NRK uses quiz to starve trolls

Users must answer a brief quiz to make sure they’ve read the article before being allowed to comment

Photo: Screenshot taken on March 3, 2017
The quiz on NRKbeta’s recent story on Stalkscan reads: Would you like to comment? Reply to a quiz from the article! We are concerned with the quality of our comments section. Therefore we want to ensure that anyone who comments has actually read the material. Answer the questions below to unlock the comments. 1) Should you be terrified of Stalkscan? 2) Who has developed Stalkscan? 3) When was Facebook Graph search launched?

Louise Nordström
The Local

A Norwegian news site has launched a new feature to try to sift out the number of trolls commenting on its articles by having readers take a quiz on the story before they can vent their opinions about it.

NRKbeta, the technology-focused arm of public broadcaster NRK, introduced the experiment last month in a bid to get rid of ill-willed trolls and raise the overall standard of debate in article comment fields.

“We have updated the quality of our comments section because we want to ensure that everyone who comments has actually read the article in question,” the site wrote about its new feature.

“The aim is that everyone contributing to the comment sections has read the article, and thereby has a better understanding of it, helping ensure that the discussion doesn’t go off-topic,” it said.

The way it works is that prior to being allowed to comment on a story, the reader is required to take a quiz answering three multiple choice questions relating to the content of the article they wish to comment on.

Image: Sam Fentress / Wikimedia Commons
“Don’t feed the trolls” is common wisdom on the internet, but it’s often unclear how best to starve them. NRKbeta’s quiz may be a partial answer.

In a recent story about an advanced search engine called Stalkscan.com, for example, the quiz included questions about who developed Stalkscan and what year Facebook launched its Graph search feature.

NRKbeta said the quiz, which went live in mid-February, is the brainchild of one of its staffers, Ståle Grut, who came up with it while having a “showerthought.”

Like other news organizations, NRK had noted that many commenters often appeared not to have read an article “before launching themselves into the comment field party.”

NRKbeta’s article explaining the experiment has so far received a total of 59 comments, with readers both applauding and casting doubt on the initiative, while others suggested additional ways of getting rid of the so-called trolls.

One commenter, Rune, said: “Praiseworthy initiative, even though I don’t have enough faith in humanity to believe that debates won’t continue to swerve off topic and onto Adolf Hitler, immigration, bad politicians, conspiracy theories, yes to cash, and no to child welfare services etc.”

Another commenter, Keal, said: “I’m a little optimistic and hope this is the way to go. A small trap could be enough to stop those who have a different agenda. Perhaps a few more questions (5) will stop the most determined.”

This article was originally published on The Local.

It also appeared in the March 10, 2017, issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.

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