And the winner is ...
The Times of London won the GEN Guardian Hackdays with their Times Thermometer, designed to filter comments based on sentiment to give an indication of what Times readers think and feel about a particular issue. It solves the problem facing many Times readers that it takes a long time to read and keep track of the threads of debate when there are hundreds of comments.
The thermometer comprises two parts: the dynamic “sentiment indicator” panel at the top of the page, which aggregates ‘the temperature’ of readers sentiment and gives greater visibility to reader opinion, and the sentiment filter next to the comment box, which allows reader to select comments using a slider to give a sense of the breadth of opinions that our readers have (something that's quite distinct).
A special mention was also given to The Guardian team who had a strong project allowing users to self identify as a “subject expert”, an “eye witness” or have “personal experience”.
Haymarket Business Group, The BBC, The Daily Post,The Guardian, The Metro and The Times
Ben Whitelaw, Communities Editor, The Times: “We think this is an original editorial and technological solution to a problem our readers at The Times face every day. It doesn’t alter the way that existing commenters take part in the community but opens it up to the participation of more voices and input.”
Another member of the team, Matthew Robbins, Designer, The Times commented “This has been an incredibly refreshing event! To produce new projects we usually work in big and complicated committees, and to be able to just brainstorm, code and design in a team of 3 persons over two days, working on a great topic, has been a great opportunity! We go actually faster, we work better!”
Sarah Marshall, Technology Editor of Journalism.co.uk and jury member for the GEN Guardian Hackdays said "It was a really tough decision as all teams displayed creative and innovative ideas when re-imagining commenting. We selected The Times Thermometer for its simplicity, the originality of the idea and the ease of implementation."
And Antoine Laurent, Program Director said that “the level of the projects produced was very high, a few could have won these hackdays. But The Times team had a very original approach, with a nice technical solution, quite experimental but easy to test out and implement. And it could solve a big challenge for online publications: how to make sense of the mass of comments posted below the articles?”