The socialMedia are obsessed with with clicks and eyeballs. The socialMedia are very effective at producing large volumes of loud-volume participation.  This BigShallowNumbers behavior often results in trigger-happy reactions which are not based on knowledge of what’s being discussed.  Twittery, facile labels and a fascination with provocative imagery fuel the process.

It can be exasperating.

Is there an alternative?

“News Site Makes Readers Answer Questions to Prove They Understand Story Before Posting Comments

People trying to comment on articles will now be forced to prove they understand what it’s about.

That’s at least at Norwegian broadcaster NRK’s website, which will present people who want to leave comments with a quiz that asks them about what the story is actually about.

The creators of the quiz hope that asking people the questions will make sure that everyone on the comment actually understands it.”


Radical concept. Think it’ll catch on?

I posted the reference to this story on LinkedIn

… and it sparked an interesting exchange:

So, article says one thing. Quiz says “article says something else and if you don’t agree, we won’t let you speak.”

John Vaughan>… as. can. anything.

Vaughan’s Law: “Anything – anything at all – can be done badly.

Note:  The issue is not whether you agree with the content of an article.  It’s whether you actually comprehend the content of the article.

“The creators of the tool … hope that it will ensure that everyone knows what they’re talking about before they actually start talking about it.” — from the article

Well, as a QA (ed: Quality Assurance) guy, I want to make sure that “can be done badly” is not happening. Process improvement is needed. So how to make sure it is “not done badly” so the abuse doesn’t happen?

John Vaughan> Agreed. As a UX Guy (who is old enough to know that the roots of usability lie in QA) I know what you say. However ….

We’re talking about human behavior. In this case, ‘sloppiness’. You and I can design an excellent app/article – but we can’t ensure the ‘process’ of those who mis-use/mis-read it. Especially when we KNOW that the twittery socialMedia are particularly prone to abuse-as-a-result-of-emotional-laziness.

Well, actually this simple, relatively unobtrusive method (the quiz) is a fairly sensible, easy-to-implement, and practically effective method for getting people to self-police their impulsive stupidity. A little, at least.

In any case, haven’t seen anything cheaper, simpler, or better just yet.

 I don’t think it will catch on – they can just expect content reading or rather – viewing – to drop off.

John Vaughan>But will we miss those people who click-but don’t-actually-read? Not all of us are fascinated or seduced by BigShallowNumbers.

Seems to me that NRK is doing some due diligence in terms of actually ‘qualifying” their participants. Even marketeers understand the value of creating valued engagement … beyond just counting up the page ‘hits’.

I don’t think it makes sense for article comments, but I’ve always thought this should be implemented for elections/referendums. Seems logical to make sure people actually know what they’re voting on!

John Vaughan> Apparently the folks at NRK think it makes sense, as do a number of people with whom I’ve spoken on the topic. They are – like me (and possibly you, too?) – getting a little fed up with the lazy, sloppy behavior that is rampant and (let’s admit it) encouraged by many of the socialNet platforms.

That said, I agree that employing this technique at the polling booth has value, though it’s awkward to implement. Can you imagine the delays?

Observation: “attention vetting” like this goes a long way towards solving your polling booth challenge in the first place. I’ll propose that NRK’s technique results in a far better-informed electorate.


I believe that this is a topic which may “have legs”.  Stay tuned …


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