Over the past decades, political conversations have gradually shifted from meaningful face-to-face interactions to seemingly unending Facebook comment threads. To combat the negative effects of those all-too-familiar heated online interactions,
Norway’s national news agency, NRK, has decided to implement a new comment-regulating software to cool down the tenor of political conversation.
Consisting of a simple three-question quiz that commenters must answer before spewing their thoughts, this digital initiative ensures that commenters have truly read the article that is being discussed. The new commenting policy also has a secondary goal: to make sure that readers take a few seconds to reflect on what they have read prior to providing their opinion. “Hopefully, it’ll contribute to people making a bit of time to think about what they’re going to write before they do it because it’s sort of a speed bump before you get into the typing,” explained NRK’s Stale Grut during a recent interview with the CBC. By having individuals process their reactions before creating comments, the news agency hopes that online discussions will become more of a civil discourse.
Although NRK’s policy only applies to comments that are made on the news group’s website, other websites may be well advised to follow their lead. In 2014, as an April Fools joke, NPR posted a link to a news story on their Facebook page. When readers clicked on the link, it led them to a page with no story, just a simple instruction: “If you are reading this, please like this post and do not comment on it. Then let’s see what people have to say about this ‘story.’” As of this week, the “story” has roughly 38,000 comments on Facebook.
While the Hill News has yet to alter its comment policy, other North Country news outlets have adjusted their website discussion boards to decrease online comment confrontations.
North Country Public Radio has disabled comments on some of the articles that are posted on their website. For these articles, NCPR directs commenters to make their voices heard on the news organization’s Facebook page.
With a rise of heated online conversations, Norway’s new system may serve as a model for news agencies throughout the nation.
Although this system would not unite America’s deeply divided political views, it may be the perfect tool to help us realize that there is, in fact, another human on the other side of your keyboard.