Wednesday, April 21, 2010

A way to improve the commenting system on publications

I was chatting to Rod a few days ago about his visit to CalAcademy for a Plos markup meeting and our disucssion strayed onto the commenting system of publications like Plos and the Biomed Central Journals. I was saying to him that I had left a few comments both as an individual and as a member of the molecular ecology discussion group in the department (not that I can remember the journal or the narture of the comments anymore) and that I had never received a response or feedback from the authors of the manuscript. Additionally, it isn't possible for me to get a list of the comments that I have left. Rod suggested that really what these sites needed was a way
to credit readers and commentors of the articles in a similar way to Disqus. Disqus is great, because all the comments you make on a range of different blogs and sites can all be accessed at Disqus, you can manage them yourself, edit them and delete them. You are in control of what
you have written. You can also see all the responses to your comments. Additionally, you get credits from fellow commentors for the comments and ideas that you put forward. It would be great if you could have the same level of control over the comments you leave on manuscripts at Plos and Biomed Central.
So I wrote a quick email to the guys over at Biomed Central:

I was wondering whether there was a central page I could go to,
to see the comments I have left on manuscripts along with the responses to
those comments. If this doesn't exist, I think it should. Creating a system
of commenting like disqus might encourage more people to comment on articles.
It enables the commentor to keep track of their comments, receive feedback, get rated and thus gives an incentive to comment. You could just enable disqus on your site.

Kind regards,
Joseph Hughes

I got this in reply:

Dear Joseph Hughes
Thank you for contacting BioMed Central.
Readers' Comments are available to view on the right-hand menu of all published articles:
The link below will take you to an example article where a comment has been left, you can access the article by clicking the associated link in the right-hand menu:
If you have any questions please don't hesitate to contact me.

Best wishes
David Roman

Either I was unclear or they just don't get it! In any case, I am very pessimistic about the system of commenting getting any better in the near future.

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