Online commentators that only have the goal of bothering other people may soon find that their goal is harder to achieve. The Norwegian public broadcaster, NRK, has implemented a simple solution: ask commenters if they read the article. NRK has put a short (and easy) quiz on some articles that is about the content of the article itself; if you answer correctly you can comment. If you get the answer wrong you will find you can’t contribute to the comment section.
Forcing users to take a little extra time to think about the comment they’re about to post also helps them think about tone, NRKbeta editor Marius Arnesen said. “If you spend 15 seconds on it, those are maybe 15 seconds that take the edge off the rant mode when people are commenting,” Arnesen said.
NRKbeta is one of the few sections within NRK that actually has a comment section, and the blog’s dedicated readership has built a community in the comments and typically has pretty positive conversations, Grut and Arnesen said.
However, when NRKbeta stories — such as the story on digital surveillance — are placed on the main NRK homepage, they attract readers who aren’t regulars, which can bring down the level of conversation.