The NY Times has unveiled a major step toward integrating its readers into its reports with the introduction of Moderator, a new system that will arm Times comment moderators with machine learning technology, allowing them to moderate more comments.
For now, Moderator’s implementation will open up comments on all of The Times’s top stories during business hours and commenting will remain open for 24 hours. The implementation of Moderator will allow for comments on approximately 25% of stories at launch, with the goal of 80% of all Times stories allowing for comments by the end of the year.
The Times’s comments section, widely considered one of the best on the Internet for its insightful, civil and robust discussion, is managed by a team of 14 moderators who manually review approximately 12,000 comments each day. Because of this labor intensive process, until now, commenting was available only on roughly 10% of Times articles.
Moderator was born through a partnership with Jigsaw, a technology incubator within Alphabet—Google’s parent company—that created Perspective, an API that uses machine learning technology to score the perceived impact a comment might have on a conversation. Moderator includes an optimized user interface and predictive models that will help moderators group similar comments to make faster decisions, allowing more comments to be posted, while maintaining a respectful and substantive conversation.