A group of chinese statues of lions face to the right away from the camera except for one that faces the camera. Photo by MC-Pictures/CC-BY

As we talk to people across the industry, we’re often asked: there are many existing comment platform vendors, who do a great job. What makes you different?

Here’s our answer:

1. We’re not only building a commenting platform.

We’re creating tools for communities around journalism, to encourage and manage a variety of contributions including user-generated content, helping users become journalistic sources, helping journalists identify the knowledge and skills of frequent contributors, and also to encourage user conversation. Comments, or something like them, will be a part of it, but only one part. We don’t treat comments as being isolated from the rest of the journalistic process.

2. We don’t want your data.
Each newsroom owns their own data on their own servers. Nobody else touches it.

3. Cost.
All of our tools are open source and free.

4. Structure.
We’re building small, flexible tools that plug into each other and also work with existing systems. Newsrooms can take the pieces they want, discard the rest. It’s not all or nothing, it’s not a third party solution hosted externally that needs to look and feel different from their existing site, and we’re also designing each tool to interact with what a newsroom is already using – including comment platforms.

5. Openness.
All the code is documented, and because it’s open source, newsrooms can develop their own custom tools based on our work. As, in fact, can comment platform vendors – if some of our code ends up improving existing comment platforms, everyone wins. Hopefully, further open source tools will be developed by newsrooms and the community, as well as by us, to improve everyone’s options.

6. Process.
We’re based in a newsroom, with journalists as part of our team, addressing real newsroom needs first.

7. Our focus.
Thanks to the unique way we’re funded with a grant from the Knight Foundation, we can focus on making tools that address real needs and make sure that user privacy is at their core, without having to make any decisions based on commercial incentives.

8. Our organization.
By being part of Mozilla OpenNews, we’re connected to an open source philosophy that enshrines user control of privacy and data, as well as an existing network of newsroom developers around the world.

That’s how we see it. What do you think? Email andrewl@mozillafoundation.org with your thoughts. (We’ll be opening comments on our blog shortly.)

Photo from MC-Pictures, CC-BY

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