Redding.com tries gamification to improve comments

Dot matrix display of the Williams pinball gam...

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The Redding Record Searchlight in California has launched a beta gamification or "game dynamics" project that aims to improve the quality of conversation on its newspaper-dot-com site.

It includes badges, points, a beefed up profile and a "leaderboard."

Editor Silas Lyons writes:

I'm particularly excited about some changes to the comment section. We all know comments on the Internet can get out of hand, and Redding.com is no exception. In an effort to deal with this, many other website publishers have tried eliminating comment sections, charging for comments, and the like. There may be a place for that, but we believe in our readers and think a more collaborative approach may work. We'll still moderate comments and play enforcer when needed, but here are some key changes you'll see:

  • A "Mark insightful" button to the left of every comment;
  • A count of the number of times each comment has been marked "insightful"
  • A small badge next to the names of users who have earned sufficient "insightful" votes from the community. The higher the number displayed, the greater that person's reputation.
You have to be a registered user of the site and logged in to see the new features. It's similar to some of the things Huffington Post and others are doing.

Will this improve engagement and conversation? It's a test other E.W. Scripps sites, including The Knoxville News Sentinel, are watching.

As you see from the links below, the topic of gamification has as many  hot buttons, bells and whistles, and flashing lights as a pinball machine.

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