Over the years one of the most frequent suggestions from visitors to the site is to more heavily moderate the comments. All feedback that comes in is appreciated but generally the thought of going that direction with the comments was resisted as the idea behind them was to provide an opportunity for everyone to freely speak their mind on a given subject. Once moderation gets in the way though it can lead to some feeling as though they’re being prevented from doing just that. Changes are being made now however out of necessity.
The general thought towards the comments from my perspective was that they were exactly that…comments…and not meant to be more extensive discussions. Because of that people could drop their thoughts and move on. Even if there were disagreements on subjects they would briefly occur in the matter of a few replies and that would be it rather than dragging on into arguments or personal insults.
Unfortunately not everyone out there can handle having that freedom in comments. Attacks on posters started to become more the norm. Again, very few were ever deleted (really had to cross the line), and the number of users banned over 5 1/2 years could be counted on one hand. Sadly though multiple gimmick posters emerged followed by inevitable imposters or mockers, some company employees have been found to be disguised as regular users, and in general those looking to incite or insult started to become the focus in comment threads.
Considering the site averages over 1 million visitors a month it’s important to understand that the number of problem posters is miniscule in the grand scheme of things and they shouldn’t spoil that element of the site for everyone else who might want to participate in it. That meant there had to be some crackdown on those who were making the experience for the vast majority less enjoyable. It’s come to a time now where something had to be done with the best interest of the site and visitors in mind.
For the time being all comments that come through will be manually approved before they appear. That means they won’t immediately show up but will go live in batches throughout the day. Some thought was given to eliminating the ability for guests to comment, and even just getting rid of comments altogether after evaluating destinations like Yahoo Sports, but ultimately this seemed the best route to take for now. Tweaks could still be made along the way if deemed worthwhile.
It’s important for everyone to understand that the philosophy towards comments doesn’t change. Practically every article on the site has positive and negative elements to it and comment threads should as well! Comments that are in disagreement or that are critical will absolutely be approved. Only those that add no value to the topic at hand or are meant solely to take things off the rails will be filtered out.
Continue to speak your mind in comments. As this site has proven dissent can lead to positive action when handled in the right way. Everyone has a voice in attempting to contribute to that.