Through social media outreach and tracking, combined with a sophisticated approach to moderation and community management, plus consistently high-quality, stimulating editorial, the Guardian's Comment is Free is raising the visibility of important debate and is getting people talking about things that matter.
With around 50 posts per day, from an army of writers dotted around the globe, CiF Editors are always on hand to ensure engagement with readers is maintained.
The Comment is Free aim is to provide all sides of the debate and the widest spectrum of opinion that you will find anywhere on the web or in the national press. Cif: bringing "traditional editorial rigour to the future of online citizen journalism"
Particular highlights for the judging year include:
- The launch of three new ‘subsites’ – Cif America, Cif Belief and Liberty Central, enabling even more targeted, involved debate around specific topic areas
- With Ariane Sherine, Comment is Free launched the Atheist bus campaign, raising more than £100,000 to advertise atheism on the sides of buses and which led to an explosion of interest from around the world and a copycat campaign from Christian groups (the site also carried many Christian voices objecting to the campaign)
- Series and debates have also included capitalism in crisis, the third runway (from George Monbiot to Willie Walsh), civil liberties, the war in Gaza and a host of other subjects
Understanding of market
Comment is Free readers and posters want intelligent, topical comment both on the issues of the day and on the broad debates that dominate politics on the centre-left – the content reflects an audience that is both international and diverse.
Its writers are also a diverse group, including professional journalists, politicians, lawyers, bloggers, campaigners, think-tankers, scientists, students, NGO activists, bankers and doctors. All engage in reader discussion, and provide a rich, disparate range of perspectives.
Writers engage in their threads to pick up interesting points and keep the debates fresh and lively; Cif editors provide backup, on hand around the clock to ensure engagement in debate threads.
Readers and commenters are asked every day what they want to read about and comment on. One thread is highlighted daily to showcase the best discussions on the site, links to the best content from across the web are provided, and content is grouped under hot topics so readers can find all related content on each subject easily and quickly.
Evidence of success
In the past year, and especially since a radical redesign in June ‘08, Comment is Free has seen dramatic increases in a number of key metrics:
- The average number of comments on each article has increased by 20% since May 2008
- The quality of comments has improved, too, with more readers, commenters and contributors also taking responsibility for reporting potential community issues
- Inbound links have grown: hundreds of thousands of people are now discussing Comment is Free content on their own blogs, forums and twitter streams, as well as on the site itself
“This editorial team brings traditional editorial rigour and values to the future of online citizen journalism – it rocks!”
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