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Chicago Sun-Times will temporarily cease to run comments

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by YankeeFan, Apr 14, 2014.

  1. YankeeFan

    YankeeFan Well-Known Member

    Starting this weekend, the Chicago Sun-Times and the other titles in the Sun-Times Media group will temporarily cease to run comments with our articles.

    The world of Internet commenting offers a marvelous opportunity for discussion and the exchange of ideas. But as anyone who has ever ventured into a comment thread can attest, these forums too often turn into a morass of negativity, racism, hate speech and general trollish behaviors that detract from the content.

    In fact, the general tone and demeanor is one of the chief criticisms we hear in regard to the usability and quality of our websites and articles. Not only have we heard your criticisms, but we often find ourselves as frustrated as our readers are with the tone and quality of commentary on our pages.

    To that end, we are working on development of a new commenting system we hope will not only allow for free discussion, but encourage increased quality of the commentary and help us better police the worst elements of these threads. We’ll have more in the weeks to come on this development. In the meantime, we encourage you to connect with us on Facebook and Twitter to offer your thoughts, feedback and suggestions. This is your site and your voice is an important part of how we work as a community to better serve Chicago.

    Again, we are not doing away with comments. But we do want to take some time and work on the qualitative aspect of how they are handled and how we can foster a productive discussion rather than an embarrassing mishmash of fringe ranting and ill-informed, shrill bomb-throwing.

  2. TheSportsPredictor

    TheSportsPredictor Well-Known Member

    What are you going to do with yourself now?
  3. I Should Coco

    I Should Coco Well-Known Member

    The problem for newspapers:

    1. As companies hope against hope that advertisers will use their various online "platforms," measurements of clicks and page views are the main way to convince advertisers someone is reading. Comments are one of the best/fastest ways to boost these numbers.

    2. Online comments often turn into ugly pissing matches, complete with libelous statements, identification of crime victims and so on. In theory, newspapers could try to monitor these comments and quickly delete the nasty material, but of course that requires $taffing ...

    3. Some websites make people register, whether as paid online subscribers or for free, before submitting comments. Of course, this causes commenting to plummet (see point No. 1) and is also easy to work around with phony email addresses, deletion of cookies, etc.

    It will be interesting to see how this online comment ban works (and how long it lasts) for the Sun-Times.
  4. Liut

    Liut Active Member

    Good take, Coco.
  5. YankeeFan

    YankeeFan Well-Known Member

    As if I read the Sun-Times.
  6. reformedhack

    reformedhack Active Member

    A broad generality, but still: Utterly nothing good comes from story comments.

    The traffic looks nice on paper, but at what cost? Newspapers used to have nice pieces of real estate on the Internet. But trolls quickly moved into the neighborhood, set up their tents, yurts and mobile homes on the fringes, and started driving property values down. (Hey, meth labs and grow houses get their share of traffic, too.)

    In a way, it makes me look forward to paywalls ... it might just keep some of the riffraff out.
  7. Mark2010

    Mark2010 Active Member

    Yep. The people who post comments are not held to any standards of libel, accuracy or decency. At best, the comments section has to be constantly monitored, which requires time and manpower. At worst, it becomes a pissing war and source of potential litigation.
  8. MisterCreosote

    MisterCreosote Well-Known Member

    Comments are also one of the best/fastest ways to drive people away.
  9. Liut

    Liut Active Member

    Maybe I'm in the minority but I rarely read comments to stories I read in papers. I do check the ones to stories I've written just to see what kind of feedback there is. Fortunately, my paper's respondents stay fairly civilized.
  10. Football_Bat

    Football_Bat Well-Known Member

    Our paper had a problem with trolls until we started to require people to register to comment. That completely eliminated the problem. Profiles in courage.
  11. Bubbler

    Bubbler Active Member

    I like what the Guardian does in the UK. Allows comments on some stories, but not all.
  12. LongTimeListener

    LongTimeListener Well-Known Member

    Comments are especially heartwarming when a Mexican-American child dies.
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