Our comment feature on stories will return on Friday, with some new rules.
We paused the comment feature in August to look at our options, and we asked you to provide your thoughts on the subject. Overwhelmingly, readers who took the time to reach out — and there were many of you — applauded the end of anonymous comments. And there were others of you who said if people were required to use real names to provide commentary, that would provide some credibility and, hopefully, civility to the dialogue.
It’s a requirement we’ve always had for those of you who write Letters to the Editor, and it works. We reject very few letters, and typically, with a little tweaking of language, we reach a point where even a letter that initially raises some question can be published.
What we found in our research on comments is that there is no perfect model for allowing commenting on stories, but the comment sections are something that readers do enjoy — either as readers or participants. It’s a quick and easy way to provide instant feedback to a community issue or event. So, as we begin to allow comments again, you’ll be required to sign up, with your real first and last name, and then have the privilege of commenting on our website. Some of the most interesting comments will be collected at the top of the commenting section, based on your votes. In print, we’ll share some of your comments with readers who like to hold the newspaper in their hands.
Understand, however, that our moderators will be ruthless in weeding out comments that cross the line. No personal attacks, no name-calling, no ad hominem jabs, and no profanity (that includes well-known acronyms). Stay out of someone else’s religious beliefs. We also ask that your comments be made based on verifiable facts. If something is not easily verifiable, it will be deleted. We also reserve the right, as we always have, to turn off comments on a story if we find things are getting out of control, repetitive, or wandering off topic. Our policy of not allowing comments that dispute the existence of climate change and sea level rise, or who attempt to spread misinformation about COVID-19, remains in place. Established science is not debatable or helpful for an Island looking at its future survival.
We have also decided not to allow comments on Letters to the Editor. We appreciate our readers who take the time to thoughtfully comment on either our stories or a community issue. If you have a different opinion from a letter writer, we welcome your responses through the same method. Write a letter, sign it, and submit it by email to email@example.com or through our website portal, and we’ll both post and publish it.
We ask that you keep in mind that we don’t have an individual moderator sitting by a computer waiting for your comments to come in. Think of the moderator like a police officer with far greater responsibilities than to settle your squabble with a neighbor over blowing leaves onto your lawn. If you’re fair, respectful, and thoughtful, your comment will get posted in a timely manner. If your comment crosses the line, it will be rejected, and it will be up to you to resubmit it following the rules. Use the parent test. Would I want my mother to read this with my name attached?
So, welcome back commenters, we’ve missed you. We welcome your feedback, your suggestions, and your contribution to the community conversation. Let’s have a comment section that’s thoughtful, civil, and responsible.
Here’s what it will look like: Scroll to the bottom of a story you’d like to comment on. If we’ve opened it for comments, you will see the ability to create a login for commenting. That will bring you to a screen that will ask you for your first and last name (your user name), your email address, and it will ask you to create a password. Once you are enrolled, you will be brought back to the story and allowed to comment. If you have any questions or problems, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.