War Of The Words

Online channels are a valuable tool for gathering feedback and crowdsourcing ideas. But how do you separate constructive commentary from the negative noise?


As a recent article on CNN Money highlights, for major content publishers, comments and other types of user feedback are a double-edged sword. While these resources are critical for user engagement, they’re also a magnet for those looking to incite, offend, or otherwise misuse the platform for their own entertainment.

Some sites have found that this activity not only undermines the messages of their articles, but can even damage other readers' perceptions of the brand. The issue becomes even more pronounced during crowdsourcing campaigns, as efforts can be easily sidetracked or even hijacked by negative or offensive submissions.

Whether it’s through reviews on Yelp or Glassdoor, comments on the homepage, or official crowdsourcing campaigns, credit unions also receive a similar gamut of feedback — some useful, some less so. Yet rather than going the way of Popular Science's website and eliminating user commentary altogether, consider these alternative strategies to help filter out the feedback that really maters.


Offering cash or other incentives for useable ideas is a great way to make sure people take these opportunities seriously. But those without the means should consider a hierarchy system — such as the one used by gawker.com — that allows top commenters to have their thoughts profiled in more noticeable locations. As long as the institution has a way to control what rises to the top, featuring thoughtful or helpful comments more prominently is a good way to encourage more of the same. 

Remove Anonymity, Add Accountability

It’s not foolproof, but requiring users to log in to home banking or gathering some other sort of identifying information before they can comment or submit ideas will help discourage those who are out for easy kicks or just seeking to vent.  It can also help you sort member comments from those of the general public in cases where you are soliciting feedback from both.

The only drawback? You may find that some individuals with valuable insights are also unwilling to go through the extra time and effort.

Change The Audience

Rather than encouraging a public discussion, give commenters a more direct line to decision makers at the institution. An example is GTE Financial's “Talk2Joe,” a dedicated email displayed on the website that encourages users to submit ideas, suggestions, or concerns directly to CEO Joe Brancucci.


Sept. 27, 2013



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