“Denton said his sites are planning to post some stories that allow only a hand-picked, pre-approved group of people to comment on them. That, he said, would make the comment section an extension of the story and allow people … to have their say without fear of being piled onto by others.
“‘I think it’s part of the answer,’ he said. ‘What I want is, I want the sources — I want the experts to be able to comment in these discussions.’”
Liz Gannes at All Things Digital has more details:
“[Gawker] aims to recruit commenters to elevate the level of discussion on its blogs by segmenting them and giving them moderation tools.
“So the first person to leave a comment on a Gawker network post will now be in charge of policing the thread of commenters who reply, maintaining a high level of discussion and recruiting other voices to participate and bring more page-views. And there will be multiple comment moderators and threads per post.”
A Storify produced by Mat Honan of Gizmodo compiles tweets from the discussion, some of which indicate that Gawker also is working on a fractional commenting system, which allows discussion on pieces of an article rather than the whole thing.
Now, if you’re suspicious of “hand-picked” and “pre-approved” commenters, or the idea that the first to comment dictates the terms of the conversation, I’m right there with you. However, on whole, I think this is a smart move. There should be individuals more invested in moderation and guiding the conversation. There should be more of an effort to make comments a quality extension of the story. The challenge is in the execution.
We’ll be keeping an eye on the development of Gawker’s new system.