Gawker Media is welcoming more than just readers into its Kinja ad-free community; now publishers are signing up and distributing content on the open commenting and blogging platform.
Gawker soft-launched Kinja last January. Since, the company has been aggressively tweaking and adding new tools and features to the platform. Lauren Bertolini, community development manager at Gakwer, implies that the ongoing build-out is centered on keeping the content producer in mind.
"Any user can come in and create a blog and be in publishing," Bertolini says. "They get access to the identical tools we have. What we have been rolling out [recently] is the ability for someone to come in and create a blog, add their own branding and have total control over the content they publish and they can moderate their own discussions."
Also, it’s worth noting that some user-generated blogs on Kinja get as many as a half-million unique visits each month.
From a publisher’s viewpoint, Kinja offer’s more than just another distribution portal, in that community engagement is an endemic characteristic of the platform. And because content is published on the same network as Gawker and all of its verticals, it can be curated and amplified anywhere within the ecosystem. That said, the content still belongs to the authors.
Bertolini says that the ability to curate content is a benefit to Gawker-owned properties, but she also attests that the value for other publishers is in the conversations happening on Kinja. "What we’re really emphasizing [to publishers] is that it’s a place to have a discussion and collaborate with people," she says. "What we would love to be able to provide publishers is a place to have a conversation that they can take ownership of and where they can have users interact with their content. I think the tools we are building for discussion are really bringing out the best from our users."
Some of the tools Bertolini is talking about are features like image and text annotations. FOLIO: reported on Kinja’s front-end image annotations back in April. At that time, users could comment anywhere on an image (pending moderator’s approval). The approved comment was then assigned a corresponding number, which was layered directly over the image. The execution is slicker now. The corresponding numbers are placed below the annotation, while the comment lives below the image.
Text annotation is one of the newest features in trial on a select number of blogs. Users will be able to comment on specific text excerpts, rather than having to cite or summarize at the bottom of the page.
But annotations only scratch the surface in terms of how Gawker is looking to enhance and elevate conversations. Bertolini says several tools and features are either in beta or under development. For instance, developers are working on enabling users to view discussions from his or her own perspective, rather than the author’s. So rather than seeing what the author/moderator has responded to or recommended, users have the option to follow a specific commenter–whether it’s a friend or someone else from within the Kinja network. The idea is to filter the discussions in various ways to build deep dialogues with optimal user experience.
Making it easier to share and curate content is also on Gawker’s project queue. Kinja recently introduced a tool where a user can add on to a post they are sharing. So instead of just sharing a story, now users can write an introduction or a response. Plus when you share content other users can see a list of stories you’ve interacted with, and soon will be able to view them from the commenter’s perspective.
Holistically, Kinja’s evolution has been growing towards "giving users the ability to curate content through their own lens," according to Bertolini. "We really want to create a system where we can have a more transparent experience. As that gets built out other publishers will see the value."