New feature: Post comments on news

Oct192009

We’re excited to announce our latest feature: the ability to comment on news items throughout our site.

Now, if you’re viewing a piece of neighborhood news on our site and have more information about it, you can add your observations directly to the page.

Comment threads are pretty common across the Web these days, but we’ve put a different spin on our comment system by tying it into our geographic engine. If you post a comment to a piece of news, obviously the comment will show up on that page — but it will also be published in the local news feeds for that area. For example, this comment was posted to a crime reported on the 5700 block of W. Roosevelt Road in Chicago, which means that the comment was then published in the news feeds for the block, the neighborhood, the ZIP and any custom locations that contain that point. (This is our attempt to tackle an interesting “long tail” problem — our site is so granular that the chances are slim that a large group of people will all view the same piece of information.)

We know that people on the street have more information about news near them than we or our news sources could ever have. We’re hoping that people will use this feature to improve the information on our site, contributing to the collective neighborhood knowledge of a given incident, permit or other such news report.

Over the past week or so, we’ve been quietly rolling out this feature across the EveryBlock cities, and folks have posted some interesting comments already, including a Seattle restaurant owner explaining inspection results, a hospital worker explaining a crime, and various opinions on the news. We’re looking forward to seeing how this feature unfolds.

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