The New York Times will use an algorithm to moderate many of its comments

The New York Times

The New York Times will adopt a more automated commenting system in the coming months, a change intended to clear away frustrations with an existing setup that places undue emphasis on the site's verified commenters, New York Times Public Editor Margaret Sullivan reported Friday.

Under the new system, the Times will rely on an algorithm to sort through its comments and decide which users' remarks can be posted without delay, according to an exchange between Sullivan and Bassey Etim, The Times' editor in charge of commenting. This change will allow the Times be less dependent on human moderators will result in twice the amount of stories open to commenters:

No longer will human beings need to moderate every comment that is not “verified.” Many comments – especially those written by longtime, proven commenters – will be posted without the wait for a moderator to approve them. The change also means that up to twice the number of articles — currently 23 per day — will be open for comments.

Human moderators aren't out of the picture entirely, though. Times staffers will likely scrutinize the Times' most important articles and dominant breaking news, per Sullivan.

The changes come as a separate effort to overhaul comments throughout the news industry is revving up. The Times Manhattan headquarters has been designated the hub for development efforts of The Coral Project, a joint initiative launched by The Washington Post, Mozilla, The Knight Foundation and The New York Times to reimagine the way news organizations interact with their communities.

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    Benjamin Mullin

    Benjamin Mullin is the managing editor of He previously reported for Poynter as a staff writer, Google Journalism Fellow and Naughton Fellow, covering journalism innovation, business practices and ethics.


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