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Norwegian news site sifts out trolls with quiz for commenters

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Norwegian news site sifts out trolls with quiz for commenters
Photo: sergeypeterman/Depositphotos
10:10 CET+01:00
A Norwegian news site has launched a new feature to try to sift out the number of trolls commenting on its articles by having readers take a quiz on the story before they can vent their opinions about it.

NRKbeta, the technology-focused arm of public broadcaster NRK, introduced the experiment last month in a bid to get rid of ill-willed trolls and raise the overall standard of debate in article comment fields. 

“We have updated the quality of our comments section because we want to ensure that everyone who comments has actually read the article in question,” the site wrote about its new feature.

“The aim is that everyone contributing to the comment sections has read the article, and thereby has a better understanding of it, helping ensure that the discussion doesn’t go off-topic,” it said.

The way it works is that prior to being allowed to comment on a story, the reader is required to take a quiz answering three multiple choice questions relating to the content of the article they wish to comment on.

In a recent story about an advanced search engine called Stalkscan.com, for example, the quiz included questions about who developed Stalkscan and what year Facebook launched its Graph search feature.

NRKbeta said the quiz, which went live in mid-February, is the brainchild of one of its staffers, Ståle Grut, who came up with it while having a “showerthought”.

"The aim is that everyone commenting should have read the article and have a common basis for understanding, making it easier to avoid discussions ending up off-topic," NRKbeta said. 

Like other news organisations, NRK had noted that many commenters often appeared not to have read an article "before launching themselves into the comment field party.”

NRKbeta's article explaining the experiment has so far received a total of 59 comments, with readers both applauding and casting doubt on the initiative, while others suggested additional ways of getting rid of the so-called trolls.

One commenter, Rune, said: “Praiseworthy initiative, even though I don’t have enough faith in humanity to believe that debates won't continue to swerve off topic and onto Adolf Hitler, immigration, bad politicians, conspiracy theories, yes to cash, and no to child welfare services etc.”

Another commenter, Keal, said: “I’m a little optimistic and hope this is the way to go. A small trap could be enough to stop those who have a different agenda. Perhaps a few more questions (5) will stop the most determined [of them].”

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