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Reddit tests breaking news live blogs despite previous Boston bombing errors

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Reddit logo 640
Reddit logo 640

Reddit's community has an impressive ability to piece together scattered bits of information during major breaking news events — though it's efforts have at times gone more than awry. But now the site is hoping to streamline its community's reporting ability as it begins to test a live blogging tool that will eventually allow users to start posting automatically updating streams of information, much like many news outlets use. The new post type, called a Liveupdate thread, is being publicly tested in two places: it's currently being used to provide updates on TwitchPlaysPokemon, and several days ago it was used to provide updates on the conflict in Ukraine.

Reddit can piece news together quickly, but not always correctly

Reddit has done a fine job in turning some of its community's interests into well-respected platforms, such as its IAmA series. But reporting — particularly on breaking news — has been a point of trouble due to the community's lack of editorial restraints or accountability, and that was widely highlighted after one community collaborated on what was effectively a witch hunt to find a suspect in the Boston bombing case. It'll likely be a much harder task for Reddit to curate controlled journalistic behavior within its communities, and it hasn't suggested how or if the site might attempt to improve live reporting on major breaking news events in the future.

Of course, given the live-blogging tool's testing on TwitchPlaysPokemon, it's clear that Reddit also sees this as a fun tool for its community — not just an outlet for breaking news. For now, live blogs are still in a testing phase and can only be created by Reddit employees, but Reddit says the next goal is to make them available for everyone to make and manage (streams won't be open for anyone to post in though, just those who the stream's creator approves). Streams can only include basic text and link updates right now too, and Reddit hopes to eventually support richer content, including images, videos, Reddit comments, and posts from social media sites. They're quite basic posts right now — not unlike the rest of Reddit — but it's easy to imagine that they'll be enough to help the community quickly organize news, for better or for worse.