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Gawker’s New Commenting System Has Some Writers Worried

It seems like at least once per month we’re writing about Gawker Media’s commenters or its commenting systems. The latest development is something concerning the latter. As The New York Observer notes, Gawker Media is rolling out a new form for commenting, called “Kinja.”

If Kinja works right, it will make writers secondary:

Bloggers trained to fear, ignore or disdain the commenters now have a mandate to engage with them, a job that is equal parts forum moderator, lifeguard and whipping boy. Or become obsolete.

Asked if Kinja, in its fully realized form, even required writers, Mr. [Nick] Denton replied, ‘As long as readers want to see discussions in which our staff writers participate, we’ll have staff writers.”

Not especially reassuring news for his editorial employees, who are fretting that those who fail to adapt will be fired.

Giving power to commenters sounds like a horrible idea, and even some of Gawker’s writers understand this. Hamilton Nolan explained that some of the site’s best commenters have fled already, thus opening up a world full of idiots:

‘It’s not annoying if there are smart commenters, but it is annoying if there’s nothing but dumb commenters,’ Mr. Nolan wrote in an email message. ‘And a lot of the smart commenters were chased off by our various redesigns. Hopefully they come back.’

While Kinja sounds a bit scary, A.J. Daulerio, Gawker’s editor, might have the best coping mechanism: Patience. “I’ve worked at Gawker long enough to know that the best way to be is to be patient,” he told the Observer.

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