Saturday, September 28, 2013

Online Comments: Kill them or Fix Them?

Source: The Straits Times, 2013, Sep 28 - Opinion A41

When things go wrong, there are 3 possible reactions:
1. Immediate retreat to the previous state
2. Do nothing and believe that things will be alright after a while
3. Respond to fixing it

The article talks about dealing with online comments - in particular the undesirable (or less desirable) ones that would create a negative impact on the original posting.

Quite often, the first reaction would be immediate retreat to our comfort zone, especially when the 'chaos' or difficult situation arises from the introduction of some new elements, especially technology. Indeed, this act of "undo" the most convenient way of eliminating the new problem(s), which is most people would choose.  Back to status quo.
  • If we choose this approach, then we have to ask ourselves, have we done enough -  how deep or thorough have we thought through our implementation plan before we execute it? This is the issue with many - that I have countless encounters. 
  • Because of this 'incompetence', some well-intended plans 'die' because of incompetent implementers who would blame the whole world except themselves when things did not turn out as it should be. They only look at "intent", "plan" and "outcomes" and assume that others will respond (as they had expected) according to what's plan, and therefore not putting enough effort to follow-through and manage the implementation process.
For instance, one wanted to impress others how he/she can use a collaborative tool to do monitoring and improve efficiently. Unfortunately, he/she failed to figure out properly how the technology worked (and in fact, it was not the appropriate choice!) before a massive implementation. As a result, it caused inconveniences (and led to frustrations) to the entire group of personnel involved. At the end of the day, the implementation died and the monitoring discontinued. What's the follow-up? I wonder. What's the 'judgement' passed to the technology (from his/her perspective)? We can guess.

"No reaction" sometimes is the "best" reaction. However, here, "no reaction" does not mean really sitting down there and do nothing. It's more like a delayed "wait-and-see" reaction, with behind-the-scene work carried out along the way. This includes close monitoring and planning for the next step. It should not jump into the conclusion immediately and hence make a judgement.

Respond and "fix it" is to address to the concerns immediately. There are occasions that we have to do this so that prevent the current situation from worsening and further damage to the well-intended plan.

Indeed, the article argues on how the agency could have dealt with such comments.

In fact, looking at online comments, when one is prepared to let others comment online, just wondering how 'prepared' they are in terms of receiving different kinds of comments. Nobody would reject compliments (I'm sure). Neutral comments are fine. How about adverse comments? Are we prepared to 'broadcast' it at our online sites? I wonder. Well, even for adverse comments, are we ready to treat this as an opportunity, 'wait-and-see' and allow the online 'community' to moderate and bring 'justice' to the 'adverse' ones in its natural course? I wonder.

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