpoints I've seen shut out of mainstream media in recent years are:
      1) people who think the 9/11 "attacks" were accomplished with demolition incendiaries (shut out after several months of debate)
      2) people who think the price of gasoline was manipulated for the 2006 elections (shut out by repeated market explanations) , and
      3) people who think Barry Bonds didn't take
      • by mgoren (73073)
        So you'd rather just have the views of the mainstream media? I can think of things that are shut out all the time. Entire issues are never even brought to the table because they aren't seen by the media owners as palatable or interesting. Politicians' lies and distortions, for example, are often ignored because there is no talking politician head to quote. Or, to take an issue that was discussed at great length, I'd say that those with real arguments against the Iraq war back before it began were shut out o
    • by amper (33785) *
      You can't even begin to imagine how hilarious I find it that a comment which characterizes Google as being something other than "mass media" has been moderated "+5, Insightful"...
  • For a while I've been hoping that they would do something similar and allow comments (and maybe blog references) through Google Scholar [google.com], their search engine for academic publications. It would be great to have a way for the research community to publically share thoughts on a publication besides the high-latency/low-throughout channel of the actual journal. PLoS One [plosone.org] and Nature Precedings [nature.com] are starting to do this for work published by them, but having a commenting function built into Google Scholar would allo
  • Pointless (Score:4, Funny)

    by snowwrestler (896305) on Thursday August 09, 2007 @02:27PM (#20172863)
    Everyone knows that comments on news stories are either trolls, flamebait, or offtopic. Just look at the moderation on this for proof.
  • Google Grid anyone? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by cxreg (44671) on Thursday August 09, 2007 @02:42PM (#20173065) Homepage Journal
    Sure seems to me like Epic 2014 [robinsloan.com] is slowly coming to fruition
  • I think the reason Google is allowing news story comments is to gain content they own and can advertise against. Until now they didn't own the news content and had no way of monetizing it.
  • Raffle? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Quiet_Desperation (858215) on Thursday August 09, 2007 @02:56PM (#20173215)
    A raffle on how long before some is called a Nazi?

    I take 2 to 3 milliseconds.
  • It would be better to let anybody comment, then call out the better / authoritative comments. Plus it seems like they will be easily spoofed, leading to some embarrassing moments.
  • All its going to become is a pissing fight just like here on Slashdot. Look at what the doctor says in this example.

    Like it or not food chains are in it for profit. Profit requires marketing stimulate demand. The responsibility for educating the children is 99% the parents' responsibility. I am sick and tired of people abandoning their responsibilities and especiaclly tax funded government intervention. If people managed their personal responsibilities this particular story wouldnt be news in the first pal
  • I run a news site that is indexed by Google News. As much as I'm anti-copyright and for open access to information, this move by Google really bothers me. This commenting feature really crosses the line. If Google is going to allow people to comment on stories from our service outside of our service, I want a cut of the money that Google makes off of using our content for free. This is only fair if Google is allowing people to comment on stories in a way that is outside the control of our website.

    Do no evil? Google is really turning out to be the next Microsoft. Greedy and determined to control everything at any cost.

    This will probably create a flurry of new lawsuits by larger news services.
    • Errr... if this was supposed to be satirical, I think you need to rework it a bit.

      Because you do realize that this is what slashdot, digg, reddit and untold how many other sites are, right? And yes, they run ads, too. The only real difference is that google indexes things with robots, and the other sites use slightly less intelligent methods.
    • by Alsee (515537)
      If Google is going to allow people to comment on stories from our service outside of our service, I want a cut of the money

      Would a 75% cut of the money be satisfactory?

      Yes? Good. Then you can retract your complaints about Google news now. You have already been paid in full.

      -
    • by Kwesadilo (942453)

      I run a news site that is indexed by Google News. As much as I'm anti-copyright and for open access to information, this move by Google really bothers me. This commenting feature really crosses the line. If Google is going to allow people to comment on stories from our service outside of our service, I want a cut of the money that Google makes off of using our content for free. This is only fair if Google is allowing people to comment on stories in a way that is outside the control of our website.

      Do you m

  • Has anybody found a way yet to actually search for the comments which have been posted so far?
  • Well, great. No strong feelings about this, besides I might read Google News now... but all it's recommending are stories about food and fat kids! Quit being evil, Google.
  • by fox1324 (1039892) on Thursday August 09, 2007 @04:23PM (#20174363)
    I know its unpopular to fellate google as much as I'm about to, but a lot of /.ers seem to be missing the mark. This is an interesting move by google, and I predict it will add a lot of value to their news page. Think about the tremendous public service news.google provides; A quick-loading, easy-to-find, free-as-in-beer virtual newspaper...it attempts to neutralize political spin/bias by linking to multiple sources for each story, and by using the web it is capable of pulling from tons of lesser known, local newspapers that you would not otherwise know about/hear from (more sources also helps remove bias). This new addition is a step forward because it attempts to get information straight from the source (those involved in the story), removing the middlemen (remember the 'whipser down the lane' effect?). At the end of the day, all of google's actions seems to be aimed squarely at improving the quality of information available to the public, and making available to them as quickly and easily as possible... and did I mention, for free? This is a huuuggee asset for keeping the general public informed about the state of the nation/world/etc. I know a lot of people think google is the next m$, but google has done nothing to break my trust so far.
    happy 4:20!
  • IMHO this is a good idea. I've often wanted to comment on news stories but, I refuse to register for 10,000 different web sites all over the Net. I may read a news story and have something to offer but, if it involves signing up for Yet Another Free Online Account then I just won't bother.

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