Archive of topics from before June 2012. PM a mod to get one reopened.
#74947 ... 09.article

Mail Online, the UK’s most visited newspaper website, is to stop moderating user comments – a move which risks exposing its advertisers and users to inappropriate content.

The website, which attracts 29.4m unique users a month according to the latest ABCE figures, aims to enhance its users’ experience of the site. However, it could open itself up to legal and commercial problems by letting users add comments without moderation.

Allowing user comments online was popularised by newspaper websites and is now used by brands, retailers and even the Government to provide interaction and feedback. The use of pre- and post-moderation of comments is an important safety net to protect brands and site owners from damage.

Mail Online’s move risks creating ad misplacement issues similar to recent incidents when Tesco and Vodafone appeared next to offensive content across Facebook (nma 13 May). The brands appeared beside groups supporting Holocaust denial and controversial far-right party the BNP.

Mail Online, owned by Associated Newspapers, will continue to use an automatic filter that prohibits inappropriate language. But instead of pre- or post-moderation of online comments, as most newspapers use, it will only review comments if they’re reported by users.

James Bromley, MD of Mail Online, said, “We have hundreds of thousands of comments every month. Because of the volume, not all were going up. We want to give people their chance to respond and for it to appear immediately. This improves the user experience.”

Industry specialists have expressed concern about the Mail Online’s move, however.

Rob Marcus, director of moderation provider Chat Moderators, said he was surprised Mail Online felt that relying on users to flag up misuse would be sufficient.

“A swear filter won’t pick up defamation or if the Daily Mail’s brand gets dragged through the mud,” he said. “Also, it could actually harm the user experience because people might abuse each other.”

Mark Trustum, director of ecommerce at Specsavers, which advertises across the Mail’s site, said the brand wouldn’t choose to advertise on a website that contains content that could be controversial.

“Unmoderated user content falls into this category and is a grey area for advertisers,” he said. “It’s vitally important for us to protect our brand reputation and, therefore, as soon as we were made aware of any such content being present alongside our advertising we would immediately ask for our ad to be withdrawn.”

Jenni Convey, head of online marketing at O2, said, “There’s always the risk with user content that our brand advertising may appear next to a comment we may not agree with or like. In the Mail Online example, we would want to understand the controls the media owner is giving to users of the forum so inappropriate content can be reported. If we’re satisfied with the processes then it’s likely we would consider advertising.”

Ben Wood, MD of digital agency Diffiniti, said it wouldn’t place ads beside unmoderated comments. “Advertisers need to be sure they’re in a suitable environment.”

Jack Wallington, senior programmes manager at the Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB), said it was important for media owners to tell agencies if there are unmoderated comments on their sites.

Mail Online is following Express Newspapers’ lead, which stopped moderating on its Daily Express and Daily Star sites over two years ago and relies on users to flag problems.

Farzad Jamal, group internet controller at Express Newspapers, said, “We have post moderation in the form of our users. They’re very good at reporting abuse.”

Express Newspapers also disables comments on legally sensitive stories.

Pete Picton, The Sun’s online editor, said the publisher pre-moderates all comments on stories. “It’s important for legal reasons and for brand protection,” he said.

Jonathan Dickson, associate director at law firm Berwin Leighton Paisner, said publishers need to be aware of the risks. “If it feels it can’t manage the volume of comments, I can see some benefit in just ignoring them and using the ‘we didn’t know it was defamatory’ defence,” he said.

Bromley said Mail Online would not allow legally sensitive stories to be commented on. “We recognise there’s an element of risk but readers will be self-moderating,” he said.
By Uponnothing
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The irony is that advertisers in the above piece are scared that their adverts might be put next to offensive material... they appear on the Daily Mail website for god's sake - how much worse can it get? Their adverts regularly appear next to racism, homophobia, mysogyny etc. As for the comments, they are already appalling precisely because any sense or balance is moderated out in favour of racist, moronic drivel that tows the Daily Mail editorial line.

The unique user figure is just scary because it is such a hate-filled pile of shite.
By JuanTwoThree
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I'm afraid that it won't be fun at all. The whole point of my frequent postings to Mail Online is to undermine the readers' assumption that everybody is like them, to confuse them with facts and confront them with the paradoxes of their ill-thought-out ideas. As well as to have a go at the odious Mail and get some cheap laughs at its expense.

I don't bother with HYS or Comment is Free and the like because they are slightly more genuine arenas for "debate". And so often a shouting match between the ill-informed. My beef is with the Mail because it purports to be a debating arena but really isn't. It doesn't moderate, which would be fair enough, rather it skews the comments to its party line.

"No comments (that we have liked) have been received. Why not be the first to comment (though we will only use it if we like it or don't fully understand it, or don't read it to the end)"

Though it'll be interesting when respectable capitalists (if such people exist) want nothing to do with the outpouring of illiterate bile that will come.
“A swear filter won’t pick up defamation or if the Daily Mail’s brand gets dragged through the mud,” he said. “Also, it could actually harm the user experience because people might abuse each other.”

hasn't this site been draging the Mail through the mud for a good 3 years now?
By bairy
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Uponnothing's take wrote:I wonder how many times the old 'Oh dear the loony-left-liberal-scumbags are out in force today' response will be wheeled out in the face of dissent
This is basically what it's going to be. Members here and the more sane mail readership will get their comments through sure, but they'll be downvoted to death as they are now, and it'll just turn into something like

Bad mail reader: stupid comment
Sane person: facts based on evidence
Bad mail reader: You don't know what you're talking about you self hating empty headed liberal. I bet you work for zanuliebor

Actually thinking about it I think this will let the more insane mail readers further their world-is-shit assumptions even more than now because more sane comments will be red-arrowed.
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aljardi wrote:I posted a perfectly reasonable comment on the DM website today in support of the NHS.

It wasn't posted.
I did too on a none-moderated BBC story. It didn't reflect the Mail anti-BBC stance though. If it's not moderated how did it not get on? There's no way they'll allow a free-for-all as that article implies when they're still moderating none-moderated stories.
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