Medium makes Responses the default comment tool, adds new troll controls

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Publishing platform Medium is rolling out new ways to better manage conversations while also protecting authors from trolling. Starting today, all Notes are now private, meaning that if you want to publicly respond to an article, you’ll have to use the recently launched Responses offering. Additionally, to keep discussions and the exchange of ideas “moving forward”, there are new controls in place to hide certain responses from appearing front and center.

Earlier this month, Medium launched its Responses feature, which has essentially become its version of commenting. But it not entirely like the standard format like you’d encounter with Disqus or Facebook. Rather, it’s a part of the context, which means that not only will your responses appear at the bottom, but authors will know specifically what you’re referring to. What’s more, those responses spawn new articles to offer people to share new perspectives on a particular topic.

That’s all public.

But there is a Notes feature too, but now that’s not public. In fact, according to Greg Gueldner who works on user happiness at Medium, a “very low percentage of Notes were ever made public, and were restricted by the participation of the original author.” Another problem with this tool is that Notes have a limit on characters that can be used — Responses don’t have this restriction.

How to leave a private note on Medium.

Above: How to leave a private note on Medium.

So now when Notes are used, they’re treated more like direct messages. Authors will receive a notification when a Note is sent to them and they can be replied to just like in any private conversation.

As Medium tries to pursue this dream of having a space dedicated towards fostering ideas and dialogue, ensuring that there was a way to limit the impact of “trolls” was important for the company. That’s why there are new controls to restrict these messages from surfacing to the top of a collection of responses. There are new rules that dictate the visibility of both quote responses and regular responses…

  • If someone you follow writes or recommends a response, you will see it at the bottom of the post.
  • If the original author writes or recommends a response, you will see it at the bottom of the post.
  • All other responses are behind the “Show more” button.
  • If the original author blocks the author of a response, it will not be shown at the bottom of the post or behind the “Show more” button, regardless of whether you follow the blocked author or not.

So based on the above rules, it appears that Medium is granting some pretty granular editorial control to authors to dictate whether the content or its creator is instigating trouble or participating in a fruitful discussion.

Gueldner reiterates that if users find that a response or a post violates any of the rules on Medium, it can quickly be flagged for someone on the team to review it.

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