News sites interested in asking a question of their users and quickly assembling a gallery of users’ answers will start next week with new, free software to accomplish that job, The Coral Project announced Thursday at the Online News Association’s conference in Denver.
Called Ask, the new beta software allows news organizations to solicit information from users, such as opinions on news stories, personal anecdotes, or suggestions on topics to cover. Using Ask, reporters and editors can then select the most pertinent user responses, then publish those responses out into the same place in which the initial question was asked.
Ask will be ready for newsrooms to begin integrating on Sept. 19. Newsrooms interested in testing Ask can email Jeff Nelson, The Coral Project’s full-time integration engineer.
On Thursday, The Coral Project also launched the Comments Lab, a digital experience that allows news organizations to tinker with different kinds of comment features, gives commenters an idea of different feature options, and can prompt further discussion about best practices in on-site engagement.
The Coral Project, a collaboration between The Washington Post, The New York Times, and the Mozilla Foundation funded by a grant from the Knight Foundation, creates open-source tools and renewed best practices to help news organizations create and enliven communities around their journalism.
Ask is the second Coral product to be created, but the first to be made available to newsrooms. The first product, an analytics and reputation engine called Trust, is being incubated at The Washington Post. The Coral team is working on its final product now, a live commenting and comment-moderation system called Talk.