The company started outsourcing a key part of online comment moderation at its dozens of U.S. websites late last week, the Hattiesburg American disclosed today, confirming a Gannett Blog reader's report two weeks ago.
The Mississippi newspaper's note to readers follows an editorial last week in the Green Bay Press-Gazette in Wisconsin. Editors there said software company Pluck -- which already powers social media tools on GCI sites -- is now in charge of moderating comments that readers have flagged as abusive. That task had previously been handled on the local level by editors at Gannett sites.
Pluck will delete comments, or allow them to remain, based on the paper's "established guidelines." Those guides ask readers to "keep your comments smart and civil. Don't attack other readers personally, and keep your language decent."
Given the guidelines' rather broad terms, however, it's unclear how Pluck employees hundreds or thousands of miles away will know to independently gauge local community tastes. Moreover, the Press-Gazette and Hattiesburg American don't say whether those Pluck staffers are based in the United States -- or offshore, where foreign employees might not grasp some of the nuances of what readers in Wisconsin or Mississippi find acceptable.
Should comment moderation be outsourced -- or should it stay local? Please post your replies in the comments section, below. To e-mail confidentially, write jimhopkins[at]gmail[dot-com]; see Tipsters Anonymous Policy in the rail, upper right.
[Image: today's Press-Gazette, Newseum]