theodp writes "This weekend's NY Times is all-about-the-comments. First, Michael Erard recounts the history of Web site comments and explains how their technical origins have shaped the actual commentary we've come to expect as usual today. On dealing with people-behaving-badly, Erard writes, 'Only a few [high-traffic sites] seem to have tried user-moderation systems like the one developed by Slashdot's creator, Rob Malda. Founded in 1997, Slashdot rapidly began to suffer from what Malda called 'signal-to-noise-ratio problems' as tens of thousands of users showed up. Rather than embracing the chaos (which was a hallmark of Usenet, another digital channel of communications) or locking things down with moderators (which e-mail lists did), Malda figured out a way for users to moderate one another. Moderation became like jury duty, something you were called to do.' Next, NY Times community manager Bassey Etim, who oversees 13 comment moderators, offers up his comments on comments, agreeing that 'the comments are where the real America is.' Finally, there's Gawker's next-generation Kinja, which aims to further blur the lines between stories, blog entries, and comments."
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