No difference between alias and real name with Ifrågasätt

By | Insights

Deleted comments, real names and aliasesIfrågasätt removes about 1-2 percent of the comments that are published each month.

Since Ifrågasätt launched the commenting service in August 2017, the share of comments being removed written using an alias or real name have fluctuated, but during the past year it has stabilised at about 50 percent. This has been expected since Ifrågasätt knows who the users are, regardless of whether they comment using an alias or using their real name. The reason for using an alias is therefore not because the users think that they are anonymous and kan break the user guidelines without consequences, but that the user for some reason is not comfortable with showing their real name to the world.

About to thirds of the comments that are deleted break Ifrågasätts guidelines (for example that they are off topic or are demeaning to other people). A quarter of the comments that are removed are removed because of technical reasons, for example if they have been published prematurely, are duplicates of already published comments, or that they are published beneath the wrong article. The rest (about nine percent) is removed by the user (which can be done within ten minutes after publication if no reply has been published by then).

About half of the commentators use an alias

By | Insights

Share of users who comment using an aliasWith Ifrågasätt’s commenting service you can create and comment using an alias instead of your own name. But it is up to each website to decide if an alias can be used to comment a specific article. The diagram shows the share of users who use an alias to comment, when an alias can be used to comment. As you can see, about a third of the users used an alias when we launched the commenting service, but when the service had been running for about a year the alias usage stabilised around 50 percent. In addition, some of the users who use an alias has an alias that is close to their real name, like a nickname. Ifrågasätt knows the identity of our users, regardless of whether they comment using an alias or their own name. That is one of the reasons that the quality of the comments published using an alias is just as high as comments published using a real name.

Some commenters have contacted us and telling us that everyone should use their real name, and that aliases should not be allowed. About the same amount of users have contacted us and think, contrariwise, that everyone should be forced to use an alias instead of their real name, because of privacy reasons. It’s hard to, at the same time at least, make everyone happy, but we think that we have found a balance between transparency and privacy.

Ifrågasätt launches in Norway

By | News

During August the Norwegian newspaper Adresseavisen will launch a test using Ifrågasätt’s commenting service on its website Adresseavisen is the largest of over 30 newspapers in the Polaris Media group.

– The contact with our readers, and creating an open discussion about our journalistic work, is important to us. We’re seeing several news websites closing their commenting sections. We want to do the opposite and try to find new solutions that we hope can improve and increase the quality of the debates. Ifrågasätt has a really interesting service that we hope can lead to less problems with trolls and hate speech, says Christer S. Johnsen, head of editorial development at Adresseavisen.

With Adresseavisen Norway becomes the first international launch of Ifrågasätt, but more are already planned. The launch in Norway therefore becomes proof that Ifrågasätt’s services are ready to expand internationally.

– After proving our solution on the Swedish market and seeing how reading time, page views and the quality of comments increase, Adresseavisen becomes the first step in our international journey, says Gustav Hjärn, CEO and founder of Ifrågasätt. I’m of course very happy to see Adresseavisen, being part of a prosperous media group and one of the five largest newspapers in Norway, choose Ifrågasätt.

Many newspapers in Norway have shut down the possibility to comment on news due to problems with hate speech and harassment, according to Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism’s Digital News Report 2019. According to the report more than one in six news readers in Norway comments on news in some way, either via social media or on news sites that still offers a commenting service.

1 in 5 Swedes comments on news

By | Insights, Suggested reading

The Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism recently published its Digital News Report 2019, with “insights about digital news consumption based on a YouGov survey of over 75,000 online news consumers in 38 countries”. The report shows a lot of similarities and differences between primarily European countries, but a few Asian and American countries (and South Africa) are also covered.

For Sweden, one of the interesting numbers are that 19 percent of the respondents comment on news via social media or other websites. This means that at least about a fifth of the readers of a news website probably want to discuss the articles they are reading. This shows some of the potential for user engagement that could be gained by using Ifrågasätt.

Digiday article about Ifrågasätt

By | Suggested reading

The online media site Digiday recently published an article covering parts of Ifrågasätt’s work. It also mentions how The Wall Street Journal and The Times of London work with user engagement and comments.

“One publisher looked at 10 of their most-commented-upon articles and found the average reading time was 25% higher than articles of a similar length, according to [Ifrågasätt CEO Gustav] Hjärn. Typically, opinion articles by editorial columnists have a lot of comments. On average, 90% of these articles have comments, and on average 50% of human-interest feature articles have comments, he added.”

‘Growing the number isn’t always the key’: How publishers approach comment strategies

Austria proposes online forum ID law

By | Insights

This article is an editorial written by Ifrågasätt’s Head of Communications, Johan Folin.

On April 10 the Austrian Federal Government put forward a proposal regarding identification of users of online social forums. Gernot Blümel, minister within the Federal Chancellery for the EU, Arts, Culture and Media, motivated the proposal saying that “[t]he legal requirements that are valid in the analog world must also be valid in the digital world”.

It is easy to understand why this proposal has been made. Acts of hate, cyberbullying and defamation are frequent online. They are not only annoying and hurtful; they are often crimes. And as such, the Austrian government wants to do something about it. This is something. But it should not be done.

I work for Ifrågasätt, a Swedish IT/Media company focused on reader engagement and loyalty for, primarily, online newspapers and magazines. Our most wide-spread product is a commenting service used by some of the Nordics’ largest newspapers. Among them are Sweden’s largest daily Dagens Nyheter; the largest business newspaper in the Nordic countries, Dagens industri; and the largest regional newspaper in Sweden, Göteborgs-Posten.Ifrågasätt is a one-stop-shop for our partners, and Ifrågasätt does everything from developing, maintenance and moderation for them. Our solution gives the readers an opportunity to interact with each other and with journalists and other writers, and also increases reading time and the number of returning visitors. That is why we have quickly gained traction with serious publishers who want to connect with their readers.

Ifrågasätt creates friendly arenas for discussion.

One of the components of the commenting service is identification of our users. People can use an alias when commenting, but they register using their real name. Ifrågasätt is therefore already (mostly, anyway) compliant with the intentions of the Austrian proposal. Shouldn’t we welcome it? No, we shouldn’t. There is a huge difference between a law and a business solution. At Ifrågasätt we analysed the problems with cyberbullying and hate speech and came to the conclusion that using real names in our registration process would encourage people to behave better than they otherwise would. It also means, even though we only hand over information to the police (and only the police) when a crime is being investigated, that some people will not feel comfortable creating an account with us. Furthermore, our method helps us weed out bots and trolls, making our platform a nicer place for our users to interact with other – real – users. This is a business decision made to try and balance our customers’ (primarily newspapers and magazines) and our users’ interests.

If our users are confident that we follow our own policies and our customers are satisfied with the quality of the comments on our platform, then we have succeeded. But the important part here is that these are all voluntary decisions. Each newspaper or magazine decides if they want to use our solution and create an arena for their readers to debate on, and each reader decides if they want to create an account and debate using their real name. If the newspaper decides on a different solution, or if a potential user decides to spend their time on a different forum, they always have that as an alternative. Unless mandatory ID checks of forum users are signed into law. We believe media companies want to take responsibility for the debate climate on their websites, at least since not doing it damages their brands in the end. That is one of the reasons why most newspapers shut down their commenting sections a couple of years ago, and it is one of the reasons why newspapers are leaving Facebook. Publishers want debate and discussion, but they need the right tools for it.

Ifrågasätt shares the the Austrian government’s goal of combatting hate speech and trolls, but the proposed law is not the right way to do it.

There are also questions regarding compliance with the EU E-commerce directive if the proposal is adopted. Is the proposal a too large limitation on the legal protection on freedom of expression? Is the proposal infringing on the regulations and freedoms of the EU inner market?

Even if the proposal is compliant with EU regulations and the government has decided that Austrian citizens should not be able to be anonymous when they discuss things online, there are still more issues. If an Austrian IT company launches a web service aimed at both Austrian citizens and foreigners, how should the rules be applied? Will the Austrian IT company be held accountable if they have not identified every user, regardless of their nationality and the possibilities for a private – foreign – company to do so?

And vice versa, how will the rules apply to a foreign company that either is or is not targeting Austrian citizens? Will the Austrian government try to enforce the law against a German company that is focused on the German market, but just happens to have more than 100,000 (which is one of the proposed thresholds for the application of the law) Austrian users? If Austria wants to participate in the European or global markets, it should be wary of adopting laws that make the possibilities of creating services for Austrian citizens uncertain and difficult for both Austrian and foreign companies. Furthermore, the proposed law can shut out working solutions to problems with hate speech etc. that do not fulfil the requirements of the law. Our solution will, or will with some adaptions, meet the requirements stipulated in the proposal, but there might other well-functioning solutions that won’t.

The appraisal period lasts until May 23. I hope that the assessment after the consideration of expert opinions and those of the interested parties will be that this proposal should not be adopted.

The Swedish Association for Senior Citizens in partnership with Ifrågasätt

By | News

The readers of SPF Seniorerna’s – The Swedish Association for Senior Citizens – magazine Senioren, currently about 250,000 people, can now discuss news, feature articles and other articles on with Ifrågasätt’s commenting service.

– Our readers are very engaged and hungry for debates, especially when it comes to news and political ideas that concern them. But they also like to discuss everything from food and gardening to travels and fashion. It feels good that we can offer them a safe forum together with Ifrågasätt, says Kristina Adolfsson, editor-in-chief of Senioren.

About twenty newspapers are already using Ifrågasätt, and for many of the readers of Senioren this means they can use the same user account to debate on that they already use to comment articles on their local newspaper’s website. Senioren is the first paper that is not a daily newspaper that uses Ifrågasätt’s services.

– That Senioren is using Ifrågasätt’s services is a step forward in Ifrågasätt’s work in widening our offer to our users, says Gustav Hjärn, CEO and founder of Ifrågasätt. Until recently we have only focused on daily newspapers, and this is the first step to broaden our services to magazines and more interest-focused papers.

DirektPress switches to Ifrågasätt

By | News

The commenting and discussion opportunities increase when DirektPress’s sites StockholmDirekt and GöteborgDirekt replaces Disqus with Ifrågasätt’s commenting service. The launch takes place today, November 5th.

Hampus Jarnlo, managing editor of StockholmDirekt.

Hampus Jarnlo, managing editor of StockholmDirekt.

– The commenting section is an important part of our local news reporting, but the comments have not always come into their own on StockholmDirekt. Ifrågasätt have proven that they can create a better climate of dialogue and thereby increase the value of our readers’ input, views and expertise. We’re looking forward to this new cooperation and are convinced that it will improve our products – both the site StockholmDirekt and other editions of DirektPress’ newspapers, says Hampus Jarnlo, managing editor for StockholmDirekt.

With DirektPress as a partner for Ifrågasätt synergies with Ifrågasätt’s other partners increase, and the benefits of using Ifrågasätt will be greater, since Ifrågasätt’s users can use the same user account to comment on DirektPress as they do on the rest of all Ifrågasätt-using sites.

Gustav Hjärn, CEO and founder of Ifrågasätt.

– We think local news reports are really important, and we believe more engagement from visitors and closer dialogue between readers and journalists will lead to both better news reporting and increased confidence in media. Ifrågasätt wants to play a key role in that process, says Gustav Hjärn, CEO and founder of Ifrågasätt.

Ifrågasätt delivers a commenting platform for media sites that enables flexible and convenient interaction between readers of digital news media while at the same time combating hate speech and cyber bullies. With Ifrågasätt’s algorithms and moderation tools Ifrågasätt is encouraging a fact-based and transparent debate and decorum. Visitors staying longer and returning more often give the sites more opportunities for increased revenue. Ifrågasätt is used on several Swedish news sites. In addition to DirektPress, Ifrågasätt is used on, amongst others, Dagens Nyheter’s, Göteborgs-Posten’s and Dagens industri’s websites, and more are coming.