Editor Randy Bangert says that during this weeks-long test period, “we’re going to monitor the reaction from our web readers, as well as the impact on our web traffic.” He explains why it’s being done:
I’ve been troubled for a while at the locker-room humor, name-calling and mean-spiritedness that seems to dominate our anonymous web conversation. Sure, it engages readers in the news, but is it really the kind of engagement we want? …Why don’t we just delete the worst of the comments, you ask? Well, we can. But it takes too much time to monitor.
Other newspapers have recently shut down their comments sections, including Portland Press Herald. Some papers — like the Janesville (Wis.) Gazette and Minneapolis Star Tribune — turn off comments for certain types of stories.