From the beginning of the 2016 presidential campaign season to now, ignorant responses to news articles by people who, in many cases, haven’t even read the articles they are responding to, have become as prevalent as the phenomenon of “fake news.”
While not much can be done to combat outraged, misinformed social media posts, many of which are made by people who haven’t even read the content they are sharing, one Norwegian news website is combating comment section trolling by forcing people to actually read and understand news.
Last month, tech site NRKbeta‘s editors announced it would launch a plugin requiring visitors to answer three questions about the story they seek to comment on before being receiving access to the article’s comments forum. Essentially, beyond proving that you are not a robot, you’ll also have to prove that you have some basic understanding of content before commenting.
Much is made of media literacy and fostering a healthy, informed political discourse, but frankly, all of that starts with actually reading past the headline of an article, and reading it for content, crucial context, and sources before spewing comments simply based on one’s preconceived notions of a topic.
On Monday, NRK announced that it would make the code for the plugin available for other new outlets by sharing it via Github, an open internet source. The quiz plugin is now available at WordPress, one of the largest content management systems on the internet.
— NRKbeta (@NRKbeta) March 6, 2017
The NRK quiz module will certainly help to foster more educated conversations on articles, and perhaps even convince people to start reading beyond click-bait titles before ranting and raving. But that being said, there is some criticism of the plugin.
As Death and Taxes points out, it could potentially be interpreted as ableist by barring individuals with reading disabilities, preventing them from comprehending material from participating in online dialogues. In this sense, perhaps the plugin is imperfect, but it might just be a long-awaited breakthrough to promote media literacy.
Featured image via stock.