Monday, June 13, 2011

A year later, is your comment system working?

In a column about shifting to a new reader commenting system, Washington state's Yakima Herald-Republic says it drew about 2,500 online comments last month. (The Seattle Times Co.-owned paper's weekday circulation averages 30,253.)

Citing "ugly, nasty or meaningless" comments, Editor Bob Crider wrote last week that the paper will test a system requiring commenters to use their real names. He didn't say how that would be accomplished, however.

How many comments does your site get? In the nearly year since Gannett started outsourcing a key part of comment moderation, how is that system performing?

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.


  1. Gannett Blog typically draws 1,600 to 2,000 comments a month.

  2. Boys and girls at our paper don't care about the content of the comments...because it's all about the clicks. So I've been told.

    If the commenters had the "stones" to use their real names with the comments they've made in this Wisconsin paper, they'd get their lights punched out.

  3. It's very easy to hide behind anonymity and say cruel and vicious things. In the begininning, the comments were looked at as a way to increase community conversation and dialogue. That did not last long. It quickly broke down along racial and politicals lines. For example, in Cincinnati, they don't allow comments on crime stories because they quickled devolved into criticism of minorities.

  4. At our local papers, the comment section (both Gannett and non-Gannett) are laughable, and often trolled by the same small group of people.

    More often than not, they're thoughtless, heartless, and devolve into political bickering. I wish they'd remove comments altogether.

  5. I aqree, 3:07. But at my site they're click whores so it ain't gonna happen.

  6. Anonymity - despite abuses by some, works best as evidenced by this blog as few would dare risk sharing the valuable data and incites so many have if their actual identities were tied to them.

    Same goes for newspaper readers as few, if any, would dare expose egregious acts and/or publicly challenge schools and other government entities and/or their leadership for fear of retaliation as like it or not, too many seek to punish the messenger even if what they have to say is right. Again, this blog serves as proof of that on occasion too.

    Regarding Cincinnati, they’ve done the same with many stories – especially regarding illegals (anything on Stan Chesley too) which is unfortunate as in many cases commenters, when allowed, have posted relevant points that editorial staffs have either left out due to shrinking newsholes, declining staff or that they just flat-out got wrong.

  7. People can talk all they want about network journalism, crowd sourcing, the transparency of all opinions heard and freedom of expression, but the fact remains that the addition of unregulated "comments" is the worst development in the recent history of journalism.

    Does it show the true feelings of much of the community? Sadly, yes. Does it lower the conversation, debase the participants and give rise to hate and prejudice that society has spent decades trying to end? Sadly yes, as well.

    Like ANY form of expression, comments should go through a filter, even if it requires hiring more moderators.

    A guy can't yell racial epithets at a ballgame. No reason they should be allowed online at a media website.

    A disgrace they are, and Gannett's leaders are so afraid to lose the precious "traffic" that no one has the nerve to say enough.

  8. "A guy can't yell racial epithets at a ballgame. No reason they should be allowed online at a media website."

    Sure he can. People just know who said it, is all.

  9. Right. But he'd also be removed.

  10. No one here should be criticizing the comments of any other site. This place is filled with attacks, unsubstantiated rumors, gossip, and outright lies.

  11. Good debate everyone. I believe media can do a better job filtering and monitoring. We better, with the 2012 race heating up, the anonymous posts will get much nastier.

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  13. My local paper's comment system is doing great now that they have gotten away from Topix. That website and message system is horrible (I am appalled Gannett holds stock in that cyberbullying company who has claimed they want to destroy the newspaper industry, talk about talking out of both sides of your mouth). Anyway, anonmity is fine though it does lead to cowardness, but any paper or national comment system should require registration and some moderation. Topix never understood that, the new system at my paper (Disqus) is ten times better.


Jim says: "Proceed with caution; this is a free-for-all comment zone. I try to correct or clarify incorrect information. But I can't catch everything. Please keep your posts focused on Gannett and media-related subjects. Note that I occasionally review comments in advance, to reject inappropriate ones. And I ignore hostile posters, and recommend you do, too."

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