Commenting Wars

Nick Denton Apparently Loves Branch

His vision for a new Gawker commenting system looks a lot like Branch's discussion platform.
 Nick Denton Apparently Loves Branch

Mr. Denton (flickr.com/scriptingnews)

Gawker overlord Nick Denton’s commenting revolution is in full swing, with the first phase–revoking the illustrious “star” from each commenter, and temporarily disabling comments altogether–implemented last week. Mr. Denton has been very vocal about the fact that he wants to ditch the site’s old insidery cabal of snark-obsessed commenters in favor of more thoughtful, inclusive discussion.

His approach reminds us of a little startup we know that, with the help of its Obvious Corporation connections, has been gaining major traction on both coasts. According to GigaOm, Mr. Denton is a huge fan of Branch:

The most interesting people in tech:

GigaOM: “Who do you pay attention to when it comes to tech or online media?”

Denton: “I always watch what Evan [Williams] is doing, because I’m obsessed by Internet discussions, and how bad they are, and how much better they could be. Josh [Miller] at Branch is interesting [Branch has been funded by Williams' Obvious Corp and does hosted invitation-only discussions].

A conversation regarding the merits (and lack thereof) of Mr. Denton’s new vision already took place on Branch last month, with some of the media scene’s most well-known players participating, but Mr. Denton himself did not chime in. “First thing I thought of when I saw Branch for the first time last week was Denton’s comment push,” wrote Curbed founder Lockhart Steele.

Perhaps Mr. Denton watches Branch so closely because it possesses an almost identical vision for online conversation. Do we sense a Gawker/Branch partnership–or fracas–on the horizon?

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