And today, a combined guide and study focused on the area of comment moderation was released by the World Editors' Forum, offering a comprehensive look at the different approaches being taken within newsrooms across the world.
The 80-page document is based on findings from more than 100 news outlets, including some of those leading innovations, 97 of which were said to offer comments on their websites.
It concludes with a series of six "best practices" for publishers keen to improve the comment experience and avoid the implications of a neglected comment thread.
The six pointers include: publishing comment guidelines, recruiting a community manager, getting journalists to engage in comment threads, looking at methods for highlighting quality comments, offering feedback to the community, and ensuring everyone in the newsroom is up to date on the law. Worryingly, the study found "a notable lack of awareness" when it came to comment-related legal issues.
Looking at some of those points in more detail, and the study found that the majority of publishers offer guidelines on use of the commenting facility, and that some of the others "were planning to implement them in the near future".
As for making sure journalists are themselves active in comment threads, this is a piece of advice often shared by community managers, but despite this, the study reports that "few organisations see their journalists frequently entering into conversation with readers".
"Some don’t believe it’s appropriate for journalists to be involved in an area which belongs to the readers," the report adds.
And when it comes to showcasing quality comments, a number of approaches were touched on by the report, with 47 news sites in total said to be doing this in some shape or form, ranging from being able to 'like' a comment, through to editor-awarded badges or points.
Other key findings
The study looked at many different aspects of comment moderation, from pre- and post-moderation, to the decision of when to open comments on a story, as well as which stories tend to yield the most conversation.
It reported that more publishers carry out post-moderation (42), than pre-moderation (38). Others do a combination of both. The study gives the example of Argentinian news outlet La Nación which usually post-moderates, but uses an automatic "keyword filter" to flag up for pre-moderation anything "particularly controversial".
When it comes to deciding to open comments on an article, 61 news outlets said they do so "on all or almost all articles", while others "only allow comments on a small number of articles, or on specific verticals that they think will be particularly appropriate".
The report also found some interesting trends in terms of story subjects.
"It was generally agreed that articles on politics attract far and away the most comments," the report says, "with 53 editors and managers citing these as among those which receive the most comments.
"Next came articles on society issues such as education or crime (13), followed by religion, opinion pieces and sports, which were all cited 12 times."
As well as identifying current approaches, the report also looks at innovations in commenting which could be interesting to look out for as this area continues to develop and evolve.
This includes the ability to link a comment to a specific sentence or paragraph, as you can on Medium and as Quartz recently introduced, as well as moving certain comments next to the body of the article itself, as the New York Times recently tried out with Readers' Perspectives.
The report also looks at ways to offer "wider, focused discussions around specific issues".
"One of the problems with just allowing comments on individual articles is that you might have many different articles on a big topic, and thus the discussion will be fragmented," the report highlights.
Other examples of innovations include "live chats" or the facility to share "reactions as well as comments".