After much anticipation, we are bringing our online comment option back.
Providing maximum latitude to commenters, insulating readers who like the idea of comments but can be alienated by the harsh voice many commenters adopt, and the time available to our staff to swiftly review and post the comments is a big commitment. And it can go off the rails when the proper checks and balances are not in place. No surprise then, that the list of publications giving up their reader comment feature is long and growing.
All that said though, we are re-upping. We like the comments feature because of its capacity to provide almost real-time feedback. We like hearing from digital readers. And especially, we like the potential for interactions between the readers, editor, and publisher. We welcome that sense of inclusive community the comments can provide.
After a few weeks of self-review, some online research and looking at the 30 or so notes and suggestions we received from Times readers, we’ve decided that we need to do a better job of clarifying our standards, and we certainly would like to persuade our commenting friends to follow our protocols so their comments can be included.
Below are our standards and rules, in effect as soon as the comments are turned back on. (If you’d like to discuss our rules more, send a note to firstname.lastname@example.org.)
For our commenters:
- No anonymous commenters.
- We need your full name, first and last; otherwise the comment will sit at the end of the line in purgatory, possibly never again seeing the light of day.
- Comments by subscribers only, please; we continue to build our community of Times readers.
- Comments go into a queue; editors go through them twice a day, more frequently only if possible.
- Up to 7 stories or posts chosen by the editor will be open for comments at a time.
- Comments stay up forever, but no new comments are posted after seven days.
Rules on comment content:
- Stay on topic, if you don’t your comment will not be published.
- No personal attacks.
- No back-and-forth.
- No “gamers.” No provocation, don’t poison the well; your joke could be someone else’s pain.
- We won’t allow comments that simply are not true, such as climate change denial.
- We take responsibility for keeping the comments working in our small community seriously; our ultimate recourse is to ban provocateurs, so please, follow the rules.
Seems fair. I do often find myself wanting to add an eye roll comment on another comment rather than to comment on the actual article.
Thank you MV Times for re opening the comment forum.
Also thank you for posting your rules.
But I would like to ask for some clarification about what would be considered “back and forth” ?
For example; Someone expresses an opinion or an idea , such as turf football fields are safer than grass fields. Someone else cites a study that indicates that is incorrect, and in fact, ( according to their chosen study) more injuries occur across all ages in all sports to all parts of the body.
Is the original poster not able to respond to that with their own study, as that certainly falls into the category of “back and forth” ?
For now, moderators will decide if the back-and-forth comments presented are helpful or if they do not serve a purpose that benefits the conversation. Some may be allowed, others may not.
Sounds like censorship to me. An open forum has free expression and does not have controllers deciding what’s acceptable or not.
Bravo on that next to last part. Can you also include a refusal to allow covid fiction? I mean, the nonsense about it being planned or the lies about vaccine “injuries”.
That’s right Jim, we need to have complete faith and trust in the big pharmaceutical companies and the government, as their track records so clearly demonstrate their transparency, honesty and above all, correctness about all things Covid. All other points of view counter to theirs must be silenced for our own good.
Nowhere did I mention the government. You seem to be a science denier? I base what I say on evidence and facts. You should try it.
“No Back and Forth”….I wonder if that, by definition, means no more than one comment per person, per article. That would go a long way to cutting down on the needless off topic bantering.
This is totally fair. Glad to have the comments back!
Sounds good. I appreciate.
I have plenty to say about Edgartown leaving the MVC, yes they should, but comments are closed.
Thanks for taking the time to look at this rationally. Most of us don’t comment on every single story but there are times when misleading information or false comments need to be clarified.
Glad the comments section is reopened, thank you! If used properly, the comments can be a real island conversation about important matters. A town square!!
Your rules seem good, if followed and enforced. I would add one more: there should be a time period between when a poster can post again. We hear too much from the same people. If a commenter knew that he/she would have to wait (maybe a week) before posting again on another story, they might self-regulate and only comment when they have something “useful” to say.
You could have an exception for a second comment on the same story in order to get a bit of a dialogue going.
Vicki– with all due respect, the concept of a comment section is to promote a discussion about various topics. Many of the issues we are concerned about are not just simple this or that factual. People have differing opinions about complicated issues that simply cannot be addressed in one comment. Imagine watching a presidential debate, or any political debate where each candidate could only have one statement, and one reply.
The editor and associated people at the Times have posted a set of reasonable guidelines.
I trust that discussions and debates about the issues we face can be honestly and respectfully articulated within those guidelines.
I would be disappointed for instance, if you could not reply to this comment because you commented earlier today.
I would certainly not think that if you responded to my comment here, it would not be “useful”, based solely on the fact that you have already commented on this article.
We can work it all out if we have respect.
If I could change anything in the guidelines above, it would be to include the concept of respect.
If the paper wants to shut down back and forth you could lose the reply button. Since you have stated that comments must stay on subject there really is not a reason for the direct reply button.
It’s called a conversation. Unless they only want people’s comments with no interchange. That would be a comment section but not an open forum. There is a difference. Seems like
the option to reply also invites political fist fights breaking out right and left. but it also invites an open forum and a healthy exchange of ideas .. if folks could agree to be civil here — which is what we’re supposed to be all about here in America.. right?
Quite the contrary in my opinion. Directly replying to another commenter has nothing to do with staying on topic or not. This comment for instance, is a direct reply, and is clearly staying on subject.
By replying directly, it is clear to other readers that I am replying to your comment.
I am not quite certain as to whom Mr. Van Riper is strongly disagreeing with, for instance.
Love the comments about commentators who have not yet commented!
I strongly disagree.
If three different commenters raise three different issues in response to a given story — each on-topic, yet distinct from the other two — it’s hugely useful, if you want to comment on only one of those three issues, to be able to reply to the specific post in which it was raised, rather than to the thread in general, where it may not be clear which (sub-)issue you’re addressing.
So I’m confused by the up to 7 stories or post will be open to comments at a time rule.
Does this mean that not all articles can be commented on? And if so, how do the editors choose which articles it will be? Will it be articles that they prefer only positive comments on?
It’s no secret that the Times supports Beach Road weekend. It’s also no secret that a lot of islanders don’t. Will those stories be closed to comments to avoid negative feedback?
One commenter has already mentioned that an article about Edgartown leaving the MVC, an article he expressed interest in commenting on, is closed to comments. That stikes me as an article that would generate a good amount of negative feedback towards the MVC, so I’m curious as to why an article along those lines would closed.
Jim — it could be that they really don’t think the comment section is as important as they profess. Or they are just under staffed. Really makes me appreciate George all the more.
Interesting Ms Berry says no ”climate change denial” ok fair enough. But things which were gospel one year ago and now turning out not to be true like masking and vaccines and covid origins and even reported by liberal journals. What happens to posts that deny certain things and are way ahead of the times so to speak. If you want to say 2 plus 2 is 4 and tell people they cant deny it so be it, but censoring subjective judgments is bad journalism. Ok MVTimes can do what it wishes.
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