TED Conversations

Aja B.
  • Aja B.
  • New York, NY
  • United States

Online Community Manager, TED


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We're making a small change to TED Conversations

Hello all! I wanted to let you know that we're in the process of making a small change to the TED Conversations platform.

It's been a great year and a half since the debut of TED Conversations, and you've had some excellent discussions in that time. We're constantly impressed by the breadth, depth, and diversity of topics and participants here.

Unfortunately, we've also seen a growing number of inappropriate, spam, and abusive topics, which our small team has worked around the clock to remove. Over time, this has become a bit overwhelming. In response, and in order to continue to provide a space for meaningful conversation and debate, we're rolling out a simple approval process for new Conversation topics.

What will this mean? Well, submitting a new idea, question, or debate will work as it always has. You'll use the same form to enter a title, description, related TEDTalks, and a timeframe for the discussion. Once you click Submit, your Conversation will enter an approval queue, where the TED team will read and publish it within 24 hours (though usually much faster). If we can't publish it, we'll send you an email with feedback and instructions on how to re-submit. Once approved, the new Conversation will work as always, with TEDizens around the world joining in your discussion to talk, brainstorm, and collaborate.

Our hope is that this small change will provide a stronger and more consistent experience for you and for the rest of the online TED community. As always, we'd love to hear from you! Please get in touch with us below, or at conversations@ted.com with any thoughts or feedback you'd like to share.

Thank you, and we look forward to seeing your future TED Conversations!


Aja Bogdanoff
TED Conversations Team


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    Oct 13 2012: I must confess I am surprised that due to being overwhelmed by the task of removing some posts you are taking on the task of inspecting each conversation for approval (is that any less overwhelming?). However, that is your business as a manager and you know better than I.

    Perhaps, a more automated approach would be helpful, similar to what happens on reddit. I love reddit, but it has its problems too. It is so crowded, and its algorithms put so much priority to what's new that it is impossible to have a conversation that goes on for even a couple of days. Part of the magic of ted conversations is a certain "sweet spot" in the amount of users which cannot really be controlled. As it gets bigger, we might just all have to put up with stuff we don't like.

    I suggest a system that automatically gauges a topics interest of the community by the number of comments. Perhaps, once a week, the conversations with the highest amount of comments can be bumped to the top to make them easier to find, while still giving new conversations some time to develop. Typically, conversations that are abusive or just silly will have few people commenting in them.

    I am also curious about the featured section. What does it take for a conversation to get featured? Is that automated or curated?

    The thing I like as a user about automation is that it is very clear cut. There is no room for people to accuse the moderators of being biased when its mostly run by a computer program.

    Whatever course of action you take in the future, please explain the new policies clearly.
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      Oct 13 2012: It's actually around the same amount of work in hours, but without the 24/7 anxiety that someone has posted something incredibly inappropriate that hasn't been taken down yet. We've had topics posted that advocated violence against children, that physically threatened other members, and, of course, that flooded the listings with 20 identical posts advertising knock-off wristwatches.

      We're definitely looking at systems like Reddit, but anything involving an automatic algorithm will require a much broader reworking of the platform. And we're also looking into replacing the Featured section with the "Most Active" section, so the front page would just consist of the Conversations that are getting the most posts. What do you think?

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