I’ve heard your comments and here’s what I’ve done


Wow, what a week it’s been!

First, a little good news: After an internal site redesign, which optimized some databases and cleared out a few errant scripts, we’re moving full steam ahead. On Tuesday, we had record traffic for a non-viral story day, reaching 20,000 readers.

Thanks to all of you for making that possible, and to my webmaster, Steven Glover, for helping right the ship.

Now we’re turning to fixing the comments, both in terms of the way they display and what’s in them. I asked you to vote on which commenting system you wanted to use, and a majority favored staying with Disqus.

So we’re going to keep the current system.

The rules of engagement

Earlier in the week, we also started a discussion about how to evolve the rules for commenting.

Many of you asked why we needed rules. And I agree with you; I wish we didn’t.

But most sites of this size have ground rules for comments and  a moderation team. That’s because there are people out there — and you know who they are — whose parents didn’t teach them manners.

We’re extremely lucky to have our team of volunteer moderators. They mean well and care deeply about the level of discourse on this site. You may not agree with every decision they make, but if we agreed on everything we wouldn’t need comments, would we?

We are not returning to a time when name-calling and bullying was tolerated in the comments. But our current rules also needed clarification.

After some discussion, here are the new ground rules. They cover what isn’t and isn’t allowed in the comments, and they address the role of the publisher, the moderators and the readers.

Related story:   "Your advice worked!"

The rules should come as no surprise. They’ve been articulated in similar ways on other news sites.

The biggest shift you’ll notice is in the role of moderators. We wanted to move away from activist moderation, for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is that it’s exhausting. Our moderators may patrol the comments, but now they rely on you, the reader, to flag a comment that may be inappropriate.

So if you see something, please say something.

We’ll also endeavor to be more open when we see a comment that’s been flagged and have to respond. While we reserve the right to delete spam and blacklist an obvious spammer without warning, we’ll do our best to give regular readers who have run afoul of the rules an opportunity to resubmit their comment.

Bottom line: We love a good discussion. We’ve reset the boundaries and our volunteer moderators will do their best to maintain their neutrality while encouraging a high-quality, polite discussion.

As always, I welcome your comments on our new comments policy.

Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is an author, journalist and consumer advocate. You can read more about him on his personal website or check out his adventures on his family adventure travel site. Contact him at chris@elliott.org. Read more of Christopher's articles here.

  • y_p_w

    No more Wild West huh?

    I remember when comments were purely guest only. That must have been fun cleaning up the inevitable mess.

  • “So if you see something, please say something.”

    Am I the only one that finds it ironic that you’ve adopted Homeland Security’s slogan? :)

  • You got the joke. Thank you!

  • BillyBobMe

    People scream about control until they want control. And then its suddenly reasonable. Never bet against the hypocrisy of the American Public.

  • Mundane Lustrator

    OK. :-)

  • Regina Litman

    Another site I frequent just switched to Disqus. Now I can no longer comment using IE8. I’m on with my Android smartphone now, but I hope your Disqus configuration doesn’t shut out us IE8 holdouts. Too many reasons to post now why I still use IE8.

  • Dutchess

    Regina, download Chrome. It’s free and plays well with Disqus and with things like AddBlocker Plus (also free) it makes a better browsing experience.

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