September 25, 2008

Web Anonymity Makes People Nasty – So how do you measure comments?

Posted in A walk on the "dark side", In the news, Social Media at 9:43 am by R

Diana Mapes, an MSNBC contributor, wrote an intriguing article about how the increasing facelessness of communication turns us in to Jecklls and Hydes. This sociological and psychological phenomenon begs the question, how do you measure the comments on blogs and articles in a way that accounts for “online disinhibition effect?”

It’s impossible to write off negative comments completely, because there has to be a grain of truth in those thoughts. But is it accurate to assess those really nasty ones as is? Is it strategic to respond to those comments in action or directly to that person?

I think you have to execute an overall comment analysis to really flush out the tone of the public/reader/viewer’s response and make adjustments to strategy and response based on the comments as a whole.

And what if your client sees these comments and takes offense? What if you are blamed for the reaction to a news item you didn’t write/edit/produce?

Well, that’s why this is good knowledge to have in our PR practitioner tool belt. Knowing that people give wacky, tacky and occasionally true responses via the faceless atmosphere of blogs and news forums, we can advise clients of this phenomenon to explain away some of the angry things people say.

That being said, when there are specific examples left in comments or clear knowledge about the topic, it’s important to use that as a resource to right a wrong or re-direct strategy.

Bottom line: take comments with a grain of salt and evaluate the whole picture. Look at article content and comment content as two separate entities and measure them individually to represent a holistic picture of your work for your client.

~Robyn

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