New: Book Report: Design for Community

It's Derek Powazek's 2002 book about making web sites that work well for communities. There were examples of things that worked well, things that didn't. A lot of this material is stuff you get to hear about already. There was one insight, one new way of seeing things that I liked: if you want higher-quality comments from users, your comment form should be less "usable". Your instinct as a web designer is to keep things easy, free, and open. But that ease-of-use also means that a bored 12 year old boy has an easy time posting "yermom" on your site. So if you're getting too much low-quality user input... move the post button to someplace less obvious. Maybe require a sign-in step.

This naturally made me think about Youtube comments, famous for inanity and mean-spirited-ness. Each user "pinned" to a page because he's watching the embedded video. If the video's a couple of minutes long, he's got a ocuple of minutes of half-attention with nothing better to do than write an awful comment. Maybe he should have to jump through more hoops first.

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Posted 2009-12-17