Quartz Lets Readers Comment on Specific Paragraphs

Atlantic Media's business brand elevates role of feedback

Quartz is taking reader comments to the margins.

Atlantic Media's 10-month-old business publication on Tuesday introduced a new feature that lets readers weigh in on—and publish comments right next to—individual paragraphs within articles rather than in a separate section relegated to the bottom of the page.

"The gist of it is to try to foster more productive and interesting and a higher standard of commenting on the kind of content we do," said publisher Jay Lauf.

Citi has signed on as the first sponsor of the feature, called Annotations, and Lauf said the site is open to having more sponsors down the line.

Other news organizations have made their own attempts to give more prominence to reader comments, including Gawker's Kinja platform and the New York Times' NYT Picks, as well as a recent experiment by the Times that highlights reader comment alongside the story in question. Quartz senior editor Zach Seward said he admires those approaches but thinks of annotations as a different type of offering.

"We're trying to solicit annotations that add to our articles, like useful notes in the margin of a book or memo," Seward said in an email. "The idea is to encourage more directed and and thoughtful commentary than you typically get when comments are open-ended."

In a phone interview, Seward said comments found on Quartz would ideally be "as good as the text that they're annotating."