Report to Readers: Best behavior, please
Along with our new production system for the newspaper and the website, we have some new procedures to get used to in the Monitor newsroom. Here’s one of them: We can’t keep an eye on the website commenters as quickly and easily as we used to. That means a change in the rules.
With our old technology, we were able to give some commenters “trusted user” status. That meant that they could post comments under our news stories and commentary pieces immediately. Their comments stayed there with no oversight from us unless someone complained – in which case, the Monitor comments moderator would check out the comment and, if it was indeed objectionable, we would remove it.
Some commenters had such status taken away from them when they violated the rules too often. Their comments were routed into an approval queue, which the moderator checked throughout the day. Comments from that queue that were civil in tone were eventually posted on the website; others were spiked.
Here in the New World Order, everyone’s comments will be posted immediately – at least in the beginning. If a comment earns a complaint from a reader, the moderator will check it out and, if necessary, pull it down.
However, if a commenter posts an inordinate number of objectionable comments, he or she will essentially lose their commenting privileges. Their comments will be blocked from the site; once a day, Monday through Friday, the moderator will check those comments and post the ones that play by the rules.
The upshot: If you test the boundaries of good taste and fair play too often, you’ll lose the ability to participate quickly in the conversation.
How difficult is it to stay on the right side of the law?
It shouldn’t really be too tough.
We’re aiming for a civil debate on the issues of the day. While it’s fine to object to someone’s ideas, we don’t want commenters calling each other names – or insulting the authors of letters to the editor or the people quoted in our news stories.
Example 1: “Joe Smith sure is wrong about the Main Street plan. Here’s why my idea makes more sense….” (Good!)
Example 2: “Joe Smith is a dimwit – but what can you expect from zombie Tea Partiers like him?” (Bad!)
These are subjective calls, of course. And we will give some leeway to commenters choosing to insult public officials or, alas, the Monitor. But in general, please, keep the conversation civil.
A bit of good news about the Monitor website transition:
Among the most frequent early complaints we received from readers was that the collection of Mike Marland’s editorial cartoons had evaporated. It’s back! You can find Marland at concordmonitor.com/opinion/cartoons.