AJ was kind enough to follow up on Saturday's post about Deadspin and the Decline of Merit-Based Commenting. I had some open-ended hypothetical questions that he answered, and his take is below.
1. Where are these new commenters going to come from?
AJ: I don't know if it's actually a matter of adding new commenters to replace old ones.It may seem like that at first glance, but the whole "execution" postwas really a way to scatter the herd a little bit, shake things up,and give me a starting point. Once the new system goes into place (anyday now? next week? next month?) the starred commenters will have roles that are truly indicative of their star. I don't know when the original star system went into play. I don't think Leitch does either. It wasn't necessarily a system that either one of us fully supported-- and, frankly, didn't worry about -- but with this new system in place, it was absolutely necessary to take a look at who had stars,etc. It sucks, but sometimes corporatey things suck. We all deal.
2. Instead of (Deadspin) being so myopically focused on comments and commenters, why not take a truly broad look at its community of fans and find a way to increase fan support and monetize that fanaticism?
AJ: I don't know how anyone can really "monetize" fanatacism. That's not really the goal of this. All Gawker sites have always had a standard for comments on the site -- try outs, approvals, etc. -- and since all of the sites have grown that system kind of collapsed under its own weight. The new system will have two-tiers: the starred commenter comments will be the only ones available after the initial click-through button. The non-starred commenters will still be able to comment, but they'll be collapsed. (Readers can still see them if they click a "See all" button or something.) However, starred commenters will now be able to go through and move non-starred comments to the front page. Once everyone gets used to that system (including me and the comment moderators) I think we'll have a better idea of how to employ more comment-of-the-week/starred comment nominees and other ideas to better blend the editorial with the commenting community. Since the whole system hasn't even been launched yet, it's tough to conceptualize a concrete plan for how this will be executed a.) we don't know who will be left b.) who will be added. c.) if people will hate the system and not bother with it. But once it gets going, I do have a plan to rebuild the community. It'll be smaller, sure, but thegoal of this is also to recognize that some of the commenters do enhance a post -- or make a post, in some cases -- and give people a better idea of what we're looking for in a starred commenter.
3. How is Deadspin going to reward its best commenters?
AJ: This was kind of covered above, so that's still a work in progress. But rewards are nice. I like presents. Who doesn't like presents?