What happened to the Comments?

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argumentYou may have noticed something different when you loaded up the blog this visit. After a lot of thought and more than a little discussion, we’ve decided to turn off commenting temporarily.

That’s right. Temporarily. We’re not quite ready to join the growing number of news sites that have opted to do away with commenting all together.

The problem for us in running our network of blogs is that managing the comments has become a major time sink. Our e-mail inbox overflows daily with people complaining about comments. We’re moderating too much. We’re not moderating enough. We’re censoring people.

The simplest thing would be to turn comments off and leave them off. We don’t want to do that because we think an important part of our mission here is to provide a platform for you, our readers, to voice your opinions.

We just wish some of you could be a little more civil while expressing yourself.

So here’s what we’re planning to do:

Interactive Moderation
We’ve been working on an enhancement to our commenting system that allows readers to interactively moderate others by voting comments up and down. If a comment gets lots of positive votes, it will be highlighted. If a comment gets too many negative votes, it will be hidden by default.

You’ll still be able to view those negative comments, but you’ll have to explicitly click a link to make them show up.

A Consistent Commenting Policy
The next thing we want to do before we turn commenting back on is develop a consistent, written commenting policy that explains the rules in simple terms so that our readers know our expectations if you choose to participate in commenting. It’s fair to say that while we’ve tried to be balanced and even-handed to date, we’ve been doing a lot of flying by the seat of our pants.

As our blog sites continue to grow and we gain more readers, we believe we need to put more thought into our policy, write it down, and then apply it consistently.

Our goal, is to complete this work and bring commenting back online by the end of November. We’ll then watch to see if the new tools and policy have the desired affect, and tweak them as necessary.

If you have suggestions or input that you’d like to have considered as part of this process, please e-mail us at [email protected].

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