Publisher’s Perspective: Comments suspended (Opinion)
It’s been roughly six months since I wrote the column that talked about the challenges of the comments on our website. In the time since then, I wouldn’t classify the situation as getting any better.
Recently, a local resident reached out to us fearful for their family’s safety based on information that was noted in one of the comments. When someone is fearful in that regard, you have to take it seriously. Never do we want to be the harbinger of information that causes that kind of response.
This incident, along with many others that have popped up since, has led us to the decision of suspending comments on articles.
In my last column on this topic, I mentioned that we are still invested in the core promise of what comments can do. We still are. We know many of you can provide valuable information or ask specific questions on a topic that can spur great conversation, and in the best of cases, provide potential solutions.
I encourage those who still value this, to write and submit letters to the editor. We will expand this section each week if need be, but we don’t want to completely turn off your ability to comment on stories and situations that are affecting your community.
Admittedly, we probably waited a little too long to make this decision. We wanted this to work. We wanted people to have the opportunity to add to the discussion. Unfortunately, for the most part, this was used more as a platform for people to get off topic and offer irrelevant comments, sometimes at the expense of other users.
This is the type of behavior that social media has fostered for years and we just can’t support that type of behavior any longer. This doesn’t necessarily mean they will be gone forever. We may look at bringing them back down the road, or even opening up a specific article to solicit valuable comments. But, for the foreseeable future, they will be turned off.
I’m sure for many of you this is a welcomed move. I’ve had many discussions with people in the community who have commented on how mean or misconstrued some of them are. On the other hand, I’m sure the folks that helped push this over the edge will not be happy.
I’m not sorry to those people – the writing was on the wall and it was ultimately ignored. I am, however, deeply sorry to the people that offered up sincere comments or valuable discussion points on various stories.
I will again encourage those of you that were doing this, to submit a letter to the editor or guest column. There can still be a way to foster community discussion. Granted, it takes us back a few years to a process that is a lot more manual and less instantaneous, but perhaps that’s a good thing. Maybe the extra time it takes yields deeper insight or more thought out responses. Either of which are step in the right direction.
Publisher Rob Galloway can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 530-542-8046.
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