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NDT.net Issue - 2010-09 - NEWS

NDT.net launches Comment and Rating System for Articles


NDT.net109, Bad Breisig [Germany]
NEWS   1
NDT.net Journal
Issue: 2010-09
In September 2010 NDT.net launches a Comment and Rating System for Articles & News for improving the communication about the articles in the database.

"Since we publish on the Web it is one of our main objectives to provide a navigation which lets the communication easily flow", said Rolf Diederichs. "It is very important to avoid that the readers do not suddenly stand at a point where he or she cannot continue the communication on an article. They should never end up in a dead end street ".

About Comments

Of course for a long time it has been possible to go the forum to post questions about an article, but it was quite uncomfortable. You have to navigate through the main menu to change to the forum, then to open a specific board, post a new message and mention the title and the exact link to the article along with the message.

From now a new "Comment" link sends you directly to a new forum board called "About Articles and News". A form is already open which includes the subject, the title of the article and link to it. You need to enter your name, email address and your comment and post your message. If you don't want to post a new comment you can just read other readers' comments and discussions or or reply to them. The numbers of how many comments were posted you can be seen attached to the comment link in the database. After your comment is approved by the forum administrator the comment will be forwarded to the subscribers of this forum board and to the authors for which an email address is available.

About Rating

Our main intention of the new communication was the comment issue, but at this point it also makes sense to implement a rating system too, although there is much discussion about its usefulness. User rating is a very common feature of websites these days, be it for movies, books, blog posts, pretty much anything and you can even rate newspaper articles. For scientific articles as well? Yes - in 2007 the Public Library of Science (PLoS)* started a 1-5 star rating system. Such a system hasn't been much applied to scientific papers up to this point.

The PLoS Web site allows users to rate articles for subjective "quality". Scientific work can be measured on a number of scales. To reflect this, research articles can be rated in three separate categories: Insight, Reliability, and Style. Rating is done on a 1 to 5 scale with 1 being the lowest and 5 the highest rating.

We decided to provide a system similar to this of PLoS. The main issues of our system are:

  • Overall rating 1 to 5 scale (stars)
  • Expand function to further specific rating of Style, Insight and Reliability but not mandatory
  • The rating is attached to the comment function but it is permitted to post both individually.
  • All ratings are collected together with the comments in the new forum board "About Article & News"
  • Each reader's rating is visible (not anonymous)
  • Name, email address must be submitted (like in our other forum boards)
  • Rating post is forwarded to subscribers of this forum board and to the authors of the article
  • other readers (of course the authors) can reply to the comment or rating.

For now rating is not an item for to search like show "5 star only" because this would rely on subjective rating results. Also we have to get more experience on how the system may be misused or even abused, but we will make all efforts to avoid this.

Comments & Ratings of Articles during Online Events

It is obviously that subscribers of temporary online events do want to receive all comments or questions to its session rather than gathering information in the general forum board "About Articles & News". For this reason articles of these events are during ongoing events redirected to the forum board so called "Special Sessions". Just in a case of ratings posted without any comments these messages are collected in "About Articles & News". In a case of simple comments like "nice article" the administrator will redirect also these messages from the "Special Sessions" to "About Articles & News".

From our site we have made all theoretical efforts to make a good system available, but from now it's up to the NDT community to feed the system with good and reliable data. Any user rating system, like any system of voting, works better the more people engage with it, so let us come to practice it right now!

* Public Library of Science (PLoS) Rating Guidelines
http://www.plosmedicine.org/static/ratingGuidelines.action

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