Comment 56735

By geoff's two cents (registered) | Posted January 17, 2011 at 20:31:43

@ Pxtl - "I'm not fond of registration-only, but I'm not adminning the site. Better to have passer-byes be encouraged to join the conversation, even if most of those passer-byes are straight from the jerk store."

I agree with the importance of attracting new readers, who in turn would likely register at a later date on their own accord. My proposal: How about retaining the up/down-voting system but adding a profile management option whereby you can restrict what's visible to registered-only comments?

The up/down-voting system, ironically enough, already functions somewhat like a defacto registration system, as some commentators - perhaps those formerly seen as trolls who then try to genuinely engage a conversation topic but find themselves automatically downvoted - can undoubtedly attest to. The voting system is a popularity contest at worst but also at best an incentive to write quality, engaging posts on a consistent basis. I think it should be retained.

Another reason it should be retained: I think of the voting system as a helpful indicator of where Hamiltonian popular opinion stands on key issues (city development, transportation, arts) for the 18-35 year-old age bracket (there are of course exceptions to this age bracket). As for the sites which limit commentary to registrants only (and there are lots of these), it's easy to see them as an insiders-only club, less relevant to the average layman, hardly indicative of larger community trends, and with extremely limited relevance to any truly inclusive notion of community-building, which is I think the most important quality that sets RTH apart from the crowd, and which has also made it such a crucial rallying-point for important community issues - stadium, the art crawl, LRT, etc.

The voting system allows for a sense of what people actually think on key issues without restricting this opportunity to shape the contours of a debate to those who have the time to write (thoughtfully or trollingly) at length, as with mainstream newspaper sites - for which it's almost impossible to tell the extent to which an inflammatory article is actually written to enrage people in the hopes of selling papers or whether it faithfully reflects the mind-set of its readership. The voting system, in contrast, enables the average, too-busy-to-write person to give their two cents in a way that encourages them to do so regularly.

In my proposed two-tier schema of allowing registrants to up/down-vote, leaving commentary open to everyone, but enabling registered RTHers the option of blocking out unregistered commentary, the average Joe or Jill could, after bringing up RTH using a random web search, still come away with a snapshot of where public opinion is at on a particular issue - while registered users have the opportunity to limit the circle of those they engage with if they choose to do so.

Comment edited by geoff's two cents on 2011-01-17 20:35:57

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