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With two posts this morning, Gawker, the bête noir of American online reporting, articulated a new direction for their popular comment section.
The first post described how the new commenting section would work. After starting a discussion, commenters are empowered to approve or deny replies to their original comment and each comment can be isolated to an individual branch.
Users can navigate through comments by the categories of Featured, Latest, and Inbox (which contains personal comment notifications).
The second post, by founder Nick Denton, described the reasons behind Gawker's new anonymous login system, Burner.
Gawker's recent launch of a new design may prove to be one of the worst redesign launches in the history of the internet. It not only sparked an outcry from users, but let to a massive drop in traffic for one of the internet's most popular publishers.
In the face of what can only be described as an online publisher's worst nightmare, Nick Denton, the outspoken head of Gawker, has been unusually silent. Until now.
In an email he sent to staff, he admits that "the transition was definitely more bruising for readers and our own staff than it needed to be" and discusses what is being done to rectify the situation.
The Gawker hack, in particular, has garnered a lot of attention because the hackers seem most interested in humiliating the popular blog. They have released the emails and passwords of more than 1m of Gakwer's registered users.
Publications large and small are looking to the iPad as a way to revolutionize digital content consumption. But one potential flaw in their iPad strategy is the issue of price. Many publishers are charging for their newly revamped mobile products, sometimes prohibitively.
However, many lessons from iPad design apply to products outside the mobile market. The iPad is proof that the presentation and navigation of digital content can be much better. And as Gawker is hoping to prove in the near future, improving the digital experience doesn't have to be a cost passed on to the consumer.
Just yesterday I wrote here about the shift toward less anonymous commenting happening on the web. And today Gawker Media released some interesting numbers proving how weighting reputation has worked as an incentive across their properties.
Last summer, Gawker introduced a tiered commenting system, giving more weight to comments from trusted readers and making it harder for other comments to get noticed. What has Gawker found since then?
Instituting a class system in their comments section has made more readers comment, more often.
In the ongoing battle to win over advertisers, Gawker Media has introduced a new metric to compete with unique visitors and pageviews: branded traffic.
And while tracking the number of people who search your brand may not be the most direct way to pitch audience numbers to advertisers, it does help prove how much leverage your brand has with a core audience. And in Gawker's case, it's an audience figure that's growing faster than uniques or pageviews.
Old media and new media may do battle in the quest for consumer eyeballs but they increasingly have a common foe: malicious ad buyers.
Last month, the New York Times fell victim to a sophisticated scam in which a scammer was able to buy ad inventory directly from the news giant posing as a past buyer of ads on behalf of VoIP company Vonage. The Times had to scramble to locate the malicious ad when legitimate-looking ads were swapped for malware-serving ads.
This weekend, the Washington Post's Ian Shapira detailed in a piece entitled "The Death of Journalism (Gawker Edition)" how the triumph he felt when Gawker blogged about a story he wrote turned into anger after his boss asked him why he wasn't angry that his story had been stolen.
After reviewing Gawker's eight-paragraph post, Shapira came to the same conclusion as his boss: he'd been ripped off.
While other media sites are struggling to increase page views, Gawker's Nick Denton is willing to get traffic the old fashioned way: by paying for it.
Major newspapers are contemplating putting their content behind a pay wall and testing the waters with micropayments, but Denton is committed to making money from free ad-supported content. And to do that, his sites will live and die by their page views.
So far, that's working well for the company. While online ad revenues have fallen on average by 5% this year, revenues at Gawker have increased 35%. To keep that trend going, Denton will return to giving his writers traffic bonuses. He's also reiterated his interest in paying tipsters for traffic earning scoops.
Americans and the British are quite similar, but also quite different. Jokes that make Americans laugh may not make a British person laugh; food that a Brit might love could repulse an American; and so on. It seems the way the two nations consume news online is different, too.
No one knows the silver bullet that will save media companies struggling to survive in today's economy, but more than a few media execs are certain of one thing: there will be a premium on trust. Speaking at IWantMedia's Future of Media: 2009 panel, Nick Denton, Craig Newmark and Jack Dorsey were agreed that success online will increasingly depend on consumer trust. (video here)
According to Newmark, the founder of Craig's List: "Trust is the new black."
This is increasingly a concern for media companies dependent on ads for revenue for a good reason: consumers don't trust advertising.
Welcome to the new blogvertorial. Last week Gawker launched a new blog called BloodCopy, "the blog about vampires by a vampire." Except this site dedicated to all things vampiric is not a Gawker property, it's an ad campaign for the HBO show True Blood.
The copy on the site is not marked as advertising, and is written from the point of view of a vampire. Entries from the blog will be syndicated to Gawker's Media's eight properties, including Jezebel, Gizmodo, and Kotaku. The posts will have a gray border, but look otherwise just like Gawker posts written by staff members (save for the vampire obsession).