Category: Social Sector & Higher Education

Substantive Content: Responses over comments

The comments section of any blog or online magazine is a great place to share perspectives or reactions to an author’s content. But too often, I find comments sections either overpopulated with drivel, covered in spam, or totally unengaging. Comments were once a great measure of a piece of substantive content’s success or popularity; now I feel like comments sections are in desperate need of an update. Clearly, the team at feels the same way, and I admire the platform that they’ve developed to address the problem.

Medium, an online forum/magazine focused on the social sector, has a proprietary commenting platform they call ‘Responses’. ‘Responses’ offers a fresh take on how to bring comments back into the realm of the substantive, going one step further than the traditional comments section in the footer by republishing someone’s response as a standalone article on their own stream. Additionally, responses only populate in the footer of the original article if that article’s author recommends them.

Two big benefits come out of this approach. First, it encourages people to submit more meaningful content and thought-provoking responses to articles. Knowing that your two-line quip or superficial gab won’t make the queue unless the publisher finds it helpful encourages more attentive writing (this also aligns with the brand and mission). Second, when there is more thoughtful commenting, Medium turns those responses into contextualized content through republishing. Responses, republished as articles, will increase engagement with the platform and help populate a regular stream of new, compelling content.

I’m excited to see how ‘Responses’ plays out over time—whether it proves a promising approach to stopping the onslaught of annoying comments. And if you haven’t heard about, I encourage you to check it out. It’s a slick platform where anyone can write articles or create their own stream. Plus, I hear the experience of writing and publishing is top-notch.