Jalopnik's comments have long stood out amid the illiterate abuse and empty-headed faux-wit of the internet automotiverse. We're going to make sure it stays that way — by putting you in charge. Also, the ability to edit comments. Seriously.
It's been a source of pride for all of us here at Jalopnik that we're known as the place for smart, witty and even thought-provoking car culture-obsessed content. For a long time our comments were of the same caliber. Lately, however, thanks to a 93% growth in readership over the past year, things have gotten a tad juvenile in the comments. Not all of them, but it's clear that, for many, the comments have become less about adding to the story than about the off-topic, the trolling and the inane chattering. Consequently we've found here's two different types of commenters — the type that want to add relevant content to the stories and the kind looking for a social atmosphere to talk to friends, talk about life and in general, just talk. Unfortunately, the second kind is beginning to out-pace the first. No longer. We're aiming to make both easier with our new commenting system. Let's call it Jalopnik Commenting 2.0.
We're going to introduce another level — the power commenter — to the hierarchy. We used to refer to our comment environment as a club — with a velvet rope to keep the riff-raff out on the street. Well, now the club is too busy. Now we need a the equivalent of a VIP room. We'll populate the VIP room by giving special privileges to star commenters. They'll get prominence and space — as will their guests. And — we hope — it will be this salon that sets the tone of discussion.
This doesn't mean you non-starred commenters won't have their place — you will — it's just that place will be where all off-topic comments should be — off the story page. In fact, although we'll have more on it shortly, everyone will get a set of new privileges — like the ability to edit your comments for a short period of time after you've written it as well as the ability to auto-insert images and youtube videos. Yes friends, it's morning in Jalopnik America. Embrace the change.
We've even brought in long-time commenter advocate and Se7en stud Al Navarro to help explain some of the details — as an example of what we mean by "good commenters" who deserve a star and what power those starred commenters will have. Yes, that's correct, the stars are changing roles. Now they'll signify power commenters — so if you want one too, you'll have to up your commenting game. Without further ado, here's Al:
Someone's got to be Minardi
I've been a big fan of Formula One racing since the days of Piquet, Prost, Mansell, and Senna. I remember excitedly reading the race reports in the "buff books" before F1 was commonly televised here in the U.S.
I even remember what I was doing on that dark first day of May 1994. Heading out to have brunch with my parents and future in-laws to celebrate my recent engagement to the most patient woman in the world (TMPWITW, who also goes by the name Laura). As we were leaving our apartment, the race was on the TV - stopped for Ayrton's crash. I said to TMPWITW something to the effect of "He's not moving and they're not getting him out of the car. That can't be a good sign."
Years later, during the reign of Herr Schumacher, I remarked to Laura that I didn't understand why the teams of the perennial back markers even bothered to race. To which TMPWITW uttered, for the first time, the now common (at least in the my household) aphorism "Someone's got to be Minardi".
All of this is a long way of saying that, for the Jalopnik commentariat, it's time for a whole lot of you folks to embrace the role of Minardi.
You see, starting today, there will be two levels of commenters - and commenting.
The people (and not just those sporting stars) who have exhibited their wit, knowledge, general adherence to accepted rules of grammar, and overall good conduct have earned the privilege of having their comments appear front and center on the post pages.
As for the rest of you Minardians, fear not. Your comments will still be posted to the site as they have always been. What's more, there is a possibility that you could jump up to the podium if you play your cards right. (Required reading on playing said cards: "A Commenting Class on Commenting Class"; Jalopnik.com, 30 April 2008.) Because the A-list commenters have the power to promote your comments to the big dance (yes, I know I'm introducing non-car metaphors now), and even recommend you for a star.
Another carrot: Remember that even Minardi F1 itself became Scuderia Toro Rosso not so long ago. Toro Rosso was the launch pad for current F1 wunderkind Sebastian Vettel, who now runs with Dietrich Mateschitz's A-team, Red Bull Racing. And of course, there is the Brawn GP story.
It cuts both ways too, as Featured Commenters who exhibit conduct unbecoming can be demoted to Minardi. The Lewis Hamilton story, as it were. As you were.
FAQs from Gawker HQ:
What comments will display by default on the story page?
Starred commenters will appear by default in the comment thread as Featured Comments. Additionally, any comment that has been promoted by an Editor, Moderator, or Star will appear. Comments are promoted by clicking the thumbs-up icon.
How will comments display?
The most recently started thread will display on top, and earlier threads will be displayed below in reverse chronological order. Within each thread – marked off by a horizontal rule at top and bottom — replies to the first comment will be displayed in chronological order. In other words, the thread will make sense read top to bottom. If the user clicks the "See more" link at the bottom of a thread, the thread will expand to show all approved comments for that thread. If the user clicks the "Show all comments" link at the bottom of the page, the view will expand to show all approved comments for that post. This If the user scrolls to the next or previous page, the comments will again default to the collapsed, filtered view.
How can I become a starred commenter?
Starred commenters are designated by the Editors and Moderators. In the past, Stars were designated by virtue of their popularity among other commenters. That tended to favor the sociable rather than commenters who contributed information to a discussion. Now that Stars' comments are featured so heavily, we need to handpick them. And because we're also featuring the comments to which Stars respond, they must also show judgment in choosing discussions to engage in. Translation: don't respond to trolls.
I'm a Star but I can't see my comment. Why?
Even a Star can be off-topic sometimes. Moderators – rather than applying the rather extreme sanction of banning – can now demote an individual comment. So that's why you can't see it among featured comments. Try clicking on "Show all comments."