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June 10, 2016, 2:32 p.m.
Audience & Social
LINK: www.theguardian.com  ➚   |   Posted by: Ricardo Bilton   |   June 10, 2016

The Guardian is trying to hack its way into better comments.

Since yesterday, The Guardian has assembled its developers and product managers for another one of its two-day hack events, which it holds every three to six months. This time around, it’s focusing its efforts on comments and figuring out ways to improve them. The “Web We Want Hack Day” is named after the movement that’s, in part, looking to end abuse online and facilitate better discussions among readers.

The hack days have been a successful model for the Guardian. Ophan, the Guardian’s in-house analytics platform was created during a 2011 hack day by then-head of architecture Graham Tackley. So it’s fair to assume that some of these latest hacks could make it onto The Guardian’s site as well.

Here’s a brief look at some of the more promising new ideas from today’s presentations.

Maria Livia Chiorean, a Guardian developer, presented a simple hack that adds social media sharing buttons to comments on Guardian articles.

Developer Gideon Goldberg created a tool that sends readers e-mail alerts when other readers reply to their comments.

–Developers Simon Adcock, Kate Whalen, and Paul Roberts created a feature that introduces “verified commenters,” who would act as surrogate moderators, with special privileges and badges indicating their status.

— One developer created an audio commenting tool, which would let readers record voice responses to articles.

Guardian lead developer Simon Hildrew created a tool called “Setting the Tone,” which lets authors post comments alongside their articles to steer and frame discussions. “Smash the Trolls,” another idea introduced at the event, is an effort with a similar idea.

— Developers demoed a tool that would let readers highlight, tweet, and comment on specific phrases in Guardian articles.

— Developer Roberto Tyley created a tool that forces trolls to donate to charities related to topics like women’s rights, racism, or refugees before they’re able to comment on articles about those topics.

— Guardian readers also contributed some smart ideas to the effort. Commenters on The Guardian’s May post about the hack day suggested features such as a tool that would let readers mute certain commenters, curated comments that appeared alongside article, and a Stack Overflow-like reputation system. One commenter suggested an feature aimed specifically at banned users, whose article comments would only be seen by other banned users

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