Our research

It's where it all starts

User-Centered Research

Everything we do is centered around users. We’ve talked to more than 350 people from 150 newsrooms in 30 countries. We’ve talked to frequent commenters, trolls, people who have been harassed out of the comments, and people who never comment.

We conducted a survey on journalism and harassment. We brought commenters and college students into newsrooms, and community activists into universities. We crafted user personas and aggregated needs to develop our roadmap and inform our decisions. Here you can read the results of our work.

Commenter Study

Read a behavioral study of commenters and their needs

User Personas

Our User Personas guide us in all the work we do

Moderator Study

Read an in-depth analysis of moderator styles, based on interviews with Talk community managers

Cards Against Community

Play our free card game, encouraging discussion around community tools

Audience Needs

See our aggregate list of audience needs from our early research

Academic Studies

We frequently work with academics and other institutions to learn more about online communities and how to make them more productive and inclusive. If you’re interested in collaborating with us on a future study, get in touch.

Marginalized Voices Study

A study on women of color and gender non-binary people of color in comment spaces, conducted by Prof Meredith Clark

Women in Comment Spaces

A study of women in comment spaces by Marie Tessier, fellow at the University of Missouri

The Real Name Fallacy

A review of the effects of real names in online communities by J. Nathan Matias, a researcher at MIT

Commenter Survey

One of the largest-ever surveys of commenters, centered on 20 different news organizations, by The Center for Media Engagement

Research into Comment Quality Scores

An examination of different formulae to score comments by Francis Tseng, former OpenNews Fellow

Artificial Moderation

An informal literature review of moderation studies by Nicholas Diakopoulos of the University of Maryland

Events & Workshops

We host events to inform and improve our work, running workshops and discussions about what we do. We also hold gatherings in newsrooms, colleges, and at events around the world. Tell us if you’d like to host an event with us.

Previous workshops/sessions include: United Nations Alliance of Civilizations, SRCCON, World Editor’s Forum, Internet Freedom Festival, Online News Association Conference, MozFest, People-Powered Publishing, Newsgeist, Association for Alternative News Media, SXSW, The Engagement Summit, SND Makes, Community Managers Meetup, Taking Back the News, FOO Camp, ReporterForum, BarCamp, MediaParty, International Journalism Festival, National Press Foundation, Newspaper Association of America, Media Law Resource Center Forum, NEO Media Lab in Buenos Aires, Media Learning Seminar, Internet Governance Forum, Al Neuharth Free Spirit and Journalism Conference, Poynter Annotation Summit, Digital Journalism World, NICAR, Hacks/Hackers New York and London, gatherings for students at Boston colleges, Howard University, the New School, various newsrooms.

Beyond Comments

A discussion of our event ‘Beyond Comments: Building Better Conversations’, held jointly with MIT Media Lab

More Than Commenting

The results of our session at the Association for Alternative News Media

Communities of Data Hackathon

The results of our hackathon, ‘Communities of Data’, held jointly with The Washington Post

Get Back Your Communities

A talk from our Project Lead at the Digital Innovators' Summit in Berlin


We commission articles from experts on community management and technology, and publish them as part of a practical series of guides around community and engagement for newsrooms. They’re all free and available on a Creative Commons license to translate, adapt, share.

Start Here

A series of guides outlining the basics of community creation and management

How to Engage

An in-depth guide for journalists on how to interact with readers in the comments

Support Your Moderators

Comment moderation can be a thankless task. This guide outlines the emotional labor involved, and explains how to support your team

Case Studies

A series of best practices and personal stories about successful online communities

How to Use Forms Effectively

A detailed guide to asking your community for expertise and assistance

More Reading

A selection of books and other sites filled with insightful information