Michael Cosentino over at the International Herald Tribune's Developer Blog shares some of his thoughts about comment sections on news sites — a topic that we cover in our newspaper study.  In his post titled "How are visitors using comments?" he shares some of the issues that he and his team have mulled over as they upgrade the comment section on their site. 

His post focuses on three main points that are crucial to successful comment sections: location, topic selection, and lead-off questions. 

I personally liked his discussion of the editorial side of managing comments.  On one hand his site wants to present topics that many site visitors would have something to contribute, but just because people would talk about the latest exploits of a celebrity, that doesn't make it suitable for every news site.  On the other hand, a site shouldn't select topics that are so esoteric — like seventh century underwater basket weaving — that most of the visitors would have nothing, nor desire, to say.  Editorial decisions must achieve an interesting balance.

Granted, what works for the IHT will not work for other news sites, but this post is valuable since Cosentino shares several factors to consider when designing community features of a site.

Hat Tip: Kevin Anderson at Strange Attractor