comments got 555 comments on an article about changes to comments

All was quiet in the comments section for a few hours on Monday after a piece about changes to’s comments process went up on the site. And that made Erica Palan a little nervous. But the quiet didn’t last for too long.

By Tuesday afternoon, there were 555 comments in that article’s comments section.

Palan, audience engagement manager for, the Philadelphia Inquirer and Philadelphia Daily News, answered questions via email about a video included in the article with staff reading angry comments, changes to the comments process and why the site is keeping its comments up. First, here’s the video:

KH: What made you guys decide to do the video?

We actually filmed and edited the video more than a month ago. Several people had approached me about the idea and we’d been joking about doing this for a few months. Read more


In a video, Michigan Daily staff read some ‘unflattering responses from our readers’

College Media Matters

Staff at the Michigan Daily read some of the reader comments, emails and tweets they get in a new video, Dan Reimold reported Tuesday in College Media Matters. Reimold spoke with Victoria Noble, a columnist and videographer, about why staff created the video.

“…This was meant to add humor to a situation that tends to get people really upset and strains the relationship between writers and readers. We were trying to take a more personal look at how people react to our content and how writers take in those reactions. It’s a more serious topic, but we’re not covering it like ‘This is what you should do’ or ‘This is what you shouldn’t do.’ Comedy is involved, but the point is not to be funny.

Read more

Why editors shouldn’t call readers a**holes

New York Times Editor Dean Baquet called a college professor an asshole on Facebook and some people cheered.

It’s possible that those who recognize how hard it is to create great journalism every single day of the year were animated by the idea of the polite and prestigious editor of the country’s biggest newspaper swinging back in response to a cheap shot.

I wish he wouldn’t have.

Creating dialogue in the face of hostility is a challenge in social media – and in real life, too – but it can be done. And it should be done. And it’s in the best interest of journalism that the editor of the New York Times set that example.

Baquet’s comment under University of Southern California’s Marc Cooper’s Facebook post had 53 likes as of this morning. Read more


The Week’s commenters are looking for a new home

One of the things that happens every time we write about comments and changes to comments and the end of comments is those stories get lots of comments. That’s true today for The Week, which announced that as of Jan. 1, you’ll have to take your comments to social media. “Ironically,” AC03 wrote, “I feel the need to comment on this article.”

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CNN and Mother Jones also got some nods.

When Reuters announced it was ending comments in November, more than 30 people had comments, many saying they were done with Reuters.

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In both sets of comments, some commenters note that they won’t be headed to Facebook or Twitter because they don’t use them. On Monday, Adam Hochberg wrote for Poynter on news sites, including the L.A. Read more

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Facing a flood of incivility, news sites make reader comments harder to find

When the Los Angeles Times redesigned its website earlier this year, it became harder to find the opinions of people like iamstun1, jumped2, and Shootist.

Those are the screen names of some Times readers who are among the most prolific authors of online comments. Their writings, like the rest of the reader comments, no longer appear at the bottom of stories on

Instead, comments for each article remain hidden unless users click on an icon along the right side of the screen.

Screenshot from

Screenshot from

That opens a separate page where readers can peruse the thoughts of iamstun1 on the federal budget bill (“Republicans really are scums”), jumped2 on the Senate torture investigation (“EVERYONE involved in releasing the CIA report and harming our Military should be tried for TREASON and HUNG”), and Shootist on a flash flood that damaged homes and forced evacuations throughout Southern California (“couldn’t happen to a more deserving bunch of pantywaists”). Read more


Re/code joins the list of news orgs cutting comments


Re/code’s Kara Swisher and Walt Mossberg wrote on Thursday that comments are now gone from the site.

We thought about this decision long and hard, since we do value reader opinion. But we concluded that, as social media has continued its robust growth, the bulk of discussion of our stories is increasingly taking place there, making onsite comments less and less used and less and less useful.

My colleague Andrew Beaujon included a list of other news orgs that no longer take comments on their sites in a Nov. 7 story about Reuters ending comments.

Now here are some Twitter comments about Re/code ending comments:

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Reuters ends comments on news stories


Reuters will no longer allow comments on news stories, it says in an unsigned editor’s note Friday. Discussion has moved to “social media and online forums,” the note says, and “Those communities offer vibrant conversation and, importantly, are self-policed by participants to keep on the fringes those who would abuse the privilege of commenting.”

Comments will still be allowed on opinion pieces and blog posts, the notice says.

The Huffington Post announced last year it would end anonymous comments. Sam Kirkland reported later that year that the change would require commenters to register with Facebook, something many people weren’t terribly keen on (based on the comments I read).

Some sites have eliminated comments altogether: Popular Science doinked them last September, and the Chicago Sun-Times eliminated them this summer, saying they contributed to a “morass of negativity, racism, hate speech and general trollish behaviors that detract from the content.”

Related: Anonymous comments can be ‘a frothing, bubbling cauldron of insanity’ Read more


Why are so many news organizations still worried about retweets by staffers?

Here’s our roundup of the top digital and social media stories you should know about (and from Andrew Beaujon, 10 media stories to start your day, and from Kristen Hare, a world roundup):

— At Reuters, Jack Shafer picks up on my piece yesterday about how so many news organizations — with The New York Times being a notable exception — still seem afraid of reporters’ retweets coming across as endorsements: “Are NPR, the AP, and Reuters’s editorial reputations really so fragile that a 140-character tweet or retweet by a staffer can blow the whole thing down?”

— Three months into the “temporary” Chicago Sun-Times comments ban, publisher and editor-in-chief Jim Kirk tells Robert Feder “he’s heard no complaints lately and he’s seen no drop-off in online traffic.” Comments should return with a new CMS “sometime around the fourth quarter.”

— BuzzFeed’s director of editorial products, Alice DuBois, on the photo “slide things” in popular posts lately: “I do think there’s a part of the editorial mission to keep pushing and experimenting,” she tells Poynter’s Andrew Beaujon. Read more


Technology can’t vanquish trolls completely, says leader of comments project

The just-announced partnership between The New York Times, Washington Post and Mozilla holds a lot of promise for the future of comments and communities at news sites, but don’t expect a new system to make trolls disappear completely.

“Try as we might, I don’t think we’re going to create magic,” Greg Barber, the Post’s director of digital news projects, told Poynter by phone. “What we’re going to do is try to take technology and apply it to the work we’re all doing as humans.”

Or, as Knight-Mozilla Open News initiative’s Dan Sinker put it: “We are not declaring war on assholery. It’s not a war we’ll be able to win, certainly not at a technical level.”

But what the team does aim to do with technology is augment the kind of human moderation currently required to make the Times’s comment section the gold standard in the industry. Read more


National Journal eliminates comments from non-members

National Journal

As of Friday, National Journal Editor-in-Chief writes, “we’ll join the growing number of sites that are choosing to forgo public comments on most stories.”

Comments are currently disappointing, he writes: “For every smart argument, there’s a round of ad hominem attacks—not just fierce partisan feuding, but the worst kind of abusive, racist, and sexist name-calling imaginable.”

Comments sections will stay “open and visible to National Journal’s members” and “Our reporters and editors will remain extremely active and accessible on Twitter, where the discourse is abbreviated but usually civil,” he writes. You can also email your thoughts, and occastionally NJ will open up comments sections on stories “where the unique perspectives and ideas and suggestions of individual readers can add immeasurably to our journalism.”

Last year The Huffington Post changed its commenting policy, requiring a Facebook login to post. Read more

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