Mike Hensdill / AP
Children dance at a Cinderella ball in North Carolina, a man herds hundreds of sheep through a snowy field in Switzerland, protesters lob firebombs at police in Greece and more.
The Week in Picture vote on Facebook
The Week in Pictures, TWIP, was one of the first regularly occurring msnbc.com editorial products that successfully used interactivity. Back in the late 1990s, we included a vote page using a simple interface that allowed people to vote for their favorite image. It was an uncomplicated idea that was executed well, and our users engaged with it by the thousands.
As good as that has been, we’ve always wanted to have more give-and-take with the TWIP audience. So we enabled users to “email us” and “email this” several years ago. The buttons are still in the top-right of every TWIP slideshow. Because of those two things, we’ve been aware of and participated in a rich conversation with a few TWIP audience members each week. However, that conversation is stiflingly limited by its one-on-one email nature.
It is surprisingly difficult to create a space where a public conversation can happen around TWIP. The challenges are that you need a robust, scalable system that is easy to use on both the editing and audience side. You shouldn’t need to read a manual in order to use it.
We’ve also discovered through our experience in PhotoBlog that commenting and community is tricky. We’ve learned the hard way that anonymous commenting is practically useless. It allows the outrageous few to hijack what would otherwise be thoughtful conversation, creating a wasteland of radical political agendas, hate speech and personal attacks. That’s difficult to watch when it’s sometimes directed at the subject of a photograph or the photographer. Because of these challenges, we left TWIP out of msnbc.com social networking efforts. That felt like the right choice three years ago, but it doesn’t anymore. It’s time for TWIP to join the conversation.
In order to foster an honest, respectfully engaged community, you either create an entirely new system and hope people will sign up, or you take your idea to an existing community that already works. That is why we’ve moved the TWIP vote to Facebook. The slideshow we produce is just the jumping off point. When you “Like” our page you not only get to vote. You can share your vote with your Facebook friends. You can also comment on the whole slideshow or individual pictures. If you don't want to share your choice or express your opinion then you can simply vote. Our goal is to create an engaging place where you can share what you like or don’t like about pictures. Join us. Tell us what you think.