“Designing the bottom half of the internet” at UX Scotland

I’ll be talking about the design of user comments on news sites at UX Scotland, 20-21 June, in Edinburgh.

There’s nothing I love more about the web than the way that the internet has opened up publishing beyond the elites that used to control the printing presses and the airwaves. And nothing depresses me more than seeing that descend into name-calling, flame wars and personal abuse. And at the end of June I’m going to be talking about that at UX Scotland in Edinburgh.

“In Scotland the Daily Record suspended comments on football articles because of sectarian abuse. The BBC has closed their long-running Archers message-board. The Guardian is embroiled in a war with dissatisfied commenters over a change to their commenting system. Adam Buxton has constructed an entire comedy routine out of reading YouTube comments out loud. The phrase ‘Internet troll’ has become common parlance.

One of the great promises of the web is that it starts conversations, and brings news organisations, journalists and their readers together to provide better story-telling and a more informed view of issues. But so many of our comment systems simply don’t work”

In my talk — “Designing the bottom half of the internet” — I’ll be looking at what I’ve learnt over just about a decade of working with and designing for communities online, with some thoughts about how a different design might help more people find it easier to obey the golden rule — “Don’t be a dick”, and help more journalists find it easier to get involved and draw more value from the experience.

UX Scotland looks like being a great event, and the speakers announced so far are very impressive. I’m really pleased that I’m going to be a part of it, and get to spend a couple of days hanging out in the city that just a few months later will be hosting the first time the EuroIA conference has been held in the UK. Tickets for UX Scotland are available now.

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