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TECHNOLOGY

Norwegian news site sifts out trolls with quiz for commenters

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.

Norwegian news site sifts out trolls with quiz for commenters
Photo: sergeypeterman/Depositphotos

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].”

NRK

Norway TV flooded with complaints after Eid broadcast

Norway's broadcasting ombudsman has received close to a hundred complaints this week after state broadcaster NRK gave the Muslim Eid celebrations the sort of coverage normally given to Christmas.

Norway TV flooded with complaints after Eid broadcast
The Norwegian journalist Rima Iraki led the Celebration atfer the Fast programme. Photo: NRK
According to Erik Skarrud, the ombudsman's secretary, the organisation received 93 reports after the broadcast of “The Celebration after the Fast” on Sunday night, of which only a handful were positive. 
 
“Someone called it 'propaganda for Islam' and a large number of them used the same sort of expression. There's probably a text somewhere that people are cutting and pasting from,” he told Kampanje magazine.
 
Others complained they “did not want to pay for something that could lead to terror”. 
 
Over 300,000 people tuned in to watch the broadcast, which was helmed by the popular journalist Rima Iraki, the former presenter of NRK's Dagsrevyen news programme. 
 
Eirik Sandberg Ingstad, who led the project, said he felt the experiment, the first such broadcast by a major Western TV channel, had been a huge success. 
 
“We are pretty pleased with it. The response from the audience during and after the broadcast has been overwhelmingly positive, which indicates that we succeeded in creating a party where everyone felt welcome,” he told Kampanje. 
 
 
The controversy prompted Norway's culture minister Abid Raja to write an opinion article, “When can I say 'my Norway'?, on NRK complaining of people's unwillingness to accept Muslim citizens as truly Norwegian. 
 
He said that he himself had fasted on-and-off for Eid all his life, despite “not being the best Muslim in class”, and had found it emotional to see it celebrated by the nation. 
 
“It was a historic event when our public broadcaster, as the first in a western country, dedicated an evening to the celebration of the end of the fast,” he said. 
 
But that feeling had changed to “discomfort” as he learned of the complaints, he said, reminding him of the kind of abuse he received growing up in Norway, and still today as a minister: “You are not a Norwegian. This is not your Norway. Go back where you came from you Muslim bastard, you Paki.”  
 
He said he had always tried not to provoke those who felt only ethnically Norwegian should use the term. 
 
“For many years I lived with a kind of compromise. Instead of calling myself a 'Norwegian', I chose to use the terms 'new Norwegian' or 'brown Norwegian', in an attempt not to provoke people who are put out by me saying 'I am Norwegian',” he wrote.
 
But he said he wanted to change that. 
 
“I was born in Norway, in Oslo, and with the exception of one academic year in Oxford and one working year at the Norwegian Embassy in India, I have lived all my life in Norway,” he said. 
 
“My wife, Nadia, has too. My children are Norwegian. And I want to be buried in Norway when that day comes. From cradle to grave, I am Norwegian.”