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Should I leave a comment on TED.com? A commenting manifesto

Posted by: Morton Bast

Commenting

You’ve just watched a TED Talk, and now you have some thoughts — about the subject, about the speaker, about life.

In the world of TED ideas, those reflections and reactions are some of our most important resources. Yet, for every 1,000 views on TED.com, only 1 viewer writes a comment in the space below the video. Perhaps the other 999 viewers had nothing to say? Somehow we doubt it.

What can a great talk comment do? It can provide more information, suggest an argument to the contrary, explain a personal connection to the subject matter — among other things. (See some of our favorite comments of 2012.) It’s also a great way to help us understand the impact that individual talks are having: A video share tells us it interested you, but a comment can tell us why.

If you’d like to start commenting, we’d love to hear from you! But before you hit submit, we’d like to let you in on a little-known secret: We do enforce the TED.com Terms of Use for comments. To guarantee that your comment will find a permanent home on the site, please keep in mind these three basic guidelines.

1. Civility. All the bold font in the world couldn’t stress this one enough. If you have even a nagging suspicion that your comment will come off as nasty and sarcastic, it probably will. We understand that some talks inspire very strong emotions, but a polite, well-worded argument communicates more effectively than rudeness — any day.

If your comment crosses the line, our moderation team will remove it and send you an email. Don’t be discouraged — just take a step back and try again. We’re not out to get you; we’re just trying to keep the discussion respectful. If you want more information, we’re always happy to talk to you about what did and didn’t work.

2. Substance
. Whether you’re lavishing praise or expressing your disagreement, the more specific the better. The best comments, both negative and positive, are those which add new levels of meaning to the talk. If possible, please try to limit the number of posts you leave on a single talk — a large number of comments from one person can be mistaken for spam.

And, of course, comments should be about the talk itself. If a TED Talk has inspired you to discuss a different but related topic, you can start a TED Conversation and let others know by tagging the talk.

3. Style
. Natural writer or not, native English speaker or not, please take a moment to proofread. If you’re more comfortable leaving the comment in a different language, go right ahead! We want to make sure that comments reflect the very best of the commenter, and that others who read your comment know just what you’re saying.

So, should you leave a comment on TED.com? Yes, please! We would love to hear what you have to say, and the same goes for our speakers. Our commenting system isn’t perfect — heck, no website’s is — but with your help, we can continue to build a thought-provoking collection of member-submitted ideas, critiques, and stories around each TED Talk.

You can contact conversations@ted.com with feedback and suggestions. Happy commenting!